The world isn’t sexist?

Even Today people like to say that “the world isn’t sexist”. There are woman doctors, engineers, firefighters, construction workers, and so many more careers. That doesn’t mean anything though. In “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective” Donna Haraway discusses feminism in a more open-minded way. She takes a bold approach in order to hold others accountable.

            Haraway discusses various terms such as situated knowledge. Situated knowledge can be explained as information that reflects a background and comes from a specific viewpoint. She uses this term in order to further explain her views on feminist science. Situated knowledges can also be thought as in more simpler terms as how we see different things. Hawaway states “These are lessons that I have learned in part walking with my dogs and wondering how the world looks without a fovea and very few retinal cells for color vision but with a huge neural processing and sensory area for smells”(583). This is an interesting way at looking at the idea of situated knowledges. Dogs don’t have the ability to look at different theories such as situated knowledges in a more analytical way like humans can. They are more neutral, and therefore not judgmental compared to people who might be judgmental towards careers women pursue, or subjects that they choose to study. Haraway is using that example to create a more accepting environment for not just woman, but all people.

            Today women are in various different fields that in the past were mostly male dominated. Even in 2019 careers such as firefighting, engineering, mechanical work, and even working as a doctor are still majorly male dominated. Most commonly in male dominated fields women are treated unfairly in these types of fields, and most of the time are discouraged by others when going into these male dominated fields. Harroway explains “We unmasked the doctrines of objectivity because they threatened our budding sense of collective historical subjectivity and agency and our “embodied” accounts of the truth, and we ended up with one more excuse for not learning any post-Newtonian physics and one more reason to drop the old feminist self-help practices of repairing our own cars. They’re just texts anyway, so let the boys have them back”(578). Society makes woman feel like they can’t do something as simple as change a flat tire, or change their cars oil when it is needed. Society ultimately makes women feel like they aren’t capable of doing hard work, but they are only capable of cooking, cleaning, or answering phones.

            Haraway makes great efforts in encouraging women to go into these male dominated fields. She starts to make an impact in making it possible for woman to have the confidence to go into these work environments and do well in them. She states “Some of us tried to stay sane in these disassembled and dissembling times by holding out for feminist version of objectivity. Here, motivated by many of the same political desires, is the other seductive end of the objectivity problem” (578). Women have to try and stay sane in environments where they aren’t treated fairly, aren’t valued the same way as men, and are maybe given the easier jobs because they are not seen as being capable. This is a major issue in a lot of workplaces, and even some collage classes. Women shouldn’t go into fields such as engineering because there is a need to make that field more diverse. Women should go into these fields because they want to. Today there is a major push for girls to be coders, engineers, mechanics, or firefighters, but that is not the solution. Men to realize that having a more diverse environment can help. A diverse work environment creates many viewpoints which can help people see things in a different way, and do a more effective job. Hawaway makes the point that we need to hold people in power accountable in order for change to happen. She states “Here is where science, science fantasy and science fiction coverage in objectivity question in feminism. Perhaps our hopes for accountability, for politics, for ecofeminism, turn on revisioning the world as coding trickster with whom we must learn to converse”(596). This really proves that all people need to look at things such as who holds what jobs with a new look. This is ultimately how we can start at creating more diverse environments. If we start here eventually our world will be more diverse. It isn’t up to just women though; it is up to everyone to make it happen.

Discussion Questions

1. This text was rather dense and full of a lot of different terms. As a reader I found it easier to understand by relating it to my own life. What are some examples from your own life that you saw in the text?

2. What are some ways that you think we could affectively start as a society to make positive environments for woman, but also all people?

Work Cited

Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575–599.

9 Replies to “The world isn’t sexist?”

  1. Great post, Katie! It was really thought provoking and insightful. It is an all too common occurrence that we hear “sexism isn’t a problem anymore”. Similar to racism, people are quick to sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist. Although sexism in society isn’t as bad as it once was, it is still very prevalent in our day to day lives. Certain careers, usually the more hands on jobs, are seen as a boys club. Even in the different mini mum wage jobs I’ve had, I’ve seen a certain degree of sexism in the ways that women are treated and spoken to in the work place. When Haraway writes, “Understanding how these visual systems work, technically, socially, and physically, ought to be a way of embodying feminist objectivity”, I thought it was a very insightful way of describing just how we need to move forward. In order to eradicate the problems that create sexism, we first must come to understand the systems that create them. So many discriminatory practices are still very prevalent in our society, and we are nowhere near done fixing them. However, there are still many things we can do to begin the process of maintaining a truly equal society in terms of our sexist practices. We can stop treating the mistreatment of women under the rug, and we can start holding the men responsible more accountable, even more than we are doing now. No matter how powerful or wealthy the man may seem, we cannot let him get away with causing detrimental treatments of people within our society. We can start treating every single employee of a certain field as equal as the next. If we get rid of our stereotypes, there will be no stereotypes to portray, especially in the workplace. Haraway’s arguments brings us in the right direction, because as long as we are talking about, we are doing something to enact change.

  2. Hi Katie,
    I really enjoyed your blog post. I like how you put a lot of your focus towards male-dominated jobs. This is really important, especially because I feel like there is a lot of controversy today surrounding equal employment. In “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie she voices the troubles she had when she taught a writing class in graduate school. She explained despite being very prepared and aware of what she was teaching “I was worried about what to wear. I wanted to be taken seriously. I knew that because I was female, I would automatically have to prove my worth. And I was worried that if I looked too feminine, I would not be taken seriously” (Adichie 38). I feel like many women in powerful positions like Adichie feel pressured when working in workforces dominated by men.
    I have hopes of graduating this spring and continuing with my education and going to graduate school. I want to be a lawyer and I also have plans of becoming a law professor in my later years. I know that when I go into this career I have to be strong and not allow for any my potential male colleagues to belittle me. My mother had a similar experience where one of her misogynistic male colleagues he viewed her as a threat because she was a woman of color who was successful.
    I feel as if we have to try to break this idea that is constantly recycled through this society that men are more dominant than women. As a society, we somewhat take power from women and force them to be silent. When a woman speaks up she is viewed as a nuisance and even a threat. We have to get rid of this idea that causes women to feel as if they have to compete with men. Everyone is equal to perform whichever gender, express whatever sexuality, and work any sort of job they want. This society needs to stop policing and strictly tying women with socially constructed characteristics.

  3. Hi Katie!

    I definitely found the reading dense and full of a lot of complex terms and ideas that I do not face in my usual readings. However, your blog post allowed me to perceive the text a little clearer. I enjoyed that you centered your blog post around male-dominated jobs and how females who try to work in these male-dominated jobs are commonly “treated unfairly” and “discouraged by others”.

    To answer your first question, I am currently experiencing a minor situation involving my job position where sexism is affecting me directly. I am a Resident Assistant in one of the buildings here at SUNY Cortland. This is my first semester being an RA so I am still fairly new with developing a clear boundary between being a friend and an authoritative figure. Recently, one of my all-boys suites on my floor has been making sexist comments about me being female and younger than them. They make statements that put me in uncomfortable positions because I do not know if they are only “joking” or being more literal. The problem with me simply letting their statements pass as jokes is that I do not want it to continue escalating down the path it currently is. Their comments make me feel that because I am a female and I am younger than they are, that somehow makes me clueless and less authoritative. I do plan to have a conversation with them about these comments because it really makes me furious that I am taken less seriously than other male RAs. I brought this situation up to one of my male co-workers with hopes that he could give me advice considering he is a male. However, he told me that I should not even bother talking with them by myself instead, I should have him join the conversation because they would take him more seriously than myself. I struggle with this approach because I should not have to involve another male in order to have a group of males understand where I am coming from. It is horrible that my gender and age prohibit me from being on the same playing field as my male co-worker RA. Personally, I consider my situation only minor when comparing it to more severe sexist acts. However, the severity of sexism does not matter because no matter how little or big the act is, it is still an act of unequalness, unkindness, and unfairness based on the sex of a person.

    In conclusion, I completely agree with your point that “we have to get rid of this idea that causes women to feel as if they have to compete with men”. This tension made me think about a picture where a man is holding a sign that states “I need feminism because it’s easy to ignore sexism when it works in your favor”.

  4. My last concluding thought was actually a point that Tai made in her blog comment. I apologize for any confusion. For some reason, I thought that was the bottom of your blog but it was not. Anyway, I wanted to point my error out since I quoted her words.

  5. Hi Katie,
    I agree with many of the points you made in your blog post. I do think women are typically discouraged from going into fields that are predominantly male practices. And even if they do enter into these fields, more often than not they are discriminated against. This is a problem because it steers women away from these jobs; it makes them think that they are “incapable” or “not good enough”, and deprives the workforce of the skills they could potentially bring to those jobs. I liked part of the quote you took from the reading, that said, “Perhaps our hopes for accountability, for politics, for ecofeminism, turn on revisioning the world as coding trickster with whom we must learn to converse” (Haraway 596). To truly understand why men, and sometimes women, feel this way about discrimination in the workforce, has to come from the bottom up. We need to take a deeper look into how exactly we can change these stereotypical ideas, by examining the problem and trying many different solutions. I don’t think the issue of women being discriminated against in the work place will end any time soon, but Haraway made great points about society’s need to step up.

  6. Hi Katie, I enjoyed reading your blogpost. Nowadays, there are many women that take on many different careers. And I agree with the point that you highlighted that it will take more than just diversifying the workforce to make a positive change for the treatment of women. As a society, it is the role of everyone who is present in society to create a better place for women especially in the workplace and their value. Donna Haraway discusses in “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective” how we are all held accountable in this situation not just women alone. She also mentions, “It has seemed to me that feminists have both selectively and flexibly used and been trapped by two poles of a tempting dichotomy on the question of objectivity.” (576) This piece of the article highlights that feminists alone cannot solve this problem of inequality. I think that environments need to stop restricting women from working in certain environments. In result, this will create more diverse settings.

  7. Hi Katie!
    This post made a very dense reading a bit easier to understand. When speaking about women in male dominated fields, I began to think of the converse of that. I am the vice president of Education Club and just this week we had a young male elementary school teacher come to speak to our club members. Males, or people who identify as male are hard to come by in the elementary setting. He spoke about often hearing comments such as males are too hard on children and not nurturing enough to teach such young minds. He also spoke about how female teachers were much harder on him and his male peers because she was concerned they had it “easy” because they are more in demand.
    I really liked the quote you picked, it was one of the only ones i marked down, possibly because it was one of the few that made sense. “These are lessons that I have learned in part walking with my dogs and wondering how the world looks without a fovea and very few retinal cells for color vision but with a huge neural processing and sensory area for smells”(583). I also understand this because as humans we are so educated to see bias and whatnot but sometimes that seems to backfire and we begin o complicate matters. This reading was very tough but relating it to personal stories though the blog comments made it easier to go back and re read!

  8. I really liked your post and the interesting things that you added t make the text easier to understand. I agree with the things that Haraway says about objectivity and that it’s impossible to achieve. When thinking about the endless amount of things that could inhibit our ideas or our thoughts. I know for myself I think about things a lot different from other people. I have a lot of identity factors that play a role in this. I am a white, gay, female, who is a liberal, went to community college, going to a state school, who is a fifth-year, from a really small conservative town. I’m also in a sorority and volunteer a lot as well as many other things. These things give me a lot of insight into different topics that others might not have. It’s also shaped me into the person I am today because I’ve had a lot of obstacles to overcome throughout this. How do we get others to understand that was is true for them is most likely not true for at least 1 other person in the world? I guess educating, but the people not able to understand these things are the people that probably just don’t care enough about them in the first place.

  9. Hey Katie!
    In my opinion, Haraway’s piece was very hard to interpret, but you did an amazing job at organizing what you interpreted and analyzing it in a way that makes it easier for the class to understand! I really appreciated the time you took to explain the importance and meaning of situated knowledges, especially including the example of the dog. Also, explaining how dogs are neutral beings who don’t judge others, such as groups of people in society judge each other based on their differences (race, gender, class). That is a great example of what society should be, more accepting and equal through difference and individuality. Haraway definitely takes the time to encourage women of all color to go into fields that were once only considered for men. By doing this, women can show that they are equal towards men and can do the same thing, which proves society’s norms are in the wrong. Haraway does this by stating: “Understanding how these visual systems work, technically, socially, and physically, ought to be a way of embodying feminist objectivity” which pushes these women in a direction to a new beginning, as well as acceptance. Along with Haraway, all women should stand up for what they believe in and do whatever they want to do with their lives. No one should ever stop any gender, race, or economic class from doing what they want to in life. We are all human and we are all equal.

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