Archive

Feminism

Guest post by Solveig Lehmann

Everyday feminism wants the women’s liberation movement to be terribly worried by the alleged anti-feminist harm done by little penis jokes.

Once again, they have confused feminism with women spending all our time wondering if our words make men feel bad. No. Men feeling that it’s abusive for women to not be nice enough about their penises is just patriarchy, if not outright men’s rights activism.

Men’s performance of anxious masculinity, especially efforts to publicly overcompensate for insecurity through displays of aggression and dominance, can often be observed to have nothing to do with the actual shape of any part of their bodies. Though it’s certainly centered on the penis, and often phantasmic fears that theirs is too small.

We can know that men obsess over the size of their genitals in particular because they tell us. Oh, how often they tell us. Most women learn to see the particular intensity and quavering fear underlying male genital self-obsession from a mile away. They may even talk instead about honor, or respect, but they’ll make it painfully clear to the women in their immediate vicinity that all these words stand for is a demand that we be considerate of their penis.

It may not be nice to make fun of people, but this article simply encourages men to continue putting their insecurity at the forefront of women’s concerns, and to demand that women be even more reverent and accommodating towards them. This is a perpetuation of patriarchy.

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Guest post by Keely Emerine-Mix

Under no circumstances, ever, at any time, is it appropriate to compare the legitimate, factual, courageous, moral imperative that spurred the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s with the attempts by transwomen to access intimate female spaces. Ever.

Do not conflate Jim Crow and the segregation of public spaces by whites against Black people with attempts to open women’s bathrooms, shelters, prisons, locker rooms, and other female-only spaces to male-born people. Don’t cry that this is “the New Civil Rights frontier!” Don’t suggest that the injury to men correctly barred from women’s private spaces is anything even remotely like the humiliation, hatred, and hurt caused to people of color during the years of legal public segregation. And whatever you do, do not suggest that the preening belligerence displayed by men who demand entry into women’s spaces is really just the same bedrock courage, dignity, passion, and righteousness of those who occupied lunch counters and public toilets to win for others basic civil rights.

It’s not simply incorrect. It’s delusional; more than that, it’s ignorant in the extreme and criminally, obscenely, arrogant.

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Guest post by Kate Leigh

I couldn’t honestly tell you when I started following a liberal intersectional feminist philosophy. It was simply part of my thought process and by extension, my life, online and off. I followed all the blogs and pages. I contributed comments and shares. I told people to check their privilege and men need feminism too. Liberal feminism was the only feminism of which I was aware. In fact, I never called myself a liberal feminist while I held those views. I called myself a “Feminist” without realizing there were other types.

With a fresh memory of what went through my own mind as I held these beliefs, I endeavor to describe my experience of the liberal feminist point of view in the next section. In the final section, I explain how and why I changed my mind.

The Liberal Intersectional Feminist Mindset

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Modern feminism is increasingly focused on the concept of allies, both within mainstream feminism, and even within some elements of radical feminism. In mainstream feminism, women often proudly declare themselves allies to women of colour or to Trans people. In radical feminism, being an ally takes a slightly different course: men are encouraged not to see themselves as radical feminists, but as allies who support radical feminists in their work.

The aim of declaring yourself an ally often, although not always, comes from a well meaning place. It is usually motivated by a desire to support the fight against oppression that another group experiences when you are not a member of that group. But it is, at heart, a neo-liberal philosophy. Read More

-Janet Mock, Author of Redefining Realness (former title: Fish Food)-

-Janet Mock, Author of Redefining Realness-

Janet Mock is a transwoman author who has strong opinions on gender and the sex industry shared in this memoir. Mock discusses many topics, but this review will cover five: essentialism, the term “cis”, the term “fish”, hormone blockers for children, and the sex industry.

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Many feminists object when I say that the sexualization of dominance is anti-liberation. While I analyze BDSM practices through a feminist lens, they see me as stomping into their bedrooms and wagging my finger.

But none of my writing or conversing on the topic is done with the goal of “shaming” people who practice BDSM, though I am frequently infuriated by men who use BDSM culture to push women beyond their stated limits.

Rather, I am compelled to analyze the sexualization of dominance and submission through a feminist lens because radical analysis is as I see it central to dismantling oppressive systems of power. Read More

In a recent anti-radical feminist screed, published prominently on several leftist blogs, a trans* activist attempted to equate gender critical analysis with homophobia. This is the latest twist on the conflation of the lesbian and gay rights political movement with the trans* political movement. And it’s the latest indication that it will be lesbians, other women, and girls who are most harmed by that conflation.

Though there are claims that our groups have reason to have a strong political alliance, it’s arguable that Gay, Inc. – the large, well-funded and influential political groups – created this conflation simply to increase funding and reach. There doesn’t seem to have been a period of time where lesbians and gay men were allowed any discussion or input about this decision. But there are obvious reasons to question the unholy alliance.

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IDENTITY VERSUS SOCIALIZATION

I want to explore what “woman” means when male-born persons can be “women” just the same as female-born persons.

Most significantly, the term “woman” must be disconnected from the socio-historic context that gives the term coherency in the first place. Without any material or experiential framework “woman’s” origin becomes irrelevant; she can be anything or nothing at all.

When male-born persons can be “women” just the same as female-born persons, the skin-deep veneer of social identity is being substituted for the complex, lifelong process of class-based socialization. This is neoliberal individualist choice-theory masquerading as the politics of liberation.

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Margaret Thatcher has died. The very famous Conservative British Prime Minister enacted a number of controversial policies from 1979 – 1990. She was rightly criticised for, amongst other things, destroying the British coal mining industry, weakening the trade unions through various legislation, and increasing unemployment to over 3 million people.

She is not a likeable woman. But this is not justification or excuse for those in the left to spew misogynistic insults. The word bitch is being frequently used to describe Thatcher. Memes and videos stating “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” are being shared over Facebook and insults used such as “ugly cow.” And it is not simply men reveling in sex-specific insults. Radical feminists are also using words like witch, reblogging misogynistic memes, or excusing others who choose to do so.

Women give men implicit permission to use misogynistic insults against Margaret Thatcher when we do this.

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Guest post by Maggie H.

This post is the second part of a series of posts based on some of the RadFem Reboot 2012 presentation talk that I gave in Oregon recently on the patriarchal takeover of women’s sexuality.

Warning: This post contains some graphic depictions of pornified lesbian culture. I believe it is important to know what some lesbians are watching, making, writing & reading for fun’ these days. The examples taken from lesbian media are not ‘isolated cases.’ Many lesbians I spoke to actually say that they ‘love’ websites like Autostraddle or magazines such as Diva UK. These things are part of mainstream lesbian culture today.

*****

As pointed out at the end of the first part (on lesbian BDSM fanfiction, a cultural phenomenon within lesbian culture), the fandoms of Xena, Buffy, Stargate SG-1, Rizzoli & Isles (or whatever show lesbians want to read BDSM fan fiction from) are not the only lesbian cultures that have been affected by patriarchy. No, unfortunately, there are many more aspects of contemporary lesbian culture that have been poisoned by patriarchal ideology and male-centred sexuality too.

So let me take you through contemporary lesbian culture now.

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Sex Role BoxesI was coercively assigned a sex role at birth. As soon as medical personnel saw that I didn’t have a penis, the process of putting me and keeping me in a very narrowly-defined box began. From then on I was coercively stopped from doing or being things associated with boys and coerced into doing and being things associated with girls. I fought many bitter, painful battles over years of being forced into that box. A handful of those battles I won; most I lost, because the full power of adults was brought to bear to keep me in my proper sex role.

It’s intensely frustrating that in the intervening years experiences like this have continued for girls and boys. But worse, rather than meaningful progress toward simply allowing children to live their lives outside of any box, there is now a very powerful movement that claims that forcing children into the other restrictive sex role box is the solution. The problem, these people claim, is not that the person was coercively assigned a sex role at all, it’s that they were coercively assigned the incorrect sex role, and that (of course!) can be fixed by adopting the other sex role.

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Guest Post by Susan Hawthorne

susan-hawthorne

The Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s led to all sorts of intellectual pursuits, one of which was to ask whether patriarchy had been around for ever. Was it universal and inevitable? We fairly quickly understood that it hadn’t been and lots of women became engaged in reading archeology, world mythology, comparative religion, linguistics and history. I was one of them and in 1979 I decided to enrol in a PhD in Philosophy which I described as a ‘study of belief systems in the ancient world’. At the same time I began studying Ancient Greek. The difficulty I faced was that instead of reading relevant material I was sent off to read Saussure (on semiotics – a foundational thinker for postmodernists which deals with the ‘science’ of symbols) and others. I first heard the word postmodern during this time and that was where I was being pushed. I did not know what destruction postmodernism would wreak on radical feminism. I read some of this material, felt frustrated, angry and more and didn’t quite know why. I ditched my PhD and kept going with Greek where eventually I wrote a short thesis on the Homeric Hymns to Demeter and Aphrodite (and in these you can see how the transition to patriarchy was effected). I was duly punished and pushed out of Classics too. Read More

Guest post by Susan Hawthorne

This is based on a talk originally given at the SCUM Conference in Perth, Australia on 24 September 2011.

I come to the writing of manifestoes with the interests of a poet and political activist. Political activism is obvious. But poetry? An effective manifesto is one in which the language works, the political position is clear – but above all – it has rhythm and metre. A manifesto is a bit like a poem or a song.

Let’s look at Marx and Engels. The first line of the prologue:

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I received my Gold Card for road-service club membership the other day and feel somewhat ancient, as the Gold is issued for 25 years of driving your own car.

Like many other young women of the 70s, I rallied to the “personal is political” slogans of women’s liberation (later termed feminism), because I twigged to the connection between how males treat females in “private” (or personal) relationships, is mirrored in how males-as-a-class treat females-as-a-class in “public” (or social and political) relationships.   Read More

I don’t mean that they love to be “sexist,” although they do. Men love “sexism” because the very concept is a cover for and a distraction from what men really do to women. And some women want very badly for men to be part of feminism because they don’t understand that. It’s not that women who want men in the movement don’t understand that women are treated badly by men, they do get it, that’s the reason they’re feminists at all.

But to be a feminist and continue to believe that men will reform themselves is to believe that the problem really is “sexism” and that it can be defeated; that in turn requires that one not see what goes on behind the cover of “sexism.” Hand-in-hand with this is the hopeful idea that — of course! — once “sexism” is pointed out, the light will dawn for men and the lion will lie down with the lamb in a purely respectful way.

Or not. Read More

“Continual complicity in the crime of Goddess-killing is mandatory in the Man’s world. Our refusal to collaborate in this killing and Dis-Membering of our own Selves is the Beginning of Re-Membering the Goddess –”
Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism, Mary Daly, (1978)

There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that… You say you have lost all recollection, remember . . . you say it does not exist. But remember.
Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent. “
Les Guérillères, Monique Wittig, (1971)

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Sheila Jeffreys recently guest posted an excerpt of a speech which she delivered at the alternative conference which my partner, Amazon ManCrusher, and myself organised in response to the bullying, harassing and intimidation that radical feminists were facing from pro-sex industry activists and queer/trans activists. In brief, the Melbourne Feminist Collective formed to organise Feminist Futures which was “a conference that aims to provide a safe, supportive and active space for discussing different strategies to create a feminist future. It is an open environment for anyone interested in imagining and creating feminist futures in our community.” The conference organisers were well-intentioned but politically naive, obviously having no idea of the hot water they would be jumping into, trying to organise a conference in which “participants will have the opportunity to critically engage with issues across a broad range of feminist perspectives and agendas.”

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 Guest Post by Julie Bindel (UK)

I am not a man hater but this is the very last time I will say it in public or in private.

Over the years I have lost count of the number of times I have worked with men to advance the appeal of feminism and to encourage more of them to support our war efforts. Despite this I have lost count of the number of times I have been accused of hating men. “She is a lesbian and a man hater,” wrote one lovely chap on a Blog earlier this year in response to an article I had written on the abuse within prostitution “which is very apparent to anyone who has seen her on television.”

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Radical feminist analysis can seem complicated and obtuse, the subject matter and the language opaque, and the point nearly impossible to grasp. Many women have had the experience of wading into writings by Andrea Dworkin or Catharine MacKinnon or Mary Daly for the first time and feeling like they’re reading a different language. It can be frustrating and maddening without someone to guide us through the concepts, language, and references. Read More