18 October 2010

a spot of culture and something a bit more serious...cafe culture - philosophy and feminism

I went to another cafe culture event this evening for a spot of light hearted entertainment!

So, the blurb said: Kay Black [a lecturer in politics and feminism at Newcastle university] will consider the contribution feminism has made to recent developments in moral philosophy. 

What it all boiled down to is that traditional philosophy ie male-dominated philosophy says that women have a poorly developed sense of morals and ethics because we get stuck at a state of being overly concerned about what others think of us, always eager to please and always wanting to avoid conflict.  This is an emotional response, not a rational response, which is male and considered to be superior.  Feminist ethics says that it is a nonsense to compare the two and that one is no more advanced or better than the other because we all, men and women, have both rational and emotional states of thinking, and that we must employ both for effective decision making.  And, if we try to separate the two we make poor decisions or are unable to make decisions at all because we need passion or emotions to stimulate and motivate ourselves to make decisions.  The speaker illustrated this by saying it has been tested by working with people who, after an accident or something else, have damaged the part of the brain that controls emotion and they find it very difficult to make a decision, even only using rational approaches.  It is also evidenced by those people who have been abused as children or as adults and have suppressed their emotions to such an extent that it too affects their ability to make decisions and to function.  I can't comment on this because I don't know enough about it.

So, ultimately, the feminist approach to philosophy is about using the whole self, holisticism if you will.

The questions and discussions part of the evening after the talk was very interesting too touching on a huge range of issues...
* the early sexualisation of girls
* the impact the media has on young women, their body image and self esteem
* whether feminism is a dirty word and if it could or should be re-branded - we didn't think so though I think that there was a feeling that holisticism would be closest
* the confusion we all have about what feminism actually means and the many branches of the political movement - radical, lipstick, liberal, post-modern, marxist, etc - and how radical feminism in the 80s, while responsible for many advances for women, also gave feminism a 'bad name' as it was lead by many loud, vocal women, some of them definitely card-carrying men haters
* the use of words
* the steady, continuing drip, drip of misogyny and how women are complicit in this

Phew!

One of the key points we came to was how we as women shouldn't try to fit in with how men have set up society and the structures we live and work within, instead we should push for a system where it works for us both, not just one group...again a holistic approach, where no one loses.

A true challenge, I think, but one I'm certainly up for.  What about you?

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