Archive

Patriarchal Institutions

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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-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

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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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

Female Engagement TeamLast week, when the U.S. Secretary of Defense lifted the nominal ban on women serving in military combat roles, many were quick to applaud the breaking of the “brass ceiling”. Since women have been serving in combat already for some time, this is essentially just recognizing that fact, which is fine. But this is only a victory when ‘equality’ is the end game. Call me crazy, but opening up more ways in which women can join the noble cause of Western imperialism isn’t a feel-good-fuck-yeah-gurrrl moment.

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This post contains graphic descriptions.

Radical feminists often argue that BDSM practice is about degrading, humiliating, violating and torturing women.  It is patriarchal violence against women—whether it occurs in your bedroom, on your computer screen, or is simulated during your lunchtime book reading.

We do not blame women who participate in it, but we will analyze it through a feminist lens.

BDSM is the legitimization of domestic violence against women. Case in point: The Feminist and the Cowboy.  Author Alisa Valdes wrote an erotic semi-autobiographical book about a dominant lover who violently f’ked her under the guise of consensual “play”. After her book was released, Vales wrote a blog post detailing the real life abuse that the “cowboy” inflicted on her. Though the abuse was framed as consensual in her book, her real life experience with the cowboy involved being raped, verbally abused, threatened, and abandoned once he discovered her pregnancy.

Similarly, during a recent BDSM play abuse session, abuser Steven Lock strangled a woman he had recently met on a dating site with a rope, chained her to his bed, lashed her 14 times, f’kd her, and then left her chained. She had to call a friend to help her escape, but Lock was cleared of all abuse charges once he claimed the assault had been “consensual”.

BDSM occurs in the context of patriarchal rape culture, where women always “deserve” the rape, violence, abuse and death that men dish out to them, and women who object to this treatment are called names, and dismissed out-of-hand.

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(Note : this post was inspired by a comment I made over on the Ms. Magazine)1

If you’ve been paying attention to latest events and declarations by transwomen and transfeminists, you might be wondering, like I am, why transfeminism contains the word “feminism” at all.  Feminism is about the liberation of FEMALES/WOMEN from the system of MALE/MEN’S dominance (patriarchy), so one would expect any term containing the word “feminism” to have at least *some* connection to females (I am using the word female here to mean the majority of women in the world who have been assigned female at birth, including intersex, and raised as girls/women, in contrast to trans women, who were assigned male at birth,  have lived and been socialized as men, and remain biologically male even after -or if- they transition).  And yet, as transfeminism becomes more mainstream, it seems to be narrowly focused on only a few issues that are specific to trans people only, and not even exclusive to trans WOMEN.

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Jan Brewer, Handmaiden of the P

-Jan Brewer, aka Handmaiden of the Patriarchy-

US  residents may have noticed the recent War on Women being perpetrated in this country using the excuse of “religious freedom” to justify this rollback of women’s rights.

For the most recent installment of this assault on our rights, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently signed House Bill 2625, which authorizes employers with religious affiliations to refuse to cover contraception on their employees’ health insurance plans.

States Brewer about the bill:

In its final form, this bill is about nothing more than preserving the religious freedom to which we are all Constitutionally-entitled.  Mandating that a religious institution provide a service in direct contradiction with its faith would represent an obvious encroachment upon the 1st Amendment.

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— FROM THE ARCHIVES —

Phallosopher contemplating his meaningless existence, and how deep his meaninglessness is.

Ok, so I’m currently thinking a lot about the episode of Firefly, Objects in Space. This was the last episode of the TV series before production was stopped. And as such it became one of the most important to the fans of the series. Now I did want to talk about the racism of this particular episode. And I will. I will be focusing particularly on the construction of lust, both in this episode, and in the series as a whole. But first I wanted to talk a little about male philosophy as Wank.

Joss Whedon really loves Wank. That is basically the moral of this episode Objects in Space. I will be referring to Joss Whedon as a Phallosopher throughout this entry. I envisage Phallosophers to encompass all the Great Male Phallosophers throughout the ages. From Aristotle to Camus to Sartre to Whedon. Phallosophy is characterised by self-obsession, misogyny, and a disturbing, yet relentless tendency to produce Wank. Phallosophers are generally Bores. Now, what is common to most Phallosophers is their acute susceptibility to Male Artist Syndrome, as theorized very superbly by Dissenter:

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Salon continues their tradition of having a male write on a subject he is less qualified to write about than any of the many women who are experts on the subject that they could have gotten to write the article. Michael Barthel takes on the subject of women in the film industry and does a predictably ridiculous job of it. But don’t take my word for it, here is what he said in this article at Salon: “The Oscars’ woman problem.”

The title and his opening give an immediate glimpse of what’s to come. Using the trope “woman problem” gives his perspective away immediately. As Simone de Beauvoir said in The Second Sex:

“[T]he whole of feminine history has been man-made. Just as in America there is no Negro problem, but rather a white problem; just as anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, it is our problem; so the woman problem has always been a man problem.”

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Angelwish is a charity whose mission is to provide gifts to children living with HIV/AIDS, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, and other chronic illnesses.

On Feb 12th, Angelwish gave Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine and worldwide misogyny promoter, its Humanitarian of the Year award “for all his charitable efforts over the years.”

Angelwish, a charity dedicated to an uncontroversial cause, provides strong approbation and endorsement of Hefner by giving this award. It has not seen his lifelong commitment to hate speech against women as inconsistent with the descriptor “Humanitarian”.

But why exactly are Hefner’s actions and lifestyle inconsistent with the term “humanitarian”?

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The title of a recent New York Times blog post reads “In Reporting Pain, Women the More Sensitive Sex”. The article discusses the results of a Stanford University study that were published this week, comparing women’s and men’s reports of pain for identical medical ailments. What is mysteriously absent from the article in all of its hand wringing about women reporting “more pain” is a very obvious answer for the discrepancy: men simply underreport pain.

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As many Aussies do over the holiday period, I went to the movies to watch some trash. I had a particular film in mind so I went to the website of the local cinema. As per usual every single movie advertisement featured men or male characters front and centre, with long lists of male actors names covering the poster and a few token females thrown in. The only exception to this was the poster advertising the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. On the poster for this movie there is a young woman, stripped to her waist. A man is standing behind her with his arm clenched over her breasts as if she is his possession. This year, as with every other year, women’s role as owned possessions is made crystal clear in Hollywood. Read More

In the US earlier this week, it came to light that in the 1990s, two different women accused Republican presidential candidate and current front-runner Herman Cain of sexual harassment when he was the head of the National Restaurant Association in 1999.

Herman Cain denies sexually harassing anyone.

Of course, denial is tactic men in power frequently use when accused of using, buying, harassing, and abusing women. Consider the DSK case, the Anthony Wiener case, Silvio Berlusconi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, (he’s got two!), Justice Thomas,  and more. The list of male leaders involved in and denying sex scandals is exceptionally long. In all of these cases, we have examples of men who believe that they should, as a condition of their status as powerful males, be believed- even when they are lying.  All of the above men denied their abusive behavior.

Do women also make public denials?

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HPV vaccines have been a big political topic this week in the U.S. It all started at a Republican presidential debate when Michele Bachmann criticized Rick Perry’s executive order which mandated Gardasil for girls in Texas. Refreshingly, the framing of the issue was of pharmaceutical companies buying politicians, rather than the regular conservative line about how the vaccine makes girls turn slutty. This debate dust-up gained more ground when Bachmann began telling news outlets about a post-debate encounter with a woman who said her daughter was harmed by the vaccine. Because women have no credibility, and this story includes three females claiming harm, you can probably guess where this goes next. Read More

I am a married lesbian. Let’s just start there. I blame health insurance, ok? A woman needs it and marriage is considered a “qualifying life event” in the insurance world. Our one year wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks, and my home state of New York just legalized same-sex marriage on Friday night. Oh joy!! So let’s talk about MARRIAGE, huh? And yes, please be forewarned that this will be a US-centric post because that’s my  context.

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Accused Khatun and Subrato, mothers of victims Zahida and Husna

Late last week, two women in India were arrested for the honor killings of their daughters. According to India Express.com, “We killed them because they had brought shame to our community. How could they elope with Hindus? They deserved to die. We have no remorse,” Khatun and Subrato said Friday. Read More