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.

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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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Guest re-post by Maggie H.

This post is the first 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 descriptions of what happens in written pornography. Skip those parts if you feel queasy; read them if you really want to know what some lesbians are writing & reading for fun’ these days.

Disclaimers: By writing this post I would like to make very clear that I am not criticising individual women for having particular sorts of fantasy. I am a former BDSMer myself. I am actually being critical of the pornographic works being published online, and of the patriarchal context within which such stories get written and read in the first place. I believe it is important to challenge the everyday political poisoning of our lesbian communities by BDSM culture. If you read or write those kinds of stories, I am not ‘attacking’ you personally; I am just trying to make a point concerning what you read or write.

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I feel the need to talk about fan fiction, as it has become an important part of lesbian culture nowadays in some circles. This includes stories based on the characters of Willow & Tara (from Buffy: Vampire Slayer) and Xena & Gabrielle (from Xena: Warrior Princess) –and there are also lesbian fan fiction stories based on the characters of Stargate SG-1, Rizzoli & Isles or other shows lesbians happen to be fans of. Not all lesbian fan fiction stories are bad or misogynistic (some can actually be really good and female-centred), but BDSM sexuality is often glamorised in some popular lesbian fan fiction tales. Those stories are written and read by lesbian fans of those TV shows, everyday women: women like you or me. Any lesbian can become an anonymous fan fiction writer nowadays, and get easily published on the Internet for free via specific fan fiction websites.

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headache womenAmong the lies women have to tell in order to save themselves from harm, saying “I have a headache” as a way to decline a man’s sexual advances just became even more suspect. This month, a study was published which showed that, of a group of migraine sufferers who had “sex” during an episode, about sixty percent experienced pain relief. For a third, the pain worsened. But that doesn’t stop the ‘no more excuses, ladies!’ headlines about the report.

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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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Lister_anneIt is often said of independent, strong-willed women of the past who defied the social rules and norms that they are women “ahead of their time”. By this it is understood that should a woman behave in a similar way in contemporary society, they would be included and accepted within society, that less barriers would exist for contemporary women who wished to have a comparable lifestyle and equitable achievement. It is always within this context that we are invited to view the lives of women in the past.

I personally find that this creates a completely false divide between the struggles of women in the past and the struggles of women today. In some ways, yes, we as women walk an easier path because of the trails that were blazed by the defiant women who came before us… but in many ways I see our paths running together, fighting the same fights as so many women have fought in the past, with the same determination, passion and desire for freedom. Perhaps we are always women “ahead of our time”. When is it our time, I have to wonder, and will we ever get there? Read More

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

womans-inhumanity

“As feminist women, we knew that we were doomed without sisterhood – so we proclaimed it, even in its absence. We wanted to will it into existence, verbally, without wrestling it into being.” ― Phyllis Chesler, ‘Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman’ (2002/2009)

Feminist writings on ‘horizontal hostility’ among women, tend to focus on articulating various means by  which to reduce it, ‘work-around’ it, or heal it through creating new foundations of feminist community ethics in our relationships with each other.  Although there is always recognition that the hostility exists, they also reflect a strong desire to quickly ‘move on’ beyond the problem, to the outlining of more-or-less utopian “solutions”. Hence we have a number of books speculating on how female-friendship and feminist ethics should be.

If you are looking for similar ‘solutions’, this book is not for you.  Phyllis Chesler does not provide any ‘solutions, but seeks to go to the ‘root’ and unpack the common characteristics of female experience of such hostility both personal and political in an attempt to more fully understand, in the lines of ‘Understanding the problem, is half the solution’. (But only half!).
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butch-femme-LGHaving been educated into radical feminist analysis by a group of incredible Australian lesbian feminists who collectively have a very clear view that the butch/femme hierarchy in the lesbian community as one that is unhealthy to lesbian relations, it surprised me to discover, both online and in real life, a push to incorporate butch/femme ideologies into lesbian feminist practice and theory. The push seems to be from a strong concern that women classified as ‘butch’ are a class of women who are specially oppressed under male supremacy and that they are being transitioned out of existence. 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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Consistent with common usage of the term “cisgender,” the graphic below explains that “…if you identify with the gender you were assigened [sic] at birth, you are cis.”

Another Trans 101: Cisgender webpage describes cis this way: “For example, if a doctor said “it’s a boy!” when you were born, and you identify as a man, then you could be described as cisgender.” [i] Likewise, girl-born people who identify as women are also considered cisgender. WBW are cis.

Framing gender as a medically determined assignment may seem like a good start to explaining gendered oppression because it purports to make a distinction between physical sex and gender. Feminism similarly understands masculinity and femininity (e.g., gender) as strictly enforced social constructs neither of which are the “normal” or inevitable result of one’s reproductive sex organs. Feminism and trans theory agree that coercive gender assignments are a significant source of oppression.

On closer inspection of the concept of “cisgender,” however, feminism and trans theory quickly diverge. Read More

The ‘crimen exceptum’  idea is at the base of every inquisition, personal, political, religious or secular State-sanctioned.  The “crime” is considered to be so exceptional, that all the usual rules and processes of common law, especially rational evidence, is not needed to sentence the accused.  You do not need to be tried and convicted on any rational evidence, just accused of it.  Preferably accused by an angry lynch mob which hates you.  Even just a very small lynch mob if they are powerful enough with the support of the state and its various institutions and networks. If the hated accused does go to the law for assistance, it is always a sham, a fake trial and everybody knows the outcome.

Whether it be witchcraft, heresy, treason against the nation-state, a Jew, a Red under the bed, or today – someone accused of transphobia, it is based on the rule of the lynch mob. The crimen exceptum requires the suspension of processes of justice, including the common use of state-sanctioned propaganda and even torture in some cases. Throughout human history, just being a female perceived as being independent of male control systems has always been the crimen exceptum.  Two or more such females seen talking together is the worst crime of all. Read More

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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Last week, the Kansas-based organization Operation Rescue posted papers from an abortion clinic on their website. The documents were not official patient records, but included names, ages, phone numbers, photocopies of driver’s licenses, sonograms, and other personal identifying information for 86 women and girls who received care in the month of April. While the group was nice enough to redact the names before publishing the documents for all to see, Operation Rescue is still in possession of that information – stolen information, of course.

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Freedom is slavery.

Submissiveness is empowering.

BDSM erotica is feminist.

The above are just a few of the lies that patriarchal culture has served up for women in the best selling BDSM novel 50 Shades of Grey.

First-time female novelist E L James began the piece as short fan fiction based off of the Twilight series whose main relationship between a 104 year old vampire and a teenage girl meets all the criteria for domestic violence.

Given its source material, it’s not surprising that 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels tells the story of a billionaire who convinces a young woman to agree to be his full time sex slave. E L James’ story is not new.

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Guest Post by Dragon Dyke.

The latest slogan of the trans activists is ‘my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bull shit’. The current trans obsession with intersectionality is a major cause for concern, and a trans co-option of intersectional theory could have disastrous consequences for the political struggles of all subordinate groups.

Trans activists are co-opting political movements and the ultimate trans agenda is to remove the rights of all subordinate groups to self-determination and movements for liberation. I do not believe that most individuals who identify as trans or their allies are consciously planning the depoliticisation of class based oppressions. Trans is a structural and colonising tactic – a tool of the patriarchy, but if you buy into trans theory, that is what you are buying into.

The trans cooption of feminism and the attacks of the right of the female class to collective self-determination is the beginning of what I believe will end up being a long running movement to co-opt all struggles of subordinate groups. Trans is a growing movement and it is no longer only focused on trans sex and trans gender. New trans movements focus on trans abled and trans age, and any day now I am expecting to see the emergence of white men who claim to be trans race. As with trans genderism, these new trans movements are largely based on the sexual fetishisation of the subordinate group. So what is the scope of the trans project and what is the impact this growing movement will have on all subordinate classes?

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Part 1 covered Book 1 (Walk to the End of the World) and Book 2 (Motherlines)

Book 3 – The Furies (1994)

For some, this is the least popular book, for others, the most powerful of the series. Charnas has said in interviews, this was the most difficult book of the series to write, and took the longest (over 15 years):

“One reason THE FURIES took so long to write was that I wanted to skip over the harshest part — an actual war, or more properly a slave-revolt, of the “fems” against their male masters — and go right to a better life for all;….. just as so many women with feminist ideals wish desperately to be able to “skip” the harshest part in reality, the part where we seem to have the most to lose, and the most to suffer, the part where we demand full recognition of our humanity, and do whatever it takes to get it.” Read More