Crossposted from Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog – please comment there (link now fixed!)
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Bumped from the Open Suggestion thread: the various issues surrounding how choices can be constrained by socialised expectations and myths regarding gender essentialism:
lala, on June 15th, 2008 at 1:53 am Said
I’m an engineer and pretty much always the only woman (or occasionally, one of two women) in any workplace setting. I also frequent communities that revolve around technical subjects both online and off.
Now whenever I, or another woman, or even another man starts talking about encouraging other women to join in technical subjects, people seem to get very hostile.
Some of them will say that women don’t have the brains for it, but then claim that they aren’t being sexist because they love admire women’s natural abilities to nurture and manage social settings so that everyone is happy. I have science to throw at those people, so I can deal with them.
However, many will take the attitude that women aren’t /choosing/ to participate in technical subjects and therefore we should leave that alone. Women don’t want it, so why don’t we leave that alone? What’s the problem?
I myself used to be a woman who identified myself as “feminine” and things like computers were simply incompatible with my identity. I was damn miserable then, even suicidal, and I can’t express how amazing it was when I discovered I could throw off that restriction and actually live a life for myself.
It’s also really annoying that they are creating a hostile environment for women, but at the very same time as arguing that there is nothing but a lack of personal interest that is keeping women from entering the environment.
lala, on June 15th, 2008 at 2:04 am Said:
Actually, I just thought about this for a minute more and realized something (sorry for the double post). The attitude that I just complained about above seems to be one of the biggest reasons for the rejection of feminism. I think it’s one of the main reasons that the mainstream belief is that feminism is obsolete. Women are now /legally/ allowed to do everything men are, and therefore any difference between men’s positions in life and women’s positions in life must be because women chose for it to be that way. And feminists are just trying to control women and tell them what to do against their will.
Now I really, really would like you to address it.
P.S. I just saw a similar display of this problem on a forum. A woman said that she had asked the manager of a store to change a sign that said “Boy’s toys” to just “Toys.” The forum filled up full of abuse that she was being a “politically correct dictator” and insistence that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that sign because little girls themselves are the ones who choose not to play with trucks and action figures.
People seem to think that when a feminist objects to things like this it is solely because they are personally offended. The social conditioning that feminists wish to remove is not taken into consideration.
As a couple of people have already noted in comments, this is a great topic suggestion. This is huge. So please share your thoughts and any great links you have bookmarked addressing the thorny issue of choices and how they are constrained and how they may be criticised.
(Comments closed here, please comment at the crosspost on FF101.)