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Why Fundie Women Can't/Won't Embrace Feminism


emmiedahl

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Unfortunately, feminists are always the enemy.

I am taking a sociology class and an anthropology class right now. The perspectives are so different! In anthro I am asked to judge a culture by its own rules, while sociology is a bit more harsh. My sociology teacher is a shameless Marxist, but it has really opened my eyes to a lot of injustice.

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I always thought it was because the way women grew up in patriarchal societies, almost like they have this Madonna/whore worldview (the Madonna/Virgin Mary is pure, raises her children and cleans the house with pleasure and remaining chaste, while the whore is seen as promiscuous, unfaithful, defiant and willfully sinful). And also that the men would say to them that living traditional feminine ways is more blessed or sacred, with a few sprinkles of sugar-coated lies.

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I am taking a sociology class and an anthropology class right now. The perspectives are so different! In anthro I am asked to judge a culture by its own rules, while sociology is a bit more harsh. My sociology teacher is a shameless Marxist, but it has really opened my eyes to a lot of injustice.

Whats wrong with being a Marxist? Karl Marx had some great things to say.

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No, there is nothing wrong with it. I just have never had a professor who is so proud of it. Usually "Marxist" is a slur in the US.

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Whats wrong with being a Marxist? Karl Marx had some great things to say.

"shameless [quality]" is just a way of saying that someone believes, follows, and discusses something in an open manner without feeling like they have to explain why to anyone.

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No, there is nothing wrong with it. I just have never had a professor who is so proud of it. Usually "Marxist" is a slur in the US.

It's more than a slur - foreigners who consider themselves to be communist/marxist are banned from entering the USA.

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Thanks, Haligh, for a great post.

I am afraid many anti-feminists get hung up on semantics ('but I am not a feminist, I don't believe women are better than men!') or pop culture associations ('but I am not a feminist, I don't look/act like...' - fill in derogatory stereotype about feminism). As silly as that may be from an intellectual point of view, it is still damaging to how feminism is perceived. And so I think it's important to show people otherwise :)

Personally, I like the term 'gender/social egalitarian' because it describes the full scope of my social views and also defuses the fear of 'feminist superiority' by using the term 'egalitarian'. I know it's not a perfect solution but often it allows me to level the playingfield in any discussion.

I don't remember who it was or where I read it (might have been here at FJ) but I loved this definition of feminism:

'Feminism: the radical notion that women are people.'

And that's how I feel about that :)

Keep 'm coming - I think creating more theoretical resources and discussions on FJ could be helpful/educational to those solidly within patriarchy.

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I think fundie women don't accept feminism for a number of reasons:

1) Indoctrination. Many of them have been raised from birth to believe that men are their superiors and leaders in every way. It's the only framework they know, so every piece of information they get is interpreted within that framework. It can be very hard to step out of the framework you have always known.

2) Confirmation bias. This is related to indoctrination. If you are taught that women are morally and intellectually weaker than men, more gullible, etc., your perception will be confirmed every time you come across a weak woman or perceive signs of weakness in yourself.

3) Fear. I think a lot of these women believe that without patriarchy, they will be beaten, raped, and killed. This takes two forms: They sometimes believe they need to appease their men by being submissive so that the men will treat them well. Or sometimes they believe that they need a good man to protect them from the bad men of the world. (In other words, the whole thing is a protection racket that some women buy iinto.)

4) And don't forget, they believe in patriarchy because they believe God Said So.

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No, there is nothing wrong with it. I just have never had a professor who is so proud of it. Usually "Marxist" is a slur in the US.

Hey, I'm a shameless Marxist (and a card carrying commie) ;)

Your courses sound fascinating. What made you pick them?

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Caution: this is long.

Every semester, I introduce feminism the same way: I ask students to raise their hands if they consider themselves a feminist. About 5 people do, myself included. Then, I ask if they agree with a movement that promotes the following: ending sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. Everyone raises their hands. "Congratulations, you're all feminists."

.

My first intro to feminism was in a class on political issues. The lecturer did the same thing, and I did not raise my hand. I remember one girl in the class being so pissed at it. But the lecturer went on to make an overview of most feminist perspectives from the first wave to the third, and I realize things were much more complicated that I thought. And it's the diversity of feminism that intrigued me. The week after I was in the feminist department applying for entering the 5 classes in feminism that I could take with my program.

Just wanted to share my own experience ^^

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Sexism: women are judged differently, held to different standards, and are inherently unequal to men under patriarchy. The system is so sexist that one woman isn't even worthy enough to remind her husband to take out the garbage.

Sexist exploitation: the women raise the kids, clean the houses, sew everything, and raise their daughters to do the same.

Oppression: Can't go to college, forced to wear 'modest' clothing to prevent men from sinning, unable to be agents of change in their own lives.

These are just a few examples of why a seemingly obvious movement of equality that holds that all people are equal can not coincide with fundamentalist patriarchy. I believe in progress as a result of knowledge, and it pains me to realize that the one core belief of patriarchy is so entrenched that women accept it themselves, and that this prevents progress, since the knowledge will never make its way in.

Anyway, sorry this is so long, but this is kind of the reason I joined here, to post tirades, not just to snark on the more unfortunate looking fundies.

I agree. I think the only way women in these live in this culture is not only to internalize misogyny, but to embrace it. They try to convince themselves, and others, that patriarchy gives them a privileged position if they buy into it. Also, let's not underestimate the power of attaching religion to it. It took me longer to shake some of that internalized misogyny because I bought into certain religious precepts whole hog - in fact, I saw the double standard, rejected it for others, but embraced it myself as part of my religious expression.

And don't worry about the length of the post - I enjoy a good tirade! :D

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There's also missing/wrong historical education. A lot of people are taught that feminism totally triumphed overnight in the '70s and therefore all "modern" cultural problems are the result of feminism, even the problems feminists are the only real force working on solving - domestic violence? Caused by feminists. Child poverty? Feminism. Unemployment? Feminists. So instead of a reactionary return to even worse times, patriarchy & complementarianism are seen as a new, untested method to fix society's problems.

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I also think that feminism is blamed - rightly or wrongly - for what these folks see as a moral decay in society.

Divorce rate hovers around 50%? That's those uppity feminists getting up and leaving their marriages. Never mind that the rate has stayed pretty steady over the decades, and even declined somewhat. Divorce would never have happened without feminism and it it becoming more rampant every day.

Children born out of wedlock? That's the feminists declaring sexual freedom now paying the price.

Crime rates going up? That's because so many children are raised by single mothers or whose married mothers work outside of the home.

Nice guy can't get a date? Those feminists think they're too good for a guy who wants to open doors for them.

There are all kinds of correlations that can be made with second-wave feminism and what is seen as society's ills, but women like this don't realize correlation does not equal causation. They are also too ignorant of history to realize how much better off they are since the end of the 20th century.

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I starting taking this as a professional challenge. I'm a sociology PhD candidate who teaches in both the sociology and women's studies departments at my university. Every semester, I introduce feminism the same way: I ask students to raise their hands if they consider themselves a feminist. About 5 people do, myself included. Then, I ask if they agree with a movement that promotes the following: ending sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. Everyone raises their hands. "Congratulations, you're all feminists."

When/Why did feminism become a dirty word? Old fogey that I am, we were proud to be called that back in the day.

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That's what I mean, Avalondaughter - crime rates have been going down for decades now. Divorce rates steadied or went down (and are highest in the most traditional-marriage prone areas). There are the studies of prisoners that show that the vast majority of convicted criminals were raised with corporal punishment, too. The "everything is going to hell in a handbasket" mindset is just wrong.

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emmiedahl, what sociology course are you taking? I've read your posts for so long- I'm excited to finally talk to you directly!

It is just basic sociology 101. Somehow I never took it. I needed filler classes because I just cannot do 4 or 5 science classes at a time, so I chose sociology and an anthro class on gender and society.

The professor is a Marxist but he does a great job of presenting all views. And he tells me to hold back a little when I am in the middle of eating a conservative for breakfast. He seems like a moderate Marxist, if that is possible. :lol:

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Thanks, Haligh, for a great post.

I am afraid many anti-feminists get hung up on semantics ('but I am not a feminist, I don't believe women are better than men!') or pop culture associations ('but I am not a feminist, I don't look/act like...' - fill in derogatory stereotype about feminism). As silly as that may be from an intellectual point of view, it is still damaging to how feminism is perceived. And so I think it's important to show people otherwise :)

Personally, I like the term 'gender/social egalitarian' because it describes the full scope of my social views and also defuses the fear of 'feminist superiority' by using the term 'egalitarian'. I know it's not a perfect solution but often it allows me to level the playingfield in any discussion.

I don't remember who it was or where I read it (might have been here at FJ) but I loved this definition of feminism:

'Feminism: the radical notion that women are people.'

And that's how I feel about that :)

Keep 'm coming - I think creating more theoretical resources and discussions on FJ could be helpful/educational to those solidly within patriarchy.

It was me who posted that, but it's not my line originally. I just think it's the best definition of feminism out there.

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I think some of it is immaturity, based on relatives involved in the fundie lifestyle. It's easy to have someone else do your thinking for you. It requires little effort on your part. If things go wrong, it's not your fault. Being an adult is hard work, and they found a way out of it.

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Hey, I'm a shameless Marxist (and a card carrying commie) ;)

Your courses sound fascinating. What made you pick them?

My reasons are going to sound crappy. I am taking biochemistry and upper-division level molecular genetics, both of which are heavy classes. So I needed to fill in the blanks so I could stay full time, but I needed to do so with classes that would not require immense amounts of studying. I chose Sociology 101 because it looks good to medical schools, and some even require it. I chose Gender and Culture because it was literature based and I do very well in that style of course with minimal effort. I looked at the books the teacher required and I had already read two of them, and the others looked interesting. So it was a shoo-in.

It's not that I am NOT interested in the course material, but I am interested in many things. These just fit well with what I needed.

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To play devil's advocate for a brief moment....the definition of feminisim is sometimes fluid, and I've seen what I'll describe as "bait-and-switch" methods being used with the definition. Keep in mind that I was a political science major before law school, and that radical left-wing politics were far more popular than football at my university.

Here's an example:

When trying to convince someone that they are really a supporter of feminism, the most expansive definitions are used. After all, who is going to say that women are inferior, shouldn't have the vote, etc?

Then, when trying to argue a specific position or critique another position, you see the meaning becomes far more restricted. For example, you have arguments attacking defenders of free speech because pornography is inherently anti-woman, or arguments against criminal defense lawyers because they defend rapists and others who commit violence against women. I would see political issues grafted onto feminism that had nothing whatsoever to do with it, other than some general "Fight Oppression!" line. Some people responding by saying "no, you can be a good feminist and support Y instead of X". Some become alienated, and start to associate feminism in general with specific positions that they don't like.

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I also think that feminism is blamed - rightly or wrongly - for what these folks see as a moral decay in society.

We have a winner here. Not that some of the problems weren't always around, but now that there's an actual choice, end of civilization as we know it...

Nice guy can't get a date? Those feminists think they're too good for a guy who wants to open doors for them.

Grrr, the Nice Guy crowd annoys the life out of me.

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I think there is bickering within the feminist community, definitely. There is bickering and "No True Scotsman" type arguments in every community.

The "nice guy" thing annoys me because my husband totally says that shit. Nice guys don't get women, etc. He is married to an attractive woman two decades younger than him and (right now) supports him financially. Most "nice guys" I know feel the same way, and most of them have done very well in the marriage/life lottery.

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I'll take a swing at this. While some of you might classify me as a Christian Fundamentalist, I don't see myself 100% in that category but here is my two-cents for what it’s worth. When most CFs I know hear the word feminism, they think of angry lesbians at worst and misguided women who are unsexing themselves by trying to act like men at best. Please don’t start “yelling†at me because that is not MY opinion. Feminism is one of those loaded words that is hard to define concisely because the word means different things to different people. If the goal of feminism was/ is to ensure equal pay for equal work and giving women economic, educational, and political equality/choices, then I support that 100%. What I’m not comfortable with is the radical wing of feminism that believes women who choose to embrace a more traditional role are delusional. Growing up, I never gave much thought to feminism because I thought that the movement ended in the 1970s. It wasn’t until I got to college that I encountered feminists. I was engaged to be married by 19 with plans of being a homemaker, and I remember my radical feminist sociology professor ranting about how it was insane for women in 1999 to want to be homemakers. She was also very condescending to the males in the class. That is another component of feminism that most CFs believe: feminists are not just pro-woman; they are anti-men. That professor and the other feminists I encountered during my college years left me with a sour opinion of feminism. My takeaway was that feminism was about a woman’s right make choices as long as those choices were feminist approved.

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You do get a vocal radical 1% which makes the normal 99% look bad. If someone doesn't see a figure like Andrea Dworkin, for example, as just pushing the envelope as part of a range of voices, but rather sees her views as being THE views of feminism, then I can understand why some women would reject feminism.

I think you also have an issue with some people still being in a power struggle mindset, and unable to envision what true partnership and egalitarianism may look like. In plain English - they are traumatized. So, I've read quotes from the director of my local women's shelter claiming that 90% of women are in abusive relationships. That's nonsense, but when you happen to have experienced violence yourself and constantly work with those who have experienced violence, men = violence can become your reality. Along the same lines, I remember reading a bitter critique of the "white ribbon campaign", which encouraged men to where white ribbons in support of ending violence against women. I get that this is a sort of philosophical PTSD, but it ends up alienating the very men who could be the biggest supporters of gender equality, and it also lowers the expectations for men. In this mindset, the subtle message is that violence comes with a relationship with a man. The flip side is that women who still want a heterosexual relationship have no idea what a healthy one would look like.

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