The query that was read in meeting last Sunday "Do we honor Friend's traditional testimony that men and women are equal? How do we work to make these ideals a reality?" The first thought that came into my mind was plain/modest dress. This seemed very ironic and somewhat humorous to me as traditional dress for women has been seen by our liberated culture as a sign of the patriarchal domination of women. So how did I so quickly come up with the thought that plain dress is in fact a way to help make the equality of men and women a reality? Obviously one of the ways women in our society are enslaved is that they are viewed as sex objects, by men, by the media, by themselves. Burning bras was supposed to take care of this, but strangely it didn't. It was supposed to make men no longer see women as sex objects, but as people. Women could now wear whatever clothes they wanted to, and the uncovering up of the female body was supposed to make women feel freer and more like men (they don't feel compelled to wear bras, do they!).

When I compare the exploitation of women's bodies in the movies, on TV, in magazines, and on the street, between the early 70s and now, it is obvious things have gone horribly wrong! And I don't think people are even aware of it - except those of us who were concerned about such things back in the 60s! When I complained to the local librarian that one of the teen comic books in the library had fully nude women in it - one of those graphic novels - and that it exploited women, she looked blank and said it was very popular and they couldn't remove it!

I remember as well being outraged at the suggestion of adults in the 60s that if women didn't want to be treated as sex objects why didn't they wear more clothes! Well! Who did they think they were! Women could now wear whatever they wanted and that was that!

So now at the ripe old age of 57 I ask the same question: when will women see that men are biologically programmed (thank God) to see a naked, or near naked woman, as a sex object, and if women want to find true equality in this society it is time to wake up and keep our bodies to ourselves where they belong! This now feels so obvious to me that I really no longer understand why it seems (or seemed) oppressive at all. When will women wake up and claim that equality that God gave them. It is up to us as women to do so, beginning with our own dress.

Barb

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Wait a minute!  The Quakers of the 17th Century and then the Shakers who emerged at the end of the 18th Century were most definitely advocates for the equality of the sexes!    

I am all for equality between the sexes and I really do not believe in women are in need of more protection than men. I personally hate both being mistreated because I am a woman and being subject to greater care because I am a woman. I want to be treated well, just that. I want someone to hold up  door for me if I come towards it with tons of things in my hands, but not just because I am a woman. If I have nothing in my hands I can open a door myself and perhaps hold it up to the man who comes in after me with a TV in his hands. I love kindness and hospitality but I want it for both men and women and I really do not want special treatment.

Other than the fact that we have different genitals and internal sexual organs, I see very little difference between men and women. Sure, there might be huge differences between one man and one woman as it can be between two women or two men as well. Women are pregnant and might breastfeed and we should welcome and support that but we should also support fathers to be full parents and take part in their children's lives and upbringing. I support the rights of all people to live up to their full potential including making choices that are less common within their gender. Some would say that this blurrs the lines between men and women and that we are going against god, I do not buy that. I think that a talent not used is a bigger sin than not fulfilling arbitrary roles that are clearly changing over time.

Karen Mercer said:

Speaking to a friend of mine today, she told me that her father had had an affair and her parents were divorcing and the previously tight-knit supportive family was being plunged into emotional and financial chaos and fighting. I'm sure she could do with a world that shamed men for that behaviour and not one that tolerates it as equal opportunity pleasure seeking, ignoring the fact that men are more likely to do it and women are more likely to suffer because of it, medically and financially. Of course, we could just blame her mother for choosing to stay home and waste her potential raising 5 kids when she could've been doing more rewarding work that would've left her with a better financial portfolio for the day she was betrayed. For all our attempts to convince them they can have it all, the fact is most mothers of young children still want to stay home with their children. Their instinct fits with the science that still stubbornly says that that is usually the best thing for their children, as is a two parent family that stays together. This science remains unpopular and controversial in some quarters. People with a favoured philosophy to protect always attempt to silence any science unfavourable to that, even to refusing to allow the questions to be asked. I have found that as consistently of classic left-wing and 2nd &3rd wave feminism supporters as I have found it of religious fundamentalists. Dogma trumps science for them. It used to for me, certainly.


I don't fully understand the demonization of divorce. It's not a failure in itself. It's the almost-inevitable result of past failures.  I particularly don't understand the idea that divorce is harmful to the children.

My parents married each other, divorced (when I was 4), married each other again (when I was 7), divorced again (when I was 12), and now my mother's remarried (since just before my 18th birthday) and my father's engaged. What I got from living in a "broken home" was an appreciation of good communication skills. I learned that ad hominem attacks are not particularly useful. And I learned that "I'm not speaking to X, so you pass this message along," while silly from a child is just plain ridiculous from an adult.

From my mother's remarriage, I learned why it's important for both halves to be equals. She married up, and he had and I suspect still has power over her because he's the breadwinner. The potential for him to leave her with us going back to the class in which I grew up and was comfortable (his was profoundly uncomfortable) was her usual stick to keep us in line.  My father made what I consider a better choice with his soon-to-be third wife (he married once before my mother). His future wife is absolutely his peer. They are together for love, not economics.

I don't think I'm broken. I think I learned from the mistakes they made, and I think dad learned from his, but I'm not sure mom has. *shrug*  OK, I also got really good at packing quickly for a trip, what with all the house-switching for their week-by-week custody plan :P Handy skill!

Elsewhere on QQ I think you said something about divorce rates among classes, that the lower ones divorce more than the the upper ones. My boyfriend, whose family was working class throughout his childhood, is the only friend I have whose parents I'm certain are still married. I grew up in a middle class area, and I can only think of one friend I had in high school whose parents were married to each other. They probably shouldn't have been, and she's the least well-adjusted friend I had, always acting out and getting into trouble.

Regarding child-rearing:  The impression I've got from...well, whatever wave of feminism we're in now, I suppose 3rd... is that it's about choice. Choosing to stay home with your child is as valid as choosing to get a job. Now, I'd say that choice ought to be made together as part of the partnership of a marriage (ie, don't be like my mother and find out you're pregnant, quit your job right-quick, and assume your husband won't mind that there is suddenly one less income stream with no prior warning or consultation--see above about communication skills), but it's still a choice. At least, choice is what is preached by the feminists I associate with.

Karen Mercer said:

If I went to....hmm, let's say a bowling alley that insisted that men and women were the same and their were no differences....I would find few shoes to fit my small feet and be asked to bowl with a 12-16 pound ball even though I need a 8-10 lb one and there would be no child minding available.


Or perhaps the men would find that there were no shoes large enough for them--particularly if they are being sewn by seamstresses.

>>>Speaking to a friend of mine today, she told me that her father had had an affair and her parents were divorcing and the previously tight-knit supportive family was being plunged into emotional and financial chaos and fighting./p>

Chances are they were not tight-knit and supportive although they may have appeared this way.  I am a survivor of spousal abuse.  Now, I'm not saying that there was spousal abuse involved but divorce happens when there are problems.  You're putting the cart before the horse.  Divorce will involve problems but they are usually the means to an end of greater, unsolvable problems.  There is a greater peace within my household and my daughter has started a healthier relationship with her father.  When he was in the home, there was violence, including verbal, psychological and eventually physical.

I don't know your friend's family's situation but if there was an affair involved then, for whatever reason, the family was not as tight-knit as your friend may have thought.  Children (even adult children) often do not understand divorce and feel as though it is the dissolving of the family.  She will find over time that divorce was the better option, her parents will be able to heal and close open wounds - and the family, the love of the family, will still be there.  I wish her the best in her healing.  Caroline
 
Karen Mercer said:

I am afraid you are going to take offense and I don't want you to but I have to point out that you have logically contradicted yourself. You have said that you hate being misreated because you are a woman, but if you are being mistreated for being a woman then are you not in need of greater protection from that?

If men and women are alike except for genitalia, then you are insisting they have the same brains and psychology. If that is true, that there are no "male brains" or "female brains" but only "human brains" walking about in highly similar bodies then the immense distress felt by transexuals is illogical and illusory.  However if they are not alike, if there is such a thing as a "male brain" and a "female brain" (which is borne out by SPECT scans) then their distress is completely understandable and reasonable.

I don't base my opinions about male and female on religion or the Bible, I base them on science; biology, neurology, psychology etc. Everything I have learned on the matter since I took up studying gender has convinced me that men and women are different in important ways. No animal on earth is without gender based differences and behaviour programming, and it's highly unlikely that humans would be the exception to that. Our greater intelligence and adaptability allows us to influence our biology if we wish, to make us more or less alike, but the issue of how far we can push that, or how advisable it is, is a seperate matter.

The people of the past and religions have held philosophies which required that they overblow the differences and attempt to make the genders into opposites with little or no overlap. Through the 60s 70s and 80s we developed philosophies that tried to fix that bias and correct things by claiming that there are no significant differences. I find no scientific support for either of those philosophies. The truth is somewhere in the middle and science is a better, if fallible, guide than any philosophy. Bad science corrects itself far faster than bad philosophy.

Some of the latest fads in childrearing, like gender-free childhoods are nothing new. Look back at old Victorian pictures and even earlier and you will be unable to tell the very small boys from the girls, as they all have long hair in ringlettes and dresses and bonnets on. Young children were all treated the same. Likewise, I was amused to see last year on the cover of Psychology Today the bold headline declaring (in reference to sex) " Men and women are different!" and giving advice to increase female sexual satisfaction. There wasn't a bit of advice in there that the Victorians wouldn't have considered common knowledge. There are records of several ministers raining down hellfire and brimstone at selfish men who rushed through sex without any emotional input or special attentions thus depriving their wives of the pleasure that was their god-given right in marraige. Given what goes on today, I would take that attitude over the Pornstar one any day.

Speaking to a friend of mine today, she told me that her father had had an affair and her parents were divorcing and the previously tight-knit supportive family was being plunged into emotional and financial chaos and fighting. I'm sure she could do with a world that shamed men for that behaviour and not one that tolerates it as equal opportunity pleasure seeking, ignoring the fact that men are more likely to do it and women are more likely to suffer because of it, medically and financially. Of course, we could just blame her mother for choosing to stay home and waste her potential raising 5 kids when she could've been doing more rewarding work that would've left her with a better financial portfolio for the day she was betrayed. For all our attempts to convince them they can have it all, the fact is most mothers of young children still want to stay home with their children. Their instinct fits with the science that still stubbornly says that that is usually the best thing for their children, as is a two parent family that stays together. This science remains unpopular and controversial in some quarters. People with a favoured philosophy to protect always attempt to silence any science unfavourable to that, even to refusing to allow the questions to be asked. I have found that as consistently of classic left-wing and 2nd &3rd wave feminism supporters as I have found it of religious fundamentalists. Dogma trumps science for them. It used to for me, certainly.

If I went to....hmm, let's say a bowling alley that insisted that men and women were the same and their were no differences....I would find few shoes to fit my small feet and be asked to bowl with a 12-16 pound ball even though I need a 8-10 lb one and there would be no child minding available. Imagine if I complained about that state of affairs, and then was told off for not being a feminist and making it appear that women were weaker than men! Many of "the rules" of the world were made by men for men and in order to be "equal" a woman must work twice as hard. Understanding the reality of differences can help create a world where women can be equal and valued as women, and not as small men that menstruate and breastfeed.

I can live without every man rushing to open doors for me, I used to move theatre sets with pieces weighing up to several hundred pounds (not by myself, of course) and build theatre floors. I can use power tools as well as most men I know. There are plenty of the old "rules" which likely are outdated now and we don't need back. However, I am not a man, I don't want to be a man, and I don't want to be treated like one of the guys. I was raised my whole life with the notion that I had to be like a man and compete with all men to be valuable and because of that my femininity was squashed.

Best line I ever heard in a movie was in She's All That where one girl says to the lead female character, being catty, "You run like a girl." and she answers deadpan, "I am a girl."

 I run like a girl....a fast girl...and I'm ok with that.
 
Elin Hagberg said:

I am all for equality between the sexes and I really do not believe in women are in need of more protection than men. I personally hate both being mistreated because I am a woman and being subject to greater care because I am a woman. I want to be treated well, just that. I want someone to hold up  door for me if I come towards it with tons of things in my hands, but not just because I am a woman. If I have nothing in my hands I can open a door myself and perhaps hold it up to the man who comes in after me with a TV in his hands. I love kindness and hospitality but I want it for both men and women and I really do not want special treatment.

Other than the fact that we have different genitals and internal sexual organs, I see very little difference between men and women. Sure, there might be huge differences between one man and one woman as it can be between two women or two men as well. Women are pregnant and might breastfeed and we should welcome and support that but we should also support fathers to be full parents and take part in their children's lives and upbringing. I support the rights of all people to live up to their full potential including making choices that are less common within their gender. Some would say that this blurrs the lines between men and women and that we are going against god, I do not buy that. I think that a talent not used is a bigger sin than not fulfilling arbitrary roles that are clearly changing over time.

This conversation is really having some interesting developments. 

And good old Carl Jung and his concept of "Synchronicity" has come through again.  I just finished listening to an audio book (that's also available in print):  HALF THE SKY.

It's written by a couple who are journalists who have studied violence against women in all its various forms across the world, and what programs have worked to remedy the situations and what has not worked.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  When I mentioned this book in our post-worship Introductions and Announcements after Rise of Meeting yesterday, a grad student in our Meeting said he had read it for a class last semester and he agreed totally about how good this book is. 

Someone asked me, "Would you want to wear a bourka?"  Well, you know, I've talked to Muslim women who say some very sensible things.  They never have to worry about what to put on!   It simplifies their lives.  They've grown up with the concept and are comfortable with it.  They do not see it as "oppression."  I have to admit, at 59 with my flabby upper arms (despite exercise and playing my concertina <G>) and alopecia from one of my meds (which gives me an addition "excuse" to engage in head covering), and the way we've skipped Spring here in KY and gone straight from a weird winter to an instant summer (so I'm digging out cooler clothing) -- yeah, a bourka sounds like a REALLY good idea at the moment. 

And I guess the Plain Quaker option of weeding certain garments out of our wardrobes (even if it's just doing it frugally and ditching garments when they are no longer functional -- I'm just now finishing a yellow and green rag rug done in what some folks call the "toothbrush" method aka a form of nalbinding -- or attacking the closet with vigor and heading off with a full bag to the local thrift store . . .  Plainness offers us many of the same advantages that are enjoyed by women who chose to wear the bourka.  It's not a BAD thing. 

I also agree with the destigmatizing of divorce.  My parents stayed together because that was what you do -- if you get married, you stick it out.  And they made each other miserable, and it definitely affected my sisters and me.  However, when my mom was dying of multiple medical problems in her early 60s, my dad took excellent care of her to the last. 

However a year and a half later (and I, the youngest child was by then in my 30s), Dad married one of my mom's old Bridge playing buddies, and they were a couple of love birds until my dad died at the age of 62.  I have been so pleased that my dad had happiness the last 18 years of his life.  My stepmother is an awesome, kind, gentle, loving individual, and she and Dad were so willingly devoted to each other, and not because of some vows they'd made. 

Reading HALF THE SKY, it also brought home to me the need for women to be able to leave abusive relationships.  This is not to say that women are always the victims.  I've known some women who have been grossly verbally, emotionally and physically abusive to their spouses and their children, and in any relationship where there is violence, the victims need to be able to remove themselves from the situation.  I have a friend who worked in the state division of Corrections for her career, and she told me it's shocking the number of WOMEN who sexually abuse children.  It isn't "rare" at all.  It's sick behavior no matter who the perpetrator is or their gender. 

um, pardon me for maybe stepping into a yellowjacket of an issue, but speaking as a man, i consider myself somewhat of an authority on what makes women attractive, at least to me.  it's not what women wear that makes them attractive to men-- it's that they're women in the first place. totally naked women are sexualized most--at least as naked women--in places where women aren't customarily naked. in places where women (and often men, as well) already wear very little clothing, the sight of naked women isn't as much a sexual thing.

i remember women walking half-naked down the streets of nairobi, and it wasn't sexualized there, at that time. in japan. nakedness used to accepted in the same way that indoor nakedness was acceptable among inuit societies. western nude beaches are a different thing, because there clothing is taken off temporarily. where clothing is generally absent, nakedness is less noticeable.

this was brought home to me clearly when i once watched an old 1985 motion picture called The Emerald Forest, about south american indians. during almost the entire picture, the women actors wore essentially nothing. but after 20 minutes, i no longer even noticed the nudity. towards the end, there was a night club scene where the same women actors wore skimpy western clothing, and to my surprise, i suddenly noticed that they were all sexually attractive. at the end of the scene, they all took their clothes completely off again, and the sexuality evaporated.

in western culture, covering up for modesty's sake is a good thing, because that's how westerners treat modesty. but it doesn't keep women from being attractive. these days, i think women who cover up are a lot more attractive than those who don't, but maybe that's just me.

Thank thee, Kevin.

Karen,

Due to the length of your entry I will not quote it because it makes everything harder to read.

Well, I do not say that gender discrimation does not exist but I do not think that means that I need protection any more than a man who is also subject to gender discrimation so I do not think I contradict myself here. It is true that men are the norm but that does not mean that it is easy for men who differ from the norm and that men do not suffer any discrimination. I come from an area where there are very strong masculine norms and men who break them are often heavily punished while women have far more freedom both when it comes to choice of leasure time activities, career and other personal choices while men are seen as unmasculine for the silliest reasons... It is a pretty special culture but it has made me very aware of the fact that men might suffer heavily because of gender discrimation and that the fight for equality is not just 'a woman's issue'.

No, I am not a hardcore constructivist when it comes to male and female. I see genetalia as the the main difference between men and women and the only one that is true for all males and females. (I choose to leave out people who are transgendered here) Yes, if you look at men as a group and females as a group we do see differences in brains on a big scale but there are also many women whose brains are 'male' and the opposite as well and I am not just taking about those who feel that they were born in the wrong body. I might very well be one of these 'male-brained' females as I have a physical characteristic which is common for women who were subject to testosterone in utero.

I am not a man either and I do not strive to be treated like one of the guys but like the unique person I am.

Karen, as you might know my first language is not English and perhaps my writing was not clear enough. I hope this entry has clarified some things though. I am not a person who takes offence easily so I was actually not offended at all by your entry but I feel that I should have spent more time making sure to not give the picture that I believe that we are completely blank slates at birth.

        I am reminded that when I was in second grade one of my older cousins (married with children) discovered there was a nudist colony an hour or so away from us. This he found a fascinating prospect. He did what research he could on the subject (very little pre-internet). He talked about it constantly to anyone who would listen. He practically preached to one and all about the naturalness of nudity, the of it, the honesty of it. Wholesome outdoor living. A veritable Garden of  Eden. Men and women together as equals "just as God made them".

     At length he decided he and his family would join. He anticipated how joining Fern Hills and spending weekends with like-minded (ie: nekkid) people would enrich his life and make him one with nature, one with humanity.

     Finally the big weekend came, Cousin packed up the reluctant wife and three very young kids and off they went to camp out in their new summertime wonderland.

     "I was never so disappointed in my life," he later told my papa. "It was nothing but a bunch of nekkid people."

Human imagination vs reality.  Sigh.

 

 
kevin roberts said:

um, pardon me for maybe stepping into a yellowjacket of an issue, but speaking as a man, i consider myself somewhat of an authority on what makes women attractive, at least to me.  it's not what women wear that makes them attractive to men-- it's that they're women in the first place. totally naked women are sexualized most--at least as naked women--in places where women aren't customarily naked. in places where women (and often men, as well) already wear very little clothing, the sight of naked women isn't as much a sexual thing.

i remember women walking half-naked down the streets of nairobi, and it wasn't sexualized there, at that time. in japan. nakedness used to accepted in the same way that indoor nakedness was acceptable among inuit societies. western nude beaches are a different thing, because there clothing is taken off temporarily. where clothing is generally absent, nakedness is less noticeable.

this was brought home to me clearly when i once watched an old 1985 motion picture called The Emerald Forest, about south american indians. during almost the entire picture, the women actors wore essentially nothing. but after 20 minutes, i no longer even noticed the nudity. towards the end, there was a night club scene where the same women actors wore skimpy western clothing, and to my surprise, i suddenly noticed that they were all sexually attractive. at the end of the scene, they all took their clothes completely off again, and the sexuality evaporated.

in western culture, covering up for modesty's sake is a good thing, because that's how westerners treat modesty. but it doesn't keep women from being attractive. these days, i think women who cover up are a lot more attractive than those who don't, but maybe that's just me.

I am totally loving this discussion!  It brightens my day.  People are being disarmingly honest, yet humor has held its own as well.  Karen, what has thou started>   ;-)

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