Catherine Redfern, founder of The F-Word and author of this article, replies
Thanks for your comment. I decided not to specifically discuss the series itself in the review, but focus on the movie. But I know a lot of people do share your view and although I am a fan of the show I can completely understand where you are coming from. I guess it just goes to show that there are quite a lot of different opinions on Sex and The City.
Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies
“I deem your issue is not serious enough* to merit my rapt attention. Therefore I will send in an abusive and condescending email!”. See Feminism 101 for more on this.
I think we’re misunderstanding each other. I’m not suggesting that all thin people have it easy, and in many ways ‘thin privilege’ is a misnomer, because it misses the fact that people who are naturally ‘underweight’ are also subject to oppression. More correctly, it would be called conventional-ideal-weight-privilege, because people, especially women of weights either end of the spectrum get attacked for their appearance.
You are entitled to your own opinion, and if you’ve read the privilege checklists and disagree with them, then there’s nothing I can say to change your mind. But I never intended to suggest that all thin people do not suffer any form of discrimination on appearance or weight grounds. Thin women are also subject to disapproving stares and comments about their diet, or how they are unattracticve (indeed, the size zero debate feeds into this woman-bashing, rather than alleviating it, because it unilaterally asserts that thin women are not as attractive as ‘curvy’ women, and blames thin women, whether they diet or not, for being vain or not ‘sexy enough’ as if they exist for that. But there is a greater social pressure to not be fat than not be skinny, because the health risks of being obese are much more emphasised in the media, and deemed less physically attractive than the thin side of the spectrum (even the very thin side of the spectrum), they get more problems from society for that.
As someone who is white, heterosexual, average weight and health, I do feel that I’m getting an easier deal than people who fit the norm less, even from my personal experiences with friends. Yes, they get protection, but that protection is specifically there because the actions of individuals, and the way society is structured as a whole, puts them at greater risk.
Anne Onne, author of the article, replies
Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry that the tone of the article doesn’t agree with you. I didn’t intend to come off as either, but writing a feminist piece on men is running a tightrope between being placed in the role of the ball-busting man-hater, and gently coaxing nanny, and although I was trying to be milder than many feminists I have read on the issue who don’t mince any words, I knew that with so many male readers, I was never going to write an article that fitted all.
I don’t believe men aren’t welcome in feminism, because I don’t believe it’s purely women’s struggle, especially if we beleive that part of the problem is men’s personal interactions with women, and their role in oppression. Men are welcome, in fact needed, because women can’t end systemic oppression on their own, particularly if men think it’s only in women’s interests to end it.
The point was not that their experiences are worthless, but that women’s oppression is not about men’s opinions or their experiences. Humans of course all have something to say, and equal rights to express that opinion. but clearly not all humans have equal experience of something, and when we are talking about a particular issue, the point was that those with the most experience of it, the most affected, deserve to be listened to, because they are normally the most ignored. When we’re talking about issues that women bear the brunt of, it makes sense that their experiences and opinions are most relevant. This is not to mean that men shouldn’t comment, because they can still contritute many interesting things to any discussion, but that they should remember that they’re talking about something that affects women much more, therefore may be advised to listen to those experiences.
There will be many areas where men’s experiences are directly relevant, especially in discussions on how the patriarchy negatively affects men, but because of the nature of the movement, because of the belief that on the whole, women are more badly affected by the patriarchy, and because the movement is primarily about addressing this, men’s experiences won’t always be directly relevant.
I actually thought mostly about my experiences as an ally in LGBT communities and anti-racism communities, in writing this, because I could relate to the defensiveness many male commenters have, having also felt put upon. I took my experiences of having to listen, to really listen about the experiences of other people, even where I had an opinion, and how that affected me. I realised that I didn’t really have as much to say about racism as a person of colour, nor did I have as much to say about homophobia as someone who is homosexual. Reading the comments of other people like me who dismissed everything the minority had to say, or focused on their own, relatively better off experiences taught me how important it was to make the effort as an ally to be different, to truly side with those who were systematically oppressed. In many ways I wrote the post that I would have benefited from back then, just about feminism.
It was difficult to know which word to choose, and I did try and alternate between ‘oppressors’ and ‘majority’, but I still believe an important part of learning to be an ally is learning to not react to language that implies people like you are to blame. It helped me a lot to be reminded in LGBT spaces and anti-racism spaces that I do benefit in many ways, and do contribute to systemic oppression. Having to hide the fact that a certain contingent of the population are directly benefiting from another group is difficult, and feels counterproductive if you want that group to realise and take responsibility.
You’ve got to appreciate a commenter with such a wonderfully-accurate name. It’s also good to know we have another thing to add to the “feminism is responsible for all the woes of the world!” list. As though stabbings and violence don’t predate the women’s movement by, um, almost the total stretch of human history.
You will generally find feminists critiquing the most common division of labour in heterosexual relationships, particularly those with children, which sees the women take on a wholly unfair share of the work.
The term ‘spinsters’ is an extremely loaded one – rather, I would say there’s nothing about feminism that prevents a person having a relationship, if you want one. However, if you don’t want one, feminism questions why single men get to be neutral (or even positive) bachelors, while single women are heckled as “spinsters”, as though the only full life is one with a (male?) partner.
Incidentally, I was raised by a single mum and I never roamed around in a “feral” gang (feral is a dehumanising word).
I think it’s important not to lay blame on the women, even women who make these choices from a position of relative privilege. Discrimination against women in the workplace is not their fault; neither is the existence of the sex trade. I don’t know that I agree with the idea that women should be “gaining” respect from their male colleagues; rather men in the workplace need an attitude adjustment if they don’t give their female colleagues the respect they deserve.
If you want to blame someone for the existence of the sex trade, I would suggest looking to the (mostly) men who visit strippers and lapdancing clubs and prostitutes, keeping them in business.
Personally, I think the swearing on this website is in either in the context of women expressing their justified anger and frustration, or discussion of reclaiming terms such as ‘cunt’. However, lucky for us Ofcom doesn’t yet regulate the internet, so we’ll carry on as we are for now, thanks.
Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies
Random misogyny, included for illustrative purposes
Louise Livesey, author of the blog post, replies
Thanks for your message to the F Word, we welcome all contributions.
I think the post on David Davis you responded to was mine, and I just wanted to clarify – I was in no way suggesting supporting David Davis (who I described as egotistical and self-aggrandising) but Jill Saward who is using the opportunity to campaign on victim’s of sexual violence rights. Sorry for any confusion caused (although I’ve reread the post and am happy that is what I’ve said).