Highlights from TEDWomen Session 2: Feministing.com, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and A Call To Men

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44 Responses to “Highlights from TEDWomen Session 2: Feministing.com, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and A Call To Men”

  1. Anonymous says:

    “Feminism is no longer about man-hating and Birkenstocks.”

    This attitude, especially among those that should know better, is astonishing. That no-wave feminists have picked up on this fake meme and run with it tells me they need their mom’s feminism even more than ever.

    I mean, come on: feministing? Who’s last great traffic driver was an article about how Apple must have no women execs because they chose the name “iPad.” Because, you know, it reminded them of sanitary napkins.

    Yeah. I think you better take a closer look at your mom’s feminism.

  2. Sekino says:

    Why do the few men on stage get applauded more loudly than the multitudes of women who have done amazing things?

    I didn’t see it that way at all. I think it came from the spirit that we are accustomed to the battle for women’s representation and rights being most passionately led by women. To see a man internalizing the inequality of women, accepting it as his own issue, as a problem for humanity as a whole and leading a personal, widespread effort towards change is unusual. People applaud it loudly because they want to encourage it and see more of it.

    On the other hand, TED talks by women regularly get standing ovations among the ‘main’ TED talks. Just off the top of my head, I remember several recent ones, like a brilliant one from Jessica Jackley (founder of Kiva) that had the room exploding, another about war from Zainab Salbi who had everyone standing and many in tears (with reason)…

  3. Frentick says:

    Crap, I just realized how old this thread is! I really need to stop leaving so many tabs open.

  4. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Injustice towards men and women exists all around us. Fight all of it. Starting by attacking the historical oppression of women makes some sense, particulary if you’re female, but don’t stop there or you’re just moving the problem around.

  5. mdh says:

    So…. Feminism became humanism? Okay, welcome aboard.

  6. mdh says:

    Why do the few men on stage get applauded more loudly than the multitudes of women who have done amazing things?

    If that is your whole question, you need to watch the talk again.

  7. nagemr says:

    I am so very thankful that this ‘third’ wave of feminism is gaining ground. It was distressing when confronting recent backlash. I remember my dad teaching me that feminism is about equality – for everyone. Thanks Dad.

  8. mlander says:

    love it! so you just change around the words a bit and put lipstick on it, and suddenly feminism no longer equals misandry? HA!

    did anyone stand up and say that feminism IS the problem?

    • millie fink says:

      “love it! so you just change around the words a bit and put lipstick on it, and suddenly feminism no longer equals misandry? HA!”

      Oh, no . . . it looks like the comments for this wonderful post are going to spiral down into “But what about us poor, poor menz!!” territory.

      Please don’t let it happen, moderators.

      Feminism only equates to misandry in the minds of those who misunderstand it, and who do so willfully, and often maliciously.

      When there is what looks like hatred in feminism, it’s almost always hatred for patriarchy, not for men. There’s a big, big difference there.

      • Pantograph says:

        Feminism only equates to misandry in the minds of those who misunderstand it, and who do so willfully, and often maliciously.

        I have heard similar statements on communism, Christianity, almost every ideology really.

      • non says:

        > Oh, no . . . it looks like the comments for this wonderful post are going to spiral down into “But what about us poor, poor menz!!” territory.

        > Please don’t let it happen, moderators.

        Censoring views you don’t agree with is never very becoming. While the comment you were responding to is a bit cavalier, the concern is valid.

        I think its very difficult for people to feel that feminism is about equality when the very word itself centers around women, and a small, yet extremely vocal subset of its proponents are often seemingly misandrists. As unfortunate as it may be, groups are often defined by their outliers.

        And as many have pointed out, if feminism were about equality, it would be called humanism.

        • millie fink says:

          I’m not talking about censorship. Moderators here often instead step in and correct downward spirals/thread-hijacking.

          “a small, yet extremely vocal subset of its proponents are often seemingly misandrists. As unfortunate as it may be, groups are often defined by their outliers.”

          Seemingly? Yeah. And who is it, actually, that makes some of them “seem” so, by cherry-picking decontextualized and truncated quotations? And who is it, actually, who ends up defining the larger group of “feminists” by these outliers by doing so? Hmmm?

          “And as many have pointed out, if feminism were about equality, it would be called humanism.”

          Pfft. Yeah, activists rallying under the banner of “humanism” have made miles of headway, haven’t they? (And btw, why is that charge so often leveled against feminism, but so rarely against other “you-gotta-choose-your-battles” struggles, such as anti-racism, or the fight against ableism?)

          If you recognize that we still live in a patriarchal order that still subjugates and denigrates women and that which has been construed as feminine, and if you ever work and speak up against that order and its impositions, then you’re a “feminist.” It’s not a dirty word! Despite the Right’s decades-long effort to make it one.

  9. Suds says:

    I was flagging some of the spam and my reCaptcha was “seines subjugated”. That is too much of a coincidence for my paranoia.

  10. wnoise says:

    Feminism was never about man-hating (or Birkenstocks). Undoubtedly some women used it to express their own hatred. At heart it was always about opposing down systems that unfairly privileged (some) men over women. In the short term, the desired changes absolutely would result in the some reduction of power to men, and it is really easy to see that as hate.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why do the few men on stage get applauded more loudly than the multitudes of women who have done amazing things?

    Because the people applauding, and promoting the “beauty” business, and all that shit are not feminists. Feminism can’t be all things to all women, or it won’t be anything at all.

  12. Anonymous says:

    So the facebook speaker basically thinks woman should act like men. Nice.

  13. foobar says:

    One of the few men to speak today was Tony Porter, who runs an organized for men to end violence against women called A Call To Men. Porter was raised in Harlem and the Bronx, where men were raised to have no fear, no emotions except anger, to be dominant, in charge, superior, and strong. Women, on the other hand, are inferior, have less value, and are objectified. He calls this the collective socialization of men, or the “man box.”

    Porter makes a call to redefine manhood. Why can’t boys cry if they’re scared or sad? Why does a man have to apologize for crying at his own child’s funeral? It if destroys a boy to be called a girl, then what are we teaching him about girls?

    He ends by saying: “My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.”

    This.

  14. Anonymous says:

    They were the only ones who got standing ovations because everyone expects there to be truly great women speakers at an event like TEDwomen. No one expects there to be men speakers at an event for/about/by women who knock everybody’s socks off with their insights.

  15. blueelm says:

    Put some lipstick on it, put a corset on it, bind its feet, maybe beat it a few times starting early so it gets the point, and tell it to STFU and you’ll have a “feminism” that *really* works. But let’s call it something better. Let’s call it playmating! That’s cute.

    What does it even mean to be “a woman” anyway. I’ve never been able to tell.

    If I could opt out of gender, I would.

  16. blueelm says:

    “And as many have pointed out, if feminism were about equality, it would be called humanism.”

    Except some how women aren’t as human as the other humans it seems.

  17. arborman says:

    Feminism is fascinating and worthwhile, one of the most significant cultural earthquakes of the past 100 years.

    It simply is not hatred of men. Calling it that is silly and defensive.

    The streams of thought and argument that occur within ‘feminism’ are incredibly diverse. No doubt there are some women who have a low opinion of men – but there are plenty of men who hold a low opinion of women.

    As for naming – my spouse and I decided before the kids were born that boys would have my name and girls would have hers. But kids could be named anything – who cares as long as it is what the parents agree on?

    • Gloria says:

      “As for naming – my spouse and I decided before the kids were born that boys would have my name and girls would have hers. But kids could be named anything – who cares as long as it is what the parents agree on?”

      I’ve wondered about this strategy. Doesn’t it, to a certain degree, perpetuate the problem? For one, girls are still more likely to give up their name in marriage, and for two, there’s something simple about deciding that daughters should be so tied to their mothers, and sons to their fathers. Just like it is something for a man to change his surname to match his wife’s, it would be a similarly notable thing for a son to be able to be named for his mother. Even though this method retains a 50/50 chance for either parent for their surname to go on, it still means that one parent has zero chance to be named because of a particular sex.

      Obviously, since you have agreed on it, it is not an issue for you. And this: “But kids could be named anything – who cares as long as it is what the parents agree on?”

      Pretty much! That’s feminism for me … thoughtful discussion, agency, conscious, educated choice. The worst offense of traditional social norms is that they’re perpetuated mindlessly. I will cheerfully and respectfully (and probably a little nosily) offer my opinion (as above) but in the end, I am happy to know that there are equal discussions taking place.

    • blueelm says:

      “But kids could be named anything – who cares as long as it is what the parents agree on?”

      This is the crux of it. Look the whole idea is about allowing people to make choices that are right for them, to have some control over their lives.

      So long as the parents are able to come to their own decisions about naming their children, all is well.

      “Starting by attacking the historical oppression of women ”

      How about the contemporary oppression of women then? Or do they just have to wait for EVERYONE else.

  18. mdh says:

    Feminism only equates to misandry in the minds of those who misunderstand it, and who do so willfully, and often maliciously

    Could we agree that some who espouse feminist theory* ALSO misunderstand it, and should be grabbed by the same short hairs?

    Failure to admit when one has been hoisted by ones own petard also tends to send conversations spiraling downhill.

    * – or communist theory, or number theory

    This comment is not about feminism, it’s about the asshattery of anyone who clings so hard to a belief they lose their perspective.

  19. arikol says:

    The word feminism seems to come with a lot of baggage from the more harsh past, and the (not insignificant) man-hating faction of the movement. This man hating faction has been very vocal and has managed to push through some very strange laws (such as positive discrimination laws, which always end up giving negative results) and tends to be very visible in the social and political landscape, making all feminists look bad.

    I recall one comment from an interview with a known Icelandic feminist politician where she said that she was at first horrified when she gave birth to a boy, but that she has gotten used to it and has learned to appreciate him.
    WTF?
    I am the father to a girl and I would hang myself rather than letting words like that escape my lips. I might bang my head against a wall if that thought would even cross my mind!
    But, sadly, one can see this sentiment all to often because too many feminists seem to be working for something other than actual equality, not working from a positive attitude of building something good, but rather from the point of view of breaking down something bad. This approach may once have been required, but these days it seems that the walls have been broken (or at least cracked), the glass ceiling seems to have only a few panes left, and it seems that now it’s time for building and re-structuring.

    So I ask: Isn’t it about time to shed the baggage and join forces under a gender neutral banner? I want gender equality. Feminism is a loaded word towards increasing the rights of women, and too many have taken that as having to diminish the rights of men, which is ridiculous. It should be about elevating us ALL, understanding the specific needs of everyone. Otherwise we end up with a situation like has been brewing in the Nordic countries where boys needs are not being met because of the (mandatory) focus on girls needs. That is not equality either.

    What banner can we all (genders and races) rally under? We’re all fighting the same fight! I’m fighting for my wife, my daughter and my son. But I will not be fighting under the banner of feminism.

    • turn_self_off says:

      That sounds like yet another example of something that seems to be a repeating theme in humanity. Someone have so strong negative emotions about something that they become the mirror image of what they hate. Your example feminist becomes the female equivalent of the males that in past (and in some places, to this day) see their female children as trade goods rather then people in their own right. Or how a author growing up under communism ended up becoming so much of a capitalist cheerleader that she would defend the most inhumane actions in its name. Or even how in the 50s and 60s rationality and science would fix everything, but now science is something to fear and distrust. This while more and more “new age” is being seen as something trustworthy. Why is it that humanity seems to pitch back and forth like a metronome rather then come to a stop at the center point?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      arikol,

      Does your daughter have your surname or your wife’s?

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        Excuse me, Antinous, I believe you meant to ask Arikol

        Does your daughter have your surname or her maternal grandfather’s?

        Iceland is the only place I know of where a child carries on her mother’s name.

        Though I’d love to hear of more such places.

        • Jesse M. says:

          This is a nerd idea that will never happen (like Esperanto), but I’ve always thought it’d be cool if everyone had a hyphenated last name made up of a “matrilineal name” and a “patrilineal name”, so each person’s matrilineal name would be from their mother’s mother’s mother’s mother etc., while each person’s patrilineal name would be from their father’s father’s father’s father etc. (i.e. how last names traditionally work in most western societies). It’d be just like mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA! Of course starting such a tradition in a society that hadn’t been doing it forever, the kid could just take their mother’s last name as the matrilineal name, and then if the kid was a girl they’d pass on the same matrilineal name to their own offspring…

      • Gloria says:

        It’s a very interesting intellectual road block you bring up there. My own boyfriend has had zero qualms about the idea of me keeping my surname if we ever marry — “well, of course!” — but immediately looked uneasy when I suggested an impartial method to deciding the surname of our theoretical child. (For the record, I decided on a coin flip, because I felt that neither of us had more say than the other, as equal parenting partners.)

        Even aside from the biological fact I would have to do about 100% of the physical childbearing work, I *would* still be one of the two key parents … so shouldn’t I have 50% of the chance — not even definite share! — in determining its surname? Apparently not.

        This, of course, hasn’t changed my opinion of him as a good, humane person, the most trustworthy I know; if anything, it just showed to me that these little things persist to an amazing degree even in the best of people.

      • mn_camera says:

        What an utterly pointless reply you offer to someone who makes a great deal of moral sense:

        I recall one comment from an interview with a known Icelandic feminist politician where she said that she was at first horrified when she gave birth to a boy, but that she has gotten used to it and has learned to appreciate him.
        WTF?

        I am the father to a girl and I would hang myself rather than letting words like that escape my lips. I might bang my head against a wall if that thought would even cross my mind!

        Arikol speaks in human terms, of loving and valuing a family member, and you reply with something based purely in an abstraction.

        Such things represent much real-world grief, since when policies and ideals become more important than people we see results such as Mussolini, Pol Pot, and the many others who value ideals enough to throw human beings away in their service. It’s a short, straight road you’re walking there, so tread carefully.

        • Frentick says:

          You make an interesting point in reply to Antinous’ glib question, but I wish you could have made it in a better way. And the completely unnecessary references to Mussolini and Pol Pot mean that you lose, due to Technical Godwin.

        • Anonymous says:

          If you’re comparing feminists to Pol Pot, perhaps it is you who should tread carefully, sir.

        • IronEdithKidd says:

          Funny, I understood exactly what Antinous was getting at. Here’s a hint: his question to Arikol has nothing to do with the blockquote in your comment.

          BTW- Godwin in 7 comments. That’s pretty impressive.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Or he could answer the question. If you think that women being handed from father to husband like a sack of millet, having their father’s name wiped off their manifest and replaced with their husband’s name isn’t a problem, then you, you personally, are the reason that feminism needs to exist.

  20. millie fink says:

    “Could we agree that some who espouse feminist theory* ALSO misunderstand it, and should be grabbed by the same short hairs?”

    Sure.

    But then, so what? Every widespread, multifarious theoretical/interpretive system has whackos speaking under its label.

    Why do the outliers bunch up your undies so much? Why do you pay so much attention to them, rather than to the vastly larger and obviously superior range of insight offered by the rest of those working with said theoretical/interpretive system?

  21. Anonymous says:

    To assume that men are entirely welcome into all areas of feminism would be untrue.

    Yes, men get unfair benefit from the society around. Yes, men need to be a part of this correction. However, as Tony Porter’s talk pointed out: an unfair system is no benefit to *anyone*. When we oppress we are in turn oppressed. The same system that keeps women down and punishes them for succeeding still determines what a man should or should not value. Try to explain to a stay at home father that he has nothing in common. This system still enforces a cold, gender-structured system-of-value that fails to fulfill *both* sides of the aisle.

    Every single time that we get into defining these terms as a battle of the sexes we lose by splitting hairs. Simply put, individuals should be evaluated entirely based on their merits and not based on their genitalia. This is about freeing everyone.

    I’ve noticed points by several feminists that men are *more* needed in feminism because they not only serve to emphasize that this is a human issue of interest to every single person but are in a greater position to help eliminate the socially established sexism.

    An interesting observation: if we need to make it more acceptable for men to be feminists and take up the battle we would want to encourage them to participate. In this light, the reaction in this article of shooting down the *level of applause* for each group was wrong-hearted. It divides the movement yet again and enforces a sectionalized perspective. You wonder why some men feel uncomfortable when the first thing that is mentioned after such beautiful speeches is the unfairness inherent in the group?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Any news on when the Sheryl Sandberg and Courtney Martin videos will be released? I can’t find it anywhere on the web and really want to watch!

  23. Andrew says:

    Why do the few men on stage get applauded more loudly than the multitudes of women who have done amazing things?

    Well, because they’re male. Because there were so few of them.

    One of my projects concerns pole dancing for fitness. We have a couple of moderately popular fan pages on Facebook (about 5000 fans), and the people who’ve joined us there are pretty much what you’d expect: aged 20-35, 95% female.

    There are now a few pretty good male pole performers, and they are now able to enter some competitions. But the top women out there are still vastly better – these men are much more famous than most women at a similar level because their being present at all is still remarkable.

    It’s a shame that it’s still remarkable for men to be at TEDWomen and similar events. I don’t know where the problem lies (Is it feminism excluding men? Is it men just not caring?), but it would be nice to think that, one day, the men will get applauded only for what they say and not just for being there.

  24. Quaternion says:

    I would guess that Antinous asked the question to suggest that we are not yet in some world where feminism should be gender neutral.

    • millie fink says:

      I’m guessing that too; seemed obvious, in fact (especially since it’s an example I often use too–how many hetero women still lose their own names in marriage? how many [oh so persecuted!] hetero men take on their wives’ and lose theirs?).

      • foobar says:

        I’m guessing that too; seemed obvious, in fact (especially since it’s an example I often use too–how many hetero women still lose their own names in marriage? how many [oh so persecuted!] hetero men take on their wives’ and lose theirs?).

        What is the neutral position on that? Is there one? Bucking the traditional role has a high social cost for men, as the gentleman in the article describes.

        Personally, if I ever get married, I would like to choose a new name that we would both take. (I have external genitalia.)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant! This is a extraordinary satire proving the points from Derailing for Dummies, which can be found at http://www.derailingfordummies.com/ for the curious!

    Arikol skillfully hits:
    * Don’t You Have More Important Issues To Think About? (“Isn’t it about time to shed the baggage and join forces under a gender neutral banner? I want gender equality.”)
    * I Said SOME Marginalised People Do That, Not ALL. (“This man hating faction has been very vocal…”)
    * Who Wins Gold in the Oppression Olympics? (“…a situation like has been brewing in the Nordic countries where boys needs are not being met because of the (mandatory) focus on girls needs.”)

    MN_Camera cleverly chimes in with:
    * You’re Not Being Intellectual Enough/You’re Being Overly Intellectual. (“Arikol speaks in human terms, of loving and valuing a family member, and you reply with something based purely in an abstraction.”)
    * BONUS ROUND: FULL POINTS — Godwin’s Law. Well done!

    MLander completes the sequence with a slippery variant on:
    * I Don’t Think You’re As Marginalised As You Claim: (By claiming feminism = misandry, that means women are oppressing men.)

    Oh…wait. Um. Y’all were serious?

    Well, crap. Never mind.

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