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Women's History Month (WHM) takes place in March in the United States. The purpose of WHM is to not only to celebrate the contributions of women, but to raise awareness of the existence of women as meaningful influential figures in society in history, politics, science, and art.

The purpose of this thread is also to serve as a platform to discuss women's history and feminism (women's issues and women's rights). The goal of this thread is not only to increase awareness about women's contributions in history and the struggles they've faced, but to increase understanding of current issues women face and debunk some of the prevalent myths relating to feminism.


WHY DO WE NEED WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH?

As with Black History Month, the question is often raised why we have special months for selective groups of people. We have a Black History Month - so where is White History Month? We have Gay Pride parades, so why aren't there Straight Pride parades? Isn't giving selective attention to certain groups of people counterproductive?

I sincerely wish that we didn't need a Black History Month or a Women's History Month. I sincerely wish that schools, the media, politics, and other platforms for the exchange of knowledge and discourse imparted on people solid knowledge of the contributions and existence of Black, female, gay, lesbian, Muslim, Latin, Asian contributors of our world.

But as of right now, they don't.

We can sit and wish for how things were or we can take action in bringing what is ignored into the spotlight. People use the lack of women and black people in history, science, and art textbooks as evidence for their intellectual and creative inferiority. See Linda Nochlin's article Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? for an understanding of the absence of women from the elite and world-renowned collection of artists. Discourse in the media and politics makes it seem like homosexuality is a relatively new thing - the idea that homosexuality is a choice is perpetuated by the idea that it was next to nonexistent prior to 100 years ago (with the exception of barely understood ancient history).

Dedicated months are not meant to be a slot for obligatory or token coverage of marginalized groups. Rather, they're meant to be steroid shots to inject into the culture large doses of knowledge and history that they're completely unaware of due to lack of coverage elsewhere. As this knowledge becomes spread out, integrated, and appreciated in the conscious of the culture, it will hopefully find its way into school curriculum, media, and political discourse.
CleoSombra's avatar

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UNDERSTANDING FEMINISM
The term feminism was first brought into major use in the 1960's to define the efforts of women's rights organizations. The Merriam-Webster definition of feminism is as such:
Quote:
: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes


The first major feminist movement in the U.S., known as first-wave feminism, took place in the late 1800's and early 1900's, although efforts to give women certain rights and freedoms (such as the right to own property) occured before then. The major movement in firstwave feminism was obtaining the right to vote, which occurred approximately 91.5 years ago in 1920.

Throughout the years, women's rights groups have focused on different problems relating to women's issues, including their right to reproductive control, the right to education, and the right to equal pay. Feminists have fought for equality on legal, social, and cultural levels; some feminist groups have focused on using the legal system to encourage equality (e.g., Equal Pay Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, legalization of spousal rape, etc). Others have focused on changing social attitudes, such embracing female sexuality, increasing recognition about their intellectual contributions to society, and redefining womanhood away from the capacity to bear and rear children.

FEMINISM: MAN HATERS AND BRA-BURNERS?



For as long as there have been women fighting for gender equality, there have been people (both men and women) fighting for conservative and "traditional" values. There was a time when both boys and girls went to school and boys were taught complex mathematics, language, science, and art, while women's education was limited to basic math, penmanship, cooking, and child-rearing. Women who were fighting for equal pay at work were confronted by opposition that argued that women's place was in the home, that women were unfit for the same work as men, and children without at-home-mothers suffered greatly. Celebration of female sexuality was criticized as corruption of the pious and virtuous female identity, the role of which was to humanize and instill moral values in children and keep men from straying.

Conservatives, religious figures, and the media were quick to cast upon women's rights activists negative labels such as man-haters, "feminazis," and bra-burners. Bra-burning is an excellent example of media exaggeration - there was a movement aware from restrictive sex-typed clothing such as bras, but there have been no group instances of women setting these articles of clothing on fire.

Nobody can speak for any individual person or his or her beliefs, but the group movements, such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the major public figures and and feminist writers of the time the fight only for women's equality - not for their supremacy over men. Reputable feminist figures and writers call for equal pay, not greater pay, and equal representation, not greater representation.

DEFINITIONS OF AND RELATING TO FEMINISM



I am a Women's Studies minor with an emphasis on gender as a whole (which includes issues and concepts relating to men and men's issues). I am currently taking a course called Feminist Cultural Criticism, which is a writing-intensive course on feminist theory and feminist writers. We read and analyze workers by reputable feminist writers including Friedan, Rubin, and Ortner. These are some important terms related to feminism, as defined by the Encyclopedia of Feminism by Lisa Tuttle; the Feminist Glossary of Term, and The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism.

Quote:
Feminism: A social movement based on principles of gender equality and social justice. I use the plural to connote the various movements that are feminist, even though they have occurred at different times and places, often with different kinds of assumptions and approaches.


Quote:
Men’s Studies: treats men, manhood, and masculinity as objects of inquiry; based on idea that gender and sexual identity are social constructions

Women’s Studies: treats women, womanhood, and femininity as objects of inquiry; based on idea that gender and sexual identity are social constructions

Social Constructionism: The idea that the status of women, and the apparently natural differences between male and female, are not directly attributable to biology, but rather to the way that biology is interpreted within a given society; that sex roles are constructed and women and men made rather than born. The opposite to this point of view is called biological determinism or essentialism.

"I’m not a feminist but" syndrome: Mental state of women who have become aware that sexism exists, that they suffer from it, and that feminism - or something exactly like it but preferably with a different name - must be necessary, yet are afraid of being mistaken for one of the ugly, humorless, dogmatic, man-hating lesbians who are labeled feminists.

Phallocentrism: the belief that maleness is the center and the norm against which everything must be judged.
CleoSombra's avatar

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ARE WE THERE YET?

There is no doubt that the status of women has changed drastically in the past 100 years - even in the past 50 years and even in the past 10 years. Despite all the progress that has been made, women and men are far from equal in a political, social, economic, and cultural level. The following is a collection of recent events in the page few years that highlight instances in which women are marginalized, overlooked, or mistreated. Feel free to contribute to this list.

Siri caters to men, overlooks women
2012 Oscars and the Bechdel Test
All-male contraception panel - Begins at 2:30 mark
CleoSombra's avatar

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ABOUT THE THREAD OWNER

I am a senior about to graduate in May with my BS in Clinical Psychology. I am a Women's Studies minor with an emphasis on gender as a whole, including both women and men's issues.

I am currently working on my honor's thesis, which involves conducting a psychological study. This study is part replication and part extension of a study I did for Experimental Psychology last year. I recently attended a regional psychology conference (March 2nd - March 3rd) where I presented a poster on gender roles. I also saw a number of other studies at the conference relating to gender and I am in correspondence with some other researchers.

I plan on going to graduate school to pursue a PhD in social/personality psychology with an emphasis on social cognition and gender.
CleoSombra's avatar

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Definitely the last fo sho.
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Very nice. Though I still have trouble remembering who you are without the cats.
Miss-dark8607's avatar

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(saves her seat)

Thank you Cleo and I'm so glad we could comprise for this forum. I will be more than happy to help once I get back on.
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I'm going to just say that feminism had the best intentions, but what it has become, I can't support.
CleoSombra's avatar

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Melancholy Melanoma
I'm going to just say that feminism had the best intentions, but what it has become, I can't support.


What has it become?
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Very interesting thread. My Social Problems class is going to be discussing Gender issues once our spring break is over with. Can't wait. Plan on watching those links a couple of times over just to have some extra bit of information when I go.
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(i read the whole thing) .... very interesting.

I'm a traditionalist, that's the life I prefer to live.
I know it's not for everyone & that's just fine but one thing I don't understand is..... why all the hate from the feminazi group? (yes I know the FN's don't speak for feminists) I know they are 2 completely different groups.
But why would a group of women claiming to be supportive of women's issues... act like rabid dogs toward another group of women?
(i guess I should really be asking this question of them) lol

Last time I went head to head with a nazi it was over childcare.
I had said something along the lines of stay at home moms & career women should really be working together and not fighting against each other.
These stay at home moms can & often do provide child care so that career moms can do what they do.
We really need to be working together... not acting as if one group invalidates the importance of the other group.

I was basically told that stay at home moms were unfit to provide child care for the children of career moms because our traditional lifestyle would infect the minds of the children.
Career moms were better off putting their children in daycare centers in order to avoid exposing them to the warped lifestyle of stay at home moms.
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btw... interesting fact: I did not know March was WHM.
Way to go to all Mothers out there and also young women out there.. including myself whee
CleoSombra's avatar

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