I don’t always understand feminists…

I’m a feminist. I’m a father with a daughter so of course I’m a feminist. Even if I only had boys I think I’d still be a feminist but maybe I wouldn’t be as actively trying to understand feminist issues as I am now.

I follow several prominent feminists including Jessica ValentiAmanda MarcotteRebecca Watson and Greta Christina. It took a little thinking for my male privileged brain to fully understand the problem with Elevatorgate but I finally did.

Too much cleavage!
Too much cleavage!

I explain all of that to say that I’m having another failure to launch moment… I’m not quite understanding Betsy Rothstein when she says Michelle Fields was showing too much cleavage on FoxNews and that’s sexist (source):

Anyone watching Fox News’s Neil Cavuto Wednesday afternoon was in for a real treat of exposed breasts. Free of charge. The star of the soft porn film, er show, was The Daily Caller‘sMichelle Fields, who decided to go on national TV with a large portion of her breasts jiggling out of her shirt.

This isn’t the first time Cavuto’s program and others have been criticized for having on scantily clad female guests. Media Matters wrote about the rash of sexism emanating from the network’s programming in January 2011.

The implication is that the act of Michelle Fields showing too much cleavage is sexists. Without some qualifications, I don’t think it is. I thought a big part of the feminist movement is to allow women to dress sexy (if they want) without men seeing that as an invitation to rape and harass said women? From a sex positive perspective, where is that line of a woman dressing sexy in order to feel sexy and men objectifying her? Am I a sexist jerk for thinking that Michelle is good looking and for appreciating her beauty?

I’ve always thought that it’s possible for women to dress sexy and for men to appreciate her. Men just have to treat her like a person (a sexy person!) and not just some sex object. We shouldn’t street call women, we shouldn’t make rude sexual gestures and we should just act as decent fucking human beings. A woman dressy sexy isn’t an invitation to treat her like a sex object.

Maybe Betsy is suggesting that Cavuto’s show is creating a hostile work environment for Michelle? Maybe she’s suggesting that Cavuto’s show is objectifying women?

3 thoughts on “I don’t always understand feminists…”

  1. I think Betsy has a general axe to grind with Fox, and she degrades the women they do have on because of the style of dress they decide to have.

    However, my thinking on the general issue of how men react to women who dress sexy is that we call ourselves ‘human beings’ as if this implies we are better than acting like animals, when the truth is that we are just animals. Perhaps we are slightly more advanced than other animals on the planet in our cognitive abilities, but we are crude and direct by GENETIC DESIGN.

    In the wild, a female baboon will walk around with her swollen sex organs to advertise the fact that she is ready to mate. Similarly, studies show that human females have higher levels of estrogen just prior to and during ovulation. This causes things like softer skin, fuller breasts, a stronger libido and greater production of her unique odor, as well as the behavioral tendency to wear more makeup and more revealing clothing (as a result of the libido). Holding such a rigid standard against men’s reaction to these behaviors and developments AS WELL AS towards women who exhibit the correlating behaviors is really infantile. We’ve been out of the jungle for how long now? Not even a blip on the cosmic clock. While I too consider myself a feminist, I think far too many of the generations and iterations of feminism have purposely ignored the facts behind how men and women are made up genetically. We have great brains, but a crude response is NATURAL. Aggressiveness and what we view as “masculinity” are more than just socially constructed excuses — they are a natural response to testosterone and our genes.

  2. It’s true that we are but evolved animals but we alone have intellect, reason, logic and the ability to empathize. Understanding our baser instincts is fine but lets not use it as an excuse for bad behavior.

  3. Considering that she links to a couple of Media Matters articles which attempt to document Fox News going out of their way to show off women’s bodies for the sake of ratings, Rothstein’s point seems to be something relating to objectification.

    Women who want to show off their bodies should not be punished for it. A corollary is that women who don’t want to shouldn’t be punished for that. If Fox News is showing favoritism to certain women based on their wardrobes, then this has the relative effect of discriminating against women who don’t want to show off their bodies, and generally the choice of who goes on air becomes less about their ideas or ability than it ought to be.

    PS: you may be assuming too much by thinking that Rothstein was making a feminist analysis. Nothing in her article is explicit about this, and while she may be a feminist for all I know, it doesn’t follow that she’s always thinking and speaking from a consciously feminist viewpoint. (I know I don’t always.) I’ve tried to find a feminist reading of her article here, and it wasn’t hard to do, but it’s not obvious that that’s what she had in mind.

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