Thursday, January 11, 2007

In his book, Learned Optimism, Seligman talks for a few paragraphs on the dangers of our over individualistic society in terms of how it can lead to a pessimistic explanatory style(as he often says- it's me, it's going to last forever and it's going to ruin everything I do) and a vast sense of meaninglessness.

Now I'm going to talk about individualism and feminism. I think a case of tension is about whether feminism well...does it have content? Amy grumbles about how noone complains that commies don't own big corporations and Mag is hurt because folks don't see how wonderful and special being a femme who likes pop music(just like 99 million other people!) is.

I give you these two perspectives so I can meet them in the middle. Amy is talking from the perspective that feminism has content- it's like you give up hot dogs to be a vegetarian because the not so nice parts of the cow and the pig and probably the rat are considered to be meat, and so if you eat meat, you're not a vegetarian. Mag, well, she's talking more from a feeling place in which we all want unconditional love and acceptance. I of course have a hard time not making fun of this.

But yea, basically, the goals of feminism are about 'choices' and 'freedom', usually defined in terms of having people approve of your choices in consumption. This of course makes me suspicious as I am aware of the fact that nowadays one's identity is seen as less connected to others and the group as it is fragmented into a million and one consumption based niches.

Personally, I prefer the more group orientation, more content based feminism. Why? Because to me, the point of a social movement is just to go and achieve goals. I'm cool with trying to explain why we should be cool with transgender folks in our bathrooms, because that makes sense to me. It helps a group achieve being able to pee more comfortably and helps people discrimiated because of their sex be less discriminated against.

But I'm not so sure I can endorse feminism to be individual orientation and less content based because that seems like the rest of society's job to me. If people make fun of you, I suggest self esteem. Like, let's say people don't like your taste in music or think your socks aren't really as cute as you think they are. You could go and cry about it. Or you could say hey, I accept the fact you don't like my taste in music and think my socks are ugly. I'm still cool with myself as a person, even if everyone doesn't approve of me.

Get a little Albert Ellis on yourself. I recommend Seligman's repackaging of the old ABC(antecedent, belief, consequences) deal. Use it, and I think your self esteem will improve. Yea, so I think some stuff is a personal problem and some stuff are societal problems.

For me, to see the latter, you gotta look at the patterns. Why are there more sushi on naked girls than sushi on naked men?, why do women get paid less and are encouraged to spend more,etc,etc. You have to think about the structure of society. Yes, it's sad that your friends made fun of your cute kitten heels. But it's kind of like worrying about how once my brother said our chair was a black man's chair. It's not nice, but there's a whole lot of other stuff you got to get to first before you can even be worrying about that.

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