Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gender, sexism, and some other stuff

Oneblood and I were discussing sexism (well, "isms" in general, but you know everthing with me is sex?). I asked what his ideas were in regards to my fondness for females in relation to sexism. ie, does my objectifying women equate to sexism?
He challenged me to post on the subject. And, I haven't posted a new one in a while, so here goes.....

I really like women. I like them in all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. I find great beauty in the female form. If I were to have a religion, my deity would most assuredly be a woman.

That is not to say, I don't have female friends. I do, many, in fact.

Gender aside, are we objectifying those we are attracted to? Is sex, itself, sexist?

24 comments:

Senorita said...

As long as you are not being blatantly creepy or sexually assaulting her, there is nothing wrong with admiring female beauty.

The day men stop staring at me or making comments is the day that I will start worrying.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Mrs Pliny is the intellectual equal of any one I know. She has enormous personal power and character. She is kind, thoughtful, strong, powerful, graceful and yes feminine without in any way being weak. She is my life's partner. And still after 21 years together my heart skips a beat every time I lay eyes on her. Viva le difference!

Michael Lockridge said...

I am a bit schizophrenic on this matter. I recognize within myself a creature that would ravage just about anything female.

Above that baser creature is one that allows sexual desire to inform a sense of beauty. Still a bit shallow and driven by desire, but with a touch of sophistication.

Another being recognizes the need to control both of these others for the sake of self preservation and the preservation of society. I am neither pretty enough nor strong enough for a realm of sexually driven chaos.

Beyond many other layers is the creature who values thirty plus years of monogamy with a person of great value. Sexuality informs the relationship, but it is much richer than just that.

Still, the low boys and I like to hang out at the beach or the mall once in a while.

As to sexism, I generally don't make decisions simply based on gender or sexual interest. They are factors, but not of great value in most decisions.

Harvey said...

Mac:

Herein lies the eternal conundrum of Humanity. We are animals, no different than any other with the exception of brain size, opposable thumbs, and, perhaps, the ability to imagine circumstances we have not yet or may never actually experience. From an evolutionary standpoint, our only "reason" for existance is to survive long enought to procreate and, in our case, long enough thereafter to nurture our offspring until they, in turn, can reproduce. Because Human females (alone among most mammals other than certain other primates) do not go into "heat", but are approachable sexually essentially at all times, there is survival value to the species for males to always be "interested". We cannot escape that inner horny beast who has evolved to be so over many millennia. As a result, all females who appear to be of breeding age will ilicit at least momentary attraction to any male who remains physically capable of
"breeding" her (and, I can attest, even when one is no longer "capable").
On the other hand, because we have also evolved cooperative groups (like families, tribes, clans, nations, etc....) which also have extreme survival value, but which require that members learn to pay attention to the well being of the group, often necessitating subjugating immediate personal gratification to do so, we have also needed to protect and/or defend certain females and, furthermore, learned (generally)not to approach closely related females.
In more recent times, as women have become more capable of dealing with their own "protection", this attraction between the sexes has come (at least potentially)to a more equal footing. Women no longer have to submit to sexual advances because of aggression from the male, nor are they any longer (in most places) seen as chattel belonging first to their father and then to a mate or husband.
Everything about the term "sexism" deals only with our "civilized" behavior; none of it is related to physical drives that have evolved as outlined above, although it is fair to say that we probably would not objectify women if we did not have to try to reconcile our civilized behavior with our animal nature. In light of these thoughts, I cannot see how sex itself (an inbred physical drive for survival) can be termed sexist.

The Lion said...

Attraction is not sexism. Treating someone differently (higher or lower pay, different opportunities etc) due to their sex is sexism.

I am particularly fond of the male half of our species. Especially if they smile. Or are wearing a dark suit. Or a nice pair of jeans....we're gonna stop there. I don't think I'm objectifying them because I also see them as a person. I see their humor, intelligence etc.

oneblood said...

Ironically enough mac, I think our posts are compatible.

Taking you at your word, if you can call a woman a friend, then your sexual attraction is your own business and not objectification (which as Harvey pointed out, is societally oriented).

This was cool. Thanks for obliging me.

mac said...

Harvey,
As usual, you're right.

Senorita,
Glad you don't mind.

Pliny,
You're a lucky guy. Mrs Pliny sounds swell.

Mike,
Me too.

Lion,
No suit, but a big smile :-)

oneblood,
thanks for making me go there.

Anonymous said...

Attraction is not sexism. The use of blatant unwanted sexual references is when it is obvious others do not feel comfortable with it.

Sexism has a different meaning for everyone.

Rita said...

Sexism is when, for what ever reason you believe or act out the fact that you believe the opposite sex is inferior.
It manifests it's self like the other bad "isms" by a showing of lack of respect for someone else.

I think it is good to examine ourselves from time to time, because we all tend to make assumptions. Our "isms" are most often about the differences in others that we can only see from our perspective of not being them.

Secretia said...

You are in love with sex and with women. That's the finest quality a man can have. I like that about you.

I'm following you now, and Thanks for visiting Secret Story Time, I hope you come often!

Secretia

Asylum Seeker said...

I agree with what seems to be the consensus here: that sexual attraction is not sexism. I would say that it is only (a form of) sexism when the sexual qualities of the opposite sex are the only thing that you notice or focus on. I say "opposite sex" because it would be very hard for a homosexual to be sexist in the same sense, due to the fact that they are a member of the same sex that they would be sexually objectifying. Granted, it's not impossible. The potential for self-loathing in humans sometimes does outpace the kind of egotism that favoring groups you identify with represents. But I think that such a case would be kind of exceptional, whereas misogynists who "love women" are a dime a dozen.

oneblood said...

In order to keep the discussion going for a little bit...

"You are in love with sex and with women. That's the finest quality a man can have."

I consider that to be a sexist statement. Finest quality? I propose it is neither the finest quality for men or women.

Sex is great! Objectification however, which that quote exemplifies, I cannot agree with.

Something like the above can even be taken religiously. If a man or woman worships the opposite sex, there is something psychologically deficient with them. Their sense of self is lost amidst the ever shifting ideals of whomever because they base their self esteem on that person or those people.

I ain't tryin to keep you from a good time mac, but I can almost guarantee that that woman has severe emotional issues. Once you've had the training, certain things are dead giveaways when it comes to abuse, addiction, and gender relations.

And even those two meager sentences speak more volumes than she ever imagined.

Your attraction is your business, but as friendly semi-anonymous internet advice, I'd say steer clear.

Tit for Tat said...

What was it that Harry said to Sally in the movie.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harry Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.

Sally Albright: Why not?

Harry Burns: What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

Sally Albright: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.

Harry Burns: No you don't.

Sally Albright: Yes I do.

Harry Burns: No you don't.

Sally Albright: Yes I do.

Harry Burns: You only think you do.

Sally Albright: You say I'm having sex with these men without my knowledge?

Harry Burns: No, what I'm saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.

Sally Albright: They do not.

Harry Burns: Do too.

Sally Albright: They do not.

Harry Burns: Do too.

Sally Albright: How do you know?

Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.

Sally Albright: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?

Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.

That about sums up our sexist behaviour. ;)

Harvey said...

"We cannot escape that inner horny beast who has evolved to be so over many millennia. As a result, all females who appear to be of breeding age will ilicit at least momentary attraction to any male who remains physically capable of
"breeding" her (and, I can attest, even when one is no longer "capable")."

I might ahve gone further with this. I think the largest part of "sexism" and what differentiates it from most other "isms" is our total inability to appreciate what it means to be (the other gender). As hard as we may try, I believe no man can ever truly understand the experience of being female (and, most likely, vice versa). I choose to think that most women find it possible to be true "friends" with certain homosexual males, precisely because "sex" does not enter into it. Although I can no more appreciate whether or not this is correct (because I am neither female nor gay) than I can truly empathize with my wife or daughter in her experience of being a woman, it appears to me to be so. If one agrees that our gender related activities have resulted from evolutionary "hardwiring", it follows that we can never truly "understand" each other in matters other than the desire to have sex, as well. Hence, "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" turns out to be a succinct way to express the state of affars and relationships (or lack thereof) between us.

mac said...

Thank you Harvey :-)

I feel much the same. A man can never understand what it is to be a woman, and a woman can never understand what it means to be a man.
It seems simple enough when I see it printed there. Where we (as a society) run into trouble is when we don't, at least, try to be empathetic towards the opposite sex.
Because, as we all should know, being different isn't wrong. I think it may be this difference I find so fascinating about women...well that, and they're just so cute ;-)

soubriquet said...

Phoo!

My experience is that it's a minefield. Men and women, no matter how legislature and PC language evolve, never truly understand each other.

All men know that moment when she goes from a sweet smile to a bloodfreezing glare... And you try rewind, and think? what? did i say? did I do? did she do? and truly, you have no idea why clouds crossed the sun and your place is out in the storm.
If you ask, she'll say "You know!", and you'll frown some more, and wonder what happened.
Now the chances are that you were staring into the middle-distance, thinking, "should I change to a synthetic oil? it costs more, but... I'd better get extra, because of the filter-change...." meanwhile two thirds of a mile away, in roughly the direction you were gazing, a woman crossed the street.
You see where this is going? No, of course, because you noticed that woman, as you notice all women, then instantly forgot her again... but the woman by your side, she's noticed that woman, invented a hundred scenarios, in which you always come off badly, in her eyes. And she hasn't forgotten. Oh no. You're arrested, tried, and found guilty, even though you don't know any of this.

Stacy S. said...

Did I make it in time enough to talk about sex? ;-)

soubriquet said...

Um, hit post a bit early there. My point was, I've been in that scenario quite a several times, and I'm still bewildered when it occurs.
Women. And Cats. You'll never figure out what they're thinking or the decision paths they travel along.

All you can do is remember:-
There are no right answers.
The answers to the test change, randomly, each time.
You will not learn to read the signals.
She will never truly understand just how much you love her.

mac said...

Please, Stacy, enlighten us :-)

Stacy S. said...

I don't have much to add - you all seem to have it covered.I just like to say "sex" ! :-)

I think Rita nailed it on the head - It's not sexism until you think and act like you are superior because of your gender.

The Lion said...

"You are in love with sex and with women. That's the finest quality a man can have."

Not only is it a sexist statement, it is a bigoted statement as well. Although I am sure it was not intended in that fashion, it belittles gay men that are not in love with sex (at least not with women) or women.

Sexism isn't about understanding the opposite sex and what it is like to be them. Unless one day I sprout a penis and begin life as a man - which in my experience is highly unlikely and not something I find desirable - I will never understand what the male life is like. That isn't what sexism is, however. Sexism (in the nastiest form) is discriminating against someone because of their gender. When McCain chose Palin, he was being sexist. He chose her (and don't you deny it) because he thought Obama would pick Hillary and Hillary would get the female vote. So he one upped Obama and picked Palin. Not because she was qualified, but because she is a woman. That is sexist.

Disregarding an opinion because it comes from a certain gender is sexist. Assuming a gender (as a whole) cannot do something (other than an anatomical event) is sexist. Paying a woman less (or more) than an equally qualified male is sexist.

Being attracted to women and therefore generally treating them better than the men around you? Not sexist - that is smart, and it is evolutionary. Men treat the women they are attracted to well so that we will think they are such nice guys and we will want to have sex with them. That isn't sexism, that is nature.

And Mac, we're all cute ;) It is the nature of being a girl. lol

rita said...

sou
It's the same as the discussion about politics. It's the frustration & confusion that makes it exciting. :)

soubriquet said...

Oh good. I knew there must be a reason.

As for sexism, I'm against it, and the example given re. Sarah Palin is just one. Here in Britain our political parties regularly do a head count and conclude that women are under-represented as candidates, and they want the women to vote so... Oh yes. Let's have all-women candidates! let's take all the existing male candidates, no matter their ability, and say, so long as we can find a woman, regardless of ability, to stand for this post, then all you guys won't be offered the chance.
And on the record of our recent governments, and the women in ministerial posts? They're oh so equal. Equal in incompetence, veniality and fraudulent behaviour. The women's lobby told us that women would outperform men in government. Not so far.
I'm fervently against any form of discrimination, and that includes positive discrimination. If women make up more than fifty percent of the electorate, then surely the opportunity is there, without further manipulation.

rita said...

sou
Women & politics sounds like a good subject for a blog post. As far as incompetence, veniality and fraudulent behaviour, women just are as capable of that as men, I've seen it.
I've closely watched both women & men govern in local politics. The right woman is just as capable as a man to govern & women do bring valuable insight & skills to the table. Women need to be involved in politics as players. As you say, If women make up more than fifty percent of the electorate, then surely the opportunity is there, without further manipulation.

Definately, a good subject for further discussion.