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View Poll Results: Pick the option which suits you best
I tend to agree more with Equity Feminism 5 62.50%
I tend to agree more with Gender Feminism 1 12.50%
There is no difference 1 12.50%
I still can't see the difference, even after viewing all this material 0 0%
I don't have time to read all this stuff, I just want to vote on the poll 1 12.50%
Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

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Old September 8th, 2015, 10:23 AM   #1

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Steven Pinker defends Equity Feminism and criticizes Gender Feminism


I have noticed that when the F word gets mentioned, nuance often goes out the window, and people unfamiliar with feminism treat it as though it is a monolith, when it is nothing of the sort, and so, this thread is a celebration of a person who calls himself a feminist, Steven Pinker, giving Gender Feminism what some might call a scathing criticism.

Steven Pinker, who calls himself a feminist, writes of Gender Feminism:

"In embracing these doctrines, the gender [feminists] are handcuffing feminism to railroad tracks on which a train is bearing down. "

Of course, Pinker first wants us to know exactly what his critisism of feminism isn't, and wants us to know he isn't throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

"FEMINISM IS OFTEN derided because of the arguments of its lunatic fringe—for example, that all intercourse is rape, that all women should be lesbians, or that only 10 percent of the population should be allowed to be male.
Feminists reply that proponents of women's rights do not speak with one voice, and that feminist thought comprises many positions, which have to
be evaluated independently. That is completely legitimate, but it cuts both ways. To criticize a particular feminist proposal is not to attack feminism in general."

[..]

"There is, in fact, no incompatibility between the principles of feminism and the possibility that men and women are not psychologically identical. To repeat: equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group. In the case of gender, the barely defeated Equal Rights Amendment put it succinctly: "Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex." If we recognize this principle, no one has to spin myths about the indistinguishability of the sexes to justify equality. Nor should anyone invoke sex differences to justify discriminatory policies or to hector women into doing what they don't want to do.

In any case, what we do know about the sexes does not call for any action that would penalize or constrain one sex or the other. Many psychological traits relevant to the public sphere, such as general intelligence, are the same on average for men and women, and virtually all psychological traits may be found in varying degrees among the members of each sex. No sex difference yet discovered applies to every last man compared with every last woman, so generalizations about a sex will always be untrue of many individuals. And notions like "proper role" and "natural place" are scientifically meaningless and give no grounds for restricting freedom. "

After Pinker makes a defense of Equity Feminism, he goes on to make a thorough criticism of Gender Feminism.


"Despite these principles, many feminists vehemently attack research on sexuality and sex differences. The politics of gender is a major reason that the application of evolution, genetics, and neuroscience to the human mind is bitterly resisted in modern intellectual life."

[..]

"The difference between gender feminism and equity feminism accounts for the oft reported paradox that most women do not consider themselves feminists (about 70 percent in 1997, up from about 60 percent a decade before), yet they agree with every major feminist position. The explanation is simple: the word "feminist" is often associated with gender feminism, but the positions in the polls are those of equity feminism."



Steven Pinker's entire criticism of Gender Feminism can be found here:
http://www.pasadena.edu/files/syllabi/txcave_18360.pdf

This is a chapter in his book called "The Blank Slate" : [ame="http://www.amazon.com/The-Blank-Slate-Modern-Denial/dp/1501264338"]The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature: Steven Pinker, Victor Bevine: 9781501264337: Amazon.com: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51tKVmBy0TL.@@AMEPARAM@@51tKVmBy0TL[/ame]

Here is a video of Steven Pinker, feminist, debating and criticizing Gender Feminism for 2 hours.

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bTKRkmwtGY[/ame]

Steven Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind.

I hope at least one person will have come away from this discussion with an appreciation of the nuance within Feminism.

Last edited by Sharks And L0ve; September 8th, 2015 at 10:26 AM.
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Old September 8th, 2015, 10:28 AM   #2
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Quote:
No sex difference yet discovered applies to every last man compared with every last woman, so generalizations about a sex will always be untrue of many individuals. And notions like "proper role" and "natural place" are scientifically meaningless and give no grounds for restricting freedom
The jury's still out on the 'scientifically meaningless' part.

Personally I think it's inconceivable that evolution - a genetically-driven thing, geared around reproduction - produced two genders to do the exact same thing. It hasn't done that to any other species, and didn't do it to humans either until the mass-mechanisation of farms and labour two centuries ago. Sure, men and women can do the exact same thing - or, there are at least a million of each that can do what a million of the other can. And gender roles are far more fluid than conservatives think. But they do plainly exist.

Quote:
The difference between gender feminism and equity feminism accounts for the oft reported paradox that most women do not consider themselves feminists
Wait...feminists are so genuinely convinced they speak for all women they actually try and find a scientific explanation for this 'paradox' of women disagreeing with them? That is very, very tragic. I'd offer to give them a hug, but may end up in one of those 'cat-calling' videos or accused of some evil crime...

Last edited by Domhnall Balloch; September 8th, 2015 at 10:33 AM.
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Old September 8th, 2015, 10:36 AM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domhnall Balloch View Post
The jury's still out on the 'scientifically meaningless' part.

Personally I think it's inconceivable that evolution - a genetically-driven thing, geared around reproduction - produced two genders to do the exact same thing.
If there is a natural place or proper role for men and women, what is it, and who should enforce it? Should the government enforce men and women staying in their proper role?

Keep in Mind that Pinker has said the following:

"Freedom of choice is important, but ensuring that women make up exactly 50 percent of all professions is not."

And I agree with him.

Edit: Domhnall Balloch, I am surprised that you voted that you tend to agree more with Gender Feminism, the branch of feminism that argues there are no biological differences between genders, which is the more 3rd wave feminist line of thought, often characterized as the more extreme variant of Feminism.

Last edited by Sharks And L0ve; September 8th, 2015 at 10:40 AM.
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Old September 8th, 2015, 10:44 AM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domhnall Balloch View Post
feminists are so genuinely convinced they speak for all women they actually try and find a scientific explanation for this 'paradox' of women disagreeing with them? That is very, very tragic.
Frankly, that is quite a pathetic interpretation of what Pinker said. He never claimed to speak for all women, and implying he said such a thing is quite obviously an attack on a weaker, strawman argument that he never made.
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Old March 7th, 2017, 11:22 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharks And L0ve View Post
Steven Pinker's entire criticism of Gender Feminism can be found here:
http://www.pasadena.edu/files/syllabi/txcave_18360.pdf
It appears that this link doesn't work (or it hates me, that's always possible).

I don't know Pinker very well, so I will have to do some more reading before I can give a proper response.

Using evolution as an argument often is rather weak, based on what I've seen. There is no purpose behind it, it only is the effect of a process. Why would there be a need for gender differences besides things directly affecting procreation. Our 'roles' aren't preprogrammed or anything like that, they are far too complex. Of course, you regularly see people dragging in such arguments, but for some reason, they always fit with their conception of an ideal society.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 04:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domhnall Balloch View Post
The jury's still out on the 'scientifically meaningless' part.

Personally I think it's inconceivable that evolution - a genetically-driven thing, geared around reproduction - produced two genders to do the exact same thing. It hasn't done that to any other species, and didn't do it to humans either until the mass-mechanisation of farms and labour two centuries ago. Sure, men and women can do the exact same thing - or, there are at least a million of each that can do what a million of the other can. And gender roles are far more fluid than conservatives think. But they do plainly exist.

.
I don't think the idea of evolution producing greater tendencies in one gender to particular roles is what is called 'scientifically meaningless'. Rather it's the addition of a value term like 'proper'. Even if evolution has made women more likely to think like this and men like that it doesn't mean there is some sort of ethical obligation for all males and females to fit those roles.
As the OP quoted from Pinker "equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group". Such role descriptions are generalisations, and may not apply to, and shouldn't be enforced on, individuals.

It's interesting this coming up now, I've recently read Pinker's book "The Blank Slate". It is interesting, well worth reading, and makes the point clearly that equality of treatment of genders or races does not depend on insisting that they are identical.
I suppose those who like to believe that consciousness or mind involves something other than brain activity may dislike some of it, but that point above still stands I think.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 07:04 PM   #7

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Pinker's over-arching point is that by attacking the idea that there are differences between the sexes, averaged out, we con-volute and hold back discussions about neuroscience.

Basically, what we're seeing here is a scientist who is a proponent of scientific accuracy AND feminism at the same time. He wants to promote science as well as women's rights.

For me, as someone who is a strong proponent of women's rights, I hold the same position, and find it frustrating when I hear people make feminist based arguments that aren't based in reality. If you want to advocate for your gender, you should do so from a place of truth.

In fairness, though, there is no universal rule about being feminist and infinitely knowledgeable. Ignorance exists in all groups and categories.
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