Sciencewomen

A feminist or not a feminist? A rant.

i-f875c0b07d9b3cb6229668554781b35a-alice.jpgBlogger Feministx popped over the other day to visit and leave a comment on SW’s “goody goody” post. I hadn’t read Feministx before, but she claims she “started my blog with the intention of focusing on feminist concerns, but lately I have taken to writing about the biological basis of human behavior.” Feministx invited Sciencewomen readers to come past her blog because

“I really need some women that are interested in science to come add to my blog. Lately, I have been writing about biological basis of behavior issues and most of my readership has become male. They tend to disagree with me most of the time. I would like a better balance of perspectives, so if this blog is going to [sic] light, come to my place!”

Sciencewomen commenter rb actually did visit her place, and left this comment:

not to stray off topic, but holy shit Feministx, I go to your site, hoping to see something interesting and what do I see….you being a frickin’ racist idiot with a post about how ugly aborigines are. wow…really great blog you have there. You state:

“I don’t like to be a racist, but are they really that hideous in general?
I don’t believe the women of any other race are categorically ugly, but I have to be honest here, they look borderline deformed. Like mothers of orks or something.”

I think I know who the hideous person is Feministx


Holy shit is right, actually. Feministx writes about Aboriginal women here where she contrasts a group of women with “an attractive one as well,” asking whether she (the “attractive” one) is “mixed.”

Lord. Those remarks don’t really show many feminist chops — although they could.

Feministx could have written about different standards of beauty and how they vary across the globe and across history, or how dark-skinned women (and men, and kids) have been socialized through Western white standards to think lighter skin is more attractive (and create massive industries that try to lighten skin, with dangerous results).

She could have written about the incredible poverty experienced by the Aborigines, and how that particularly affects Aboriginal women, and in fact, lower-case-A-aboriginal women from countries across the globe. Or about the domestic violence they and their children experience.

She could have written about endemic malnutrition experienced by indigenous and migrant people, particularly children, in poverty across the globe, or how governmental policies on farm subsidies reinforce poor eating habits because cheap calories are junk calories.

She could have written about how in recent memory Aboriginal families were ripped apart and kids were put in “Homes” to “civilize” them up until 1970 and how the Australian government only last year got around to apologizing.

Any of these topics could easily be considered a feminist topic. Power dynamics in families, the intersection of gender, race and class, abuse of women, obesity and body image, and standards of beauty are all standard topics in women’s studies classes.

But instead she takes one photo, even a group of photos, and has the temerity to call all Aboriginal women ugly, while calling herself a feminist? Sorry, but I call that bullshit. It does discredit to the word “feminist,” even considering that feminists consider themselves a pretty diverse bunch. The most basic part of the definition of “feminist” is considering gender as an analytical lens to work towards social change. I don’t see any hope for social change in this post.

Instead of spending her time looking for photos of women on Flickr, many of whom probably didn’t give their approval to the photographer to plaster their images across the internet, Feministx would do well to read up on some Australian history, on the colonizing of the continent, on existing power relations where gender and race intersect in Australia, rather than publish drivel on whether a group of women represent their entire ethnic group in terms of her limited definition of attractiveness.

I’m just sorry about the traffic this post may send her.

For christ’s sake.

I’m done now.

Comments

  1. #1 Peggy
    April 21, 2009

    Well said. Making fun of the way women look (deformed? WTF?) is definitely not feminist. And I’m dubious that someone with such a shallow and racist PoV would do a very good job at analyzing the complex and controversial research on the biology of human behavior.

  2. #2 JustaTech
    April 21, 2009

    I might not be a very practiced feminist (unlike, say, Zuska), but I was taught by many very staunch feminists, and right now I can hear them screaming in agony over that post. I’m having trouble finding a word to describe this blogger that doesn’t involve profanity or very sexist thinking.

    “Feministx”, you are a very bad human being. You are shallow and contemptuous. Perhaps, somewhere you might have had something interesting to say, but I will never read it, for your ideas are clearly poison. Please educate yourself on why this post is horrible and degrading to everyone.

    (Alice, I think there is some way to link to a page without increasing the traffic. Orac does it.)

  3. #3 GradWithBraids
    April 21, 2009

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but what was the point of linking to the blog? Looking at the other posts on the website, it’s clear that Feministx is a racist of the “Bell Curve” sort, with posts about the inverse correlation between penis length and IQ (you can connect the dots), and mocking pictures of an interracial couple. *Every* post on the front page is racist drivel. Does the fact that she calls herself a feminist make her writing noteworthy? I can do a quick Google search and find a thousand more pages just like hers; none of them are deserving of your time and thoughts, because that’s exactly what they want.

    I appreciate your writing about the Aborigines, as that’s an issue that many people are ignorant about. But you don’t need to link directly to a racist post to make your point, any more than you need to read neo-Nazi material to understand why we must never forget the Holocaust. We all know racists are out there, but wading in their shit isn’t going to do a thing to change it.

  4. #4 tbell
    April 21, 2009

    I checked out that site too the other day. It seemed clear to me that feministx was either a juvenile, a faux feminist, an idiot, or some combination. Absolutely not worth another moment of your time. ugh.

  5. #5 Ace
    April 21, 2009

    Thank you for writing this. I am not surprised to see that many people think like this as beauty standards are very biased towards a white idea of attractiveness (and is ever-changing and appears largely socially-derived (rather than or in addition to biologically)). But in the context of a “feminist blog”, written by someone called Feministx.. What a shock!

    I was puzzled as to why Feministx was blogging in the first place about feminism. why do some people think they should write articles and gather an audience to talk about something they don’t bother to learn about? I mean, I don’t start a blog about baseball… Really puzzles me this blog thing. (Then again I don’t have a blog at all, baseball or not)

    I have been lucky to encounter blogs such as yours where I read intelligent, well-researched articles that enrich my understanding of the world and our culture… But it is clear that the internet/blogs are also full of people who have little or nothing to add to a topic but start a blog anyway… Keep up the good work please!

  6. #6 feministX
    April 21, 2009

    Ok, I wrote a response for you guys. You are free to help me become a better person or a better feminist.

    http://feministx.blogspot.com/2009/04/im-not-feminist.html

  7. #7 photon
    April 21, 2009

    The giveaway is the classic “I’m not a racist, but…”

    I don’t like to be a racist, but are they really that hideous in general?

    You don’t like to be a racist? Then don’t be a fucking racist!

    FeministX seems a little confused. Reading her last post it seems she’s been on the receiving end of a fair bit of racial and sexual discrimination. Hopefully one day she can gain enough insight to see beyond her own experiences and empathise with other women who have gone through similar or worse, rather than perpetuating the discrimination she has experienced.

    Good luck, FeministX!

  8. #8 Brian
    April 21, 2009

    “Every* post on the front page is racist drivel.”

    Is any of it incorrect?

  9. #9 Oprah
    April 21, 2009

    “The problem with the Bringing Them Home report is not its logic, but its facts. As regards NSW, the story of the Stolen Generations was largely formed in 1981 by the historian Peter Read, then of the Australian National University (now at the University of Sydney). Read’s work had an enormous influence on Aboriginal communities by saying institutionalised children had not been failed by alcoholic parents who neglected to provide them with food and shelter.

    It was all the work of the white man, of faceless white bureaucrats who wanted to eliminate the Aborigines.

    Bringing Them Home did no original research of its own in NSW. Instead, it relied upon Read’s writings. It quoted verbatim his claim that the files on individual children removed by the Aborigines Protection Board confirmed his case: “Some managers cut a long story short when they came to that part of the committal notice ‘Reason for board taking control of the child’. They simply wrote ‘for being Aboriginal’.”

    I also found that, although popular songs and the Bringing Them Home report gave the distinct impression that most children were removed when they were babies or toddlers, there were hardly any in this category. The archive files on which Read relied show that between 1907 and 1932, the NSW authorities removed only seven babies aged less than 12 months, and another 18 aged less than two years. Fewer than one-third of the children removed in this period were aged less than 12 years. Almost all were welfare cases, orphans, neglected children (some severely malnourished), and children who were abandoned, deserted and homeless.

    The other two-thirds were teenagers, 13 to 17 years old. The reason they were removed was to send them off to be employed as apprentices. In reality, the NSW Labor governments were not stealing children but offering youths the opportunity to get on-the-job training, just like their white peers in the same age groups.

    Read knew these Aboriginal youths were being apprenticed, though he never admitted they constituted the great majority of those removed. He claimed the authorities regarded them as stupid and consigned them to degrading jobs: the boys to agricultural work and the girls to domestic service. But at the time, this is where most white Australians were also employed. These were the two biggest single employment categories for men and women. The government was not asking Aborigines to take occupations any more onerous or demeaning than those of hundreds of thousands of their white countrymen.

    Moreover, these teenagers were not removed permanently, as the charge of genocide infers. The majority of them returned home to their families when they turned 18 and their apprenticeship was complete. The archival records show this clearly, and Read found the same when in the ’80s he recorded a little-publicised oral history of the Wiradjuri people.

    Yet in 2002 he could still claim publicly: “Welfare officers, removing children solely because they were Aboriginal, intended and arranged that they should lose their Aboriginality and that they never return home.”

    There is another very good reason why it was not the policy of the government to remove Aboriginal children from their parents: it wanted them to go to school. It pursued this objective with both action and money.

    The NSW Department of Public Instruction constructed schoolhouses and employed schoolteachers on all the 21 Aboriginal stations set up between 1893 and 1917. It also provided schools and teachers on any of the 115 Aboriginal reserves that had enough children of school-going age to justify it.

    On those reserves where there were not enough children to warrant a dedicated school, the Aborigines Protection Board insisted they must go to the local public school. In the early years, it tried to coerce Aboriginal parents into sending their children to school by withholding rations if they failed to do this. In its later years, it organised for all Aboriginal children to have a hot midday meal at school.

    In contrast, in the ’20s and ’30s, there were only three welfare institutions in NSW designated for Aboriginal children. One at Bomaderry housed 25 infants to 10-year-olds, the second at Cootamundra accommodated 50 girls aged up to 13 years, and the third at Kinchela housed 50 boys aged up to 13 years.

    At about the same time, about 2800 Aboriginal children in NSW lived at home with their parents and attended public schools.

    The 125 places at the welfare institutions represented a mere 4.5 per cent of all the places provided for Aborigines at public schools. On these grounds alone, no one can argue that the government was conducting a systematic program to destroy Aboriginality by stealing children from their families. A similar ratio of schools to welfare institutions operated in most other states, where the same conclusion deserves to be drawn.

    In Western Australia and the Northern Territory, the two greatest villains in this story were A.O.Neville and Cecil ‘Mick’ Cook. Both publicly endorsed a program to “breed out the colour” with the ultimate aim of biologically absorbing the Aboriginal people into the white population.

    This was an obnoxious policy that well deserved Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of Neville as a fastidious, obsessive bureaucrat in the film Rabbit-Proof Fence.

    However, it was also a policy that had only a minor focus on children. It was primarily concerned with controlling Aboriginal marriage and cohabitation patterns in order to foster the rapid assimilation of part-Aborigines. To define the policy as part of the Stolen Generations thesis is a mistake. In any case, it was almost a complete failure.

    In the ’30s, marriages arranged by these administrators totalled less than 10 a year. Neville proved as inept at rounding up children as he did at match-making. The Moseley royal commission recorded in 1935 that over three years, the one government settlement in the state’s south at Moore River took in only 64 unattended children. This was out of a total Aboriginal population in the state of 19,000. It was less than 1 per cent of all Aboriginal children in the state. Neville dealt with handfuls of children, not generations.

    The only successful program from this era was the NSW Aboriginal apprenticeship system, which operated from the 1880s to the 1940s. It provided real jobs and skills and gave young Aborigines a way out of the alcohol-soaked, handout-dominated camps and reserves of their parents. Indeed, it is a policy that could well be revived today to rescue children from the sexual assault and substance abuse prevalent in the remote communities.

    If Rudd led a real Labor Government, he would be more concerned about emulating the down-to-earth policies devised by his party’s predecessors among the old cream of the working class than pandering to the misinterpretations of the recent academic historians who created this issue.

    Keith Windschuttle’s The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume Two will be published later this year.”

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23182149-28737,00.html

  10. I knew that feminists fight against men but never thought they would fight against other women as well…
    I guess there is no ugly person in this world. Especially as long as you want to see their inner beauty, even if the surface may not be perfect (but there is a question: what standards of beauty do we use and why those?). Noone should ever say that other person is ugly. Not to mantion saying that someone is deformed and look like ork…
    It’s not about making a better person or feminist, it’s not even about personal point of view – it’s about internal moral principles and ability to admit that you haven’t grown enough to appreciate diversity.

  11. #11 Annie
    April 21, 2009

    Yeah, I’m with wybory on this one. Even after reading your/feministx’s reply posts on the original “deformed orks” post, I just don’t get what makes any of this feminist. What it sounds like to me is stupidity, covered with a fine frosting of high school mockery. I mean, for real, you guys, are they all this ugly? Like, for serious?

    Even if you have a reasonable point to make (or at least you think you do) about beauty, you have to activate the ol’ internal censors, especially if you’re inviting traffic from a website that really IS about women’s issues.

  12. #12 CyberLizard
    April 21, 2009

    I’ve never understood the prejudice against darker skin. As someone who is melanin-challenged (stereotypical pasty white anglo-saxon here) and has a family history of melanoma, I would be quite grateful to have improved protection from the sun. Kinda sux living in Florida with skin that begins to glow red the moment it is exposed to a sunbeam.

  13. #13 PhizzleDizzle
    April 21, 2009

    Thanks SW, now I know not to ever visit.

  14. #14 LSM
    April 21, 2009

    Huh? Is Feministx a joke? Is someone trying to trick us?

    Why call herself a feminist if she is going to constantly write about “beauty” and superficially about race? Aren’t feminists supposed to look beyond body image at the whole female experience?

    It is either a joke, or someone trying to work through some serious self-hatred.

  15. #15 feministX
    April 21, 2009

    “t’s clear that Feministx is a racist of the “Bell Curve” sort, with posts about the inverse correlation between penis length and IQ (you can connect the dots), and mocking pictures of an interracial couple.”

    I’m not that sort, though it is true that I really invest myself in very reactionary perspectives on my blog. I don’t do it because I believe in them, but because I believe that if I automatically dismiss those “Bell Curve” type perspectives, then those who believe them will never pay attention to reasons to doubt their beliefs. If a culture believes it is right for a husband to hit his wife, you can’t just tell the men t that it’s wrong. You have to find out why they believe they can do it and explain to then in a way he can understand that they should not do such a thing. Yet, I know I do sometimes get carried away with the reactionary biology is destiny perspective that I truly to not believe in. This is why I have asked people here to contribute to my blog- I do not want it to become a one dimensional forum for airing racist beliefs.

    I feel that feminists are more and more in danger of this perspective creeping up on us (yes US, I *am* a feminist). Not so long ago Lawrence Summers made statements about the incapacity of women based on his beliefs about the scientific support his claims. Then Dr. Watson echoed his claims not long after.

    There is a growing body of research about biological differences between groups of people. We cannot ignore it and deride it and just hope it will go away. It’s not pleasant stuff to look at, but if you really read these Bell Curve type studies, you will see their transparent errors and biases. I feel it is important to really take on this perspective seriously rather than showing automatic anger towards it. Right now, there are a handful of intelligence researchers who are mostly older white males. They keep collecting data to support what they want to believe, and more and more people believe in these studies because the research is so often dismissed out of hand rather than carefully dissected.

    There are a number of posts that show my general distrust of the “Bell Curve” perspective-

    http://feministx.blogspot.com/2009/04/hbd.html

    http://feministx.blogspot.com/2009/04/racism-at-its-finest.html

    http://feministx.blogspot.com/2009/04/ice-cold-iq.html

    http://feministx.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-i-know-that-g-does-not-exist.html

    I also don’t think any of my posts relating to feminism express something that feminists would find grossly off the mark.

    I wrote a reply to your reaction about my post on aboriginal women. I am conflicted about my feelings towards them and my lack of restraint in expressing my impressions about them.

    I feel that I am a feminist and only a slightly different kind of feminist than “staunch feminists”. I hope not to be excluded from feminist communities in general because of my willingness to closely consider racist/sexist science.

  16. #16 ben g
    April 21, 2009

    A couple of points that need to be considered:

    1. Much of what most humans think of as beautiful is likely innate. Certain traits are universally regarded as attractive, and unsurprisingly (from an evolutionary standpoint) these traits tend to correlate with measures of fertility and youth. There is no reason why different populations should not differ on these universal, and likely innate, measures of beauty.

    2. This blog is basically suggesting that feminists can/should only write about things that promote social change in certain directions. The ideal of a feminist portrayed is one that can seemingly only write politically correct arguments that push society in a certain way, and isn’t allowed to make observations or arguments that go against the party line/goals.

    Patriarchy/gender issues and (innate) differences in beauty between groups are two interesting subjects. There’s no valid reason why feminists or anyone else shouldn’t talk about BOTH if they so please.

  17. #17 rob
    April 21, 2009

    So there is a feminist orthodoxy that all feminists must believe? Good to know. If you think a feminist is someone who believes the radical notion that women are people, feministX is one. She just happens to think some of those
    people are ugly.

    Don’t try turn feminism into the pretty police.

  18. #18 tbell
    April 21, 2009

    @rob
    the problem seemed to be that feministx didn’t seem to believe the radical notion that *people* are people…but rather maybe some kind of orc.

  19. #19 feministX
    April 22, 2009

    “the problem seemed to be that feministx didn’t seem to believe the radical notion that *people* are people…but rather maybe some kind of orc.”

    This is a ridiculous exaggeration. They are obviously people deserving of full respect and human dignity, and they deserve this because they are people, not because they are beautiful or ugly people. And if orcs somehow materialized on Earth, they too would deserve equal treatment and compassion.

    I am aware of the superficiality of contemporary western beauty standards. If I say something is attractive, it means that they are either attractive to me or would be perceived as attractive by society in general. I don’t endorse society’s definitions of attractiveness as though they represent gospel truth. I personally feel it is more liberating to believe that women do not have to be beautiful (by whatever standard) rather than that physical beauty can come from within. I’m not seeing how a woman’s character can travel from her neurons and cover her facade, making her physical appearance directly reflect her inner life. Only inner beauty comes from within.

  20. #20 Chuck
    May 16, 2009

    Umm…aborigines are ugly…in case you don’t have functioning eyes.

    if you stacked any aborigine up against average looking white, black, hispanic, or asian women, 99% of men in the world would not choose the aborigine…

    you all have been brainwashed…any man who sides with you has had his balls removed.

  21. #21 Clarence
    May 16, 2009

    Well, reading you over the past few years, SW, I’ve sort of refined my idea of a modern (2 to 3rd wave) feminist. From man-hating harpy to “Man hating harpy who totally buys into every “pc” stereotype on the planet”. Thanks.

  22. #22 Obsidian
    May 16, 2009

    I’m coming a bit late to the dance, but it seems to me that FemX’s points, however crude, are largely accurate-Aboriginal Women aren’t particularly physically attractive. Now, does that mean that they are evil or somehow less than human, etc? Absolutely not. But it IS to say, that they aren’t pretty. Sorry, but such is life, errbody can’t be pretty.

    I know FemX and consider her to be a bit out to lunch on a number of things, but on this I feel compelled to come to her defence-and for the record I’m Black (Male), and have had some actually interesting words w/FemX about Black-Indian racial issues wrt her mating choices. A very nice exchange, in fact.

    Aside from the seeming inability/refusal to accept objective evidence, particularly in a venue that purports scientific inquiry, I must also add that I am somewhat taken aback by the sheer kneejerky response by many of the obstensibly feminist voices here-last time I heard, people had the right to voice their opinions, however crude or even offensive we may personally find them to be. As many of you consider yourselves academics and scientists, ask yourself, which is better-fostering open dialogue w/an eye toward helping our opponents seeing the error of their ways, or banishing them and curtailing all discussion? For me, the answer to said question is obvious-one is clearly a hallmark of the Academy-the other the hallmark of Anti-Intellectual write large.

    The Obsidian

  23. #23 Alice
    May 16, 2009

    So I left this post for a while to see what other comments it would ring up. Some responses I’ve been thinking about:

    To those of you who wondered why I brought this up on this blog: it was purely because, when FeministX came and commented, rb followed the link and made a comment, thereby bringing the content to the blog. With my post, I was trying to move any subsequent commentary to a different thread from that which hosted FeministX’s comment. People have the right to spout whatever they want on their own blogs, but FeministX came to *our* blog and tried to recruit readers/commenters. Therefore, what she says on her blog, especially when it prompts comment from our readers (who can read whatever they like, btw), makes it my business to comment on. What some folks consider “kneejerk” or in my opinion should be considered “nipping in the bud so new readers don’t get confused about the stance of our blog.”

    To those who wonder about the ethics of critiquing someone else’s speech: we have some misunderstandings about feminism here, I think. There is no one “feminism” — rather lots of “feminisms,” really. I am not saying what “feminists” ought to write about, or what they should think, except what ever it be about should include working towards more *justice* in the world. I even have a pretty broad definition of justice; however, I see no claim for justice of any ilk in FeministX’s post. So I think I agree with Annie and wybory (#10 and 11), although I’m not sure if I or FeminstX is the “you” they’re referring to. (I’m hoping the latter.)

    To those who say (roughly) “but they *are* ugly! and that’s natural for us to think!” (i.e. ben g #15, or Chuck #19, shudder): I suggest you go read some other blog than this one, as this will not give you evidence to support your claims of biological inevitability. And Clarence? I’m not SW. Can’t believe you’ve been reading this for years if you haven’t figured that out. Not sure why you continue to visit.

    To those who note their own ethnicity in their comment/response, including FeministX, as a marker of their authenticity to comment: I don’t think that identifying with an ethnicity other than white gives one any additional inherent credibility to understand race as a construct, nor racism as a social phenomenon. I have known people from Africa who have much to learn about African American history, and African Americans who have much to learn about Native American history. As a white person, I know I have lots to learn about the experiences of people of color from across the globe, and much to learn about whiteness too. So the claim that “I’m a person of color so I can comment on this” holds no truck with me.

    I’ll be interested whether any of these responses generates any more thoughtful discussion on this topic.

  24. #24 Alice
    May 17, 2009

    So comment #15 has been languishing in spam, and now put the numbers of later comments in my #23 comment off. Also, because #15 has been languishing in spam, no one has had a chance to comment.

    Let me then point out that both Lawrence Summers and James Watson were *soundly lambasted* by the scientific community for their biological essentialist comments. For the growing body of research *against* biological essentialism, try starting with Anne Fausto-Sterling’s “Myths of Gender.”

  25. “makes it my business to comment on. What some folks consider “kneejerk” or in my opinion should be considered “nipping in the bud so new readers don’t get confused about the stance of our blog.”

    Fair enough, but what is the stance on your blog? That the only form of advocating for social justice involves a wholesale dismissal of personal preferences in beauty and all research that even attempts to investigate issues of biological determinism?

    “I suggest you go read some other blog than this one, as this will not give you evidence to support your claims of biological inevitability. And Clarence? I’m not SW. Can’t believe you’ve been reading this for years if you haven’t figured that out. Not sure why you continue to visit.”

    Yes, since the position on this blog is that the validity and nature of biological essentialism is not worth discussing at all (unless you count automatic dismissal as discussion), if you want a diverse assessment of issues concerning the merits of biological essentialism, you can go to other blogs…like mine.

    “To those who say (roughly) “but they *are* ugly! and that’s natural for us to think!” (i.e. ben g #15, or Chuck #19, shudder): I suggest you go read some other blog than this one, as this will not give you evidence to support your claims of biological inevitability.”

    Fine, well, if you prefer only to preach to the choir while alienating all those who disagree (who happen to be the majority of people), then I’m happy to actually engage those who believe in innate static standards of female beauty in a conversation so that people (from whatever viewpoint) might actually learn something new. I am also willing to discuss the ramifications about what it would mean if there really were innate static standards of female beauty. I am sure that if such a thing exists, then there is still no reason to support the commodification of the female body seen so often in western culture and seen even more often in non western cultures.

    “To those who note their own ethnicity in their comment/response, including FeministX, as a marker of their authenticity to comment: I don’t think that identifying with an ethnicity other than white gives one any additional inherent credibility to understand race as a construct, nor racism as a social phenomenon. I have known people from Africa who have much to learn about African American history, and African Americans who have much to learn about Native American history. As a white person, I know I have lots to learn about the experiences of people of color from across the globe, and much to learn about whiteness too. So the claim that “I’m a person of color so I can comment on this” holds no truck with me.”

    It is accurate to say that a person’s ethnicity doesn’t necessarily give them more information about the history of their ethnicity or of discrimination in general in the sense that knowledge of important dates and events doesn’t depend on a person’s ethnicity, but I find these kind of sentiments patronizing. It is condescending for social construct theorists (who mainly happen to be academic whites from privileged backgrounds) to claim that their theory represents the *real knowledge* while the experience of other people do not have inherent validity when it comes to the topic of racism as a social phenomenon. I personally feel that many academics create theories about race and racism while others are just expected to provide pre-approved soundbytes to support those theories.

    My story is not really what the academics want to hear. My great grandmother had an arranged marriage to her cousin at the age of 8 as was the custom in the region. Because of British colonialism, Indians felt pressured to change quickly and had a lot of exposure to enlightenment ideals from western culture. Had it not been for the British, it’s quite possible that such customs would have continued for another millennium and they certainly would have continued for long enough to affect my life. Even my South Indian born parents married because of a fortuneteller’s horoscope and never knew each other before the wedding. I am one generation removed from them, and I live alone in America and am a sexually active queer identified woman. The fact that someone like me can even exist is a feminist success. America became more tolerant of non white non christian immigrants (itself a facet of secular culture), which allowed my parents to immigrate and allowed me to obtain an education. My education allows me to live alone and do what I want with myself. For me, the present beauty standard which allegedly holds caucasian women as the ideal comes from the same cultural hegemony that as given me a way to avoid an arranged marriage. The fact that white women might possibly be seen as a more attractive ideal than Dravidian women is a rather small price to pay for an enormous amount of freedom relative to what I would have had in the total absence of western cultural hegemony. It doesn’t make the beauty standard valid- it means that the existence of the standard may represent something that is actually more helpful than harmful to women around the world.

    The fact that I can develop and express my own educated opinions on anything is social justice in action. The automatic exclusion of anyone that believes in any level of biological determinism is not social justice in my view.

  26. #26 ben g
    May 18, 2009

    “I even have a pretty broad definition of justice; however, I see no claim for justice of any ilk in FeministX’s post.”

    What about the pursuit of truth? Does everything (a feminist write) need to serve the cause of justice?

    “I suggest you go read some other blog than this one, as this will not give you evidence to support your claims of biological inevitability.”

    So, you’re not willing to discuss why you believe biology plays no role in beauty standards?

  27. #27 Eman
    May 19, 2009

    The word “feminist” is so loaded and stigmatized you all should just start calling yourselves “female rights activists” instead.

    For instance, I am a male who is an advocate for the rights of females but I wouldn’t dare call or consider myself a feminist.

  28. #28 Persona
    May 19, 2009

    FemX: “It is condescending for social construct theorists (who mainly happen to be academic whites from privileged backgrounds)”

    Actually, most of the “race is a social construct” academics, theorists, and ‘scientists’ mainly happen to be of ethnic Jewish descent, not of White/European descent…Boas and his mostly Jewish heirs started this when they totally altered anthropology as a discipline to be focused almost entirely on nebulous things such as ‘culture’ instead of the hard/biological/physical evidence of the physical anthropologists which predominated before the Boasians took over the field of anthropology.

  29. #29 jc
    May 19, 2009

    Eman, here I’ll fix this for you: The word “feminist” is so loaded and stigmatized BY THE MEN AND THEIR PATRIARCHY WHO WANT TO CONTINUE THEIR OPPRESSION OF WOMEN you all should (SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD!) just start calling yourselves (YOU WIMMINS, NOT US D00DS) “female rights activists” instead BECAUSE THAT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER.

    Newsflash: you are not an advocate for women.

  30. #30 Female Engineering Professor
    May 19, 2009

    I know next to nothing about social constructs, and I can’t even begin to understand FeministX or where she’s coming from.

    But I thought her comments about the picture of aboriginal women were pitiful (among the many adjectives that spring to mind). It reminded me of how we all tend to look in the mirror and find all the flaws. What I saw were women who had probably had a tough life. But there was a fierceness and a solidarity there that struck me.

    And I also thought about all those episodes of What Not to Wear. I have a feeling Stacy & Clinton could easily transform that group to fit the western ideal of beauty. Not that that’s really important in the grand scheme of things.

    I grew up in the South during the height of the big Texas hair phenomenon. Appearence was a big deal in my town. Most women/girls didn’t leave the house without their hair and makeup done.

    I observed in high school that some people were beautiful because they were just fundamentally pretty. I also observed that others chose to be beautiful. Even dressed and groomed attractively/expensively, not everyone looks like Angelina or Brad – and yet there are those individuals who walk around projecting that aura. And people respond to them in like manner … treating them as if they are the local equivalent of Angelina or Brad. It’s fascinating to watch.

    I think given half a chance, those women in that picture could project beauty in spades. It’s too bad FeministX couldn’t see that.

  31. #31 Doug
    October 31, 2009

    Female Engineering Professor

    I think given half a chance, those women in that picture could project beauty in spades. It’s too bad FeministX couldn’t see that.

    You would make George Orwell proud.

    Ugly is beautiful.

    Virtually no one who isn’t well over on the left and deeply committed to PC doublethink in a Western country would agree.

  32. #32 joshrandall
    January 21, 2011

    Yiu mentioned the problem of the abos being “ripped away” from their culture to be civilized and taught stuff and blah blah blah. Well isnt that what you PC white broads are always trying to do with niggers? Intervene! 5 years old is too late! The racial gap can be seen at 9 months!!! Get them as they slide out of the vagina!! So you’re doing the same thing you condemn in others!Idiots!

  33. #33 g
    January 21, 2011

    I’m sorry to be so un-PC here. But the profound denial of basic biology by people on this board stuns me.

    It’s a kind of wishful-thinking willful denial.

    I’m sure the women in the picture are decent human beings, filled with the same needs, wants and desires as rest of us. They laugh, play, think and enjoy life like all humans.

    They are fully human. In every possible sense. We share this world and its experience with them.

    But aside from the brutal treatment they have received, the historical grievances, the losses and the crimes performed against them in the past and today, by a cruel and merciless market economy:

    They are also profoundly physically unattractive to people from other places and other races. Face it: Biology is a harsh, brutal mistress. Some people are born ugly; some are born gorgeous; some are born smart; some are born stupid. We can treat each other equally, but we are by no means born equal, and that’s before you take into account class, culture or wealth.

    You can’t take a leaf and pretend it’s a flower. You can if it’s a pointsetta. But only in *some* cases is beauty culturally driven. There are hard-wired universal features that men and women find attractive. And they are different for men and women, and they are different for different groups.

    30-50,000 years separate the Australian Aboriginal population from the rest of humanity. That’s many times more than enough time to have lots of divergent evolution.

    I get the impression that a lot of the people who comment on this blog are deeply unhappy about the raw, indigestible fact of human biology and genetic variation.

    You can value the humanity of every human who has ever lived without having to paint images in the sky and believe things that are – obviously – not true.

    Have you considered that these women appear ugly because we’re not Australian Aborigine men and women? It’s entirely possible – if not probable – that there are hard-coded beauty standards that *ALSO* vary by population. Maybe Aborigines find them pretty. I don’t. Nobody I know would.I can go around and ask, but I can guarantee what results I’ll get. From black, Asian and white friends. It will be the same.

    These reactions may be genetically programmed. Black men from West Africa may, in fact, like women with – shall we say – more booty. Larger women. It’s also possible that the classic hip-to-waist ratio attraction cue for males is different in different subgroups.

    Sexual selection is the most powerful force in evolution. It can operate on a population in just a few generations.

    We don’t find these women attractive. It’s not in the least bit surprising. It would be surprising if all people and all groups had the same attraction-cues. And our attraction-cues tend to run to large groups of like-looking people, closely approximating mating groups and extended mating groups interacting over generations. Hence, white people are usually most attracted to white people. Not always: there are always outliers, and good for them, we need the Hybrid Vigor from time to time. But left to sort themselves in a browninan-motion fashion, we all know what happens.

    In a species of animal as diverse as humans, it would be almost unbelievable not to have distinct population sub-groups with (biologically) minor differences that are genetic.

    And if there’s one thing about humans that’s true, it’s that we are biologically diverse.

    Height varies by population. Girth varies by population. Eskimos have extra layers of skin; Pygmies are short (genetically); West African women have extended and enlarged behinds; Kenyan men can be very, very tall and make excellent long-distance runners; West Africans excel at some sports, like sprinting, and are less good at others; South Chinese are shorter and thinner than North Chinese; Dravidian Indians are obviously not the same as Northern (Aryan) Indians.

    If hair color, height, shape, athletic ability and strength can be coded by genes, and modified by the environment only to a degree, then it’s absolutely obvious that other factors, including personality, character traits and attitude and a host of other features we take for granted -

    Especially what we are and are not attracted to, sexually –

    Absolutely have to be hard-wired to a great degree, as well.

    Even babies recognize faces they’re attracted to and faces they’re not. In fact, babies are loaded with hard-wired and programmed information from birth.

    This is inconvenient for Blank-Slatist ideologues, but let me tell you:

    The PC Blank-Slate It’s-All-Society position is fundamentally identical to the Religious/Creationist perspective.

    You can pretend that we’re not Animals, but the reality is that we are animals, social primates, large hairless hominids (though some of us are genetically more predisposed as groups to more or less hair) who come with preset biological programs for much of what we ever do.

    We are animals, absolutely subject to the same rules as any other biological entity.

    What we’re attracted to sexually has to be deeply hard-wired into the very basic parts of our brain. There’s next to zero chance that this element would go unprogramed by genes whose ONLY PURPOSE is to create Meat-Shells to replicate themselves.

    Sex is the most hard-coded of all of our behaviors. We construct elaborate rituals and self-delusions to escape from this, and the modern ideological movements are notoriously more predisposed to do this on a regular basis, because we need to be “perfectable” beings that can be “reformed”, but the naked truth is this:

    We are sexual machines whose sole purpose in life is to reproduce our genes. Our intelligence may have hijacked this process on occasion, but every single living thing that has ever lived has been programmed with this in mind. It is the nature of evolution. It is the entire reason we’re here, and not yet extinct.

    We are meat-bags, machines created and manipulated by our genes, genes that build protein-shells to help reproduce. We are designed to be tools for the successful propagation of our genes. That’s the most basic truth about Human life. It’s the most basic truth about all life of any kind.

    So if you believe that these women can be made “attractive” to men and women not of their own background, be my guest. You can tell yourself this and lie to yourself and make up stories about how it’s all socially constructed and everything we ever do is nothing but a matter of perspective and social training. You can try to do that.

    But that’s just a pretty lie you tell yourself. It’s ideology.

    Not reality.

    Wake up and be real. It’s hard being in that harsh light, but reality is more interesting than fantasy.

  34. #34 Gorbachev
    January 21, 2011

    I’m sorry to be so un-PC here. But the profound denial of basic biology by people on this board stuns me.

    It’s a kind of wishful-thinking willful denial.

    I’m sure the women in the picture are decent human beings, filled with the same needs, wants and desires as rest of us. They laugh, play, think and enjoy life like all humans.

    They are fully human. In every possible sense. We share this world and its experience with them.

    But aside from the brutal treatment they have received, the historical grievances, the losses and the crimes performed against them in the past and today, by a cruel and merciless market economy:

    They are also profoundly physically unattractive to people from other places and other races. Face it: Biology is a harsh, brutal mistress. Some people are born ugly; some are born gorgeous; some are born smart; some are born stupid. We can treat each other equally, but we are by no means born equal, and that’s before you take into account class, culture or wealth.

    You can’t take a leaf and pretend it’s a flower. You can if it’s a pointsetta. But only in *some* cases is beauty culturally driven. There are hard-wired universal features that men and women find attractive. And they are different for men and women, and they are different for different groups.

    30-50,000 years separate the Australian Aboriginal population from the rest of humanity. That’s many times more than enough time to have lots of divergent evolution.

    I get the impression that a lot of the people who comment on this blog are deeply unhappy about the raw, indigestible fact of human biology and genetic variation.

    You can value the humanity of every human who has ever lived without having to paint images in the sky and believe things that are – obviously – not true.

    Have you considered that these women appear ugly because we’re not Australian Aborigine men and women? It’s entirely possible – if not probable – that there are hard-coded beauty standards that *ALSO* vary by population. Maybe Aborigines find them pretty. I don’t. Nobody I know would.I can go around and ask, but I can guarantee what results I’ll get. From black, Asian and white friends. It will be the same.

    These reactions may be genetically programmed. Black men from West Africa may, in fact, like women with – shall we say – more booty. Larger women. It’s also possible that the classic hip-to-waist ratio attraction cue for males is different in different subgroups.

    Sexual selection is the most powerful force in evolution. It can operate on a population in just a few generations.

    We don’t find these women attractive. It’s not in the least bit surprising. It would be surprising if all people and all groups had the same attraction-cues. And our attraction-cues tend to run to large groups of like-looking people, closely approximating mating groups and extended mating groups interacting over generations. Hence, white people are usually most attracted to white people. Not always: there are always outliers, and good for them, we need the Hybrid Vigor from time to time. But left to sort themselves in a browninan-motion fashion, we all know what happens.

    In a species of animal as diverse as humans, it would be almost unbelievable not to have distinct population sub-groups with (biologically) minor differences that are genetic.

    And if there’s one thing about humans that’s true, it’s that we are biologically diverse.

    Height varies by population. Girth varies by population. Eskimos have extra layers of skin; Pygmies are short (genetically); West African women have extended and enlarged behinds; Kenyan men can be very, very tall and make excellent long-distance runners; West Africans excel at some sports, like sprinting, and are less good at others; South Chinese are shorter and thinner than North Chinese; Dravidian Indians are obviously not the same as Northern (Aryan) Indians.

    If hair color, height, shape, athletic ability and strength can be coded by genes, and modified by the environment only to a degree, then it’s absolutely obvious that other factors, including personality, character traits and attitude and a host of other features we take for granted -

    Especially what we are and are not attracted to, sexually –

    Absolutely have to be hard-wired to a great degree, as well.

    Even babies recognize faces they’re attracted to and faces they’re not. In fact, babies are loaded with hard-wired and programmed information from birth.

    This is inconvenient for Blank-Slatist ideologues, but let me tell you:

    The PC Blank-Slate It’s-All-Society position is fundamentally identical to the Religious/Creationist perspective.

    You can pretend that we’re not Animals, but the reality is that we are animals, social primates, large hairless hominids (though some of us are genetically more predisposed as groups to more or less hair) who come with preset biological programs for much of what we ever do.

    We are animals, absolutely subject to the same rules as any other biological entity.

    What we’re attracted to sexually has to be deeply hard-wired into the very basic parts of our brain. There’s next to zero chance that this element would go unprogramed by genes whose ONLY PURPOSE is to create Meat-Shells to replicate themselves.

    Sex is the most hard-coded of all of our behaviors. We construct elaborate rituals and self-delusions to escape from this, and the modern ideological movements are notoriously more predisposed to do this on a regular basis, because we need to be “perfectable” beings that can be “reformed”, but the naked truth is this:

    We are sexual machines whose sole purpose in life is to reproduce our genes. Our intelligence may have hijacked this process on occasion, but every single living thing that has ever lived has been programmed with this in mind. It is the nature of evolution. It is the entire reason we’re here, and not yet extinct.

    We are meat-bags, machines created and manipulated by our genes, genes that build protein-shells to help reproduce. We are designed to be tools for the successful propagation of our genes. That’s the most basic truth about Human life. It’s the most basic truth about all life of any kind.

    So if you believe that these women can be made “attractive” to men and women not of their own background, be my guest. You can tell yourself this and lie to yourself and make up stories about how it’s all socially constructed and everything we ever do is nothing but a matter of perspective and social training. You can try to do that.

    But that’s just a pretty lie you tell yourself. It’s ideology.

    Not reality.

    Wake up and be real. It’s hard being in that harsh light, but reality is more interesting than fantasy.

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