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Author Topic: I'm trying to learn something new about Feminism today
pooka
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quote:
I don't think you could point out any beliefs, let alone entire belief systems, that all intellectuals have in common.
They believe in the theories that have achieved ascendancy through academia, such as Darwinian Evolution, Global Warming, and the Big Bang even though they have not studied the disciplines that these theories represent. The accept science as their explanation for the universe, when science exists to question. I guess there was a thread about how trusting science is different from faith in religion a while back.
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
quote:
If you wanted to be more specific about your complaints, we could discuss them. How do you want women to change? How are you being expected to change? How have you changed?
It doesn't sound like you understood my initial post. I'm asking for corroboration on 2 items.

1) "Feminism" is a method of advancing a social agenda that requires reversal of majority/minority role before negotiation can commence.

2) It is called "Feminism" even when it is being used by other minority groups.

1) I have never heard this usage.

2) This one either.

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MrSquicky
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pooka,
Where are you getting that from? It is not at all true from my personal experience. Heck, I personally don't believe in many (well, all, but that's because you aren't using the correct names for some of the things) of the things you claim all intellectuals believe.

Also, regarding your conception of feminism. I've never heard of it used like that ever.

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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quote:

1) "Feminism" is a method of advancing a social agenda that requires reversal of majority/minority role before negotiation can commence.

2) It is called "Feminism" even when it is being used by other minority groups.

Pooka, both these seem misguided, and the first seems deeply, deeply wrong.

I think of feminism as the movement for helping women define their roles in this world unshackled by some man's paradigm. I'm in complete support of it. It's not raging against Paul and housework, it's about doing and saying what you understand as fair and appropriate without regard to Paul and unfettered by social customs concerning domestic affairs.

One of my friends called herself a "womanist," yesterday. What a word: womanist. Say it aloud. Apparently feminine has too many second-best connotations in her esteem.

Since there is etymology going on on top of this thread, I'll add that it is good to remember that virtue comes from the latin "vir," for man. Virtue carries with it the sense of manliness, knowing that, I can see why women would want to cast off the latin, "femina."

[ February 01, 2007, 10:40 PM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
1) "Feminism" is a method of advancing a social agenda that requires reversal of majority/minority role before negotiation can commence.

2) It is called "Feminism" even when it is being used by other minority groups.

Either definition is strictly incorrect, and 'to no small degree' -- that is, it can't even be construed as a loose and possible definition that's outside of its common usage.

Feminism is the doctrine advocating equality of social, economic, political, and all other rights between the sexes. It's fully related to gender equality advocacy. It is not a method.

quote:
So: capital means money; "capital" is part of the word "capitalism"; "socialism" and "capitalism" are opposites. Therefore he concluded that in order to avoid loving money you had to be a socialist.
Umm, hm. More interesting. The two don't exactly work as antonyms, since one is a market system and one is a social structure. Ideologically, the most that socialism is 'opposite' to would have to be conservative neoliberalism, since they are pretty opposed on a moral matrix. And the most that capitalism is 'opposite' to would probably be full communitariansim.

And plus you don't have to be socialist to not love money. But I sure do! Mmm, money.

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Survivor
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That's "Oooo, money!"

Looking at the roots and current usage of "Feminism", I can fully see the position for the first definition pooka mentioned. The second definition is a little more abstruse, but still quite arguable.

One thing to remember, this isn't pooka's argument. She's reporting something said by a professor, albeit one who might not qualify as an "intellectual" by some lights [Wink]

On the other issue, "intellectual" is defined various ways depending on the speaker and the context. Card uses both definitions, though he generally feels impelled to put the term in quotes for one definition and precede it with "true" or "real" for the other. This is actually becoming common practice in our society, due to just such arguments as the one we see here.

I'm a feminist, if we can take the dictionary definition. But then so is Paul, if you take the actual dictionary definition. Almost no one does...as shown by the fact that Paul is not generally considered a feminist. Nor am I [Wink]

Given that the actual dictionary definition doesn't match actual usage, it is valid to at least discuss the causes behind this discrepancy and try to develop a working "real" definition that allows us to predict which persons will be considered feminists in actual practice.

The definition provided by pooka's professor isn't flattering and may be motivated by personal/political bias. But it certainly does a better job of predicting who will really be called a feminist than does the dictionary definition. Which makes it superior as a definition.

The second assertion, that "feminist" is also applied to the general tactic of assuming that the prior roles have to be reversed before negotiation can commence, is a bit sketchier. I have heard of "feminist tactics", but always thought it refered to the tactics being used by feminists, not those same tactics being used by anyone else. You could make an argument that the term should be used that way, but I don't see that it is.

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pooka
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I didn't actually hear the professor, this was based on the student's explanation they reported. But since this person was grew up watching Star Trek and Seinfeld and so forth, I would take it they would not be easily surprised by learning about feminism.

The #2 definition is something they mentioned encountering last term (okay, well at this point I'll let on that my informant is male). At the time he got shredded for being a man asking the question of why it is called feminism when applied to other minorities. This quarter he was in a class where a woman asked the question, and she was treated not as unkindly but still as if she were ignorant of reality.

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MrSquicky
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pooka,
Is this someone who you know well and trust? Because it sounds a lot like some of the false stories from the PR campaign that many conservative sources waged during the 90s when they created the PC label.

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Will B
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I dont' think this use of "feminism" is ordinary; at least, I've never heard it before. Admittedly, PC folk do some pretty strange things with words (like using "multicultural" to mean "African-American"), but this would confuse anyone.
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pooka
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quote:
Is this someone who you know well and trust?
Yes, it's a brother-in-law who is getting a Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy. I mean, I guess the professor might be misinforming him, but his attitude was much a "does this make sense" and not "did you hear the one about..."
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Reshpeckobiggle
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If abortion isn't the most polarizing issue today, I don't know what is. No matter what the thread topic, there is always the threat of derailment by an abortion debate. Look what happened to my thread about Empire. No one wanted to even talk about the book.

That's funny you say that, Will B. If you don't know where it actually comes from, it is referencing alcohol abuse. Has to do with a Marshwiggle named Puddleglum in C.S Lewis' "The Silver Chair." Puddleglum had a bit more than was good for him.

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Mara
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quote:

1) "Feminism" is a method of advancing a social agenda that requires reversal of majority/minority role before negotiation can commence.

2) It is called "Feminism" even when it is being used by other minority groups.

I consider myself a feminist and have taken a course or two on the subject back in college. #1 does describe a specific school of feminist thought, but absolutely does not describe feminists in general. I've not heard of #2 at all.
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Cashew
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On a lighter note, a couple of years ago I was introducing some art works to my Year 11 (age 15) Art class that had feminist content, and I asked the class what they understood feminists are. There was silence for a few seconds until one of the more able (female) students responded uncertainly, "Lesbians?" I nearly fell over.
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Richard Berg
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I'll take a stab at #2. It's very likely that the student is confusing feminism (a social & political movement) with cultural studies (an academic discipline).

That mistake in itself is easy to make because feminist theory, critical race theory, queer theory, etc. all have roots in the same Continental philosophy & semiotics. What's less forgivable is the inane caricature in #1. No honest professor of humanities could give that impression to his students by accident. I strongly suspect that someone in this telephone chain is trying to slant his classes' opinions instead of presenting the arguments objectively. Even if you feel that critical theory is a bunch of self-important hogwash -- and much of it is -- you sacrifice your intellectual honesty if you don't give it a fair shake.

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pooka
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I haven't had the opportunity to follow up with my informant, but when the thread about Obama's church came up on the other side, I thought of this thread.
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Survivor
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I think that part of the problem here is that the meaning of "reversal of majority/minority role" is a little unclear.

The other part of the problem is that the statement is clearly true, as demonstrated by the fact that people are attacking it and claiming that feminism just means arguing from a position of equality. That would make a person arguing that men should have more social advantages a "feminist" as long as the arguments were based on the assumptions that men and women should have equal rights.

I assume that society has to provide women with some rights that men do not have, simply because protection of women is one of the fundamental pillars of society. Men are typically stronger and more aggressive than woman, if these tendancies are left unchecked by rules that definitely favor women, then the society will fail to give women the status they need to succeed as mothers and home-makers. Such a society will produce ever less civilized children until it suffers a total collapse into barbarism of one form or another. This has happened to countless civilizations, it's one of the primary factors driving the decline of Islamic nations despite their enormous material advantages.

If women were stronger and more aggressive, then such rules would be unnecessary (though they would obviously come into existance, as there would be no clear bar to a society's survival in them).

To be feminist, you have to argue from a position that women should have more advantages in society than they already have. Only by denying the data that clearly show that women already enjoy a far higher standard of living, quality of life, and level of personal fulfilment than men can you make this consistent with the idea that feminism is only asking for equality.

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TomDavidson
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I think feminism is perfectly consistent with the assertion that women should have more options than they realistically have, whether or not those options are advantageous.
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Survivor
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I would tend to agree, but it's important to recognize that nominal options can be made so unattractive as to be virtually meaningless. I'd say that you need to consider the quality of options in addition to the raw number of possible choices.

After all, a person chained to a sewer grate in a flooding storm drain still has lots of options. It's just that very few of those options are actually worth having [Wink]

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pooka
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Hmm. I guess "options" is not the same as "standard of living, quality of life, and personal fulfillment".

My position, when I considered myself a cultural feminist, was that women should employ definitions of success that were different from the dominant paradigm.

I'm not sure which options women in theory lack at this point. I think there are a whole lot of options women may individually deprive themselves of, like not wanting to walk around a dark city alone.

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Survivor
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Dark City...wasn't that a...movie or something?
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pooka
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Okay, here's the email:

quote:
Yes, you are right on both accounts. We just spent 4 months studying family and social theory...and that's exactly what feminism is. There is no misunderstanding.... I didn't read the actual text of your chat, but your email sounds correct. Why don't they believe you?

F

[my email tag] wrote:

Okay, when you last were here it seems you said you
were told 2 things about feminism. I've been
discussing them with people on Hatrack and people keep
saying I must have misunderstood you or you
misunderstood your professor

I'm asking for corroboration on 2 items.

1) "Feminism" is a method of advancing a social agenda
that requires reversal of majority/minority role
before negotiation can commence.

2) It is called "Feminism" even when it is being used
by other minority groups.

If you want to have a look at the discussion, it's at
http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbmain/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=004666;p=0&r=nfx
but it's just a bunch of people telling me they don't
have any idea why I would say such a thing. I go by
pooka over there.

To clarify, this person attends the University of Maryland and not some red state backwater. Though I can't imagine why anyone would assume that about someone I knew. [Wink]

[ February 22, 2007, 04:54 PM: Message edited by: pooka ]

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TomDavidson
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You know, I would consider Maryland a red-state backwater. [Wink]
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pooka
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Yeah, it's almost like a different country or something.
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Survivor
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It's more green than red...I think that it is certainly a backwater (using the methaphorical meaning, of course, though the stage contains many literal backwaters).

I hit a deer there once. It's the only time I ever hit an animal with a motor vehicle (a truck in this case). I was going pretty slow, so I probably didn't even hurt it that much, which is a shame, because after the way that little punk was playing around in the road and actually ducked directly into my path at the last moment, I really wanted it dead. Or at least...no, dead. Hopefully someone has shot it by now.

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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quote:
To clarify, this person attends the University of Maryland and not some red state backwater.
You understand why this doesn't further your point, don't you? You come up with two points I don't even recognize as feminism, both principles strangely without the word "equality," and then somehow it's up to us to show that you are wrong because you have the word of a college student saying you are right.

I don't know what kind of axe you have to grind against feminism, but you are going to have a hard time getting an honest debate if people have to agree to your terms.

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TomDavidson
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In pooka's "defense," what she's saying is that a student she knows is under the impression that at least one professor at the University of Maryland is using this definition. I see no reason to not accept this at face value, and would like to go on record, without knowing any more details, as an opponent of that professor's approach.
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pooka
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Also, I think there's a slight difference between a college student and a Master's candidate. I only have a B.A. myself. That's why I am asking if anyone else out there knows anything more about this.
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dkw
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I have a Master's Degree, and I do not believe that that is a standard definition of feminism.

Does that help?

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pooka
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Depends, what was it in [Wink] Really, though, I probably have the ability to track this professor down and see if I can find some evidence.
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pooka
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I was able to find out who the professors were, though I don't know how advisable it is to get into that on a public forum and possibly damage my relative's candidacy. That the label of feminism is applied to other minority struggles was affirmed, and in this vein my relative asked "why isn't it called humanism?" to which the professor replied "because that would imply we are all equal. Who is to say when we are equal?"

In sum, the majority's definition of equality is rejected. That, my friends, is what I have a problem with.

So is equality a matter of opportunity to reach the majority definition of success, or to establish a unique definition of success, or to call for the disestablishment of the majority definition of success? I had generally been aware of the first two concepts, but the third just seems insane to me.

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MrSquicky
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I talked this over with a bunch of friends in various related fields (demography, social work, sociology, and psychology - with some of them focusing on women and minority issues). None of them had ever heard feminism used anyway like how you are describing.

edit: spelling

[ March 12, 2007, 01:29 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

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ClaudiaTherese
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I asked a Canadian sociologist, and American philosopher, and an American lawyer (specializing in women's issues), and they were also at a loss to give this any credence as a common viewpoint. First any had heard of it.

I wonder is your relative's professor is strikingly misrepresentative of the field, and that maybe you and she should be getting the information on feminism that you actually use [as opposed to just get through in a classroom setting, distasteful as that is] from elsewhere.

---

Edited to add: I reread that, and I think it could come across as snippy or dismissive of you, pooka, and that would be totally off what I meant. I'm trying not to say, "Sounds like the professor is an idiot, if that's what's being taught as feminism."

There. I said it. [Smile]

[ March 12, 2007, 02:09 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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pooka
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I think I understood what you mean by just getting through in the classroom. Something that came up yesterday is that they now are saying that just by being born white and male, my relative is unavoidably racist and sexist. As if by that standard everyone isn't racist and sexist.
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dkw
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There is a school of literary analysis called feminist criticism that prioritizes the perspective/voice of marginalized groups. Could that be what the professor is refering to?
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pooka
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Except they aren't studying literary criticism. Maybe it's something like Standpoint Feminism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standpoint_feminism

What becomes clear, looking around wikipedia, is that feminism doesn't have a single definition as it applies to it's own field, let alone social studies generally. Maybe this is one of those cases like geneticists or educators who try to invoke linguistic theory in their research.

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Andrew W
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Well this is very interesting. I've always considered myself a feminist, or rather someone who believes that feminism (where that refers to a pursuit of equality or equity for the sexes) is the right idea, and would always self identify as a feminist, but it seems that people have lots and lots of different ideas about what it means when you say "I'm a feminist.

A lot of people I've talked about this to recently have said that when they hear feminist they think "Crazy man hating radical with ridiculous ideas" rather than anything else. I find this simplistic to the point of being insulting. I think the only thing you can be sure of when you hear "feminist" is that they believe in at least equality for women.

What I wasn't expecting is what I've encountered when reading some feminist blogs is that there is a large amount of lay-feminist opinion that actually wouldn't consider me a feminist at all unless I agree to uncritically accept a set of beliefs/theories, that I'm incapable of judging for myself due to the inherent condition of my place in society and experiences as a man.
Not that I'm inherently unlikely to have come up with these theories myself, but that I cannot accurately judge myself, even once I have had it explained to me, and if I disagree for any reason, it's my 'lacking worldview' and male privilege that is really at fault, and I am automatically wrong.
Now seeing as I hold some vaguely outre views on why words have a meaning, essentially in short, that there is no 'actual' or 'right' meaning for a word, it's entirely relative and etc, I disagree with some of their opinions. But I'm not allowed. Not because my reasons for disagreeing are lacking , or in fact for anything to do with my opinion, except that it's mine, and through my blindnesses and privilege I'm incapable of assessing the situation.
Personally I think that's just so much bullshit. And because I won't immediately abandon all my preconcieved ideas about all sorts of things without any critical evaluation, and in fact try to critically evaluate everything I'm told, to the best of my ability and understanding, I'm not only labelled a non-feminist, but an evil!eleventyone!?! anti-feminist troll out only to cause trouble.

So to summarise what has become a rambling and quite pointless post.

Feminism means lots of different things to lots of different people, and the only people who are wrong are the ones who insist that their belief on what a feminist is, is the only possible one.
Mostly feminists are awesome, but some really radical ones exist. (insert : 'which is awesome' or 'which is really shite' as preferred)
I will however continue to consider myself feminist, and people who draw the wrong conclusion from that statement are people with ill-judgement and poor understanding of the range of views that that label covers.

AW

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Nikisknight
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quote:
What is really interesting is that the whole idea of making someone humble themselves to converse with you sounds... kind of... Christian. It is similarly somewhat mystical why someone would want to be elevated to the status of oppressors, then call it the high ground
Perhaps I should start a new thread to respond to a tangential point, but I must point out that humbling OTHERS is the exact opposite of what Christianity is about; it is about humbling oneself. Forcing other people into humility is a way of exalting your own self.

quote:
Feminism means lots of different things to lots of different people, and the only people who are wrong are the ones who insist that their belief on what a feminist is, is the only possible one.
which is one reason why I'd never call myself a feminist even though I probably believe many of the same things as you. It is a term that has been stretched to the breaking point and is therefore useless.
If one is 'anti-feminism' it is assumed that they wish women to have zero choices, but to call oneself a feminist is to associate yourself with figures central to the movement who make claims such as "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" and "All hetersexual intercouse is rape." (etc.)

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pooka
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quote:
Forcing other people into humility is a way of exalting your own self.
It depends. Someone has to suggest humility to most people, and I don't really know of a Christian church that operates without some kind of hierarchy or authority structure, even if it is servant leadership in principle.
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Bokonon
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Any Congregationalist church has no real theological hierarchy (well, except the obvious one of Christ being the Head of the Church). The congregation makes the rules, the ministers work for the congregation, not the other way around. There are administrative structures to support clergy benefits and pensions and the like, but they don't hold any religious authority. Or as the saying goes with regards to the "national church" of the UCC (where most congregational churches live today), it speaks "to" the fellow congregations in the UCC not "for" them.

-Bok

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pooka
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I was under the impression that most protestant ministers work for their congregations. Does the UCC ministry require any kind of religious education?
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dkw
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The UCC requires a Master of Divinity degree.


United Methodist clergy are not employed by the congregation they serve. We're centrally appointed. Most other Protestant clergy are called by the congregation and can be dismissed by the congregation.

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pooka
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I was reading some stuff about victim mentality over the weekend and it kind of coalesced into a sense of what I wanted to say about this.

Outrage feels like a mighty tool for defining identity, but in the end I don't think it has the power to build community. So as long as feminism (and other minorities, whatever name they do it under) are dependent on outrage to motivate, they will be limited in what they accomplish. I feel this is evident in how the feminist movement fractures into incompatible constituencies.

But it does occur to me that Obama's Audacity of Hope might deal with a positive minority movement.

Um, yeah:
quote:
At the same time, he calls on people of color to give up the mantle of victimhood and persecution that, he believes, limits their ability to reach their full potential.


[ March 19, 2007, 05:24 PM: Message edited by: pooka ]

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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I actually think that majority groups will never reach their full moral potential until they stop being blithe about the power they wield.

If you had to measure the hearts and heads of the 24 year old single, abandoned moms, ankle deep in kids, cleaning jobs, and foodstamps, shaking their fist at the Man, versus the George Bushs and Dick Cheneys and Donald Rumsfelds, thick with privilege and economic concerns, I'll wager the former group has a more attractive moral center and more insightful judgment-- tempered with due humility-- about the pitfalls of the human condition and this American life.

[ March 19, 2007, 07:13 PM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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TomDavidson
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I've known too many 24-year-old single moms, ankle-deep in kids and cleaning jobs and foodstamps, to confuse desperation with an understanding of the human condition.

Being poor and hardworking does not in and of itself make you virtuous, believe me.

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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That's easy to believe. I don't mind, so much, designating the impoverished class as unsuccessful, I think the profound mistake comes from assuming that the Donald Trumphs and George Bushes of the world are somehow wise or fit to be emulated.

[ March 19, 2007, 10:35 PM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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Rose the ____
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huh. learning a lot of new things about feminism from this thread, but the only thing I had known about the movement, from a Sociology class last year, hasn't been mentioned yet, that I saw.

We were told that Feminism is a movement that simply states that "Gender does not/should not dictate destiny." That the end goal of feminism has nothing to do with equality of he sexes, that's something you take as a given along the way - but that the end result should be that a person's role in life, in a world changed by feminism, should not be limited by their sexual identity, be it the one their born with or one they somehow assume.

The goal of Feminism, then, might not be to make the sexes equal, but to make their differences less relevant, yes? Equality of the sexes sounds like a small stepping stone when the end result is the elimination of roles dependent on gender.

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pooka
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quote:
Being poor and hardworking does not in and of itself make you virtuous, believe me.
True. People always have a choice about how to respond to their conditions. But I think Irami has a very good point about what I would call the spiritual hazard of wealth and power, or even relative comfortableness.

But that's where I could say I don't care for that definition of success and withdraw from ambition.

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Synesthesia
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Why are strict sex roles even nessasary?
That sort of thing angers me, it's what frustrates me about the right so much, this sense that this is how things are, these are the rules when really to me it should be less about ridgidity and strict standards and more about being whole.
That's what feminism SHOULD be about, but it has ben co-opted by things that annoy me or the media's incorrect form of it. It isn't enough. We should take it to a different level.

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pooka
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If we just erase the boundaries, then who can claim to be treated unfairly? Also, I'm not sure what part of this thread you're objecting to, or if this is just ranting on the right in general.
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Synesthesia
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It could be general ranting, but the left annoys me as well. I'm annoyed in general because I am so tired of the same thing all the time.
Perhaps if there were no boundaries, there wouldn't be an institutional need to treat people unfairly. Why should anyone be mistreated on the basis of something as arbitrary as gender? If a woman wants to juggle a career and a family, why not? If a woman wants to stay home with her kids because she feels that is right for her or her family, why bother her...? Why can't people simply be allowed to live the way they want to, within reason without groups of people, (hardcore feminists, the right) griping about their personal decisions and trying to undermine them?
I swear this attitude does more to undo families and people... *general angry ranting*

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