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June 22, 2008

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Lori

Actually, I see the "Fembot" as a return to the standards Golden Era--a time when women were more feminine and people in general had better manners and more common sense. A couple of books from the era (c. 1940) suggest choosing your confidantes carefully and putting your feelings aside at work. Why is some repression good? You don't end up telling your secrets to gossips. You don't needlessly hurt others in the name of venting. You don't waste time "processing" the day's events (which used to be called worrying). You're more likely to be taken seriously at work.

Remember that a friend to everyone is often a friend to no one. A garrulous, emotional, chatty former coworker of mine used to blame her mistakes on others. Her replacement, on the other hand--quiet, stern, serious, businesslike--donated a kidney to her best friend.

Marcia Wilwerding

I read the article and was appalled at the assumptions that (1.) men don't have feelings and (2.) women should be applauded for not having any either.

"Maintaining a safe distance from your feelings can be liberating (and anytime we co-opt a traditionally male attribute, we give ourselves a little pat on the back)..."

I know this desire to not feel anything. It was the closest thing to suicide I could muster. I would rather be numb than hurt anymore. I hated men and wanted them desperately at the same time.

That's when God came and turned the lights on in my life. He helped me to see that it was my own self-centered selfishness that was causing my misery, not the people around me who needed me. He has also taught me over the years that *family*, real family, with a mother and father who selflessly love each other and who take the time and are willing to sacrifice to actually be their children's parents, is the only thing that can keep us from this bitter un-feelingness. I believe that institutionalizing the family has been a direct cause of this emptiness: daycare, public schooling, factories, offices, hospitals, nursing homes, even mortuaries. Families don't care for their own anymore; they are all shipped off at the first opportunity. No wonder we can't feel anything. Some have never had to.

S

As mentioned, I think that the media spreads this image in young people's minds. I remember listening to pop music about women who felt depressed at the end of a relationship and they mentioned feeling the need to be strong and "learning from their mistakes" when their boyfriends deserted them.

This reminds me of how I don't like how many of today's youth use text messaging as a way to form a friendship, often with the opposite sex. I see young women discussing with their friends ecatly what wording they should use to reply to a guy-friend's text message, in order not to offend him.

In the first place, text messaging, when used as the sole method of interaction between people, is not a good way to make friends in my opinion. Furthermore, why is there a pressure on teenage girls to not offend the males?

In a healthy relationship (which I personally think young teenagers are not ready for), there is a clear method of communication, where people do not nitpick each others' words and be scared of offending each other so easily.

I see women aspiring to be Fembots all around me.

In some ways, society is confusing women by telling them they must be feminine and thin so the guys will follow like them, and on the other reminding them that they must possess a form of strength.

Tom Babcock

Thank you Marcia for your thoughts and insights on family versus self-centeredness. It was like looking into a mirror and seeing myself on the wrong side of the room. I don't necessarily blame the insitutionalization of the family et al, but rather choices made, and opportunities lost. But the link between your 3rd and 4th paragraphs bring the message that change is possible.

Luthor Rex

"Take a look around, and you'll notice that more women are having their sensitivity chips removed." O'Rourke offers feminist praise for "the fembot: the cool, together, emotionally unavailable girl one cube over."

As a man I look at this and it explains why I've often has experiences of women as being emotionless and soulless monsters.

Want to spread misogyny? Be a Fembot!

Good job! *thubmsup*

Laura

One of thing anti-feminist always point to is men or more emotional than women. Therefore less capable of making decisions in the workplace.

It should not shock you that women are turning off their emotions. Anti-feminist have made them negative things.

Erin P

Lori, you make good and interesting points. I'm touched by your co-worker's self-giving - she sounds like an amazing woman.

I think the distinction I see between the admirable Golden era woman who demonstrates good emotional self-regulation (something we all need to keep perspective and not let our emotions always overrun our convictions or rational thinking) and manners, and modern Fembot behavior is that Fembots are highly sexualized -- they often find their value in their power over men.

A lot of people here have talked about Fembotism as self-centered, self-seeking (men can embody this too, of course - what is the comparable male phenomenon anyone?). Whether it grows out of a culture prizing the "individual above all else", sex/personal pleasure as God, sex as self-medicating, or a loss of hope and trust in relationships ....there's a kind of harshness there to how a person treats herself and others...in order to live the Golden rule at work or wherever, we need to feel and express our compassion for others. I think women have this God-given capacity to nurture and feel empathy, but I'd like to see our culture (and TV programs:) foster this more.

This is not a woman's weakness, it's one of her great strengths.

Lori

One thing that hasn't been brought up here is age. The article mentions women in their 30s, and the author is probably that age too. In your teens and 20s, friendships are quickly formed and intimacies are easily shared. Decisions are often made with your heart and you sympathize with people's problems. But while you still may be kind and compassionate, you're not the same person in your 30s.

As a 39-year-old woman, I can size people up pretty quickly and know in a few meetings if I want to be friends. I no longer make friendly overtures only to find I don't want to be friends. I don't make friends with people I feel sorry for.
BTDT--I can't help them.

I have less sympathy than I used to because my 30+ year-old friends should have enough experience to stay out of absurd situations.

At work, you need to dial down the sensitivity. A doctor or nurse can't do her job if her mind is somewhere else or if she's shocked by a patient's condition. A boss has to be able to discipline or fire someone who can't do her job. Employees need to take correction without taking offense--and so on.

I didn't get from the article that the "fembots" are any more sexualized than more emotional women. For me, it's about emotional self control, being compassionate when I can do some good and keeping myself from being put through a wringer. It's not about getting the best of anyone else.

Emily

Well, I'm inclined to think a journalist needed a hook for an article, came up with a vaguely interesting concept, though a somewhat dated one - the last Austin Powers came out, what three, four years ago?- and hung a pretty flimsy assumption about 'lots of young women today' on it. But that's women's magazines for you *snort* I'm trying really hard to think of any female person I have worked with who really fits this caricature... coming up a blank. If this journalist really believes what she's writing, she's suffering paranoid delusions. Her next article is likely to be "PodGirls-Are You NEXT!'. Or I like 'Soylent Girls- What is the Girl next to you REALLY eating for Lunch that makes her thinner than you?!?!

The FemBots article operates on the idea of women being in a never-ending contest with eachother. The rules change year to year but its important that the feeling of cometitiveness is maintained. Womens' magazines basically try to spread fear and their ads support an idea that the competition is winnable- or at least, you can stay in the game- if you buy the products.

So relax, while you may encounter the odd woman in the workplace with whom it is difficult to interact with ( it's at least as likely as encountering men with whom it is difficult to work), I don't think there is any kind of critical mass of FemBots plotting anyone's demise.

Luthor Rex

"men can embody this too, of course - what is the comparable male phenomenon anyone?"

The Playboy.

"I'm trying really hard to think of any female person I have worked with who really fits this caricature"

Start dating women, you'll meet plenty!

Mrs. Gunning

A very interesting article! I believe the Fembot mentality is *much* more subtle in real-life when compared to Austin Powers, but I see it there none the less.
I think if it were so bold and noticeable, almost everyone would have a big problem with it, but because it's so subtle, it just sneaks in. I see many people that even defend it who wouldn't if it were more obvious.
Good article, glad I was recommended to see this site!

Days of Broken Arrows

I live in a condo community with a woman who has behaved like this for the past decade.

One night last year, the building flooded and her place got hit the worst. The next morning, she was in the hallways bemoaning the mess, angling for some men to help carry out the moldly carpet, etc. I deferred, saying I was late for work (which I was...but for someone else, I would have gone in late). I later found out at least one other guy did the same thing. She had to pay through the nose to get the place cleaned up and take nearly a week off work.

People ultimately get what they give. Men aren't nearly as stupid as the media would have you believe. There are scads of loquatious, happy twentysomethings out there. And gentlemen will always help old ladies cross the street. But the market for bitter middle aged women isn't exactly hopping. Never was, come to think of it.

Ariel

I agree with you, Erin, its not healthy to repress your feelings. Ignoring things doesn't make them go away, and if anything, can cause more serious, long-term problems, and set you up for destructive relationships and resentment and internal struggle. Being cold and detached isn't right: We should have the right to stand up for ourselves, know our right to feel and think and have our own space, and our right to be ourselves. Professionalism is one thing, but being a fembot is another... You can be professional and still have a heart. Personal integrity and heart, to me, says a lot more about a woman's strength than being a cold, icy dominatrix. It takes strength to feel, especially when society seems so strongly against it. Everybody has their own sensitivities, sadnesses, needs... Its so sad that we feel such a need to hide them. How will we ever find people who respect them if we do?

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