November 07, 2005

Your awesome Hugo quotation for the day

Hugo:

I've heard some men and women say on this subject: 'Respect has to be earned. I'll respect those who respect themselves, and a woman who wears a micro--miniskirt to class, or wears a shirt that says 'Slut' or 'I'm too pretty to do math' isn't respecting herself, so why should I respect her?' I've never liked that line of reasoning, either on feminist or professional grounds. As a pro-feminist, I'm adamant that respect for women is not conditional on a dress code! Feminism has long insisted that women should not have to forfeit either their sexuality or their right to individual expression in order to be seen as complete human beings, worthy of being treated with dignity. As I've written before in recent weeks, it doesn't matter whether a woman is wearing a miniskirt or a burkah; her personhood is non-negotiable.


There's also a great little anecdote where he compares a young man who refused to bathe with a young woman who liked to wear skimpy outfits.

13 comments:

Grumlock the Destroyer said...

I think it's a mistake to conflate respect and personhood in this way. Sure, no matter what a woman wears, a woman is a human being, a deserves a base level of respect for that alone, as does anyone. But there are people I don't respect, and I won't apologize for that. I don't respect people who litter, or disdain intelligence, or use sex as a method of self-validation. I don't respect racists, misogynists, or homophobes. I won't respect a man who wears a T-shirt that says "Put some lipstick on my dipstick", and I reserve the right to withhold respect from a woman who wears a similarly tasteless article of clothing.

MosBen said...

While generally I come in along Grumlock's lines, I reserve some respect for people wearing completely tasteless clothing that I nevertheless find to be clever.

Noumena said...

Do you still consider yourself a Kantian, then, mosben? Kant makes it quite clear that, even the most reprehensible of people deserve a basic level of respect, much less people who just make bad decisions.

Anonymous said...

I've tried writing out a response to this a couple of times, but it's not going well. So:
I think a distinction needs to be made between basic respect ( right to an opion) and intellectual respect (placing a higher value on one's opinion beyond their right to have one).
As a female, when I wear a shirt proclaiming something I know to be...controversial for one reason or another, I understand that someone who does not know me is likely to come to the wrong conclusion. Likewise, when I see someone in something particularly tasteless, I assume that they understand that their choice in clothing will impact the way others percieve them, with a direct correlation to how seriously they are taken until they can either prove or disprove the impression their attire/attitude gives.

ps not sure that made any sense, but I don't want to erase it again.

MosBen said...

It's not like a lowering of respect equates to a complete lack of respect for their humanity. I'm not saying that I'm going to scratch them out of my big book of people I consider to have a basic level of humanity. If someone came to law school one day dressed in Neo-Nazi garb, not as a joke (though even then it wouldn't be a funny one), I'm going to respect that person less. When people act obnoxiously, I respect them less. Even if they subsequently make me really like them with an great personality I'm still not going to like their choice any better. It's not like people that make bad decisions should be flogged in the street, or given less freedoms, or even the opportunity to prove that the initial impressions they give off are inacurrate. Still, a reprehensible person is still reprehensible, and even if they get "a basic level of respect" you've obviously lowered the level of respect they receive because you've acknowledged that they are indeed reprehensible, which I don't consider particularly respectful. Similarly, when I acknowledge that I think someone consistently makes bad choices when they should know better I have lowered my respect of them. Is it below the minimum Kant requires? You're certainly more the expert here than I, but I don't believe Kant requires uniformly high regard for every human, which seems to be supported by the phrase "basic level of respect".

Actually, I just read the anonymous post below Dan's, and I pretty much agree with that. Oh anonymous poster, let us know you name!

Anonymous said...

my fault. the anonymous post belongs to me. ~Kryssa

Noumena said...

Welcome, Kryssa. We don't require anonymous commenters to leave their name, it's just helpful for keeping track of people -- even some regulars will comment anonymously, and just sign their name at the bottom so we know who actually said it.

Incidentally, are you the Kryssa I know?

MosBen said...

Welcome Kryssa! We love commenters!

Anonymous said...

Dan-
yes.

Noumena said...

So, you were sent here to drag my scrapper ass back to the crime-fighting? ;-)

Anyway, on to something more substantive.

I want to distinguish two notions, respect and esteem. I have esteem for my advisor, or my mom, or Gandhi: these are people who would make good role models, who exemplify leading virtuous lives in line with duty. By contrast, I have no esteem for, say, Paris Hilton or GWB, people whose behaviour is completely antithetical to duty, and they'd make terrible role models.

On the other hand, even though I have no esteem for the likes of Paris Hilton or Bush, I still respect their autonomy, and believe they have the right to set their own ends and undertake projects of their own choosing (the wisdom of Bush's decisions as a policymaker is a different story): they're still people, and I have respect for them as far as that goes.

Grumlock the Destroyer said...

Noumena, in light of the definitions you have just provided, I think that's exactly right. However, geting back to the original post, if I heard someone say "A woman who wears a micro-mini skirt doesn't respect herself, so why should I respect her?" I would not think that person was using the word "respect" as you defined it. Is that person asserting that the woman in the micro-mini skirt fails to respect her own autonomy? No. He's saying that the woman's se of that autonomy says some unflattering things about her character, and we can agree or disagree on that basis.

Grumlock the Destroyer said...

Sorry, that should have been "woman's use of that autonomy".

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have you help me pull off a bank heist, but whatever;)

~Kryssa