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As usual, it depends on what type of feminism we’re talking about. It also depends on what we mean by “empowerment”, and this can take us down a philosophical road in trying to discern what that word actually means. Lets keep it simple, and begin exploring this by looking at the opposite of empowerment: learned helplessness.
In a study conducted by Seligman & Maier, three groups of dogs were observed in conditions where they were administered electrical shocks. The first two groups had a choice to get away from the shocks – the third group didn’t. Over time, the third group of dogs made no attempt to get away from shocks when they most certainly had the choice. They had been taught to not even try thanks to the previous experience of not having any choice.
In another study conducted by Langer and Rodin, patients at a senior citizen home were divided into two groups. The first group (we’ll call this one the helpless group) was told to let the staff take care of them and do everything for them (it’s important to note that they still had options to do what they wanted – they were simply told to let the staff do everything). The second group (we’ll call this one the empowered group) was told they needed to take care of themselves, and even given a few extra jobs to tend after, like watering plants.
After 18 months, the empowered group had better overall health, better physical and mental conditioning, and were generally happier. However, the helpless group quickly deteriorated, and at the end of the study, had a mortality rate that was twice as high!
This is because responsibility is not just a burden, as we often think it is. Responsibilities can be a hassle sometimes, but they also reflect personal power! Your responsibility means you have a choice. When you give up your responsibility, you’re giving up your choice, and thus your “power of agency” as Third Wavers would like to call it. So with this in mind, lets take a look at the different expectations between men and women, then try to determine if feminism really empowers women.
If people judge how a man is dressed, well you need to dress better! Of course people are going to judge if you’re dressed like a slob. If you want respect, you gotta look respectable. That’s not a problem of course. There’s plenty of resources around that can help you look more professional.
If people judge how a woman is dressed, SOCIETY NEEDS TO CHANGE!
If people put a man down or insult him, first you need to determine if they have a point. And if they don’t, then stand up for yourself, or just ignore them. You believe in you, and don’t worry what the nay sayers say. You stay confident and