Tag Archives: feminism

Links: May 10, 2011

10 May

This will be a special “Slut Walk” edition of links. Cuz I’m topical like that.

Woman On A Journey: “‘The sluttier the better’-that’s what men think, anyway”

Guardian: “SlutWalk is not sexual liberation” by Gail Dines & Wendy Murphy

RMott: “The Ultimate Slut”

EasilyRiled: “Slut-Walk. Sigh.”

I Blame the Patriarchy: “Toronto activists take back the slut”

Video from “The Agenda”, featuring Gail Dines (35 minutes).

Audio from “World Have Your Say”, also featuring Gail Dines. Listen online or download the mp3 (download only available for 1 week). Big ol’ trigger warning for victim blaming from (especially from callers and other people who sent in comments to the show).

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Video: “Slut Walks and Modern Feminism”

7 May

[Trigger warning for discussion of sexual violence and pornography.]

File this in the overflowing drawer marked “Gail Dines BRINGS IT”.

The video wouldn’t embed, so go watch the 35-minute program on the website for “The Agenda”.

Here’s just a few of my thoughts on Slut Walk and the video:

– Slut is a construct made up by males in order to demean women. Sluts do not exist. You can’t reclaim a word that was never yours to begin with.

-Jaclyn says that slut walk sends the message that “if you call one of us a slut, you have to call all of us sluts”. Yeah. MEN ALREADY DO THAT. They call all of us sluts because that is what most men thing of women.

-The interviewer’s framing is odd at times, and it seems that the pro-slut-walk guests are incorrectly understanding what Gail meant when she brought up male sexuality. She’s talking about porn culture, something that really hasn’t been confronted by liberal feminists.

-Finally, as a younger feminist who is a victim/survivor and who has been harmed by pornography, Gail Dines does speak for me.

[Updated May 10, 2011 to add the following additional comments:]

This whole thing is just so bizarre. I mean, totally in keeping with liberal feminist sex-pozerism, but really… you’re actually calling it a Slut Walk? I was thinking today about what Suzanna Walters says in her “From Here to Queer” article about reclaiming language. Could you imagine something like a “Nigger Walk”, “Kike Walk”, or even “Faggot Walk”? Allies welcome to join! Ugg.

I’m absolutely puzzled as to why the response here to being called a slut is, “Yup, we are exactly what you say we are! You’re right. Women ARE sluts!” As if the police or dudes give ONE shit about your ‘nuance’.

Feminists Don’t Have a Sense of Humor?

1 May

Lyrics below the fold. . .

Continue reading

“Middle-Class White Women” & Not Getting It

7 Jan

(I know this post is quite long, but please do stay tuned for the end in which I make amusing conclusions! And hand out free candy!)

There’s a peculiar trend in my women’s studies class discussions this week. Primarily, it’s massive hypocrisy and double-speak among other students and even one of my professors. I suspect this has always occurred, but I’m just noticing it now due to my increased radicalization these days.

In a 300-level women’s studies course, we had a little refresher on what each ‘wave’ of feminism primarily worked against/for/etc. Notably, this was also the only class in which the ‘wave’ model has not been criticized, which I immediately found odd. Then came the real wackiness.

Question to class: “And what is the current, third wave of feminism about?”

I took notes on what students said so I could handily recall it all for you right now.

One woman who is notorious for her sex-pozzie, liberal feminist double-speak in other classes we’ve both taken: “Well, it’s about, like, more about individuality. Like, the individual woman, and what she does. . . and her individuality.” (Not an exact quote, but frighteningly close.)

Another woman who has shown in another class that she doesn’t seem to know what she’ll say until she’s saying it: “So, you know, like a woman can strip or whatever and it can be like a way for her to get by and make money. . . and get to the top.” (A more exact quote.)

While I understand that my fellow students, particularly these two, aren’t likely reading radical feminist books and blogs everyday like yours truly. . . have we not all been getting the same women’s studies curriculum for the last few years? While I may not have been as radical in the past, I have been anti-pornstitution and equipped with a highly-sensitive bullshit detector for quite a while. I don’t know where they are getting this from. As anti-radical-feminism as certain assigned readings have been in other classes, these kinds of mindless “feminist” talking points did not come from anything our instructors have said, nor the vast majority of what we have read. Are they all just repeating what Jezebel and Feministing have to say? (Hey, I’ve been there too.)

The professor for this class, well. . . I had high expectations. Then she got on that sisterhood/solidarity-shattering notion of “there’s no universal experience of all women”. Strangely, she then — right after saying that — said that the exceptions would be the threat of sexual violence “which is pretty universal” in women’s lives, and that women have diminished social and political power.

Excuse me?

Sure, the 25+ percent of women who have been raped by men may not have been raped in the exact same way, and the other 75 percent hasn’t been kept in absolute fear in the exact same way, but isn’t that a BIG DAMN COMMONALITY in general?

“Diminished social and political power” seems like shorthand for “women are an oppressed class”. . . that also sounds pretty universal and wide-reaching as it affects women’s lives, yeah?

The word “oppression” wasn’t spoken once by anyone, even in the discussion (for the newbies and non-majors) about “how women are disadvantaged”. There was one reference, by the instructor, of women as a “group” so I’ll give her a half point for that.

Otherwise? It was downhill from there. We got on the topic of difference between second-wave feminists and third-wave feminists. You can probably tell what’s coming. Someone mentioned Dworkin, said how feminists have been at odds about porn/prostitution, but less so now, and then the instructor said something kind of dismissive in an “Oh, that silly Andrea Dworkin – how quaint” kind of way.

The professor then added that some feminists’ interests can be at odds with the interests of other feminists, and — get this — “they can sometimes oppress one another”. NO. NO THEY CAN’T. Women are incapable of oppressing other women as women. To oppress you need both privilege and power. Women do not have structural power or privilege as women, so that ain’t happening.

Finally, the most hilaritragic claim about feminist “differences” was repeated by five students, all of whom were white women sitting in a university classroom. They all said that second-wave feminism was more focused on the needs of “middle-class white women” whereas third-wave feminism is not.

I’ll be right back. . . I need to fix a drink.

Ok. *deep breath* I’m sorry, fellow white lady students, but have you looked at your skin color lately? Or your privilege that lets you sit in this room and say all this? And going on about how feminism these days approves of things like porn, prostitution, and stripping. . .  do you know who is in prostitution? Do you think the majority of them — worldwide or in the U.S. — look like you or have your economic background? Do you think your brand of feminism helps a poor, non-white 14-year-old girl in prostitution, or do you think that your “it’s her choice” bullshit only serves to prop up her pimp?

White, (presumably) middle-class young women claiming that their feminism is just so different from that old lady feminism that focused on white, middle-class women. . . are you kidding me?

But then things actually got better. In another women’s studies course on gender and colonialism, the professor (who is not white) did not mess around with wishy-washy definitions or let this “choice” rhetoric pass for actual feminism.

We started the class with clear definitions of things like racism, colonialism, and violence. Then our professor asked us to define feminism, say what it is “about”.

Then came the broken record. “Choice, gender equality” *skip* “choice, gender equality” . . . but scant mentions of women at all. If I wasn’t so anxiety-ridden and not sure which feminism definition she was seeking, I would have said what I had written down: “the elimination of (white, hetero,) male supremacy; the abolishment of gender”.

To the woman spouting, “It’s about choice,” our professor did a fabulous omg-you’re-being-serious face. Seriously. . . “choice” doesn’t stop men from raping women, “choice” doesn’t end male supremacy. And I’m sure the instructor was wondering how choice has anything to do with colonized women.

Later, I snickered about one student (the first one quoted) getting a total comeuppance. She said — somewhat relevantly — how, at a club, she used a nongendered bathroom “and it was really cool”. Full stop. Again, awesome professor looked quizzically at her and asked, “‘Cool’? In what way was it ‘cool’? What do you mean by that?” I’m such a radfem geek. . . in my head I was like OH YEAH, hells YES she finally got called out.

So, things are looking up for that class. We’re talking about “structural” things, not interpersonal “women oppressing other women” crap. . . you know: feminism.

Conclusions:

– Third-wave, “choice” feminism leads to dangerously high levels of illogical thought, diminished capacity for political syllogism.

– Prior and current experience indicates that my women’s studies professors who are white tend to have a myopic view of what women’s liberation looks like while my non-white women’s studies professors diligently hammer home the point that systems of oppression – OMG! – actually exist.

– It is going to be a long, stressful term dealing with anti-radicals. My alcohol usage is likely to increase by 15%.

– My class discussion experiences this term might cause me to say something “inflammatory” during my graduation speech later this year, which may or may not include me shouting sarcastically about “choosing my choice”, then dropping the mic and flouncing off. Look forward to the Youtube video captured on someone’s cell phone titled “chick studies harpy loses her shit”.

In Which I Announce I am TRANSPHOBIC

6 Jan

Yup, so I’m one of those radical feminists who just totally hates all transgendered folks. Oh, wait. No, I actually just want to question certain ideologies that underpin particular aspects of trans politics, and for this, I will be labeled TRANSPHOBIC. Got it.

I gotta say. . . I wasn’t entirely on the bandwagon until the last several months. It started with being like, “Oh, hey. . . I, as a female-bodied person socialized as a girl and woman, do not have gendered privilege because of that. Huh. Interesting.” And then I was like, “How in the world would someone who just up and says they ‘feel like a woman’ lose all that male privilege they were given up until the point of transition?” More or less, this is how that went.

And now, I’m all, “Having surgery to fulfill a particular type of gendered appearance is kinda unnecessary and reminds me of how I used to want breast implants so I could ‘feel more feminine’, whatever the fuck THAT meant.” Also, I now think about things like, “Maybe there is a sort of rapist mentality involved in MTF folks trying to force themselves into female-assigned-at-birth women’s spaces,” and, “No, it actually isn’t denial of one’s humanity to be denied entry into a music festival.”

Basically, I’m no longer falling for this po-mo, you-are-what-you-say-you-are politics which necessarily seems to leave FAAB women getting thrown under the bus yet again. Surprise! It’s still patriarchal bullshit!

Before becoming a ragin’ radical feminist, and even after, I bought into a lot of the liberal feminist stuff about trans politics. The most hilarious to me now is the line about how “it’s not trans people’s jobs to change the gender binary.” At one point, this was really convincing to me. Of course it’s not their job. Well, no. It’s not only their job – it’s everyone’s job. Actually, it’s everyone’s job to eradicate gender altogether. I only recognize now how incredibly anti-radical and, frankly, anti-feminist that way of thinking is. Some group of people gets a pass on the whole ‘reinforcing gender binaries’ thing? Nuh-uh. Don’t think so.

I also have examined ideas of “feeling like a woman” as it relates to myself, and found that the only way that makes sense is that to the extent I “feel like” one, it’s that others make me feel like one by treating me as one. I have no “innate” sense of womanhood (femaleness, sure… my uterine lining sheds and everything!), which makes sense as gender is a social construction. And, no, I am not cis-gendered, a cis-woman, etc. I have massive issues with there being a trans/cis binary since, well, binaries are restrictive and harmful. . . hey, just like gender itself! Just because I am not wanting to live “as a man” and/or have surgery or take hormones to appear masculinized does not mean that my default descriptor is cis. I do not feel like my “gender role” is a good match for me (hence that whole ‘being a radical feminist’ thing), nor do I feel “at home” in my body (what woman living in media-saturated porn culture does?).

You may now resume your regularly-scheduled patriarchy blaming.

*

Recommended reading:

Radical Profeminist: a guest post from Cerien, “When Some Transgender Activists Demand Inclusivity But EXCLUDE almost all Genderqueer/Transgender/Intersex People, We Gotta Speak OUT!”

“Red Without Blue: Since When Did LGBT Stand for Lesbian- and Girl-Bashing Tolerance?”

“The Trans/Gender Politics of Shaming Women-as-Women, Around and Beyond the Queer, Antifeminist Blogosphere”

Uppity Biscuit: “Do Not Call Me Cisgender: You Do Not Have Permission to Name Me”

Learning Feminism: “On Cisgender”

Word to the Wise: “My Gender is Not My Own”

“Questions in the Hope of Furthering Feminist Discourse on Trans Intersections”

“Personal Statement Update (The Short Version)”

“On Gender Normativity, Privilege, and Oppression”

“The Falsifiability Talk”

FAB Matters: On accusations of “TRANSPHOBIA!”

“The fallacy of ‘cis privilege'”

[Updated Feb. 12, 2011 to add:]

Undercover Punk: “Not Hatin'”

The Revolutionary Words I Would Have Never Read

3 Jan

A year ago today, radical feminist philosopher Mary Daly passed away. A year ago, I didn’t really know who she was. This post on Shakesville featuring her obituary was more or less my first introduction to Daly. Commenters wrote about how liberating her writing was. Other commenters wrote that they were glad she died because she was ‘transphobic’ and a ‘genocidal cis woman’. As ‘trans allies’ learned of the ‘transphobia’, they quickly backtracked and apologized for their writing “rest in peace” in previous comments. Criticism of Melissa’s post continued even after she added an addendum about Daly’s supposed transphobia at the bottom of the post, even after Melissa said how she had been unaware of it before commenters pointed it out. Others apologized because their ‘privilege’ must have kept them from knowing what Daly had written about transsexuality. (I’m certain it wasn’t ‘cis privilege’ that kept her from reading a radical feminist book.)

Luckily, a couple other commenters noted that they would be seeking out Daly’s writing now. Some Shakesville contributors came to Melissa’s defense, noting how baffling it was that some self-identified trans individuals still weren’t satisfied after the post had been altered to reflect their criticism. What more did they want from her? To have not mentioned Daly or her death at all?

*

Before reading anything of Andrea Dworkin’s, I “knew” that she hated all men, was totally against all sex, and was generally someone to be disliked. I thought all of that was true, mainly (and sadly), through “feminist” blogs and websites. Then I actually read some of her work.

Then I read some of Catherine MacKinnon’s work. Then I read Sonia Johnson.

And then there was no turning back.

They all gave me the language I needed for understanding my own life, my oppression, and my liberation. Everything fell into place, one ‘click’ triggering the next, working towards completing the puzzle of how to get the hell out of patriarchy now.

Fewer than a dozen pages into Daly’s Gyn/Ecology, I had the words to describe my yearning to find some ‘pre-patriarchy’ self, to get back to something that I had been robbed of in the first place. . . Background. This is what it felt like to see something else, to see beyond all the lukewarm feminist, ‘queer studies’ texts assigned in my women’s studies courses.

This was going to do something, ignite something, make me finally understand it all. And this was what I have been kept from reading.

I wasn’t supposed to see it because: those angry lesbians, those man-haters, those transphobes, those feminazis, those sex-negative feminists. . .

Those. . . women.

To the extent any of these women have been mentioned in my women’s studies classes, it’s mostly been to point out what not to think and what brand of feminism to avoid. Dworkin came up in a conversation on prostitution, though in the context of our class not being assigned any of her writing. Daly was mentioned in a book for a queer studies course, but only to point out how much she supposedly hated trans individuals. The exception for a positive mention came in a history of feminist theory course, taught by a very politically active ‘second-waver’ (and co-editor of a popular women’s studies textbook). Both Dworkin and MacKinnon were mentioned in a piece by John Stoltenberg that was assigned, in which he details their anti-pornography civil ordinance. Other than this one instance of a positive mention (in more than three years of courses, mind you), all other references were to point out how wrong they were. Usually, though, their existence was just ignored.

So. Here are some women you should not ignore:

Mary Daly

Andrea Dworkin

Catherine MacKinnon

Sonia Johnson

Sheila Jeffreys

Janice Raymond

Start spinning.

Small Victories, #MooreandMe, and Olbermann & Me

22 Dec

[Trigger warning for Assange things, sexual assault.]

(If you want a recap of everything that has happened with the #MooreandMe protest in the last week, this post is incredibly comprehensive, and this post has a great number of links to articles and blog posts about it. And here’s another huge linkfest.)

On Rachel Maddow’s show last night, Michael Moore stated the obvious, which — unfortunately — is cause for minor celebration. He said that women’s allegations of rape must be taken seriously. It’s a crumb, in a way, but as Sady explains today, the mountain moved a little bit, and it’s because of the #MooreandMe Twitter campaign. Maddow wouldn’t have framed the issue the way she did if not for a week’s work of tireless tweeting, emails, and blog posts telling Moore that he needed to talk to us.

After most of the protesters had either gone to bed or taken a break last night, I was still up and on when I noticed that Keith Olbermann was tweeting away. This was at about midnight. I thought this might be a chance to actually get through to him, since my previous attempts at interaction that day had gone unanswered. I had asked him to please correct his claim that consensual sex without a condom is considered rape in Sweden. It’s immediately laughable, since, you know… how is there any population growth in the country then? Yet, this had gone uncorrected. I also wanted the lie about the allegations being only about a “broken condom” to be retracted. Here’s my first try, second try (with a bit of snark), and third try.

Here’s what happened when I finally got through.


And then he signed off for the evening. I was all shakey and really weirded out by the whole thing. I’ve watched this guy’s show every day for six years. The internet is a strange thing.

So, no, he didn’t say, “I’m sorry I stated something incorrect, I retract it,” but he did kinda-sorta say that the case was not about a broken condom. While doing this, though, he throws in something about “the story” changing which either refers to ‘what the public hears’ or ‘what the accusers claim happened to them’. I’ll be generous and hope it was the former.

The biggest thing I got out of this, though, which Sady’s most recent post talks about, is that a bunch of feminists with computers can actually affect what happens in “real life”. RAINN and more local anti-rape organizations got a bunch of donations (many in Michael Moore’s name), and two progressive leaders, Maddow and Moore, showed that you can support the guy’s organization without dismissing the likely event that Assange sexually assaulted two women.

Two women. That’s the other thing in all of this that I’m having trouble with. Rapists don’t have all of their assaults reported, nor do they just do it once. As blogger-journalist Andrea Grimes points out in her great post from yesterday , “Who Will Rape Me?”:

And you know what? The person who rapes me probably won’t even think I’m all that special since he’ll probably have raped seven to nine women, depending on what stats you rely on, before he’s ever put in jail.

It’s unlikely that this was the first time Julian Assange has sexually assaulted women. We also recently found out that he stalked a college student who expressed that she was not interested in him, sending her many emails and calling her home repeatedly.

With all that the two accusers have had to deal with – death threats, rape threats, people posting their full names, photos, home addresses, and more information online – it is very unlikely that another victim of his would ever come forward, if she or they exist. Besides that, this whole ordeal has been a lesson that women, should they be raped by a popular hero of the Left, they should shut the fuck up for the cause. Further, it showed all women that they are not to be trusted as reliable witnesses to their own assaults.

For all the damage that was done and will continue to be done, there’s a portion of women who saw the feminist blogosphere response and felt validated. Swedish women and feminists started #prataomdet (#talkaboutit) to discuss their own sexual assaults in the open. For the same reasons, “We’re Telling” was created. Finally, there was a national audience of millions who saw Rachel Maddow and Michael Moore denounce the unconditional support of an accused rapist who appears to otherwise be on ‘our side’.

Yes, it’s thoroughly sad that this is groundbreaking, but it’s not nothin’ either. Dismantling misogyny and rape culture happens chip by chip, and so slow that most of us won’t see the results of our work within our lifetimes. But we do it anyway, against all of the forces that say we’ll never be able to change anything. Well, chip chip chip.

Now, onto the next battle.

Documentary: “Sisters of ’77”

19 Dec

Here is a PBS documentary on the 1977 National Women’s Conference that took place in Houston, Texas. Check it out.

Links: November 14, 2010

14 Nov

Womanist Musings: “‘African’ Inspired Clothing” & [TW for sexual violence] “Dan Savage Attacks A Rape Survivor While Pretending to Give Advice”

Tim Wise: “An Open Letter to the White Right on the Occasion of Your Recent, Successful Temper Tantrum”

Reclusive Leftist: “Feminism is no longer about sexism at all”; check out the great, ongoing discussions in the comments as well.

[TW for sexual violence, TW x2 for the comment section] “Sexpo and the Death of Sex”

[TW for sexual violence] RMott62: Asking “Freedom of Speech for Who”?

What Feminism Is Not: Anti-Feminism

2 Nov

First, I have a little coming out to do: I’m a women’s studies major. Alright.

Today, in a class of mine that is mostly other seniors who are women’s studies majors, we did some small group work to discuss future employment with our degrees. One of the women brought up a friend of hers who just moved somewhere and is having a lot of trouble finding a job. This friend apparently took a good number of women’s studies classes as well. While talking on the phone, her friend said, “What do you think the women’s studies department would think of me being a Budweiser girl?”

One would hope that my classmate told her something like, “It sucks if that’s your only opportunity for income right now,” and try to help her find something else or what have you. Well, no, she didn’t say that. Instead, my classmate said something about how “feminism is all about not doing what is expected of you, and, you know, if you like wearing low-cut shirts and stuff, do it”. My classmate also told us how her idea of feminism has changed and that she now thinks you don’t have to do everything that feminism approves of (which appears to mean “what those hairy man-haters approve of”… strange since I’m pretty sure she calls herself a feminist too).

Now let’s take a moment to deconstruct the hell out of that: “Feminism is all about not doing what is expected of you”. Who is expecting you do something? What kind of power do they have to impose expectations upon you? What are these expectations? To my classmate, the problem is feminism imposing the expectation that one should not sexually objectify themselves. To me, the problem is patriarchy expecting that women should be sexually objectified (and happy about it) as a service to men .

Let’s do a super cool feminism 101 exercise. Shout out the answer when you know it. Who has more power to impose behavioral expectations upon women… is it feminism or patriarchy? That’s right… patriarchy! Good job! You win a free trip to Hagsville! You also get 100 ladypoints if you just actually shouted “patriarchy!” out loud.

Clearly though, my classmate seems to have a different understanding of things (i.e. reality). To her, it’s those feminists with all that political clout (ha!) telling her friend that it’s bad to wear low-cut shirts, therefore, her friend should rebel against feminists and their supposed expectations. Because that’s what feminism is all about… rebelling against feminism. Got it.

Actually, feminism is about ending male supremacy. Got it?