I’m feeling nostalgic. Oh, slut walks of yore… er, a few months ago.
Update (September 30, 2011):
Two new posts from the Rad Fem HUB confirm the dude-centeredness of SlutWalk in a very tangible way. Slutwalk Baltimore
is being was organized by 18-year-old Brennan “Molester” Lester. Also, Matt Tuscano is co-sponsoring a SlutWalk at the University of Connecticut. While Lester prefers to read Lolita and ponder what he would do if he had a vagina, Tuscano enjoys posting woman-hating images on Facebook. Oh, such a multifaceted group of men who wish to co-opt feminism!
I just published my first post over at the Hub! It’s on Beyonce’s new video for “Run the World (Girls)” and the faux-empowerment messages. Have a looksee!
[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’.
Rad Fem Crafts: “Don’t Piss on My Head and Call It Privilege”. . . not only does this post win the Post Title of the Year award, but it also succinctly describes what’s wrong with big tent politics.
Scum-o-Rama: “Tasty Privilege”. . . on the crap that is ‘vanilla privilege’.
We Won’t Submit: A guest post by Bev Jo, “Would A Vulva By Any Other Name Smell As Sweet?”. . . on male language for ‘female parts’.
Gender Trender has a simple graphic, providing a RadFem 101 lesson: “MOAR Simplr”.
Undercover Punk: “Trans childrens”
Ball Buster: “Imagine”. . . [TW for violence]
Imagine, if you will: If every time a female porn star got beat up, that it would make national news.
FAB Matters: “the problem with fun feminism”:
What the malestream and funfeminism offer women is the same, only the funfem version is more nervous and complicated.
If she chooses to roll with the malestream, in return she will get male approval. If she chooses to roll with funfeminism she will get some (more limited and highly conditional) male approval, quite a bit of male ridicule, and … ?
Not much else.
The Nation: “Will the Justice Department Stand Up for Women Raped in Prison?” [TW for sexual assault]:
[F]or women, one consequence of sexual violence is pregnancy, especially for those who are forced to endure repeated rapes. More than 200,000 women are imprisoned right now, and many more pass through prisons and jails over the course of a year—each one vulnerable to sexual assault, and to pregnancy resulting from it. Despite the years of hearings, testimony and research, the Justice Department’s PREA rules still fail to protect the reproductive rights and health of women in this situation.
I’ve been thinking lately about how much I have changed in the last few years… and the last few months… and, hell, the last few weeks. The more I read, talk, and know, the more radical I become. I cannot wait until I’m in my 50s!
Opposition to prostitution and pornography was my intro into radical feminism. Learning more about what radical feminism was, it was all downhill after that, as you can see with this blog o’ mine.
But here’s a bit of how I used to be. Your little Lishra, several years ago (keep in mind that I’m in my early twenties now, with many of these things happening when I was like 15)…
*I bought several “strip-aerobics” videos, which helped with facilitating my eating disorder and general self-hatred I had at the time. Oh, Carmen Electra. So succinct in your ability to make a teenage girl feel like shit so that you may profit from the male gaze. (Still, I blame the patriarchy, though, not Carmen.)
*I’ve seen every episode of “Sex and the City” at least twice. Although… burgeoning radicalism: I stole every one of the DVDs from a particular big-box store. I was a crafty one. Also? Such a Carrie.
*[TW] In playing Grand Theft Auto (bad enough!), I sometimes had my character have sex with prostitutes and then killed them afterward, recouping my money. (What the hell was wrong with me? That’s really disturbing, and seems totally unreal to me now. This was about eight years ago, but still.) [/TW]
*I had a “burlesque is totes awesome” phase. This included buying Dita Von Teese’s book, watching several videos of old-timey burlesque skits, and thinking of unique acts that I could do one day when I was old enough to be in bars that local troupes perform in. I even made black sequin pasties at one point.
*This is a more recent one… a couple years ago, there was a period of two months in which I really, really wanted a corset. Not just any corset, but one that would let me “waist train”. Yes, the kind that you wear for 23+ hours a day, every day. Thank goodness for my partner being like, “No. That’s a really awful idea. What the hell? You do not need to do that. That’s so impractical. It will hurt you. Don’t do that!” It also helped that I never could scrape together the $90 for one.
*Also a more recent one: I thought I was super cool because I “got” Judith Butler. True facts: no one gets Judith Butler.
*I used to define my feminism almost solely on opposition to shitty media representations of women. That’s probably a common entry point to feminism for a lot of folks, but, damn, aren’t you glad I moved beyond that? Bonus: I had another blog before this one that was basically dedicated to “Gosh, this ad is awful! Look at how awful this ad is! OMG PHOTOSHOP!”
*I read Jezebel daily from about three months after it started until spring of last year. (The final nail in the coffin was last summer in which the site did a post on Maia’s week of guest blogging over at Feministe about child-free spaces and the shit.hit.the fan. as Jezebel folks rushed over there to make asses of themselves. Whooda guessed that Jezebel’s commentariate consists of a lot of USian white women with zero ability to understand that Other People Aren’t Always Like You?)
*I had a subscription to BUST magazine. ‘Nuff said.
So, as you can see, there is hope for our less enlightened sisters. In time, they too may be fighting the good (radical) fight with us. It’d be nice if they could hurry up though.
Final note to my former self: WTF was that?
Final note to my future self: I can’t wait to be you.
[Trigger warning for descriptions of BDSM.]
I found an interview on Feministing with “feminist” pornographer and sex-pozzie educator Tristan Taormino recently. I don’t visit Feministing anymore, so I found it linked from another site. That site? Adult Video News, the pornography industry’s trade mag. Just how I like my feminism. . . pornography-industry approved and promoted.
I’m not really going to get into the interview too much, but you can read it here if you’d like. There were just a couple bits I wanted to draw attention to since they relate to my later analysis.
1. Taormino says that, in college, she lived in a place called Womanist House. Later, when discussing young women not identifying as feminists, she expresses her confusion at this. She mentions how it’s a slap in the face to all the feminist work of the past, which I’m assuming means USian, white suffragists. While I get the train of thought she’s going with, there are other reasons that women – even young women – don’t call themselves feminists. Uh, hello… Womanist House?
2. “And I was raised by a gay man, so I love musicals.” And I was raised by straight, blue-collar parents, so I love NASCAR.
Now, onto something that was not in the interview.
On Taormino’s website, she answers messages from people asking advice about their sex lives. This one question stuck out to me. The following bold emphasis is mine.
Dear Anal Advisor:
My boyfriend is ultra submissive in just one area: his ass. He doesn’t go for the Mistress thing, lick-my-boot mentality, but when it comes to his ass (which is the focus of his fantasies and always how he’s able to come) he’s full sub. I know exactly what he needs that way, pain and humiliation. Directed at his ass. Insulting HIM gets us nowhere, but insulting HIS ASS does. My snag is this: there are only so many ways to insult an ass. Degrading his ass, calling it a cunt or pussy gets him off in a snap. Is there any way to get good ideas to boost my imagination so play is not monotonous for either of us?
Mistress of His Ass
Can you guess what is not addressed whatsoever in the response? What is just glided over as a-okay and totally unproblematic? Get out your sex-poz bingo cards!
Dear Mistress of His Ass:
Plenty of people get off on pain, humiliation, degradation, and overall submission. Clearly your boyfriend’s submissiveness is tied directly to his ass and anal play. There are many ways to combine submission and anal pleasure. You’ve already insulted his ass, but have you also tried to insult and humiliate *him* for wanting his ass penetrated, for being a naughty butt boy? Take all the cultural baggage that comes with anal pleasure, and use it to your advantage, as a psychological tool: it’s dirty, taboo, dangerous, and will make him gay. Of course those aren’t true, but these myths can make for great mindfuck material. If he likes extreme submission, you may also want to explore forced anal penetration or anal rape scenes; that’s tricky territory, so tread lightly. It also sounds like there is an element of gender play in your man’s fantasies, since he enjoys having his ass be called his pussy. Try to explore that part of his desire further. Does he want to crossdress, to be girl? Does he want to be forced to do it? Forced feminization is quite popular and may be part of what he’s try to express in the anal play you’re currently having. See if he will open up about and be specific about his submissive anal desires, and use what he gives you to take things to the next level.
Way to NOT unpacked everything that goes into the idea of degradation being sexy.
The woman writing for advice says that her boyfriend enjoys being degraded. How? By calling a particular orifice of his a pussy or cunt. This is then misidentified by Taormino as a possible desire for “gender play”. Could it be that, since he equates having a vagina with being degraded, that he is actually just into that other popular practice of misogyny? Then, there’s “forced feminization” brought up in her response. That idea/practice is seriously woman-hating as folks raised as girls/women endure that exact thing – forced feminization. And this is what bunch of dudes get off on. Surprise, surprise.
The first line of Taormino’s response is simply a statement of fact, implying that if enough people like something, that makes it good/healthy/etc. “Plenty of people get off on pain, humiliation, degradation, and overall submission.” Yeah. Like rapists.
Taormino advises the advice-seeker to use “cultural baggage” as a way of turning her boyfriend on via degradation. Interesting term… “cultural baggage”. Using homophobia as incitement for your boyfriend to orgasm. . . FEMINISM.
And for all the talk about how “sex is a normal and natural thing”, “pornography can be a celebration of healthy sex”. . . why is it that sex is constantly referred to as dirty, women as dirty, etc in all porn, including feminist porn? Oh, but Taormino clarifies that sex as dirty and so on “aren’t true”. Just how far are we supposed to take this massive cognitive dissonance here? What if this boyfriend (who I’m assuming is white because BDSM is totally a Thing White People Like) really got off on, say, “fantasies” of being degraded as a black woman under U.S. slavery? Do we say, “Hey, well, what gets you off gets you off,” or do we offer even a modicum of analysis of just why the hell that may be? Hmm, could it have to do with misogynistic racism? I’m a little surprised Taormino doesn’t suggest something like that since, you know, what’s more degraded than having a vagina as well as brown skin? “But how else will he orgasm if not imagining himself in the position of an indentured woman?” Tough shit. Find something that isn’t overwhelmingly offensive even at first glance. Find something that doesn’t eroticize someone’s oppression.
Golly, I’m sure glad that feminist Tristan Taormino is doing justice to all the feminist work that came before her. Fight the good fight, Tristan. . . well, unless someone thinks it’s really hot.
(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.
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.
– 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”.
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: