Valerie Solanas, SCUM Manifesto:
Although the male, being ashamed of what he is and almost of everything he does, insists on privacy and secrecy in all aspects of his life, he has no real regard for privacy. Being empty, not being a complete, separate being, having no self to groove on and needing to be constantly in female company, he sees nothing at all wrong in intruding himself on any woman’s thoughts, even a total stranger’s, anywhere at any time, but rather feels indignant and insulted when put down for doing so, as well as confused — he can’t, for the life of him, understand why anyone would prefer so much as one minute of solitude to the company of any creep around.
Earlier this month, August 4th, was my blog’s first birthday. I started this blog when I wanted to “get serious” about my radical feminism and, you know, actually be radical. Before Against All Evidence, I had another blog wherein I had mostly done light “analysis” of ads (e.g.: “ugg, look at how stupid this is!”) and sometimes talked about porn and prostitution. When I began that blog, I was a Jezebel-reading liberal feminist. That is, until Gail Dines had to go and ruin the fun. And I’m sure glad she did. It was a game changer.
Radical feminism meant carrying out feminist analysis to its end. It meant Doing Work. . . looking patriarchal evils in the eye and explaining them – in full – without flinching. Radical feminism hasn’t necessarily told me anything I didn’t already know. It just gave me permission to admit that it really is as bad as I always knew it was.
Over the last year, I feel like I’ve entered a new phase of clarity with my politics. Without a doubt, a great deal of the credit goes to my fellow radfem bloggers and commenters. Very shortly after starting my blog, I started writing a draft post essentially saying, “Gosh darn, ya know. . . I’m a radical feminist but you transphobic radfems are just no good and are making us look bad!” I know, right? Oh, how far I’ve come.
I feel so fortunate to have “met” all of you. Four years of women’s studies never gave me such a feeling of community as you all have. Joining on to the Rad Fem Hub has also been an exciting endeavor, and I can’t wait to see where it continues to go.
So cheers to my blog still being around, and thanks to everyone who reads it! Much love, my sisters.
RMott: “Resisting Porn Culture”
Ilithyia Inspired: “Uncensored Birth Power”
Guardian CiF: Julie Bindel on World Femininity Day, “The end of feminism, or, how I learned to stop worrying and wear lipstick”
From Meghan Murphy, “My performance of femininity and why it isn’t all about me.”
So along with all the other labels that come along with being critical of gender binaries, pornography, prostitution, etc, that plant a feminist firmly in the no-fun camp, being critical of ‘femininity’ now, apparently, makes you ‘anti-feminine’, whatever that means. The trouble with the ‘anti-feminine’ label is, of course, that femininity isn’t a real thing.
Smash the P: “Joyful Resistance”
Femonade: “On Harm Reduction”
Finally, Gallus Mag shared a fabulous (and uplifting!) short video of Gail Dines talking about the enduring appeal of radical feminism.
The RadFem Hub, a collaborative blog of rad fem bloggers (including myself), has launched today! Go take a look!
Trans/Queer activists want radical feminists to know that sex and gender do not always match up (as if we have no knowledge of the topic). They assume that, because many of us are against transition (medical, surgical, etc), we are ‘essentialists’ which are reinforcing sex-gender roles. We are not the ones promoting matching one’s gendered presentation with their chromosomes and genitals. They are.
They pose ‘cis’ (as in cis-gendered, cis-sexual) as the opposite of trans (awesome! more binaries!). As they define it, cis means having one’s sex ‘match’ with their individualized sense of gender, i.e. ‘gender identity’. In order for trans folks to deal with their ‘mixed’ sense of sex-gender, trans activists largely advocate for the means to transition into ‘the other’ sex/gender. While the act of transition is portrayed as a revolutionary thing to do, it is actually inherently conservative and assimilationist in its results.
By transitioning, most trans individuals are attempting to come as close as possible to resembling what the ‘cis’ person of their transitioning-into sex/gender looks like (in genital appearance and secondary sex characteristics, and – on the socially-constructed gender side – comportment, mannerisms, clothes, etc). What they are trying to do is – to the best of their ability – become a facsimile of a cis person.
So who’s more essentialist? Who are the ones saying that the expression of stereotypical, Western “feminine” traits by someone who is male-bodied means that they are actually a woman and that a female-bodied person who wants to wear non-femmey clothing is actually a man? It’s not the radical feminists.
Shulamith Firestone, “The Dialectic of Sex” (1970):
[T]he rhetoric of the sexual revolution, if it brought no improvements for women, proved to have great value for men. By convincing women that the usual female games and demands were despicable, unfair, prudish, old-fashioned, puritanical, and self-destructive, a new reservoir of available females was created to expand the tight supply of goods available for traditional sexual exploitation, disarming women of even the little protection they had so painfully acquired.
Rebecca Whisnant, “Beyond Multiple Choice” (2001):
For several years now, I’ve been doing a feminist slide presentation about pornography for classes, dorms, campus groups, conferences—pretty much whoever asks me. I do it because I think it’s crucial for women, especially young women, to know the truth about this massive industry that saturates their society, pollutes many of their intimate relationships, and makes their daily lives more dangerous and alienating. But I don’t always feel good about doing it. As the slide show goes on, some women duck their heads, while others slink down into their seats; a few leave abruptly in the middle. Those who stay look shell-shocked afterwards. Some ask questions, but most are silent. And sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the right thing here. Am I doing them more harm than good?
But then, at least two or three women come up to me afterwards and tell me about their fights with their boyfriends about pornography, or how they felt as a kid when they found their dad’s Penthouse collection, and how seeing the slide show and hearing me talk about it made them feel like they’re not crazy, not just prudish and uptight. And I keep doing the slide show because I believe that understanding pornography—like understanding radical feminist analysis in general—ultimately makes them stronger, not weaker.
Lucy wants an “Italian haircut”, a shorter style. The relevant portion of the clip begins at about 2:10 and ends at 3:00.
Lucy: You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to get an Italian haircut.
Ricky: Oh no you’re not!
Lucy: Why not?
Ricky: Because I like your hair the way it is.
Lucy: But it would look so good short. Please?
Ricky: Look… for my son’s sake, no.
Lucy: What do you mean for your son’s sake?
Ricky: I’ll ‘splain.
Lucy: Ok. ‘Splain.
Ricky: All people in the world are divided into two groups… men and women.
Lucy: [sarcastically] I know. It’s a wonderful arrangement.
Ricky: Now. Men have short hair, and women have long hair. That’s the difference between them.
Ricky: Now, I don’t want my son to be confused. He should know whether he should call you mother or father.
Lucy: [walking away] Oh… men! You make me sick.
And later at 13:45 in the video…
Ethel: Well, it’s a terrible thing to say about anyone, but I guess Ricky’s just a man.
Yes, trans women are beaten, killed, and raped. So are female women. Everyday, everywhere. As other radical feminist bloggers have said, “Welcome to our world.” This stuff isn’t surprising to us. So welcome to what it means to have your body read as ‘woman’: open season for male violence.
I want it to be , “Welcome to our world. It’s awful. Let’s change it together,” but that’s difficult when trans women demand focus be solely on them and the harms of “trans misogyny” and how it is so different from what FAAB women go through*. But it really isn’t.
This should be a touch point – yes, for radical feminists and trans women – rather than a divergence. But folks need to examine their years of accumulated male privilege before something like that can happen. A good first step? Actually listening to what FAAB women have to say about their experiences of being treated like women. Blogroll is on the right.
*Focusing solely female issues also can get you labeled transphobic, cissexist, or even a ‘cis supremacist’. Quick tip from a female person: talking about my uterus is not oppressing trans women.