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Old 12-16-2007, 01:02 PM   #1
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Default Navel Gazing Article

http://www.slate.com/id/2111753/

I stumbled upon this article when I was searching Google for a western movie that starred a women (BBW) made in the last 5-10 years (best I can narrow it down). Character name was Sadie (Say-dee) I think, but nvm that.

The article link showed up as Fat vs. feminism. - By Laura Kipnis - Slate Magazine which peaked my interest. After reading I thought I would share it with my fellow Dims in the hope of sparking an intellectual conversation about our views on Femininity and Feminism. It's a dated artcle, but still.

To see the full article check the link.

Quote:
Navel Gazing
Why even feminists are obsessed with fat.
By Laura Kipnis
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005, at 8:35 AM ET

America's obsession with fat is increasingly colonizing the cultural imagination, and not just on sadistic reality-TV diet shows like The Biggest Loser. There's also been a lot of fat on the New York stage lately. Neil LaBute's devastating new play, Fat Pig, offers thwarted love between a fat woman and a thin man with really mean friends; in The Good Body, Eve Ensler's one-woman show, the audience is treated to the self-loathing feminist equivalent of a money shot: Ensler yanks her blouse up and waistband down, and there in all its naked shame is her dirty little secret, a small pot belly. Ensler and LaBute couldn't be more different in sensibility, except that for both, fat spells abjection. For anyone in quest of another angle, a new collection of essays, Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession, edited by Don Kulick and Anne Meneley, takes on the same terrain from a cross-cultural perspective, providing a welcome departure from both fat-as-sideshow or Ensler-style navel gazing.

Can you be a fat female and also an object of desire? This is the question posed in different ways by both new plays. It's no surprise that for LaBute's characters, the answer is a brutal "No." But Ensler, a self-declared radical feminist, works herself into intellectual knots trying to come to terms with her own bodily obsessions. (For her, it's more about feeling fat than being fat.) The therapeutic mode doesn't make for gripping theater; here it also makes for a lot of wheel-spinning, particularly because there's a hard truth that Ensler can't bring herself to acknowledge about women's situations today, including her own: There's simply an irreconcilable contradiction between feminism and femininity, two largely incompatible strategies women have adopted over the years to try to level the playing field with men.

The reason they're incompatible is simple. Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference. But femininity depends on a sense of female inadequacy to perpetuate itself. Completely successful femininity can never be entirely attained, which is precisely why women engage in so much laboring, agonizing, and self-loathing, because whatever you do, there's always that straggly inch-long chin hair or pot belly or just the inexorable march of time. (Even the dewiest ingénue is a Norma Desmond waiting to happen.)

Feminism, on the other hand, is dedicated to abolishing the myth of female inadequacy. It strives to smash beauty norms, it demands female equality in all spheres, it rejects sexual market value as the measure of female worth. Or that was the plan. Yet for all feminism's social achievements, what it never managed to accomplish was the eradication of the heterosexual beauty culture, meaning the time-consuming and expensive potions and procedures—the pedicures, highlights, wax jobs on sensitive areas, "aesthetic surgery," and so on. For some reason, the majority of women simply would not give up the pursuit of beautification, even those armed with feminist theory. (And even those clearly destined to fail.)
...go here for full article http://www.slate.com/id/2111753/
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Old 12-16-2007, 02:02 PM   #2
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I do not completely agree with this authors definition of femininity. I don't believe the being feminine implies inadequacy. When I think of someone being feminine, I think of them someone having a softer less deep voice, being gentle and easy, instead of harsh and rough. Not being unable to perform less as compared to a man.

I think a woman can be feminine and demanding at the same time. I don't think the demanding aspect takes away, unless it done in a certain way.

The author makes it seem that if you are being feminine, you are conforming to weakness. That you can't do anything a man can do, because you're being too much of a woman; and the only avenue she leaves to counter that is to be a feminist if a woman want to be able to do anything for herself.

Also, if I didn't have any idea what a feminist was, I would also believe that all feminist strive to be manly, and are all lesbians. As the authors seems to imply that many times over.

So can someone clarify, do you have to be a lesbian in order to be a feminist, I think not. But many males that have made any reference to feminist imply that they are.
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:17 PM   #3
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I guess the best place to start is to acknowledge that as a white, middle-class male, when it comes to feminism, I don't know and I am wrong If I was smart, and obviously I am not, I would stop right there.

But a couple of points stand out;
Firstly, in this forum, the question "Can you be a fat female and also an object of desire?" can only be regarded as rhetorical if not downright facetitious.
Next, "Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women". In what sense, is it a 'system'? Revealing my terminal naivity I had always perceived it as just an intrinsic part of womanhood; subject to all sorts of influences perhaps, but nonetheless just there. Like masculinity?!? Perhaps, they meant that it can be used in these sexual politics.

"I think a woman can be feminine and demanding at the same time." Really? I would have never guessed

Personally, and here is where I lie down and die; I think feminism works fine as an antidote to institutionalised male chauvinism but when it gets taken further than that it becomes just another pedagogy by which some seek to control others and it can have nasty elements of social engineering. To wit, in yet another sweeping act of hubris, our femme-Nazi government (that's what a female lawyer friend of mine calls them) passed a law increasing pre-school child-care subsidies for mothers who put their children into day-care. Wonderful. But the same support is not available to mothers who would rather stay at home with their preschoolers. Many mothers protested. Madame-Prime-Minister rejected their pleas on the basis that it was more important to ensure women got out of the home and back into the work-force... While all around the statistics on social decay increase and she continues to undermine the family. The perils of always knowing better...
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:37 PM   #4
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I'm entirely for equality but I refuse to be classified as a feminist. Early feminists were fighting genuine restrictions on human rights. While some modern feminists are as well, I feel like too many are creating dragons to slay or fighting for female supremacy over males. There are still plenty of inequalities to address, but I'd rather address them for what they are, as a human being, than as part of a feminist movement.

As for how empowering women clashes with our "need" to be beautiful...I'm not sure that's an issue that will ever be completely resolved. The desire to be desired seems to be very natural and deep in our psyche, and I think an awful lot of people would rather have their ideal body/be thought of as beautiful by others than have, say, a million dollars. The ideal for any society is always going to be the most rare and difficult to achive qualities, whatever they may be, for the same reason that diamonds are more expensive than quartz. Common things are less desirable.

So you see pale skin being popular in societies where common people have to labor out of doors and only the wealthy can afford to keep covered up and out of the sun, and tans being popular in societies where common people have to labor indoors and only the wealthy can afford to lay about in the sunshine. Fat is admired in societies where only the rich can afford to eat great quantities and not work, while the common people work hard and have little to eat, and thin is admired in societies, like ours, where healthy food and excercise are both expensive and time consuming and the common person doesn't have the resources for either or both. 90% of humanity is born with brown or black hair...so blondes apparently have more fun.

And this drive to look perfect does seem to be stronger in women than in men, because women are judged more by their appearance by men (or at least have that perception). I think we're also more critical of one another than men are, in a weak attempt to feel better about our own selves. "At least I look better than -her-. One down, 2.9 billion to go..."
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Old 12-18-2007, 06:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
"I think a woman can be feminine and demanding at the same time." Really? I would have never guessed
I'm not sure if you understood what I meant by this, so I'll try to explain briefly.
I have not had dealings with a lot of women, but a few noticed especially, know how to make demands; you could say they did it in a feminine way; or with a womans touch. Demanding doesn't have to be forceful, or barking at someone, or just mean. For instance some people demand respect, and do it with finesse. But I guess I'm putting a broader scope on the definition of demand.

Quote:
In what sense, is it a 'system'? Revealing my terminal naivity I had always perceived it as just an intrinsic part of womanhood; subject to all sorts of influences perhaps, but nonetheless just there. Like masculinity?!? Perhaps, they meant that it can be used in these sexual politics.
I think the author was doing his best to make the audience believe that feminism is in opposition of femininity. I don't understand why you can't be feminist and feminine without contradicting oneself; I think of feminist as striving to be empower themselves by saying I am good at engineering, math, science, and even body building, the same as any man. While I prefer to work with man, I am NOT dependent on one to help me survive, make me rich, or help me accomplish my dreams in this world.

But I have to agree with Keb when she stated,
Quote:
Early feminists were fighting genuine restrictions on human rights. While some modern feminists are as well, I feel like too many are creating dragons to slay or fighting for female supremacy over males.
and that my view maybe a dated view of what feminist are this day and age.
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