Friday, March 02, 2007

The meaning of feminism.

Over on A Woman's Space, there's a really interesting discussion of the differences between feminist generations. This is a response to Jessica Valente's piece on her frustrations as a "young feminist." Excerpts from A Woman's Space's post:

"One thing that I find young feminists unwilling to examine is their basal ideology. To give you a really clear idea about this let’s pursue this theme of yours, (not mine) on feminism and “social justice.” That’s a new phrase, not totally untrue, but largely alien to feminists. In the second wave, feminism focused on WOMEN’S ISSUES, not social justice. Your definition I believe moves women out of the center, and into the margins where patriarchy always places women. The purpose of feminism is to keep the political focus on women. To many second wavers this looks like a concession to the backlash as much of third wave feminism does.

You go on to talk about many things you don’t like about feedback you receive from second wavers. Some examples you gave had to do with the sexism of your logo. Let’s be more specific because much is lost in the word sexism. Your logo [link mine - PF] objectifies women and makes women prominent as sex objects and not as people. That’s exactly the opposite of what feminists want and is probably why you are not included as much as you’d like. As I see it, your ideology is not really consistent with feminism."

...

"I look forward to your participation in feminism which has a core political ideology which seems really inconvenient to younger “feminists”. It’s not you, it’s not your youth, it’s your conceptualization and to be honest, I think that you way detract from feminism rather than to add to it. Being even more specific, I KNOW we need young feminists but your liberal/queer/heteronormative ideology isn’t going to help feminism at all."

...

"I think there has been a loss willingness to listen to women who are a heck of a lot more experienced than you are. You do seem “bratty” for what looks like an inability to actually dialogue. But these aren’t the things I’d criticize you for. I was there and when I was there, I was thinking exactly about you and the legacy we would be handing to you and how that common shared legacy could help break down a generation gap. I was wrong. It never occurred to me that your generation wouldn’t even bother to read second wave literature. That is a painful rejection when I can so clearly remember thinking about your face, before your face existed."
And here is my own response:

I disagree with many points in this post. First, I would argue that feminism has *always* been about social justice. Women's oppression is an issue of social justice. Feminists of color have always fought for social justice for white women and people of color. Historically, feminist activism has rarely been narrowly concerned with only women's rights. RARELY. Sojourner Truth's speech was as much about being a person of color as it was about being a woman. Labor uprisings led by women were about workers' rights as much as women's rights. Indigenous movements led by women are feminist AND simultaneously about the survival of native peoples. This does not mean that feminism has *never* focused only on women's oppression, but my point is that reading as feminist only those actions and politics that focused so narrowly leaves out a great many examples of feminist activism. And it's this kind of selective memory that make "feminism" synonymous with "white middle-class feminism" for many, many people.

I also take issue with your claim that young feminists in general don't read second wave lit, which is about as fair and as accurate as saying that second wavers don't read third wave lit. In other words: some do, some don't, but we can't paint everyone with the same brush. It often seems that a lot of the people who are complaining about one or the other haven't actually read the literature. But at the same time, a lot of us have.

A valid criticism of *some* second wave ideology is that it insists on "woman" as a universal and doesn't accept that in doing so, it is defining "woman" as "white, middle-class, able-bodied," and so on - which is what ends up happening the minute you say that feminism is only about women. Such a statement ignores the reality of, for example, Black women's lives. Native American women's lives. It ignores working-class struggles. It ignores women with disabilities. And so on. And on.

A valid criticism of *some* third wave ideology is that it doesn't seem informed by second wave ideology - there doesn't seem to be an understanding of what those ideologies were and are. It casts second wave feminists as anti-sex and anti-humor. It sometimes deals with issues like sex work less than critically.
But let's remember that part of the second wave of feminism is also sex radical feminists, who challenge the anti-porn and anti-prostitution notions of other branches of the second wave. The third wave is building on these well-respected, feminist thinkers, as well as on womanist and Black feminist and other feminists of color thought - The Combahee River Collective, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua. So in some ways, this division between the waves is artificial - it's not about generation, but rather about schools of thought that have continued, and continued to be in conflict with each other.

In keeping with this, I also disagree as much with your categorizing of young feminists as I do with Valente's categorizing of feminists older than she is. I see just as much feminist policing going on within generations as I do between them. This particular practice has very little to do with age. I know radical feminists who are in college and sex radicals who could be my grandmothers. I see this policing happening in every identity political group - there are "dialogues" (read: near fistfights) about who is Jewish enough, lesbian enough, Black enough, Indian enough, working class enough, feminist enough.

Enough!

You can argue that certain things - miniskirts, heels - aren't feminist, but that doesn't make them not feminist. I will continue to wear my miniskirts and heels, and you can tell me until you're blue in the face that I'm not a feminist, but that won't undo the feminist work that I am doing, and it won't make me not a feminist simply because you say so. The underlying issue here is about desire, and we feminists have never agreed among ourselves about desire.

And all of that came out angry-sounding when I'm not, in fact, angry at all, just firm.

But I think there is sometimes another issue here, and it's one you hint at and one that Baumgardner and Richards also note in their book Manifesta (which, for what it's worth, I don't think is a very good assessment of the issues in the movement) - it's this mother-daughter metaphor, this sense that feminist foremothers saw themselves as handing down a particular legacy to the younger generation and are pissed and frustrated that the younger generation isn't more grateful and doesn't seem to be carrying the torch. I understand that. I really do. But this is how it is: movements change. People come of political age in different environments. The political landscape changes. You can't expect that the movement you gave birth to will look the same, that feminism will look the same now or that it will meet the needs of young women today in the same way. You just can't.

And this is the woman you're saying does not have a feminist ideology:


"Jessica is a 28 year-old feminist writer from New York and the founder of Feministing.com. She has a Masters degree in Women's and Gender Studies from Rutgers University and has worked with organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice America, Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund), Planned Parenthood, the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and Ms. magazine. She is also a co-founder of the REAL hot 100, a campaign to highlight the important work that young women are doing across the country.

Jessica is the editor of Beijing Betrayed, a global monitoring report on women's progress worldwide and a contributing author to We Don't Need Another Wave (Seal Press). Her writing has appeared in Ms. magazine, Salon, The Guardian, Alternet, The Scholar & Feminist and Guernica.

Her book, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters, will be available in Spring 2007."

Not a feminist?

Or just a different kind of feminist than you are?

85 comments:

Trinity said...

"A valid criticism of *some* third wave ideology is that it doesn't seem informed by second wave ideology - there doesn't seem to be an understanding of what those ideologies were and are. It casts second wave feminists as anti-sex and anti-humor."

I agree with you here, PF, but I'm also really beginning to think there's something to the anti-humor critique that's deeper than just "lighten up."

I think there's a lot of irreverence in sex-radical/sex-positive feminism, and I think it's there on purpose. For me, part of what doesn't resonate about a lot of second-wave stuff is that it can be very heavy handed about what it lets women "play" with.

The whole don't wear the lipstick and heels, don't do BDSM, don't be butch or femme (where they're interpreting butch and femme as role*playing*, which may or may not be true to the actual experiences of butches and femmes), etc.

I think there's a big divide and misunderstanding about the issue of play, and that's where this comes from (though it does, as you rightly point out, get dumbed down ridiculously in the flamewars.)

What we can play with and what we can't is a big driving force here. Sex-positive feminists tend to think people can play with anything, or perhaps just that they will, so why stop them? Whereas the second wave was very "if you play with this, you're encoding it in your brain as good and right!"

So I think that difference in perception will always be there. To a second waver, people like me are blowing off oppression with a giggle. To someone like me, the second wavers are claiming I have no space to create a vibrant and fun world with the many materials around me.

I don't think that one's really solvable.

And that's why I'm glad the word "allies" exists, and not so thrilled about the word "sisters" used any way other than literally.

Woman'sSpace said...

I want to acknowledge Plainsfeminist on a thought provoking post. We’ve decided to cross-post this series and I think it’ll be an interesting discussion. Admittedly I’ve never seen or met you Plains and I hope you’ll take this in a complimentary light, but I have apparently an incorrect picture of you. My faith is in the universe is only a little shaken by your reference to stilettos and miniskirts. I guess it’s bad stereotyping but I would not have guessed that they had stilettos or miniskirts in ND. So shake-up my world-view. We do have a lot to talk about. And now Plains feminist and I join in dialogue.

PF: I disagree with many points in this post. First, I would argue that feminism has *always* been about social justice. Women's oppression is an issue of social justice. Feminists of color have always fought for social justice for white women and people of color. Historically, feminist activism has rarely been narrowly concerned with only women's rights. RARELY. Sojourner Truth's speech was as much about being a person of color as it was about being a woman. Labor uprisings led by women were about workers' rights as much as women's rights. Indigenous movements led by women are feminist AND simultaneously about the survival of native peoples. This does not mean that feminism has *never* focused only on women's oppression, but my point is that reading as feminist only those actions and politics that focused so narrowly leaves out a great many examples of feminist activism. And it's this kind of selective memory that make "feminism" synonymous with "white middle-class feminism" for many, many people.”

Well, there isn’t going to be any economy in this post! There are layers and layers here. My first reaction in reading your response, was ooops she took me literally. Even so that doesn’t erase or account the difference in our perspectives. You see:

I’m scared. I want to talk about what scares me and why this is important to me and I think it important that we engage in this fashion because it’s honest and it’s from our hearts and not our heads.


There are things that I feel inadequate about as far as my early feminist experiences. I grew up in a physically abusive household in the fifties and sixties and I was waiting literally waiting for feminism to arrive. I first became aware of it in ’68 watching a fifteen second black and white clip on Walter Cronkite of women in sweat shirts and Jeans confronting men on Madison Ave. it was something called feminism and at the time where I was in undergrad school it was coming to my local theatre sometime soon. I promised myself I would to seek it out in graduate school and I did. The first class was the most exciting that I’ve ever been to because there were two men in the course and when they began talking about how bad patriarchy was, the prof interrupted them and said, “I’m sure that’s very important, but this class is for the experiences of women!!!!! WOW !!!! I had died and gone to heaven. Plunging headlong in my shame however, I must acknowledge that I was one a southern campus, an outpost in the stix of feminism. We spent a lot of time, aware that yes, we were on the edge of time, but having little clarity about where we were going. We didn’t expect Rowe and what a surprise that was! Yes, I made trips to DC and New York but I wasn’t in the center of things. We had a cohesive class and stayed together, traveling to conventions for many years. We few books, OBOS wasn’t quite out yet and one BIG BLACK lesbian whom we supported the hell out of. But above all, feminism was for and about women. Feminism was the ONLY place that was our home. It was the place we could call our own.

YES – Feminism has always been about social justice but it was woman centered. As I said to Jessica, when women are liberated social justice will have prevailed. So let me talk about fears and my concerns.

I FULLY understand the concerns of WOCs re a white feminism. The concerns of WOCs are well placed and I hear them.

BUT… I really have a deep disdain for multiple oppression theory. Veridical at it’s core, we recognize the division of social classes along lines of social power. BUT it’s sloppy and it’s sloppy as hell. When I say something so drastic I feel obligated to become very specific so as to paint with a brush having adequate detail for you to refute. That which troubles me is the phenomenological nature of multiple oppressions theory. Oppressions are seen to be acausal and universally equivalent. WHAT????!!!!!????? To a radical feminist this is heresy because as we see it, all patriarchal societies coalesced around the oppression of women which means that gendered oppression is the temporally fundamental or deepest of oppressions. We see them as neither acausal or equal by any means. But my suspicions and skepticism of this model runs far deeper. There is nothing more precious to me about feminism than it’s woman-centricity. We understand that minority women have a different relationship to men in their culture than do Caucasian women. Black men and black women are oppressed by whites and white men. Black feminism, then rightfully, sees me as benefitting from the oppression of black women. Black feminism urges the inclusion of the concerns of black men. Here’s what troubles me. This model has an insistence that I be working for the benefit of men. Somehow, I want to scream, not to be the eternal tug of war where heterosexual women want men to be a part of feminism. Like many radical feminists I want feminism to address the issues common to women as women. Feminists have always fought racism and violence of all forms and we always returned to center, which was women. There no doubt that we were pursuing social justice but I become ill when I hear that phrase near feminism. Because was “social justice” screams to me is that feminism is no longer my home, it’s everybodies home. While discussing younger women it is frequently very difficult to distinguish between their understanding of feminism and humanism and all too often, they don’t seem to understand the difference between the two or manifest any perturbations over a loss of woman-centeredness.

Returning home again, please let me say that these two approaches real, deeply effecting how feminism manifest itself. I remember a contemporary list I joined where there were local activity bulletins. For a year I watched the activities being listed. There were activities for:

Afghani women
African American Women
Latina Women
Anti-war

Hmmmmmm. For a year I wondered when feminists would have events. Yes ma’am this IS a true story. After about a year of wondering where the feminists were, it dawned on me that this WAS feminism. WHAT?!?!?! How can this be? We were cohesive. We met and worked together as women not as Aghani, African American and antiwar women. I would submit that the multiple oppressions model is hurting feminism in several ways:

It fragments us at a time when we need each other desperately. I’m not sure that it is not ghettoing us. How could I comment on that? As MacKinnon points out this model creates one huge huge minority. I hope we notice who is not represented in the list above. White women has become invisible. It appears that feminist attention goes to women in the margins and none to caucasian women. (For more information on this the reader is referred to MacKinnon’s Article called Between Theory and Practice or What is a White Woman anyway - Radically Speaking Bell and Klein). What the multiple oppressions model has done is to separate us and has diffused the movement to the point of unrecognizability.

My fear is that feminism will no longer be for women since we are always at the bottom of the food chain. I fear that this has been an almost deliberate stance to contrition to the backlash. I feel that this is a pressure by minority women, although I love them, I am losing my home. There I think that was a bottom line. You see, I want to work for women, out of principle I do not want to work for men. Some people will call that racist. I fiercely want to work on behalf of women.

I also take issue with your claim that young feminists in general don't read second wave lit, which is about as fair and as accurate as saying that second wavers don't read third wave lit. In other words: some do, some don't, but we can't paint everyone with the same brush. It often seems that a lot of the people who are complaining about one or the other haven't actually read the literature. But at the same time, a lot of us have.

I find that I can’t really tolerate third wave lit. I am old fashioned. The word “Cunt” is a man’s word to me and “reclaiming” has to be the worse idea I’ve run into. I can’t take a book called “cunt” seriously. I haven’t seen a thirdwave book that has even sounded interesting.


A valid criticism of *some* second wave ideology is that it insists on "woman" as a universal and doesn't accept that in doing so, it is defining "woman" as "white, middle-class, able-bodied," and so on - which is what ends up happening the minute you say that feminism is only about women. Such a statement ignores the reality of, for example, Black women's lives. Native American women's lives. It ignores working-class struggles. It ignores women with disabilities. And so on. And on.

“Whatever” on this one…. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from my favorite author:

The postmodern critique of feminism seems to assume that the “women” of feminist theory are all the same, homogeneous, a uniform unit. I do not know where they got this idea either. Not from me. They don’t say. This notion that everyone must be the same to have access to the label “women” is not an idea that operates in feminist theory to my knowledge. That uniformity is a standard theoretical property of a category does not mean that it is feminism’s concept of women. Women, in feminist theory, are concrete; they are not abstract. They are not sex or gender, they are marked and defined and controlled by it. Gender, in feminist analysis, is also observed to be powerfully binary in society, but not exclusively so; power divisions are observed to exist within sex-defined groups as well as between them, so also in the feminist theory of gender. MacKinnon – Points Against Postmodernism.

So what ever critique you are leveraging here, you aren’t leveraging it at feminism. At risk of being seen as being provocative, I am being provocative in using feminism in the singular. A little bit later, we’ll see that I haven’t always been a radical feminist but there are things that I do know about feminism. Although NOW existed, the founding and organizational principles of feminism were declared in October, 1968 by radical women. To the best of my knowledge we were the first to use the word “feminism”.

Second wave feminism, to my knowledge has never defined woman as monolith. That’s a postmodernism which has crept into the picture.

A valid criticism of *some* third wave ideology is that it doesn't seem informed by second wave ideology - there doesn't seem to be an understanding of what those ideologies were and are. It casts second wave feminists as anti-sex and anti-humor. It sometimes deals with issues like sex work less than critically.
I’m a political movement, not a standup comic. AND I’m a sex prude. I’m guilty. I’m sorry but you won’t find me discussing my clitoris anywhere and “downthere” is usually fine with me, although tonight it seems a little too prim.

“But let's remember that part of the second wave of feminism is also sex radical feminists, who challenge the anti-porn and anti-prostitution notions of other branches of the second wave.”

I wholly reject this for several reasons. Before I say why, I hope you’ll create the space for me to relate the process of my own radicalization. We left off in grad school about the time of Roe. I graduated and went to work and joined NOW and demonstrated and marched in abortion lines but NOW seemed like milktoast after graduate school. You’ll remember that I said earlier that there were few books. I was not a well read feminist because when we started there wasn’t much literature. In the late eighties, I began to encounter “feminists” who supported prostitution!!!! And then “feminists” who supported pornography. PF I sat down and actively considered giving up feminism but I couldn’t figure out how to replace it in my life and I began to look around and found a group of articulate who really seemed to know what they were talking about and they read radicals. I began reading but I’ll only read second wave literature. Although I have read some multiple oppressions theory and thirdwave writing, largely I’ve been turned off.

Sex radicals? What radical about them? Have they deconstructed ‘sex’ and adopted a whole new set of practices, devoid of the eroticization of dominance and male fetisches? Hell NO! They’ve migrated SM an adictive sexuality based upon the eroticism of dominance into the lesbian community almost destroying it in the mid to late eighties. Pornography? There’s absolutely NOTHING radical about that. The prostitution of women? WE KNOW both the former and the latter hurt women in so many different ways. I could not call anything within the so-called sex radical camp either radical or feminist.

The third wave is building on these well-respected, feminist thinkers, as well as on womanist and Black feminist and other feminists of color thought - The Combahee River Collective, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua. So in some ways, this division between the waves is artificial - it's not about generation, but rather about schools of thought that have continued, and continued to be in conflict with each other.
Oh yes, I agree with this!

In keeping with this, I also disagree as much with your categorizing of young feminists as I do with Valente's categorizing of feminists older than she is. I see just as much feminist policing going on within generations as I do between them. This particular practice has very little to do with age. I know radical feminists who are in college and sex radicals who could be my grandmothers. I see this policing happening in every identity political group - there are "dialogues" (read: near fistfights) about who is Jewish enough, lesbian enough, Black enough, Indian enough, working class enough, feminist enough.


Enough!

You can argue that certain things - miniskirts, heels - aren't feminist, but that doesn't make them not feminist. I will continue to wear my miniskirts and heels, and you can tell me until you're blue in the face that I'm not a feminist, but that won't undo the feminist work that I am doing, and it won't make me not a feminist simply because you say so.

Right on. It really is not for me to say whether you are feminist or not but I can say whether you practice is consistent with feminism. We have to be able to say because if we can’t we’ll never get anywhere.


The underlying issue here is about desire, and we feminists have never agreed among ourselves about desire.
I may be lost here. I do not know that I understand you. Are you referring to goals? What we want. One thing I know is that I believe as radicals do, that society as a whole, requires a reboot for the liberation of women and to be honest, I don’t think many people want that and for that reason, I’m not ooking for women to be liberated anytime soon.

But I think there is sometimes another issue here, and it's one you hint at and one that Baumgardner and Richards also note in their book Manifesta (which, for what it's worth, I don't think is a very good assessment of the issues in the movement) - it's this mother-daughter metaphor, this sense that feminist foremothers saw themselves as handing down a particular legacy to the younger generation and are pissed and frustrated that the younger generation isn't more grateful and doesn't seem to be carrying the torch. I understand that. I really do. But this is how it is: movements change. People come of political age in different environments. The political landscape changes. You can't expect that the movement you gave birth to will look the same, that feminism will look the same now or that it will meet the needs of young women today in the same way. You just can't.
And you were firm and I acknowledge that. I do not believe that young women are meeting their own needs today. They are numbed out and desensitized to their own bodies. Blowjobs are the equivalent to a good night kiss. As a generation technology as a third party is supplanting the ability to relate. But to discuss the turns in feminism, to be honest, I feel the world began to decline the moment that Ronald Reagan took office. I see that there’s been a horrible backlash. I see that the world has become more conservative……….
What’s worse I see that conservatism has been inculcated into today’s feminism and my heart is absolutely broken.

And this is the woman you're saying Jessica does not have a feminist ideology:

Or just a different kind of feminist than you are?


First of all I must acknowledge Ms. Valente’s work on behalf of women.

I’m not quite sure why but feministing is not highly respected at all among feminists that I know. Why in the hell does Feministing have an FTM as a moderator ?

Ms Valente coughs about the logo. Really is that how she wants to represent women? I am sure Hugh Hefner will align with that kind of feminism. And Jeez….. too much sex. To me sex is very personal. It just is.

Trinity... I don't care what you "think" the feminist analysis does not support what you "think".

" Whereas the second wave was very "if you play with this, you're encoding it in your brain as good and right!"

I hope you aren't seriously tendering this as an argument because it does not represent any kind of radical feminist argument.

"To someone like me, the second wavers are claiming I have no space to create a vibrant and fun world with the many materials around me."

When given a chance to speak for myself and you not speak for me, I would simply say that you are pertuating what is already in place. What you call "play" is actially the eroticization of dominance.

"And that's why I'm glad the word "allies" exists, and not so thrilled about the word "sisters" used any way other than literally. "

I was just reminded at the degree of discomfort I would have in calling a sex positive enthusiast, "sister".

K said...

Honestly, these kinds of discussions are exactly what generally keeps me away from feminist blogs, forums, etc. Seriously, with the shit that continues to happen to women in this state, in this country and, especially around the world, a lot of this stuff ends up coming off as extremely petty (and, when it comes to the 'who's read which literature' argument, pretty damned privileged). The mere mention of whether wearing a mini-skirt negates your feminism or not makes my head nearly explode. I'm not sure there could even be a more trivial argument. Things better be getting pretty good for women if we're focusing on that kind of crap.

From a practical standpoint, however, a lot of older feminists need to wake up. The prevailing attitude of, "Young women are spoiled, bratty, ungrateful, and apathetic. Gee whiz, why don't they want to be involved in our organizations?" has got to go. You can stick to your guns and hoard power and watch the movement die so there's no one out there fighting for issues that really matter, or you can suck it up and be open to some people that make you uncomfortable.

plain(s)feminist said...

My faith is in the universe is only a little shaken by your reference to stilettos and miniskirts. I guess it’s bad stereotyping but I would not have guessed that they had stilettos or miniskirts in ND.

I’m in SD, but: I don’t believe that clothes make – or unmake – the feminist. Isn’t one of the main points of feminism that we should not be judged by our looks?

But above all, feminism was for and about women. Feminism was the ONLY place that was our home. It was the place we could call our own.

But this is the central issue, isn’t it? That what was home to one cohort is not home to another, and it’s threatening when others who practice different kinds of feminism move in and change that space we call home. I have had moments in which I felt at home in feminism, broadly, but mostly when I was first discovering feminist community and getting to be part of larger events and groups that were about women. I know that amazing feeling. But very quickly I realized that there were significant enough differences between us – like the time I went to the feminist potluck with my feminist, Women’s Studies grad student peers and had a knock-down, drag-out, take-no-prisoners argument about whether or not I could be a feminist if I thought that some sex workers chose to go into sex work, or that we should warn college women to not get drunk at parties b/c men would try to rape them if they were drunk (I got told in the latter case that I was saying women were responsible for being raped, which was not what I was saying. I was saying that these women thought they were safe and partying with people who were their friends and who would take care of them, and they weren’t, and we knew it, and we should tell them.).

No home for me there, eh? But I did find that home within small friendship networks.

YES – Feminism has always been about social justice but it was woman centered.

Yes, but what that actually means in practice is quite different from what some feminists argue that that means. For instance, to separatist lesbians, being woman-centered meant leaving boy children to be raised by men. To WOC lesbian feminists, this had nothing to do with being woman-centered and everything to do with being white-centered. (I’m speaking in generalizations, of course.)

I really have a deep disdain for multiple oppression theory. …Oppressions are seen to be acausal and universally equivalent.

No. This is not what Barbara Smith, Gloria Anzaldua, or others who write about intersectionality and the multiplicity of identity are talking about. I don’t know whose theory you are referencing here, but what you’ve described is not what is being taught in Women’s Studies programs, I can guarantee you. The whole point is that oppressions are NOT hierarchical – there is no point in attempting to rank them. That doesn’t mean they are equal. That means that you can’t have a productive discussion about whether it is worse to have been enslaved or to have been raped or to have been the targets of genocide.

To a radical feminist this is heresy because as we see it, all patriarchal societies coalesced around the oppression of women which means that gendered oppression is the temporally fundamental or deepest of oppressions.

And this is where radical feminism differs from some other branches of feminism. Feminists agree that women are oppressed. Radical feminists are not the only feminists, and frankly I grow evermore resentful of the implication that radical feminism is the ONLY feminism. No, I don’t think that sexism is the primary or deepest oppression. I don’t think that it makes any sense to even think about the world in that way – but – I don’t see radical feminism as not feminist. I see it as having its weaknesses, but not as not feminist.

Black feminism urges the inclusion of the concerns of black men. Here’s what troubles me. This model has an insistence that I be working for the benefit of men. Somehow, I want to scream, not to be the eternal tug of war where heterosexual women want men to be a part of feminism. Like many radical feminists I want feminism to address the issues common to women as women.

Well, I have two reactions to this.
1. You personally can work for the benefit of whomever you choose, but if you are setting goals for a movement of a diverse group of people, then you have to consider what their needs and wants are, and not just your own.
2. Heterosexual women are going to continue to want men to be a part of feminism, as are bisexual and lesbian women who have men in their lives. You can choose to work in arenas that are just for women, but you can’t insist that all of feminist theory and all of feminist movement is going to focus solely on women just because you want it to.

Because was “social justice” screams to me is that feminism is no longer my home, it’s everybodies home. While discussing younger women it is frequently very difficult to distinguish between their understanding of feminism and humanism and all too often, they don’t seem to understand the difference between the two or manifest any perturbations over a loss of woman-centeredness.

Head. Nail. Hit. This uneasiness about the “home” being changed into something difference is exactly what I mentioned earlier, and again, I would say, this is the nature of movements. But also, you’re right that many of us – and I don’t think this is a generational thing, because at this point, I’m not so sure I’m a “younger feminist” any longer, but even if I am, I also know feminists older than me who are more humanist in their approach – see feminism as a form of humanism. I would bet, for example, that Christians and Jewish people who are also feminists might be likely to approach feminism via humanism.

Frankly, I think feminism can stand a good, healthy dose of humanism, when we have, for example, groups like NOW backing the bombing of Afghanistan to save the oppressed women, when Afghani feminists were begging the U.S. not to bomb but to act in other ways to help them. Did we listen? No. (And perhaps this is why it is necessary for women to meet as Afghani, anti-war, etc. – if mainstream American feminism is backing a war, there’s something wrong.)

It fragments us at a time when we need each other desperately. I’m not sure that it is not ghettoing us. How could I comment on that? As MacKinnon points out this model creates one huge huge minority. I hope we notice who is not represented in the list above. White women has become invisible. It appears that feminist attention goes to women in the margins and none to caucasian women. (For more information on this the reader is referred to MacKinnon’s Article called Between Theory and Practice or What is a White Woman anyway - Radically Speaking Bell and Klein). What the multiple oppressions model has done is to separate us and has diffused the movement to the point of unrecognizability.

No, what is fragmenting us is a white-centered feminism that is unwilling to address the needs of people with disabilities, people in poverty, people who don’t have health care, etc. The majority of the people in the last two categories are women and children. Women with disabilities are women, right? But I know feminists who refuse to, for example, not wear perfume to feminist meetings (though they’ve been asked to) because they feel it is oppressing their own identity which is dependent in part on having a particular scent (I suspect that they don’t really get what happens to people with environmental allergies).

And as a white woman, I don’t feel invisible in the movement. What are my issues as a white woman, and is the feminist movement addressing them? Right to abortion? Check. Right to birth control? Check. Right to make the same amount of money as a man doing my job? Check. Right to breastfeed in public? Check. Right to do feminist scholarship? Check. Right to advance in my job without hitting a glass ceiling? Check. Right not to be sexually harassed or raped? Check. The feminist movement is CENTERED on these issues and others like them.

But…if I were a woman of color? Right to not get stopped randomly by police while driving? Uhh… Right to not be harassed because of my race? Uhh… Right to not be followed around in a store by the clerk? Uhh…

If I were poor? Right to not be harassed when I apply for food stamps or welfare? Uhh… Right to make a living wage? Uhh… Right to have decent childcare for my kids and health care benefits for my family? Uhh…

If I had a disability? Right to have access to the many and varied technologies that would allow me to communicate with the world and to be independent? Right to have a say in my own medical treatment? Right to determine my own reproductive future?

I feel that this is a pressure by minority women, although I love them, I am losing my home. There I think that was a bottom line. You see, I want to work for women, out of principle I do not want to work for men. Some people will call that racist. I fiercely want to work on behalf of women.

But you’re saying two things here. First, you want to work for women. So work for women! There are plenty of ways that you can do that. Second, you’re saying that you feel that the interests of women of color – who are the majority, not the minority – are hurting your movement, though you love them. That is a much bigger issue, and there’s a lot to explore in that statement. I know that you are sincere and that when you say “although I love them” you are expressing genuine feeling. But this way of talking about people is infantilizing – it’s treating them like pets or children or something that you’re fond of but don’t take seriously. And I would further argue that it’s not love if you can’t care about their central issues. It is possible to work in coalition with women of color and to work only for women. But again, you can’t require that everyone draw their parameters in the same places that you do.

I find that I can’t really tolerate third wave lit. I am old fashioned. The word “Cunt” is a man’s word to me and “reclaiming” has to be the worse idea I’ve run into. I can’t take a book called “cunt” seriously. I haven’t seen a thirdwave book that has even sounded interesting.

It’s too bad that you can’t take Inga Muscio’s book seriously, as she advocates many of the kinds of actions that I think you would appreciate. (For instance, she suggests that women picket the office of a man who has sexually assaulted a woman, that they go in en masse and tell his boss what he’s done, that they picket his home.) There is something to that “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” adage. You should check it out. It’s interesting that my students see it as a call to feminism. They have called it “life-changing,” and they have talked about this book in the ways that you talk about coming to feminism.

I can understand – really - that you take issue with reclaiming, but you need to understand that many of us find it tremendously, awesomely empowering. I am not about forcing you to personally reclaim these words, but I hope you are open to understanding that something that doesn’t work for you may work for other people, that it isn’t a bad thing because it doesn’t appeal to you.

I have to say, though, that your last sentence of the above paragraph is really unimpressive. It doesn’t paint you in a good light. If a young woman said that about second wave literature, it would contribute to your sense that young feminists are ignorant of second wave feminism. What image do you convey, do you think, when you say something like this?

So what ever critique you are leveraging here, you aren’t leveraging it at feminism.

I am indeed. MacKinnon is not my personal feminist meter stick against whom I measure my arguments. She is one woman and has one view of feminism. I am looking at feminism historically and recognizing its different schools, branches, trends, and waves.

Second wave feminism, to my knowledge has never defined woman as monolith. That’s a postmodernism which has crept into the picture.

But it has. That is the whole point of claiming that women as a class are more oppressed than anyone else.

“But let's remember that part of the second wave of feminism is also sex radical feminists, who challenge the anti-porn and anti-prostitution notions of other branches of the second wave.”

I wholly reject this for several reasons.

Are you seriously arguing that Dorothy Allison, Pat Califia, Susie Bright, and others did not come out of the second wave?? That’s exactly where they originated and where their critique grew out of. Feminist historians are careful to include them in the second wave. They are PART of the wave. They may not be part of the anti-porn movement within the second wave, but the wave is bigger than the smaller schools of thought within it.

Sex radicals? What radical about them? Have they deconstructed ‘sex’ and adopted a whole new set of practices, devoid of the eroticization of dominance and male fetisches? Hell NO! They’ve migrated SM an adictive sexuality based upon the eroticism of dominance into the lesbian community almost destroying it in the mid to late eighties. Pornography? There’s absolutely NOTHING radical about that. The prostitution of women? WE KNOW both the former and the latter hurt women in so many different ways. I could not call anything within the so-called sex radical camp either radical or feminist.

I disagree with much of this, but I think this is one about which we have to agree to disagree.

“The underlying issue here is about desire, and we feminists have never agreed among ourselves about desire.”
I may be lost here. I do not know that I understand you. Are you referring to goals? What we want.

I’m referring to sexual desire.

I do not believe that young women are meeting their own needs today. They are numbed out and desensitized to their own bodies. Blowjobs are the equivalent to a good night kiss. As a generation technology as a third party is supplanting the ability to relate. But to discuss the turns in feminism, to be honest, I feel the world began to decline the moment that Ronald Reagan took office. I see that there’s been a horrible backlash.

I think what you say about young women is true for many (but also for not-so-young women, women your own age, even, who are doing the same things and adding botox treatments and boob lifts to the mix). And yes, the backlash began in the ‘80s.

I’m not quite sure why but feministing is not highly respected at all among feminists that I know. Why in the hell does Feministing have an FTM as a moderator ?

A lot of feminists don’t like the logo, which is hilarious to me b/c it’s using that logo in exactly its opposite context. It’s a visual joke, and it’s funny. (How many times have I had to see those damn mudflaps?!)

As for the FTM moderator, I don’t get why that’s a problem.

Ms Valente coughs about the logo. Really is that how she wants to represent women? I am sure Hugh Hefner will align with that kind of feminism.

No, I think the point is that thinking women who say “fuck you” to men trying to exploit them is NOT the kind of feminism that Hefner would align with.

I was just reminded at the degree of discomfort I would have in calling a sex positive enthusiast, "sister".

So does this mean feminists should be sex NEGATIVE?!

plain(s)feminist said...

This is from Trinity, who asked me to post this here, in response to Womansspace's comments:

Woman'sSpace:

I don't see women's oppression as fundamental in my life. In my own life I have been subjected to far more violence for having a disability than I ever have for being a woman. Yes, feminism is important. Yes, horrible things happen to women as women as a result of patriarchy. Yes, I am committed to fighting that.

But no, I do not put my womanhood first. I don't see why radical feminists like yourself demand that I ignore the murder of children with disabilities that I see happening constantly, or the social attitude that calls these killings merciful. That I only go back to caring about my people once I've handled sexism "first."

I don't see why I should buy the tenuous claim you put forth (many young women I know who call themselves radfems don't claim this, but for the sake of argument I will assume that you're right, and one cannot be "radical" without it) that sexist oppression happened first either -- societies have only recently stopped leaving babies born with disabilities to die. Why would society notice the weakness of women before it noticed the weakness of children born "palsied" or "deformed"? I've never seen any adequate argument that the oppression of people with disabilities didn't happen at the very start of human societies, yet the oppression of women somehow did.

And even if it did, why should I listen to people like you -- women without disabilities -- telling me what's most important, rather than to women like me? Because I guarantee they're not saying the same thing you are.

Danielle's Daily life said...

I used to worry about all this stuff. If I wear this, could I still be a feminist? (It isn't always mini skirts, it's often modest clothing, too).
Can I be a feminist and still go on a date? Can I be a feminist and work at a traditionally female job? And so on and so on...
Then, I grew up, and realized that if a certain label meant doing away with different little things that make me me, then it wasn't a label I should really be worried about having in the first place...

blacksweatpants said...

naive question from the youngster in back.

what is the difference between someone who claims to be a"feminist," and someone who cares about challenging patriarchy but doesn't claim to be a "feminist"?

and finally, it seems feminism will always be rife with these debates because it is a movement centered around questioning extant norms. i think questioning definitions could be a positive thing (as long as it's not the primary thing). the second everyone gets too comfortable with the norm is the second i'd run for the door.

Glaurung_quena said...

There's a lot I could argue with in Woman'sSpace's first comment, but I don't have a lot of time, so I'll stick to one thing:

Black feminism urges the inclusion of the concerns of black men. Here’s what troubles me. This model has an insistence that I be working for the benefit of men. Somehow, I want to scream, not to be the eternal tug of war where heterosexual women want men to be a part of feminism. Like many radical feminists I want feminism to address the issues common to women as women.

As a feminist, your goal is to transform society for the better by making it less sexist, right? And as a radical feminist, you feel that transformation has to be a fundamental change to the whole of society. But you don't want to work for the benefit of men, you only want to work for and with women.

Feminism, you feel, has nothing to offer to men, so there is no reason for men to become feminists or to help achieve feminist goals. You're going to radically transform the whole of society by only engaging with/talking to one half of the population. I don't get that.

So, is there anything about sexism that is bad for men, such that it is in men's interest to stop being sexist? If no, if sexism only benefits men, then the model for feminist action boils down to regarding men as the enemy.

To the contrary, I say, sexism harms men just as much as it harms women. It denies men access to the full range of being human just as much as it denies women their full humanity. Sexism makes men into emotional cripples, because it tells them they have to be "real men" and not "effeminate." Then women get a double dose of discrimination: cultural sexism tells them they have to be "real women" and not "mannish," while men trying to be "real men" beat and belittle them.

To get a little more concrete, look at movies or TV of the 50's and 60's. Women's roles are narrowly circumscribed. They can't earn a living by themselves, they can't be brave or strong in the face of danger, they can't use violence or the threat of it to protect themselves or others. As parents, they can only be mothers (they can nurture, but not disipline; they cannot be role models to their sons. But men's roles are just as narrowly defined: they must be the wage earners and are not allowed to devote themselves to maintaining a home for their loved ones; they must always be strong and brave, and are never allowed to display fear or grief or to weep; they must be violent, even when the best way to solve a problem is through conversation and negotiation. As parents they can only be fathers; they aren't allowed to nurture their children, or to be a role model for their daughters.

Now look at culture today. Women are (grudgingly) allowed to have careers. They are (grudgingly) allowed to be brave and strong, and to use violence (Alien Resurrection; Terminator 2). Thanks to feminism, women today are allowed (grudgingly, with caveats and limitations) to express a much fuller range of their humanity than they were in the 60's. But there's just as much sexism as ever; women are still raped and beaten, are still treated as less than fully human by many men.

And maybe that's because men's roles are just as narrowly circumscribed as ever; it's no longer an unheard of thing for a TV show to include a strong, tough female character who can kick ass. But male characters who can cry and be emotional are just as rare on TV now as they were in the 50's.

And that's why I think you are very, very wrong when you say that you don't want men to be included in feminism, and you only want feminism to address the needs and concerns of women.

WomansSpace said...

I feel like making broad concessions and changing formats since I don’t know what’s going to happen to me tomorrow. I was thinking about the racial issues issues earlier. And I will never forget the women who was in out courses. She was tall angry and formidable and half way the first course, a man blew her partners head with a shotgun. I realized this woman was of course a lesbian and then I look back and realize, I’ve never known any black heterosexual feminists. ALL of the black women I’ve know in feminism have been lesbians. I realized this after I spent a lot of time wondering why this affinity for men sounded so strange and so theoretical. It’s because it’s outside of my experience and felt so theoretical. So no, I don’t want black women as pets, I’ve just really never known a straight black feminist.

After I had that realization I realized that many of the differences between us and the excellent points that you’ve made are differences in perspectives that straight and lesbian feminists may have. This is sort of a preamble because I’ve already responded to some of the items and I realize how largest the differences are say a second wave lesbian and heterosexual feminists. Your basic second wave lesbian is unlikely to be highly tuned into rewards of miniskirts and stilletos.




Isn’t one of the main points of feminism that we should not be judged by our looks?




You’ll have to pardon me Plains, but I believe in a relation between theory and practice. If I’m wearing a miniskirt and stilettos – I’d to ask just who I’m wearing these for. I was thinking back and I realized that I was wearing miniskirts in the early eighties, but I was a heterosexual then. It’s been a quarter of a century later and I can’t remember why I wore miniskirts and thank goodness there were no stilettos back then. But I wasn’t a radical feminist back then either. But the question still remains: Who benefits? Do women benefit from stilettos and miniskirts? Somehow I doubt it but I’m willing to create some space for it. My thinking has nothing to do with judging anyone by their looks. My questions are always along the lines of, “Is this helping us transform society towards that peaceful revolution? Or is this entrenching us to where we’ve always been? These are the questions I’m always turning over.




WS:But above all, feminism was for and about women. Feminism was the ONLY place that was our home. It was the place we could call our own.

PF:
But this is the central issue, isn’t it? That what was home to one cohort is not home to another, and it’s threatening when others who practice different kinds of feminism move in and change that space we call home.




I also think there’s more. This is very important to me: Home = no men. Younger feminists usually come with men. And there are political differences as younger women seem to be instilled with Reagan individualism and liberalism.




I have had moments in which I felt at home in feminism, broadly, but mostly when I was first discovering feminist community and getting to be part of larger events and groups that were about women. I know that amazing feeling. But very quickly I realized that there were significant enough differences between us – like the time I went to the feminist potluck with my feminist, Women’s Studies grad student peers and had a knock-down, drag-out, take-no-prisoners argument about whether or not I could be a feminist if I thought that some sex workers chose to go into sex work, or that we should warn college women to not get drunk at parties b/c men would try to rape them if they were drunk (I got told in the latter case that I was saying women were responsible for being raped, which was not what I was saying. I was saying that these women thought they were safe and partying with people who were their friends and who would take care of them, and they weren’t, and we knew it, and we should tell them.).




What is salient for me in all of this is the way you care for women. Thank you! Sidenote: Perhaps this is a net thing, but more and more, I notice how we often speak for other women and impose out words upon them and to me that seems so violating. It’s an aggressive thing to do.




WS: YES – Feminism has always been about social justice but it was woman centered.




PF: Yes, but what that actually means in practice is quite different from what some feminists argue that that means. For instance, to separatist lesbians, being woman-centered meant leaving boy children to be raised by men. To WOC lesbian feminists, this had nothing to do with being woman-centered and everything to do with being white-centered. (I’m speaking in generalizations, of course.)





How incredibly wise for you point this out. I go back and think about the position of the Radicalesbians on this.




The writers asserted that both homosexuality and heterosexuality are categories created by a male-dominated culture and that “in a society in which men do not oppress women . . . [both] would disappear.” Although the document called upon women to “see in each other the possibility of a primal commitment which includes sexual love,” its purpose was not to divide women on the basis of their sexual orientation but rather to unite them in the common cause of valuing themselves for themselves, not for how they are defined by or with respect to men.




This is the quintessential second wave vision.

I’ll make reluctant concessions on multiple oppressions.




To a radical feminist this is heresy because as we see it, all patriarchal societies coalesced around the oppression of women which means that gendered oppression is the temporally fundamental or deepest of oppressions.

And this is where radical feminism differs from some other branches of feminism. Feminists agree that women are oppressed. Radical feminists are not the only feminists, and frankly I grow evermore resentful of the implication that radical feminism is the ONLY feminism. No, I don’t think that sexism is the primary or deepest oppression. I don’t think that it makes any sense to even think about the world in that way – but – I don’t see radical feminism as not feminist. I see it as having its weaknesses, but not as not feminist.




Black feminism urges the inclusion of the concerns of black men. Here’s what troubles me. This model has an insistence that I be working for the benefit of men. Somehow, I want to scream, not to be the eternal tug of war where heterosexual women want men to be a part of feminism. Like many radical feminists I want feminism to address the issues common to women as women.




Well, I have two reactions to this.




1. You personally can work for the benefit of whomever you choose, but if you are setting goals for a movement of a diverse group of people, then you have to consider what their needs and wants are, and not just your own.




2. Heterosexual women are going to continue to want men to be a part of feminism, as are bisexual and lesbian women who have men in their lives. You can choose to work in arenas that are just for women, but you can’t insist that all of feminist theory and all of feminist movement is going to focus solely on women just because you want it to.




Because was “social justice” screams to me is that feminism is no longer my home, it’s everybodies home. While discussing younger women it is frequently very difficult to distinguish between their understanding of feminism and humanism and all too often, they don’t seem to understand the difference between the two or manifest any perturbations over a loss of woman-centeredness.




Head. Nail. Hit. This uneasiness about the “home” being changed into something difference is exactly what I mentioned earlier, and again, I would say, this is the nature of movements. But also, you’re right that many of us – and I don’t think this is a generational thing, because at this point, I’m not so sure I’m a “younger feminist” any longer, but even if I am, I also know feminists older than me who are more humanist in their approach – see feminism as a form of humanism. I would bet, for example, that Christians and Jewish people who are also feminists might be likely to approach feminism via humanism.




Frankly, I think feminism can stand a good, healthy dose of humanism, when we have, for example, groups like NOW backing the bombing of Afghanistan to save the oppressed women, when Afghani feminists were begging the U.S. not to bomb but to act in other ways to help them. Did we listen? No. (And perhaps this is why it is necessary for women to meet as Afghani, anti-war, etc. – if mainstream American feminism is backing a war, there’s something wrong.)


Feminism is above all, non-violent so I’d agree with you that something is very wrong if NOW is supporting bombing a country. That’s clearly power-over. On the other hand, NOW is liberal feminism.




We do clearly part on the issue of humanism. At it’s inception, second wave feminism borrows heavily upon humanism, but I see a huge difference between feminism and humanism. Humanism is supposedly for all people and therefore it’s an inevitability that women will take a back seat in a humanist movement. I do not believe there has ever been a movement where this did not happen. Left-wing mistreatment of radical women was what started the second wave. Black men did not treat Black women in an egalitarian manner in the civil rights movement. I am unaware of a single political movement where women have ever received equal time. When there are movements of this kind, men tend to piggy back on women’s gains (such as paternity leave when women receive maternity leave) and thusly, through this kind of egalitarianism, the system of inequalities is very equitably maintained. I would be really opposed to this.




PF: “No, what is fragmenting us is a white-centered feminism that is unwilling to address the needs of people with disabilities, people in poverty, people who don’t have health care, etc. The majority of the people in the last two categories are women and children. Women with disabilities are women, right? But I know feminists who refuse to, for example, not wear perfume to feminist meetings (though they’ve been asked to) because they feel it is oppressing their own identity which is dependent in part on having a particular scent (I suspect that they don’t really get what happens to people with environmental allergies).”




Interesting – the lesbian community is pretty good about this. It’s also sad about PWDs even needing a feminist support. The MWMF has had a DART, disabled resources team for the inclusion of disabled women. That’s something I’m really proud of.




And it’s seemed like to me that feminists have always embraced PWDs.




And as a white woman, I don’t feel invisible in the movement. What are my issues as a white woman, and is the feminist movement addressing them? Right to abortion? Check. Right to birth control? Check. Right to make the same amount of money as a man doing my job? Check. Right to breastfeed in public? Check. Right to do feminist scholarship? Check. Right to advance in my job without hitting a glass ceiling? Check. Right not to be sexually harassed or raped? Check. The feminist movement is CENTERED on these issues and others like them.




It’s strange. I live in the DC suburbs. We used to have tons of abortion and women’s right marches and the last one I remember was the March for Women’s lives. It just not feel as if we are doing things. One thing is true, there are no feminist gatherings. Several years ago we mustered six people for a CR group but it never took off. Younger women did not want to call themselves feminists, preferring “activists”. So my question to you is where is this movement in action, or do you just send checks? We can’t get a feminist meet-up in this huge metropolitan area for lack of interest.




But…if I were a woman of color? Right to not get stopped randomly by police while driving? Uhh… Right to not be harassed because of my race? Uhh… Right to not be followed around in a store by the clerk? Uhh…




And the right to keep her fetus and reproductive system intact. Black women are much more likely to receive tubal ligations than white women. Black women have an extensively different relationship with “choice” than white women and this is why the March for women’s lives changed its name three times.




If I were poor? Right to not be harassed when I apply for food stamps or welfare? Uhh… Right to make a living wage? Uhh… Right to have decent childcare for my kids and health care benefits for my family? Uhh…




If I had a disability? Right to have access to the many and varied technologies that would allow me to communicate with the world and to be independent? Right to have a say in my own medical treatment? Right to determine my own reproductive future?




I feel that this is a pressure by minority women, although I love them, I am losing my home. There I think that was a bottom line. You see, I want to work for women, out of principle I do not want to work for men. Some people will call that racist. I fiercely want to work on behalf of women.




PF:But you’re saying two things here. First, you want to work for women. So work for women! There are plenty of ways that you can do that. Second, you’re saying that you feel that the interests of women of color – who are the majority, not the minority – are hurting your movement, though you love them. That is a much bigger issue, and there’s a lot to explore in that statement. I know that you are sincere and that when you say “although I love them” you are expressing genuine feeling. But this way of talking about people is infantilizing – it’s treating them like pets or children or something that you’re fond of but don’t take seriously. And I would further argue that it’s not love if you can’t care about their central issues. It is possible to work in coalition with women of color and to work only for women. But again, you can’t require that everyone draw their parameters in the same places that you do.




I have a concern when anyone, not just minority women but anyone wants to bring men into the movement and this is a second wave/third wave difference. The third wave is far more inclusive of men and its language accommodates them because the thirdwave is more heteronormative the second wave by far.




THERE ARE ISSUES OF HETERONORMATIVY HERE. The rules are “lesbians lose”. I’m not even trying to play the lesbian card, but those are clearly the rules. It is the way the world works even in feminism..




I do not see feminism as being for men. Let them go and be humanist. The more I think of it your examples earlier of the more questionable they become meaning the Humanist Jew or the Humanist other person. Why should they not feel they can colonize feminism? When I look at these issues and your and my differences along lines of sexual orientation, I believe I look less insane. I believe our differences become a lot more understandable. I think it may make perfect sense for a heterosexual woman to want feminism to “be more humanist” and very understandable. It also makes perfect sense that why that is not a lesbian vision.




It’s too bad that you can’t take Inga Muscio’s book seriously, as she advocates many of the kinds of actions that I think you would appreciate. (For instance, she suggests that women picket the office of a man who has sexually assaulted a woman, that they go in en masse and tell his boss what he’s done, that they picket his home.) There is something to that “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” adage. You should check it out. It’s interesting that my students see it as a call to feminism. They have called it “life-changing,” and they have talked about this book in the ways that you talk about coming to feminism.




I shared with you earlier that I was eighteen and my sister was sixteen when we first heard the word “rape”. I was thirty and she was twenty-eight when we both first heard the word “Cunt”. That’s right, there was a time and place where you could live for thirty years and never hear the word “cunt” and only hear the word “pussy” maybe three times. Once a decade isn’t bad. (It’s gives you plenty of time to recover.) I was so naïve that when I was called a cunt, I didn’t know what it meant. When you are insulted and you don’t know the insult, have never heard the word, don’t know what it means… it’s not a visceral experience, it’s cognitive. I realized I had just been insulted by a four letter word. It had a “c” and a “u”. Hmmmm, they are usually sexual…. But no… someone really couldn’t be calling me a vagina? Could they?

I’m sorry. The word just has to much disrespect. I was called a cunt in the human potential movement and at the end of the training they told us that a cunt a powerful, striving woman who knew what she wanted and I used cunt in that vein for a while in a complimentary sense, but the world soon shut that down. Over the years, I’ve learned how men use it and I am sickened by it. It’s a hate word.




Confessional time: I have reverence for vulva/vaginas. They are more than meat to me. There is something spiritual about them. I find that younger women learn far more toward the “meat end” of the continuum to me and I feel saddness when I encounter this. How how in good conscience could I read a book called “Cunt”. How could I pick it up and read it? Would I not be betraying something I hold precious? Would I not be validating “meat” and even more specifically objectification? I mean it hurt me every time I hear a woman refer to her cunt. It seems so fucking insensitive. And always I have heard “cunts” talked about by women in the same detached tones that men use. NEVER have I heard a women speak lovingly about her cunt, her vagina yes, but never “cunt”.




When “cunt” is used….it’s meat.




My last relationship was with a much younger women. She felt free in talking about her clitoris or vagina on the net. I was sort of horrified and she would say, yeah but when you don’t talk about them that connotes shame.

“Or specialness”, I said.




It is difficult for me to pickup that book because I feel I would be joining the meat conspiracy, I don’t want a cunt. I like my vulva/vagina (thank you). It’s a matter of conscience that I can not read that book.




PF: I can understand – really - that you take issue with reclaiming, but you need to understand that many of us find it tremendously, awesomely empowering. I am not about forcing you to personally reclaim these words, but I hope you are open to understanding that something that doesn’t work for you may work for other people, that it isn’t a bad thing because it doesn’t appeal to you.




I hear your appeal and it’s compelling. But what I also see and hear are whiskered faces, with bulging eyes and veins and teeth gritted through misogynistic hatred and they use ugly words for women’s body parts to label what they hate, fear and envy and want to belittle and demean and we give the power to name and we wear the words and begin sounding like them and when I really listen….. too much like them. I think it may appear to work but the envelopes and subtexts have a detachment that I hear and wonder if “works” is really an apt term and “uneasy truce” is not a better description.




PF: I have to say, though, that your last sentence of the above paragraph is really unimpressive. It doesn’t paint you in a good light. If a young woman said that about second wave literature, it would contribute to your sense that young feminists are ignorant of second wave feminism. What image do you convey, do you think, when you say something like this?




First of all, after many years of talking to young women, I have yet to meet one that wasn’t a radical feminist who seemed to have any apprecaite or understand second literature at all. What I have discerned is an overall attitude of either passé or irrelevant. That’s almost a universal message that I receive. I know there are things I’m looking for. I want to read indepth analyses that have continuity with the second wave that seem to come from the same foundations and I have yet to detect those.

If I don’t come across in a good light, well that’s feedback because I’m pretty disliked by young feminists. Honestly, it doesn’t seem to me as if we want the same thing. I’d like to be liked but the ideologies really are different. I don’t think I could honestly rewire myself to align with younger feminists and I recognize that’s about me and my choice.




WS:So what ever critique you are leveraging here, you aren’t leveraging it at feminism.




PF: I am indeed. MacKinnon is not my personal feminist meter stick against whom I measure my arguments. She is one woman and has one view of feminism. I am looking at feminism historically and recognizing its different schools, branches, trends, and waves.





It took me decades to find MacKinnon. When I began reading her I was astounded at the extent to which we were in agreement. What MacKinnon has done is to simply put words to many things I felt. I believe she is the clearest head feminism has ever seen. She and Dworkin made an incredible. (I have great difficulty read Dworkin). It’s ok to reject MacKinnon, but what I have yet to do is so anyone find fault in her analyses. Although after seeing Hearts Board, there are places that they have made MacKinnon wrong.




PF: Second wave feminism, to my knowledge has never defined woman as monolith. That’s a postmodernism which has crept into the picture.

But it has. That is the whole point of claiming that women as a class are more oppressed than anyone else.





What? Most oppressed? Are we back to the oppression olympics? Radical feminists experienced gendered oppression and began a poltical movement to end that. No movement has ever experienced the sustained resistance the radical feminism has.




This isn’t stated in any radical feminism I ever read as a matter of fact when I read radical feminism it’s always richer than how it is represented in replays of what people think radical feminism is about.




Are you seriously arguing that Dorothy Allison, Pat Califia, Susie Bright, and others did not come out of the second wave?? That’s exactly where they originated and where their critique grew out of. Feminist historians are careful to include them in the second wave. They are PART of the wave. They may not be part of the anti-porn movement within the second wave, but the wave is bigger than the smaller schools of thought within it.




You know, I’ve never had a chance to read much Dorothy Allison. I just looked her up and read a little about her. I think I’d like to read more of her.




BUT




The other two yes they are second wave and I just have to say it. I have little respect for either Pat Califia or Suzy Bright. I just don’t. No wave is perfect. I just do not feel that are a part of feminism.




PF: “The underlying issue here is about desire, and we feminists have never agreed among ourselves about desire.”




WS: I may be lost here. I do not know that I understand you. Are you referring to goals? What we want.




PF: I’m referring to sexual desire.




There may be poorer people to get into a discussion on sexual desire than I but I believe you’d have to look long to find them because I am one of the worse. I must be part vulcan. I normally have no sexual desire. Every five or six years I feel an intense sexual desire for two or three days and then, thankfully it’s gone.

If we got serious for a moment. We probably won’t ever agree on sexual desire. I do not want to be in the business of sex in any size, shape or form. Yet, I agree with radical feminists who see the eroticization of dominance as being a major piece of glue that holds patriarchy together. GASP, yes, I am one of those feminists that doesn’t support SM. But I don’t want the role of sex police.




Other women seem to be down on radical feminists because we don’t write books on sex or give sex education. Radical feminists, in turn, ask back, “Why is this our job?” Why are we supposed to instruct other women on how to have sex.




Sometimes I think it would be a good idea if we did. I’ve been partnered with radical feminists. It really is not different from other relationships indeed but probably does in context. When I free associate, the words that come to mind are, tender, egalitarian, loving and respectful. That’s how to have sex.




Numbing:




And we talked about the numbing and I am numb. I used to have a noticeable internal response to words like cunt and pussy (ugh). After years on feminist boards, I don’t anymore and regret that. I feel as if something has been taken away something that I didn’t want taken away. I am numb and I one who never seeks the erotic. Think what is so even for the mildly adventuresome.




PF: (How many times have I had to see those damn mudflaps?!)




Mudflaps? Midflaps? Are there pictures like those on mudflaps? I didn’t know that.




PF: As for the FTM moderator, I don’t get why that’s a problem.




(Here is where I lose my one reader…but I have to be honest about this.)




I see two problems. I don’t believe men should have any leadership roles in feminism and I’d don’t want to see feminism diverted by trans issues. I believe the trans movement and trans ideology has serious flaws built in designed to sell acceptance to a patriarchal public. But the trans movement has to be one of the most insight-free movements I’ve ever seen. When I try to challenge it one of two things happen

1.) I am thrown off the list or board

2.) There is an initial engagement and correspondents evaporate – but issues are never addressed.




I think having an FTM as moderator on a board is worse than having a man because the FTM will inevitably fixate ad nauseum on trans issues mono-manaically




This may be my last post… I don’t know. I hope you respond. At any rate, I’m sure I’ve alienated my one reader by now.




WS

WomansSpace said...

I want to apologize for the large amount of wasted space in my last post. Indeed many may feel that all of it was wasted but Blogger kept taking formatting issues where Wordpress took none.

Glaurung_quena: Feminism, you feel, has nothing to offer to men, so there is no reason for men to become feminists or to help achieve feminist goals. You're going to radically transform the whole of society by only engaging with/talking to one half of the population. I don't get that.

First of all, I think feminism has a tremendous amount of to offer men. But there’s a problem. Men don’t aggregate and do this work, they let women do it. This is a movement for women and not for men.

So, is there anything about sexism that is bad for men, such that it is in men's interest to stop being sexist? If no, if sexism only benefits men, then the model for feminist action boils down to regarding men as the enemy.

I think there is an enormous amount in sexism that hurts men. I also think it’s for them to recognize and deal with.

To the contrary, I say, sexism harms men just as much as it harms women. It denies men access to the full range of being human just as much as it denies women their full humanity. Sexism makes men into emotional cripples, because it tells them they have to be "real men" and not "effeminate." Then women get a double dose of discrimination: cultural sexism tells them they have to be "real women" and not "mannish," while men trying to be "real men" beat and belittle them.

I agree. When there are classes such as the gendered classes, the work of the dominant class is always sloughed off onto the subordinate class. Rape is a men’s issue not a women’s issue but how many men do you see worrying about rape?

To get a little more concrete, look at movies or TV of the 50's and 60's. Women's roles are narrowly circumscribed. They can't earn a living by themselves, they can't be brave or strong in the face of danger, they can't use violence or the threat of it to protect themselves or others. As parents, they can only be mothers (they can nurture, but not disipline; they cannot be role models to their sons. But men's roles are just as narrowly defined: they must be the wage earners and are not allowed to devote themselves to maintaining a home for their loved ones; they must always be strong and brave, and are never allowed to display fear or grief or to weep; they must be violent, even when the best way to solve a problem is through conversation and negotiation. As parents they can only be fathers; they aren't allowed to nurture their children, or to be a role model for their daughters.

I grew up in those times and there is some truth to what you say. But there have always been professional women in the movies (Look at almost any Doris Day movie) and TV and yes the roles were circumscribed. We are in agreement about the roles. I want to see men work and not ride on what women have done.

Now look at culture today. Women are (grudgingly) allowed to have careers. They are (grudgingly) allowed to be brave and strong, and to use violence (Alien Resurrection; Terminator

2). Thanks to feminism, women today are allowed (grudgingly, with caveats and limitations) to express a much fuller range of their humanity than they were in the 60's. But there's just as much sexism as ever; women are still raped and beaten, are still treated as less than fully human by many men.


True. Capitalism has learned how to exploit women well. But until we begin to address basal currencies such as power over, little is going to change.

And maybe that's because men's roles are just as narrowly circumscribed as ever; it's no longer an unheard of thing for a TV show to include a strong, tough female character who can kick ass. But male characters who can cry and be emotional are just as rare on TV now as they were in the 50's.

We have regressed because in the seventies we were doing far better and brutality came back into vogue with Reagan. The backlash started up and men began more rigid gender policing of men. This is ALL about male dominance, that’s a necessary ingredient for male dominance.

And that's why I think you are very, very wrong when you say that you don't want men to be included in feminism, and you only want feminism to address the needs and concerns of women.

We really have not disagreed on very much. I agree with all of you observations.

I don’t think you fully understood what I see is needed. I think men need a parallel movement but one that is not about beating tom-toms.

Glaurung_quena said...

Woman'sSpace said:

I don’t think you fully understood what I see is needed. I think men need a parallel movement but one that is not about beating tom-toms.

and elsewhere she also said:

I have little respect for either Pat Califia or Suzy Bright. I just don’t. No wave is perfect. I just do not feel that are a part of feminism.

I think our basic difference is that you see feminism as about a struggle for women's liberation. A struggle to change the lives and conditions of women only. And you get to set the terms of who counts as a woman, and what counts as liberation, and who/what doesn't count as part of that struggle.

That attitude reminds me a lot of first wave feminism, which started out with the goal of reforming society and the law so that women would be treated as fully adult human beings. And they accomplished a great deal. But ultimately the movement died out, with women still treated as subhuman and/or as children by the law and by society. And one reason for that, I thought, when I looked at the history back in college, was that the movement splintered into a lot of little groups, each of which cut itself off from all the others in the effort to make itself more acceptable to the mainstream. "Oh, don't worry, we don't want X, we just want Y." And then each bit burned itself out in the struggle to get that one thing pushed into law.

Sexism is a hydra: if you say you are only going to work against one head, whether in the name of ideological purity (feminism is for womyn only, you straight girls/boys/perverts can go build their own treehouse) or for the sake of broadening your support base (yes Reverend Falwell, we think those skin magazines are just horrible too), you're going to lose.

I see feminism as about a struggle to eradicate sexism. A struggle to radically alter society's organization and thinking about sex and gender for the betterment of all human beings. Which means it's a struggle on the part of everyone -- male, female, or transgendered; straight, bi, or gay; vanilla or kinky -- who feels that the current structuring of sex and gender is twisted and hurtful and wrong.

It's a pity feminists like you go around insisting that feminists like me are not entitled call ourselves feminists... which, going back to the original post, is probably a big reason why so many women are more interested in struggling for "social justice" than for "feminism" -- because they don't have to have a knock down drag out fight with people like you just to get permission to use the term.

sallysunshine_26 said...

Since its laundry day and I’ve been digging around in my closet anyway, I’ve taken the liberty of counting all my mini-skirts. Fellow bloggers, I knew there was going to be quite a few, but was shocked when I found I had 19 of em’! Can you believe it? This bi-sexual, sex positive, iron fist in a velvet glove feminist has nineteen mini-skirts! Somebody call the top secret sisterhood police, clearly I must be supporting the patriarchy! Maybe a mini-skirt intervention would be in order here, as I have been damaged badly by third wave propaganda.

Woman’s Space said: “ You’ll have to pardon me Plains, but I believe in a relation between theory and practice. If I’m wearing a miniskirt and stilettos – I’d to ask just who I’m wearing these for. I was thinking back and I realized that I was wearing miniskirts in the early eighties, but I was a heterosexual then. It’s been a quarter of a century later and I can’t remember why I wore miniskirts and thank goodness there were no stilettos back then. But I wasn’t a radical feminist back then either. But the question still remains: Who benefits? Do women benefit from stilettos and miniskirts? Somehow I doubt it but I’m willing to create some space for it. My thinking has nothing to do with judging anyone by their looks. My questions are always along the lines of, “Is this helping us transform society towards that peaceful revolution? Or is this entrenching us to where we’ve always been? These are the questions I’m always turning over.”

Woman Space brings up an interesting point. Just who, in God’s name, am I wearing these 19 different miniskirts for?

First off, in MY mini-skirt wearing days, I mostly wore them to the gay bar. I really enjoyed flirting it up with other women in my ubber-girlie attire. I also relished the thought of being an object of desire for those women. FOR WOMEN ONLY, that is. However, if I would’ve been at a straight venue, it makes no difference. Desire is desire- which brings up the whole issue of “fun feminism”. It seems that SOME second wavers (Women’s Space included) would like to maintain the view that feminism should be a sexless trip to dullsville. Woman’s Space herself said that she only has sexual feelings once or twice in a great while. Now, what she does in her bedroom is her business, but seriously, we can’t all be expected to be as pious.

People always have had (feminists included) varying levels of sexual needs and styles of expressing it. But, I will not tolerate others (even pious second-wavers) dictating how I will express it. The key word here is CONTROL. As a fellow feminist, Woman’s Space would like to have control over the types of clothes I have in my closet, whether I practice S&M, watch porn, or let a trans-gendered person moderate my blog. Because clearly if I engage in any of these activities, I am not a true feminist. How very presumptuous for one to assume that others should conform to their vision, and their vision only. Any decent *movement* should have room for varying opinions AND- (do I really need to say this?)-- all types of clothing preferences. To Woman’s Space: I hope you aren’t offended by what I’ve written. I sympathize with your feelings of being terrified of change. From what you’ve written, I understand that the movement you were waiting for in the 50’s and 60’s is very different from the movement today, but as feminists, clinging blindly to the status quo (whether in our own movement or outside of the movement) is dangerous. We must adapt and move on.

Woman'sSpace said...

" Woman’s Space herself said that she only has sexual feelings once or twice in a great while."

I really wish people would READ instead of this kind of paraphrasing.

I said I have no sexual drive which is different from having no sexual feelings.

What this really means... is that I have sexual feelings when I'm in bed with a partner... but when I not with a partner, thoughts about sex, wanting sex, needing sex is not a part of my experience and I feel like that's a blessing.

Otherwise, it's been a thought filled day and you have had many fine things to say. I think I'm going to go compose.

Woman'sSpace said...

" The key word here is CONTROL. As a fellow feminist, Woman’s Space would like to have control over the types of clothes I have in my closet, whether I practice S&M, watch porn, or let a trans-gendered person moderate my blog."

I am going to stay within PFs guidelines and engage you respectfully but I do not like being spoken.

It's a long standing feminist tradition that this not be done.

I will respond I really don't like this kind of shit.

WomansSpace said...

“iron fist in a velvet glove feminist has nineteen mini-skirts!”
“Difference is the velvet glove covering the iron fist of dominance.”

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I do not think feminism is going anywhere nor do I believe it is any kind of threat to patriarchy at all. I believe the feminism is exactly where patriarchy wants it be. I don’t believe there’s going to be a revolution. I want to examine why:
“The key word here is CONTROL. As a fellow feminist, Woman’s Space would like to have control over the types of clothes I have in my closet, whether I practice S&M, watch porn, or let a trans-gendered person moderate my blog.”
It’s because of this line of thinking. Looking not at the content but at the “comefrom”, the comefrom is wholly narcissistic and about me,me,me. There is no apparent awareness that behaviors have consequences or if there is the awareness id about everyone else’s behavior but yours. There doesn’t appear to be any concern for a movement, instead ALL concern seems focused on self. This is basic white male individualism and shows very little feminist awareness.
I don’t want control. I’d like to see you take responsibility for a movement that was started on your behalf. I’d like to see women your age acknowledge that behavior in society has social consequences and IF you are feminist, I’d like to see more then “wishing you healing white light and happiness”, because if we don’t see massive shifts there really aren’t going to be any truly noticeable social changes.
What I’d like to do see would be YOU acting as if you wanted the world to change. I’m a lesbian, I’ve never wanted to be anyone’s object of desire. To be honest, it’s not fun when men gaze and it’s not more fun when women do it. If it’s ok to be an object for a woman, why not men? WTF?
I’d like to see you know that you are not a special case and that porn HARMS women in many ways. You want to watch porn? Ok Then admit that you are supporting an oppressive institution of male dominance that hurts women AND spend no time wondering why things don’t get better for women because YOU are the reason that patriarchy keeps on ticking and I want to see you take responsibility for that.
Want to do SM? OK, Fine. But be willing to acknowledge that male dominance is born out of the eroticization of dominance experienced in power differentials, in other words, power-over becomes an erotic turn on. Get out your French maids uniform and your garter belt and your riding crop but before your do, please acknowledge that it is YOU who is playing an active part in holding patriarchy together because if power-over turns you on in the bedroom, it’s going to turn you at the supermarket and it’s going to turn you on at the office. DO NOT go to your Thursday night feminist brunch and tell people what you are doing for the people of women because you are doing the same exact thing that every other patriarch is doing. You’re it! You are a part of it. You’re making it go. You’re making it work.

No, I wouldn’t let a “transgendered” person do anything until they can show me that they can think. The simultaneous insistence they are “transgended” while recognizing that gender is a social construct is a serious philosophical problem. Yet I notice that “transpeople” absolutely need gender as a concept to talk about their experiences. They are paralyzed when not being able to talk about gender. I understand gender to be a power structure. Trans people want it to be a mysterious force in the universe that they have (of course.) What I am saying is that I will not participate in the practice of treating husbands and fathers as if they are women.
“It seems that SOME second wavers (Women’s Space included) would like to maintain the view that feminism should be a sexless trip to dullsville.”

I see feminism as a political revolution. Why must we involve sex in bringing about a meaningful poltical revolution? What is “sexy” about that. You see I think the fact the a woman is raped ever four minutes makes is serious business. I think it’s not funny like I think life and death are not funny.

Glaurung_quena said...

I think our basic difference is that you see feminism as about a struggle for women's liberation.

Yes, I’ve been stuck with this limitation for 39 years now.

The shift from radical women to radical feminists occurred on October 17, 1968, when a group of feminists designated them¬selves as "The Feminists" with organizing principles set out on June 13, 1969. Radical feminism named and associated itself with "women's liberation" as opposed to "women's rights" and saw themselves as part of a movement rather than a specialized interest group."
Silly me. This might be why I think it’s about women’s liberation.

A struggle to change the lives and conditions of women only. And you get to set the terms of who counts as a woman, and what counts as liberation, and who/what doesn't count as part of that struggle.

Am I not allowed to have an idea who I consider to be a woman? Are you going to insist that I must associate with husbands and fathers in dresses and insist that I pretend that I perceive them as women when THEY have said they are men and when THEY have chosen to live as men. How is it that I get to be the insane one when I say simple things like, “husbands and father’s are not women.” And I happen to agree with them: They are men.

And while we’re at and I’ll offend my one reader, I’m sure… I think the fundamental starting position of the trans movement is fucked and it is oppressive to women. I believe the trans movement is insulting to women in multifaceted ways. In many way it reduces women to breasts, hormones and vaginas and totally discounts women’s narratives.

I am not so naïve as to believe that the conditions for women can be changed without causing shifts in the conditions for men. I say that it’s a necessity that men do this for themselves for it to be meaningful.

From what you’ve written, I understand that the movement you were waiting for in the 50’s and 60’s is very different from the movement today, but as feminists, clinging blindly to the status quo (whether in our own movement or outside of the movement) is dangerous. We must adapt and move on.

I perceive the movement now to be much more ineffectual and far more apathethic than the movement I was in. I have the advantage of having been around when the movement was strong and it’s true I am still in mourning the loss of my movement , I wish there something that taught me something that excited me about the thirdwave.

Renegade Evolution said...

"It’s strange. I live in the DC suburbs. We used to have tons of abortion and women’s right marches and the last one I remember was the March for Women’s lives. It just not feel as if we are doing things. One thing is true, there are no feminist gatherings. Several years ago we mustered six people for a CR group but it never took off. Younger women did not want to call themselves feminists, preferring “activists”. So my question to you is where is this movement in action, or do you just send checks? We can’t get a feminist meet-up in this huge metropolitan area for lack of interest."

You know, I live in that area too, and went to the very same march you mentioned, but I have to ask, really, due to the great divide between 2nd/3rd wave, radical/sex pos...mini skirts or no mini skirts, and dare I say it, the great sex work contraversy...just how many 2nd wavers are going to welcome, let alone TOLERATE me and other feminists like me at their meetings, events, rallies or other assorted gatherings...and how many of us are going to even bother trying when we are treated "poorly"...to put it mildly. When one cannot even refer to a feminist of widely differing views or lifestyle as anything other than a "feminist", well, it's discouraging. And angering. It does not, in many ways, create a "woman friendly" vibe in the least, and that is where the "clique" attitude comes from, and why people get enraged about it. Trinity, who from my understanding is not only a woman living with disabilities but a dominant female, by her own desire and choice within the BDSM community, is also a feminist. Heart, who is very straight forward about putting women first and her radical stance, is a feminist. Plain(s) is a feminist. And yep, even little old me, I'm a feminist. Not "feminists", we're all feminists. And overlooking, perhaps, the ocassionally very valuable ally.

plain(s)feminist said...

Blacksweatpants asked:
what is the difference between someone who claims to be a"feminist," and someone who cares about challenging patriarchy but doesn't claim to be a "feminist"?

I'd say there's little difference. I differ with a lot of feminists in that I'm less concerned that everyone wear the feminist name tag if they support the movement. That said, I hate it when people disavow feminism because they're afraid of what the word "feminism" might communicate, for ex., that they're afraid if they say they're feminists others will read that as "man-hating lesbian." I am sympathetic, though, to those who are frustrated with particular, real claims of feminism (unlike the man-hating part) and who therefore choose other labels but do similar work.

However, I suspect that most people who won't claim feminism are swayed by anti-feminist crap like FOX News...and that makes me angry and frustrated.

Anna said...

How did I know this was eventually going to become a discussion about the evil trannies destroying feminism?

plain(s)feminist said...

Glaurung quena wrote:
To the contrary, I say, sexism harms men just as much as it harms women. It denies men access to the full range of being human just as much as it denies women their full humanity. Sexism makes men into emotional cripples, because it tells them they have to be "real men" and not "effeminate." Then women get a double dose of discrimination: cultural sexism tells them they have to be "real women" and not "mannish," while men trying to be "real men" beat and belittle them.

And this is exactly why the feminism I believe in is about men, as well. (Michael Kimmel and Don Sabo have written really interesting stuff about this, BTW, if anyone is interested.)

And further - I do think that, given the number of women who relate to men on some level, it is in our best interest as a class to bring feminism to them, as well.

plain(s)feminist said...

Responding to Womansspace:

After I had that realization I realized that many of the differences between us and the excellent points that you’ve made are differences in perspectives that straight and lesbian feminists may have.

This is true, but I’m not straight, nor are many of the women responding to you and arguing in favor of things like mini-skirts. I am in a relationship with a man, and that surely does affect my perspective, but I also know plenty of lesbians who enjoy hanging out with men and who are not necessarily feminists. My point: I think the differences are less to do with sexual orientation than ideology.

You’ll have to pardon me Plains, but I believe in a relation between theory and practice. If I’m wearing a miniskirt and stilettos – I’d to ask just who I’m wearing these for.

I think this is an excellent question – it’s great to ask “who benefits” (but I think we tend to come up with different answers). I liked Sally Sunshine’s response. I think I’m going to do a separate post on this, so stay tuned…

And it’s seemed like to me that feminists have always embraced PWDs.

Oh, lord, you wouldn’t believe the problems that come up in even the most feminist organizations and communities. For example, at the Nat’l Women’s Studies Association, there is still a tension between people who don’t want to have the conference at hotels because it’s more expensive (and less warm and fuzzy) and people who don’t want to have the conference on college campuses because they’re not as accessible for people with disabilities (I’d add here that PWDs, I am guessing, may well be more likely to have lower incomes, proportionately, than temporarily able-bodied people). I think feminists who don’t have disabilities *think* they’ve always embraced PWDs, but in reality, we often miss the mark. But I would like to think that feminists have also worked harder to recognize and correct this than some other groups have…

So my question to you is where is this movement in action, or do you just send checks? We can’t get a feminist meet-up in this huge metropolitan area for lack of interest.

Well…I live in SD. We could use an import of feminists (and lesbian feminists, too, for that matter). My own connection to the movement is largely through academe, through my colleagues at other schools, my feminist students here, the national conferences I go to, campus organizers like the Feminist Majority Foundation and VOX (Planned Parenthood). There’s also the feminist blogosphere, of course.

THERE ARE ISSUES OF HETERONORMATIVY HERE. The rules are “lesbians lose”. I’m not even trying to play the lesbian card, but those are clearly the rules. It is the way the world works even in feminism..

I don’t think that lesbians lose simply by virtue of men being involved in the movement. I do think, though, that lesbian feminists (second wave radical lesbian feminists) are no longer the forefront of the movement. For many, that has felt like lesbians have been erased. (We can argue that the queer movement has erased lesbians, and that, I think, is true in part.)

I do not see feminism as being for men. Let them go and be humanist. The more I think of it your examples earlier of the more questionable they become meaning the Humanist Jew or the Humanist other person. Why should they not feel they can colonize feminism? When I look at these issues and your and my differences along lines of sexual orientation, I believe I look less insane. I believe our differences become a lot more understandable. I think it may make perfect sense for a heterosexual woman to want feminism to “be more humanist” and very understandable. It also makes perfect sense that why that is not a lesbian vision.

I don’t think you’re insane.

The thing that changed my bisexual mind most about including works about men and feminism in my intro to WS classes was a lesbian colleague who felt very strongly that men should be included because 1) they were part of the world we lived in and related to and would have to deal with at some point and on some level, and 2) our students had men in their lives and wanted to know how to resolve the contradictions between feminism and sexism that they were dealing with daily.

And – feminism is for all women, right? Not just lesbians?

I’m sorry. The word [cunt] just has to much disrespect. I was called a cunt in the human potential movement and at the end of the training they told us that a cunt a powerful, striving woman who knew what she wanted and I used cunt in that vein for a while in a complimentary sense, but the world soon shut that down. Over the years, I’ve learned how men use it and I am sickened by it. It’s a hate word. …

It is difficult for me to pickup that book because I feel I would be joining the meat conspiracy, I don’t want a cunt. I like my vulva/vagina (thank you). It’s a matter of conscience that I can not read that book.

…I think [reclaiming words] may appear to work but the envelopes and subtexts have a detachment that I hear and wonder if “works” is really an apt term and “uneasy truce” is not a better description.


First – what does it mean that the most harmful words that can be used against women are words that mean VULVA and VAGINA???? I used to be so afraid of the word “cunt” that I couldn’t even say it. How ridiculous is it that someone could hurt me simply by calling me a name of one of my own body parts as if it were something dirty that I should be ashamed of???

So, yeah – for me, it works to reclaim cunt. And there’s rich radical feminist tradition, here – look at Mary Daly and “hag,” “crone,” etc. These are the words that hurt us, and we are calling them beautiful.

I don’t want to sound disrespectful, because I see that your reactions to this word are based in your own experiences, but I do know women who use the word “cunt” reverently and lovingly, and I think that because you’ve not experienced this, it is all the more foreign a concept to you.

That said, in the queer community, I’ve found lots of women a generation or so older than me who hate the word “queer” with a passion. There is a similar debate in the Black community btw generations over reclaiming terms that had been used hatefully. I think many of us find it easier to reclaim words that haven’t been used against us directly, and that’s part of this.

Radical feminists experienced gendered oppression and began a poltical movement to end that. No movement has ever experienced the sustained resistance the radical feminism has.

This is a big claim. Native Americans are still fighting for treaties to be honored. Disability activists are still fighting to get in the effing door – literally. How many descendants of enslaved Africans ever got reparations? How many survivors of Japanese internment camps ever got reparations? All of these groups began political movements to end their oppressions, and all experienced sustained resistance. (And all originated before radical feminism, and all have been fighting longer.)

This is why I don’t think it’s useful to hierarchize oppressions. I personally think it’s more helpful to look at all these groups together and consider what is operating in each case to make resistance so easy, to make resisting doing the right thing seem like the right thing.

I normally have no sexual desire….When I free associate, the words that come to mind are, tender, egalitarian, loving and respectful. That’s how to have sex.

I think sex is a personal thing, what turns people on or off is a personal thing, and as long as it is truly consensual, I don’t want to comment on how other people should have sex. But I will say that if we can’t talk about sexual desire, then we for sure can’t talk about what makes sex tender, egalitarian, loving, and respectful, and we also can’t talk about sex that is rough or dominant or casual. And if we want to apply feminist analysis to these things, then we do need to talk about them, somehow.

Mudflaps? Midflaps? Are there pictures like those [on Feministing] on mudflaps? I didn’t know that.

Is THAT what the problem is with the Feministing.com logo??? Critics don’t recognize the mudflaps? Yes, she’s a popular mudflap image, only the sexy babe on the mudflaps isn’t giving anyone the finger. Feministing’s logo is a parody of the sexist image that I’ve seen on more truck mudflaps and car air fresheners than I care to remember.

PF: As for the FTM moderator, I don’t get why that’s a problem.

I see two problems. I don’t believe men should have any leadership roles in feminism and I’d don’t want to see feminism diverted by trans issues….I think having an FTM as moderator on a board is worse than having a man because the FTM will inevitably fixate ad nauseum on trans issues mono-manaically


I would argue that feminism has a lot to offer transwomen, who are certainly feeling the sexist oppression, and transmen, who have certainly felt it.

And I would also note that you are making a lot of assumptions about the character of a person you don’t know based on that person’s gender orientation. Would a lesbian inevitably fixate ad nauseum on lesbian issues mono-maniacally, or would she be able to think about other issues, as well? Why not assume that Feministing chose their moderator because he was skilled at the job? Wouldn’t it work against their best interests to choose someone who was so unsuited for it? I would caution you against jumping to these kinds of conclusions. One could make this argument against any member of an oppressed group having any job. That’s what you’re saying: this person should have this job because he’s a transperson. Not because he doesn’t have the experience or skills or qualifications, not because he’s done a poor job, but simply because he is transgendered.

plain(s)feminist said...

Sexism is a hydra: if you say you are only going to work against one head, whether in the name of ideological purity (feminism is for womyn only, you straight girls/boys/perverts can go build their own treehouse) or for the sake of broadening your support base (yes Reverend Falwell, we think those skin magazines are just horrible too), you're going to lose.

A-MEN.

WomansSpace said...

"And this is exactly why the feminism I believe in is about men, as well. (Michael Kimmel and Don Sabo have written really interesting stuff about this, BTW, if anyone is interested.)

And further - I do think that, given the number of women who relate to men on some level, it is in our best interest as a class to bring feminism to them, as well. "

I'd say this is exactly what subdinates do for their subordinators. When do these poor, poor men who are suffering so badly get off their duffs and do something for themselves?


"How did I know this was eventually going to become a discussion about the evil trannies destroying feminism?"

I don't think there's any danger of that. I've found that they absolutely cannot think outside of the concept of gender as a noun and something that people have. Until they can do that, the haven't begun to speak feminism, much less are the destroying it. What they are doing is reifying and validating a system of mythologies, delineated along lines of power that is used that the central justification for the oppression of women and when Mom asked how the cookie jar became empty they say in a deep voice, "I didn't do it, Mom."

plain(s)feminist said...

Re. what Anna said about "evil trannies" -

Womensspace, I just want to add that, while you may have issues with the trans movement's ideologies, it's one thing to take issue with those and another to suggest that transgendered people can't be feminist or that, as a diverse and complex community of people, they not only have nothing to offer feminism but are a direct threat to it.

WomansSpace said...

Radical feminists experienced gendered oppression and began a poltical movement to end that. No movement has ever experienced the sustained resistance the radical feminism has.

This is a big claim. Native Americans are still fighting for treaties to be honored. Disability activists are still fighting to get in the effing door – literally. How many descendants of enslaved Africans ever got reparations? How many survivors of Japanese internment camps ever got reparations? All of these groups began political movements to end their oppressions, and all experienced sustained resistance. (And all originated before radical feminism, and all have been fighting longer.)

This is why I don’t think it’s useful to hierarchize oppressions. I personally think it’s more helpful to look at all these groups together and consider what is operating in each case to make resistance so easy, to make resisting doing the right thing seem like the right thing.


What is this Shit?!?!?!

Of course you want all oppression to be equal so feminists can rescue Native Americans.

Feminism is about the liberation of WOMEN or GENDERED OPPRESSION!!!!!!!!!

-----------------------

Hi Renagade,
I acknowledge you and I certainly hear your sentiments and they do have meaning to me.

I came to conclusion quite a while ago. Feminism is a political movement and not an ontological condition and therefore, speaking for myself, I cannot Be a feminist, for a feminist is something no one can Be, even though we all say that.
But we can talk about practice and we can say whether our behavior is consistent with feminism.

If you take a look at my Blog, you’ll see post after post where I demonstrate pretty clearly that what Heart is espousing is not consistent with radical feminism. I do not have to make commentary on Heart’s Being to say that. I can show clearly where Heart is preaching pure patriarchy.
I know very little about you but I see evidence of really respectable intelligence. I don’t know but that really stands out about you and to be honest in terms of what you talked about, without making it about you and while remaining accountable, I ask myself what I would have that you would value and I think very little.

I don’t equate feminism with fun or sex at all, not to imply that you do, because I don’t know. To tell you a secret, the feminists I know see themselves as “working” on boards and we work hard and incessantly. I think there are things I have to do personally in order to bring about meaningful change for the people of women. Even the way I have sex makes a difference in the world. I know for example, were I a Dom, there’s no way to actually keep that in the bedroom. I know that SM simply eroticizes the very paradigm that we are attempting to eliminate.
In a loving and most uncaloused way, I fear that you would find me really unhip and out of it, for example other than the Clinton Impeachment, I haven’t watched TV since the OJ Simpson trial. I don’t keep up with the main stream and I can tell you next to nothing about either Nicholle Kidman or Paris Hilton. I don’t think that feminism is anything we want it to be nor do I believe that feminism is for everyone.

I do know this, for maybe twenty years, I thought it to be a meaningful thumbnail of feminism to say that feminism was about maximizing the personal freedom of women. When it finally dawned upon me that I’d gone for two decades calling myself a feminist but realizing that I had not understood the basics of feminism, I was highly chagrined, no just plain embarrassed.

I do have the realization that patriarchy has us pretty sewned up and that there aren’t many directions for feminists to move in that patriarchy can’t shift to its own advantage. Not because of any fundamentalism, but because of the nature of the dynamic that patriarchy is, there IS a straight and narrow in terms of our practice to which I am committed.
I suggest to you is that the damage is already done. Our paradigms are probably just too darned different for us to understand each other, an accurate reflection of just how different the movement is. It would be easy for me to say fuck it, and I’ll forget feminism and be hip and we could be friends, but I’m afraid that were I to do that I would probably be working against the liberation of the people of women at that point exactly like heart is doing right now. I can’t bring myself to do that and consequently I lose something precious as far as being accepted is concerned because I have the feeling there are a lot of really good things about you. Were I to say fuck it and “adapt” I’d gain personally I guess but I’d lose too, because I really couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. All of those things are about me, not you.

When one cannot even refer to a feminist of widely differing views or lifestyle as anything other than a "feminist", well, it's discouraging. And angering. It does not, in many ways, create a "woman friendly" vibe in the least, and that is where the "clique" attitude comes from, and why people get enraged about it. Trinity, who from my understanding is not only a woman living with disabilities but a dominant female, by her own desire and choice within the BDSM community, is also a feminist.

You’ll hate me for this but you know my favorite author is Catharine MacKinnon and one of her major Book Titles is Feminism Unmodified. It’s a simple title that isn’t catchy. Plains will kill me for this, but I think in reality there’s only one feminism and it was radicals who formulated it. I think of the other flavors as being simply co-optations. Either you practice it or you don’t. But I’d agree with what you say, it’s really frustrating. I’ve always thought the social justice people should start a social justice movement and I’ve thought humanists should call themselves Humanists. But no, everyone wants to call themselves feminists and you’re right we have not only highly divergent life styles but more importantly we diverge highly in our practice. Your questions, I think are really valid questions.
As far as trinity is concerned, I’d simply say that BDSM is not consistent with feminism. I have said nothing about trinity.

plain(s)feminist said...

Of course you want all oppression to be equal so feminists can rescue Native Americans.

Feminism is about the liberation of WOMEN or GENDERED OPPRESSION!!!!!!!!!


First - you've just defined "women" as "white" or at least "not Native American."

Second - Andrea Smith has a lot to say about the gendered oppression of Native American women - in which white women have largely been complicit. The book is called Conquest.

I don't really understand the rest of this comment, but if I'm being accused of harboring a secret desire to end anti-Native American oppression, I'll cop to that.

plain(s)feminist said...

OK.

Womensspace, I'm enjoying this discussion, and I'm glad you're here. But I would ask that, in these comments, you would please focus your criticisms of trans ideology on that ideology and not on transpeople. I don't know if you see the difference I'm talking about, but I think you can express your concerns and criticisms about politics and theory without targeting people. I want this to be a place where everyone feels welcome, and frankly, if I were transgendered, I would not want to come back here and see myself called names.

If you would like to discuss this, please email me and we can talk further.

K said...

Wow, let's see, this discussion has run gamut from ageist to racist to transphobic. What else can we throw in? Is the International Jewish Conspiracy propping up the patriarchy, too? How is this kind of hate-mongering helping 'women's liberation'?

(Apologies to PF; I think my head just *did* explode on your blog.)

WomansSpace said...

Why not assume that Feministing chose their moderator because he was skilled at the job? Wouldn’t it work against their best interests to choose someone who was so unsuited for it? I would caution you against jumping to these kinds of conclusions. One could make this argument against any member of an oppressed group having any job. That’s what you’re saying: this person should have this job because he’s a transperson.. Not because he doesn’t have the experience or skills or qualifications, not because he’s done a poor job, but simply because he is transgendered.

No! I say NO ONE is transgendered because gender is not a noun, it’s a verb. I think the basal ideology and understandings of that movement are wholly fucked.
So no, I don’t think piny is transgendered and if he thinks he transgendered he does not have a feminist understanding of what’s going on for him and therefore should never moderate a feminist list. (Yes… I am implying I have a feminist alternative explanation and I think you’d be interested in hearing it.)

But it’s not the fact that he calls himself “transgendered” that I would explicity exclude him. I would exclude him because of his content and preoccupation which are trans-centered and not women-centered. It’s just that simple. If he wants to talk about women’s issues then fine. If he wants to talk about trans, then he would not be invited to my tea party. No trans identified individual would be which is not the same as to say that I would exclude all people who have gone through reassignment because I wouldn’t, as long as their interests were in women’s liberation.

WomansSpace said...

"Wow, let's see, this discussion has run gamut from ageist to racist to transphobic."

I'm a heretic. I do not follow prescriptions about "transphobia at all." I'm not willing to have my feelings jacked around by husbands and fathers or being made wrong for that.

So it's OK to call me transphobic. I don't mind a bit. It's not a bad word in my vernacular.

WomansSpace said...

"First - you've just defined "women" as "white" or at least "not Native American."

I don't think so. That wasn't what I meant to impart.

My position would be that feminism is NOT a movement for the elimination of all oppressions. I would say the feminism is about gendered oppression or simply sexism.

I say that making feminism about every conceivable oppression annihilates it's effectiveness in a way that should delight any patriarchist.

Because of these approaches feminism could not possibly be much less effective. Being older, I can see how far we have regressed. This new edition of feminism isn't doing very much.

Renegade Evolution said...

WS:

So, you fully and completely believe in a "one true feminism". You know, that's fine. I absolutely agree everyone is entitled to their own thoughts, opinions and beliefs, even if I don't agree. However, things, ideas, movements, that are not willing to grow, change, incorporate other lines of thought, other voices, and other ideas do eventually flat line. The world changes continually, and things have to keep up with it. Also, at this point, many people would say Radical Feminism, in the hands of some Radical Feminists, is actually harming women...which I know is not the intent, but it is a very true result. You can see it in issues of race, sexuality, even the pro-choice movement. Unfortunate, but true. Just something to consider.

WomansSpace said...

Hi renegade,

Radical feminism is not about opinions at all. It is the only feminism that has a formal methodology for its analyses. It is a set of analyses. I'm open to the possibility that this kind of talk sounds different to you, but it's quite possible that you've never encountered a studied radical feminist.

If you can poke holes in the analyses, i'm obligated to incorporate that in my analysis and in this way radical feminism has properties of being self correcting.

I hear what you are saying. I may look like the stranded japanese soldier in the island still fighting WorldWar II.

I prefer that. Relatively speaking, to me everyone else looks as if the have been co-opted and don't know much feminist theory.

Btw, I have argued very clearly that Heart is harming women as is the trans movement.

But I have also argued that heart is NOT preaching radical feminism and that there is nothing radical radical about what she's offering.

http://womansspace.wordpress.com/2007/02/18/what-is-radical-feminism/

http://womansspace.wordpress.com/2007/02/11/in-the-beginning%e2%80%a6/

Renegade Evolution said...

WS:

This is all fine and good, but many of us do not, never have, and never will ID as Radical Feminists, which, by your theory of Radical Feminism as the one true Feminism, leaves many potential allies, well, out. WHich leads me to ask, would you rather see feminism dead, or changed by other theories or ideas?

WomansSpace said...

A feminism that is not effective is effectively dead.

my browser just failed and there was something I tried to post and it's pretty important.

You mentioned about society changing, which it does. What you missed was what radical feminism addresses which are the root level social processes through which women are oppressed which are constant and do not change no matter how much society appears to change on the surface, which is what makes radical feminism so hated.

Whether you choose to practice radical feminism or not is up to you. As far as I am concerned, the extent to which is do not, is the extent to which feminism dies and i think I can defend that positon.

I'd be interested to know how you describe your feminism?

WomansSpace said...

Dear renegade,

I just looked at your profile.

I can see why you wouldn't become a radical feminist.

Sex work... stripping... pornography

Renegade I'm afraid there is no way we could be allies. I think you are a major part of the problem

Renegade Evolution said...

Plain:

Well, three of my main core beliefs are equality, choice, & agency. In that women are, while different, equal, they have the right of choice, and are in posession of agency... i also tend to believe painting all feminists with one brush is dangerous and determental... I've done a few posts, but two here recently (one is very long though, I warn you in advance) wrt to "my thoughts and style" of feminism, and how I ended up there:

http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/2007/02/renegade-evolved.html

http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/2007/02/past-to-present-present-to-future-adapt.html

As for the root...well, call me simple and this horribly simplified, but the fact that men are biologically larger and stronger, and always have been, plays a huge role, at least in my opinion. They could, and did, take power by force, enforce by force, and hold it via force.

Renegade Evolution said...

sorry, that response was to WS...

and WS, yes, I am sure you do. Many people do.

WomansSpace said...

"They could, and did, take power by force, enforce by force, and hold it via force."

There's no evidednce of this and I think that's important because basically your hypothesis is essentialist. One implication is that is what you said we true, society as we know it now is a "natural" outcome of biology in which case, there is no reason for feminism to exist - there is nothing that is transformable.

Renegade Evolution said...

are you arguing then that men are not, via biology, on the whole, larger and physically stronger than women, on the whole? That the did not, historically, take up hunting and warring? That these things did not, or could not, lead to oppression, and do not still play a role in the oppression of women? "Violence against women" is exactly that, violence. Women often live in fear of physical violence because often physically, they cannot effectively fight back. Yes, there is TONS more to it than that...I said it was a simple answer, but I do think there is validity in it. However, society has moved past much of the need for such things...the mind is far more valued now, which has helped in levelling the playing field a bit. For a looong time the whole of a womans worth was equated to her role as wife and her ability to have children, and it is STILL that way in many minds and places, but this is changing, do in no small part to feminism.

WomansSpace said...

“are you arguing then that men are not, via biology, on the whole, larger and physically stronger than women, on the whole? “
I am arguing that males and females are equally different are not valued that same. Therefore what we see is social in origin and not biological.

“That the did not, historically, take up hunting and warring?”
Yes, they did.

“That these things did not, or could not, lead to oppression, and do not still play a role in the oppression of women?”
For what you are describing to have taken place, it would have had to have occurred on a world wide basis and just no evidence of that happening.

"Violence against women" is exactly that, violence. Women often live in fear of physical violence because often physically, they cannot effectively fight back. Yes, there is TONS more to it than that...I said it was a simple answer, but I do think there is validity in it. However, society has moved past much of the need for such things...the mind is far more valued now, which has helped in levelling the playing field a bit. For a looong time the whole of a womans worth was equated to her role as wife and her ability to have children, and it is STILL that way in many minds and places, but this is changing, do in no small part to feminism.

It is a simple answer… what makes you think there is validity to it?

Renegade Evolution said...

Well, look at modern warfare...usually, instigated by men. The men do most of the fighting. Women and children are "casualties", women and children are devalued. Women and children are raped and killed, women and children are told what to do in these times, women and children are held in check by fear and all the focus is on the men, the fighting, and the struggle for power. War and what happens in it, small and large scale, is war. We've just managed to come up with better ways of killing eachother...but the men, the men are the focus...the heroes, the fighters, the decision makers, the force, the takers and defenders of power...women? Women are extrainous in the eyes of many.

WomansSpace said...

Yes.

And what conclusions are you drawing from that?

Renegade Evolution said...

WS:

That though the weapons have changed, the attitude has not, and that force, and fear of force, has been used to keep women ' down & in line' for a long, long time...

But enough about my theory...from whence to you think the patriarchy sprang? I am willing completely to consider other theories.

WomansSpace said...

Good morning renegade,

It didn't spring from any one place but progressed.

You're right we began as hunter- gatherer's and then moved to horticulture to agriculture. When we go to agriculture we stopped being nomadic of course. Up til now there was no real division of roles or stable ones. However agricultural efficiencies improved and food staples became tradable and several things happened.

Women were relegated to a private domain of the home and childcare. Men stayed in the public domain and developed business skills and networked where women could not.

Men discovered that they had a role in reproduction too. Suddenly women become the vessels for men's children. Creation (mariarchal religions) were demystified and women lost social status. Judeo-christianity and related religions appeared with male godheads and Marilyn French calls this the last nail in the coffin of women.

The point is that this is all social process. Simone De Beauvior points out that we "other" and when a dominant class "others" that will create a subordinated class. (This is why feminists see gender as such a bad thing and why feminists see current explanations for "transgender" to be so horrendous.)

The point is this is all social process and biological. It also explains the universality. Every culture on earth that we know of except one is capitalistic and that one culture is not patriarchal. These explanations pretty well describe the the unversality of patriarchy. There are no men-women war myths and if they had occurred the myths woud be big.

Oppression is a systematic undermining. Look at what happened to Joan D' Arc. She stepped out of line and was burned at the stake. The same is true for the Salem Witch trials. The only sin of those women was that they deviated from social norms and died because of that.

WomansSpace said...

Ohhh - error

"The point is this is all social process and biological. "

Should read:

The point is this is all social process and NOT biological.

Sometimes I leave "not"s out :(

Renegade Evolution said...

WS:

I absolutely agree that early on, the roles set forth and the mere fact that women carried and had children kept them relegated to a "out of the spotlight" role, thus allowing for the establishment of male dominance as it were...I believe that the Patriarchy was able to come to existance via variety of ways and due to many reasons and conditions, including both those we set forth (social progression and force). Their have been (and are) matriarchal societies, like the Khasi and Garo peoples of North East India, many historians will look to various Native American tribes, and yes, even ancient Egypt to provide examples of matriarchal eras and societies. They are by no means the norm, the standard, yet they are there...

Which lends me to believe that the factors in contributing to the rise of the Patriarchy are varied, and were probably a bit different from area to area. A lot of historian types would say there was far more equality in the societies of North America before the arrival of the Europeans, for instance, because the socieites developed differently...so yes, I can and do believe many factors, from social and economic roles to use of physical force (like in the case of patriarchal societies eliminating matriarchal ones) all played a factor.

WomansSpace said...

YES! YES! YES [smile]

And yes... after i wrote all of that I realized that ingredients probably did cary across locale and I thank you hilighting that. :)

Renegade Evolution said...

So then, it appears we can agree somewhat on how the patriarchy came into being. I am now interested in hearing your take, as a Radical Feminist, on how it can be overthrown, via what methods, and why other methods (such as those applied by liberal, ect., feminists) are less viable.

(Plains, please feel free to tell us to move this conversation elswhere if you'd like, I realize I've contributed to the utter hijacking of your thread...)

WomansSpace said...

"I would argue that feminism has a lot to offer transwomen, who are certainly feeling the sexist oppression, and transmen, who have certainly felt it."


Either someone is a woman or the are not. I do not recognize the existence of something called a trans woman. I do think feminism has a TREMENDOUS amount to offer people going through class reassignment. But I think their is to listen and realize that the genesis of trans ideology has been seen from a male standpoint and I believe their first task is to discard that and then to listen to feminists.


And I would also note that you are making a lot of assumptions about the character of a person you don’t know based on that person’s gender orientation.

I am making no assumptions about character at all. I've seen two FTMs in feminist space and their behavior showed absolutely no concern for addressing the material concerns of women but "educating" {spelled indoctrinating} people on trans issues.


"Would a lesbian inevitably fixate ad nauseum on lesbian issues mono-maniacally, or would she be able to think about other issues, as well?"

Lesbian issues ARE Women's issues. Trans issues are not. But I am a lesbian and I think you've seen me address a full array of issues. Actually, when i think about it, there are no posts here specifically about lesbian issues. I also hope you are aware that i am more outspoken about issues of reproductive choice than most lesbians.

I will consider a feminist space to be diverted any time trans issues are introduced.

plain(s)feminist said...

So then, it appears we can agree somewhat on how the patriarchy came into being. I am now interested in hearing your take, as a Radical Feminist, on how it can be overthrown, via what methods, and why other methods (such as those applied by liberal, ect., feminists) are less viable.

(Plains, please feel free to tell us to move this conversation elswhere if you'd like, I realize I've contributed to the utter hijacking of your thread...)


Not at all - what I've noticed is, first, that despite Womansspace's discomfort with calling you an ally, the two of you are clearly allies - you're fighting the same war, even if the battles may be different. And second, the discussion you're having is certainly relevant to the thread.

Renegade Evolution said...

PF: Ohhh, I don't know if we're allies, persay...some common interests, indeed, a whole lot of differences, yes, I most certainly think so...but, as much as I generally rattle cages, I do like to look for common ground and, well, you know, learn something.

WomansSpace said...

So then, it appears we can agree somewhat on how the patriarchy came into being. I am now interested in hearing your take, as a Radical Feminist, on how it can be overthrown, via what methods, and why other methods (such as those applied by liberal, ect., feminists) are less viable.
(Plains, please feel free to tell us to move this conversation elswhere if you'd like, I realize I've contributed to the utter hijacking of your thread...)
THANK YOU for hijacking the thread. Ultimately I hope this thread serves you so I encourage you to hijack it.
You asked a really fair question and thank you for that. The central method of radical feminism will always be education and consciousness raising. A hallmark of radical feminism is that it will always advocate peaceful solutions and the reason for that will soon become apparent (I hope).
You questions have long and short answers and I don’t know which to give here. Radical feminists recognize that the ROOTS of sexism have been institutionalized into all of our institutions, into our legal system, into business, into capitalism, into religious institutions, military and government. Therefore we advocate ideally a total reboot of society to tear those institutions down and rebuild one that work for everyone.
The is even a deeper root level than the ones I have been addressing and that is that the basic currency of human transactions is power-over and we must get rid of power-over, so with that renegade and because you are special in your own way… I wish to share what I think is one of the most beautiful passages in radical feminism and I think you’ll be surprised and I also think you’ll begin to see that these characters on the net really don’t understand radical feminism at all:

Feminism is not yet one more of a series of political movements demanding for their ad¬herents access to existing structures and their rewards. This is how many people see it, however: as a strictly political movement through which women demand entry into the "male" world, a share of male prerogatives, and the chance to be like men. This perception of feminism alienates many nonfeminist women.

Feminism is a political movement demanding access to the rewards and responsibilities of the "male" world, but it is more: it is a revolutionary moral movement, intending to use political power to transform society, to "feminize" it. For such a movement, assimilation is death. The assimilation of women to society as it presently exists would lead simply to the inclusion of certain women (not all, because society as it presently exists is highly stratified) along with certain men in its higher echelons. It would mean continued stratification and continued contempt for "feminine" values. Assimilation would be the cooption of feminism. Yet it must be admitted that the major success of the movement in the past twenty years has been to increase the assimilation of women into the existing structure. This is not to be deplored, but it is only a necessary first step.

There have been many revolutions against various patriarchal forms over the past three or four thousand years, but in each case, what has succeeded an oppressive structure is another oppressive structure. This is inevitable because, regardless of the initial ideas and ideals of rebellious groups, they come to wor¬ship power above all: only power, they believe, can overwhelm power; only their greater power can bring them victory over an "enemy" that is the Father. But each victory has increased the power of the idea of power; thus each victory has increased human oppression.

It is impossible to realize humane goals and create humane structures in a society that values power above all else. Well-meaning people tinker with the machinery, but the factory keeps turning out oppression. The benevolent are appalled at discovering themselves somehow coopted; or at realizing, after a life dedicated to instituting a "humane" reform, that the reform is more constricting than the ill it was designed to alleviate. Those who are perhaps more penetrating declaim bitterly that the world of Realpolitik is the only truth, that power is all that matters, that all other values are placebos for the sentimental. Power is not just the highest good, but the only reality-another irony, for power is of all things the least real, or at least the most delusive.

The only true revolution against patriarchy is one which removes the idea of power from its central position, and replaces it with the idea of pleasure. Despite the contempt in which this quality has been held for several millennia, pleasure, felicity-in its largest and deepest sense-is actually the highest human good. Restoring it to centrality in human concern would permit us to make discriminations that are now difficult or impossible and to revest experience with innocence. For example, it is frequently difficult to distinguish between power-to and power-over, since the latter is often seen as a means to the former. But power-to primarily increases pleasure, and power-over primarily increases pain. Power-to involves expressiveness and a degree of autonomy; whereas power-over involves structure, coercion, fear, and sometimes violent cruelty.

Marilyn French – Beyond Power


Renegade Evolution – I acknowledge you.

plain(s)feminist said...

Either someone is a woman or the are not. I do not recognize the existence of something called a trans woman.

I think that you are not calling transpeople "things" ("something") but rather including them as "men" or "women" and suggesting a problem with another category and it is this category that you are calling a thing.

In any case, it is not for you (or me) to determine what someone else's label ought to be. I know fundies who do not recognize the existence of something called a lesbian. That is just as inappropriate.

But I think their is to listen and realize that the genesis of trans ideology has been seen from a male standpoint and I believe their first task is to discard that and then to listen to feminists.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. What is the trans ideology that has been seen from a male standpoint of which you speak?

I am making no assumptions about character at all. I've seen two FTMs in feminist space and their behavior showed absolutely no concern for addressing the material concerns of women but "educating" {spelled indoctrinating} people on trans issues.

OK, well then, if you've seen two FTMs who behaved poorly, then that's certainly an adequate sampling, right? Oh, but wait. I also have seen two FTMs in feminist space who have been and are very focused on central feminist issues. Do we cancel each other out, then?

Seriously, you continually reduce all the many and different people who share the experience of being transgender to a few you've observed. Don't you find this problematic? It's stereotyping - that's all that it is. I mean, yes, I've met some asshole MTFs and FTMs, just as I've met some asshole every-other-category-there-is people. Every individual is not representative of the individual's larger group(s).

Lesbian issues ARE Women's issues.

Ah - so it's ok for lesbians to mono-maniacally focus on lesbian issues? You haven't answered my question.

Trans issues are not.

That's ridiculous. Transgendered people are far more likely to be sexually assaulted, raped, murdered, battered than are cissexual women, just for instance.
A transwoman is a woman and experiences sexism every day, the same as I do. An MTF experienced part of his life in a body that others recognized as female and experienced that same oppression.

But I am a lesbian and I think you've seen me address a full array of issues.

Exactly my point. And I'm quite sure that my transgender friends and colleagues are just as capable of setting aside whatever their personal politics may be (why do you assume it's trans issues, by the way? How do you know it isn't race, class, bilingual education?) in order to do their jobs, just like you do and I do.


Actually, when i think about it, there are no posts here specifically about lesbian issues.

I think that would depend on how "lesbian issues" are defined, because I've certainly addressed heterosexism, reproductive freedom (which is a lesbian issue), rape, sexual harassment, domestic benefits, and gay marriage, among other issues.

I also hope you are aware that i am more outspoken about issues of reproductive choice than most lesbians.

I don't know any lesbians who are not adamant pro-choice activists. And I know a lot of lesbians. This isn't to say that lesbians who aren't don't exist - just that pro-choice activism has always been something in which lesbians have been very, very involved.

I will consider a feminist space to be diverted any time trans issues are introduced.

That's what Betty Friedan said, essentially, about lesbians in the women's movement.

plain(s)feminist said...

PF: Ohhh, I don't know if we're allies, persay...some common interests, indeed, a whole lot of differences, yes, I most certainly think so...but, as much as I generally rattle cages, I do like to look for common ground and, well, you know, learn something.

But that's what allies are, I think: people who share some interests and struggle. It's a coalition, it's not a total lockstep agreement of ideology.

Renegade Evolution said...

WS:

It's nice to be acknowledged and all, but I have always, personally, thought that by being a human, of any particular bent, made one worthy of acknowledgement...

Anyway, wrt to power... for some people, for whatever reasons, power in and of itself equals the greatest pleasure. Yes, much of this is driven by capitalism and other factors (the want of more, the presure society places on material wealth, things, success in business, ect) but I also think that regardless of political systems and gender, there merely those who desire power for its own sake. For instance, recently over at my place there was a brief bit of discussion on "utopias", where oppression did not exist, so on, and most folks thought that while utopia sounded wonderful...well, you throw imperfect humans into a perfect utopia and that utopia is going to go straight to hell. For every 100 people who are willing to set aside greed and personal gain in order for a utopia to succeed, there will be at least one who is willing, via manipulation, force, social moves, to take power or garner power and mess it up for everyone else. Even in a world with no social conditioning, there will be those who will use and disempower others for their own needs. For instance, a psychopath or sociopath might do this for their own amusement, let alone in a quest for power, as might a narcissit, so on, so forth....so, even in the type of society espoused, there is still the possibility, or really, the actuality, that some would seek power over others, for a variety of reasons.

WomansSpace said...

PF: “Either someone is a woman or the are not. I do not recognize the existence of something called a trans woman.”

I think that you are not calling transpeople "things" ("something") but rather including them as "men" or "women" and suggesting a problem with another category and it is this category that you are calling a thing.


Actually I am not. I am calling them “confused”, not implying a defect but I am saying that their model for understanding themselves is beyond suspect it is plain out and out defective. Basically it is a model where due to acceptance of patriarchal values that they (or many of them hamper themselves). It is NOT a monolithic population and I would drawlines.

It is transpeople who are calling themselves things and I am rejecting that.

“In any case, it is not for you (or me) to determine what someone else's label ought to be. I know fundies who do not recognize the existence of something called a lesbian. That is just as inappropriate.”

It’s not just a label at all. It is an identity and from identities emerge epistemologies and politics and I will confront the emergent poltitics and epistemologies and I think that if they “get it” they’ll be far freer in the end.

WS: But I think theirs is to listen and realize that the genesis of trans ideology has been seen from a male standpoint and I believe their first task is to discard that and then to listen to feminists.

PF:I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. What is the trans ideology that has been seen from a male standpoint of which you speak?


All of it, beginning with the acceptance of gender as a noun, as something someone has as opposed to it being a verb and an active process that we do to each other. In short, thay have the locale and nature of gender bass-ackwards.

There is a large streak of patriarchal “object reality” in trans thinking, “I’m not really a woman/man (who are natural objects) so I must be trans” or equally poorly. There is the intendent non-recognition that we are simply assigned to constructed classes and we are not natural objects. What we become over times are identities and the identities when consistent with class assignment are VALIDATED BY PATRIACHY and those identities that are crossed-classed identities are seen to be invalid. Please note the irony of the set of definition self-appointed “radical feminists” resort to. Heart and Amy’s brains BOTH explicitly resorted to traditional patriarchal definitions. Why because it serves THEIR identities and they resort to patriarchy for the validation of THEIR identity and that plains feminist in not radical – it’s fucked. What I am saying here is radical and the interesting thing about it is that it is liberating.

Here is a manifesta:

1.) My (all peoples) identity was constructed.

2.) It was constructed and is validated via patriarchal practice

3.) Therefore it is NOT immune from examination

4.) It is recognized that patriarchal practice constructs object realities and MY identity is informed and constructed around these patriarchal practices

5.) To the extent that I reject patriarchy – I see that my identity is a cosmic joke of patriarchy and when I see that –

6.) I am free

PLEASE GIVE THIS DEEP SCRUTINY. IT MEANS THAT EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING TO GIVE UP. BUT IT ALSO MEANS THAT IDENTITY, AS IT IS CONSTRUCTED AND SUBSEQUENTLY EXPERIENCED IS A MAJOR PIECE OF GLUE HOLDING PATRIACHY TOGETHER.

Mackinnon has erred here in points against post-modernism. But here definition of woman is quite in agreement with what I’ve said. What I am saying is that trans has fucked themselves over in accepting that definition. How silly to define yourself around gender (and harmful to women). I have had my tonsils out and I do not define myself around the loss of my tonsils. “Unnoteworthy”, you may think. VERY NOTEWORTHY, I think. Tonsils are granted not signiticance in this society. Gender/Sex are granted significance. Why because of patriarchal interest in power itself. An oppressive society has to know WHO to privilege and who exploit and we have been using gender for doing that AND this is why gender is so much more significant than tonsils and we don’t get that.

Seriously, you continually reduce all the many and different people who share the experience of being transgender to a few you've observed. Don't you find this problematic? It's stereotyping - that's all that it is. I mean, yes, I've met some asshole MTFs and FTMs, just as I've met some asshole every-other-category-there-is people. Every individual is not representative of the individual's larger group(s).

As you say, people are not objects. I take issue with a politics of gender which is why I say there is no such thing as a transgendered person. There are people who have internalized a really defective identity.
I wholly respect people who have gone through reassignment at an early age and who participated in their own social construction. My issue is with the politic. However I do draw a line at agency. If someone goes on to live social as a male after agency I will not accept them.

Lesbian issues ARE Women's issues.

PF: That's ridiculous. Transgendered people are far more likely to be sexually assaulted, raped, murdered, battered than are cissexual women, just for instance.

That is not a feminist issue.

A transwoman is a woman and experiences sexism every day, the same as I do. An MTF experienced part of his life in a body that others recognized as female and experienced that same oppression.

I do not recognize the extistence of a “trans-woman.” So you are using male pronouns on MTF’s? I have said I accept people who have transistioned at or before the acquisition of agency as woman – not transwomen.

PF: Exactly my point. And I'm quite sure that my transgender friends and colleagues are just as capable of setting aside whatever their personal politics may be (why do you assume it's trans issues, by the way?

The bulk of the late transitioners I have seen simply become trans advocates and clutter up woman and feminist spaces with their issues, built on a defective foundation to begin with.

How do you know it isn't race, class, bilingual education?) in order to do their jobs, just like you do and I do.

It may be. I’ve seen one trangenderist do this. He occupied a huge amount of feminist space discussing race issues… but he NEVER, ever addressed women’s issues. I did see him attack and deeply hurt an antitrans young radical feminist though.
Again – it is the identity that I confront.

PF: I don't know any lesbians who are not adamant pro-choice activists. And I know a lot of lesbians. This isn't to say that lesbians who aren't don't exist - just that pro-choice activism has always been something in which lesbians have been very, very involved.

Over the years, I’ve read the MWMF Board. There has been remarkably little interest over the years in reproductive choices issues because it is lesbian and I regret that.

PF: “That's what Betty Friedan said, essentially, about lesbians in the women's movement.”

Yes, and Betty Friedan was a heterosexist woman actively involved in the oppression of women who love women. When I say trans issues in a feminist space diverts the space, please hear what I am saying that I am rejecting the political model of trans as being flawed and oppressive to women –all woman. I am rejecting a MALE/Patriarchal model of gender and what it is. I am flat rejecting the trans poltical until it get it shit straight.

At the same time, I am saying that essentialists and patriarchists do not have their shit straight either and ALL of us need to come to grip with the patriarchal components of our identity.

Now then, I ask you if you can see that your identity is a construction and that your identity is only validated in patriarchy? My identity is constructed. I recognize that I am an entity with a herstory in a patriarchally constructed class and there is freedom in that.

If you can and do recognize that, and I recognize this is a large leap, please take my hand and let us go forward and change the world.

I believe this is the most important post I have ever written.

I am saying that radical feminism can do a lot to liberate these people it is not their enemy. I have been saying for sometime that hearts camp is NOT radical feminism.

WomanSpace said...

Renegade Evolution,

The revolution is not going to happen by accident nor will it be televised.

It is going to have be done by consensus.

Here is something interesting to consider. A sociopath is a personality disorder. It is not biologically determined.

Has it occurred to you that if we do a good job that there may be no personality disorders?

AFA power.

We absolutely have to separate power and pleasure - hence the basis for the radical feminist issue with SM.

sallysunshine_26 said...

In response to WS I said: The key word here is CONTROL. As a fellow feminist, Woman’s Space would like to have control over the types of clothes I have in my closet, whether I practice S&M, watch porn, or let a trans-gendered person moderate my blog."

WS responed: “I am going to stay within PFs guidelines and engage you respectfully but I do not like being spoken. It's a long standing feminist tradition that this not be done.”

Why do I feel as if one of nun’s at the Catholic school just slapped my wrists?

As WS has pointed out to us, this is *her movement* and other views will not be accepted.

WS also said: “There doesn’t appear to be any concern for a movement, instead ALL concern seems focused on self. This is basic white male individualism and shows very little feminist awareness.
I don’t want control. I’d like to see you take responsibility for a movement that was started on your behalf.”

I would respectfully add, that all this “concern focused on self” you’ve accused me of is evident in your OWN comments in your inflexibility to relate to/accept others. *Your* movement is clearly defined by your preferences and beliefs with little room for change or adaptability.

From your statements, it is clear that you have shut yourself off from the world and have rooted yourself stubbornly in the past. It’s no wonder that you perceive the movement as dead, without out hope, and devoid of meaning. I, however, experience the movement as vibrantly alive and brimming with possibility. During my youth, I witnessed many strong women who rose above their circumstances and even though they faced tremendous obstacles, they flourished. My mother and all my aunts were prime examples of intelligent feminist women. I have an enormous amount of respect for them. To hear other second wavers insist that this movement is dead is disheartening. Yes, it may not be *your* idea of what it should be, but it’s far from dead.

WS Said: “I see feminism as a political revolution. Why must we involve sex in bringing about a meaningful poltical revolution? What is “sexy” about that. You see I think the fact the a woman is raped ever four minutes makes is serious business. I think it’s not funny like I think life and death are not funny.”

Ah yes, the whole personal is political debate. WS, I would side with you on this one, but it is a political revolution as much as it is a personal individual revolution. But additionally I would make this point: I think one can be radical in their beliefs and yet still slap on some lipstick and a mini-skirt every now and then and enjoy themselves without being “an agent of the patriarchy who supports male domination.”

Anyway, lots of good dialogue on your blog, Pf, as always!

And P.S.- The whole “ Renegade, I acknowledge you.” thing is a little creepy. Am I not acknowledged then? Since I have not won WS over am I immediately discarded into the “invisible non-feminist” category? This comment brings up images of the Pope bestowing his blessing upon is loyal flock. Renegade, you have been blessed by the feminist high-commander herself, how lovely!

plain(s)feminist said...

A transwoman is a woman and experiences sexism every day, the same as I do. An MTF experienced part of his life in a body that others recognized as female and experienced that same oppression.

I do not recognize the extistence of a “trans-woman.” So you are using male pronouns on MTF’s? I have said I accept people who have transistioned at or before the acquisition of agency as woman – not transwomen.


Ack - no - that was an error. I meant to write "FTM" in that case. Sorry.

WomansSpace said...

PlainsFeminist:I think that you are not calling transpeople “things” (”something”) but rather including them as “men” or “women” and suggesting a problem with another category and it is this category that you are calling a thing.

I am terribly sorry but I misread what you said and i think this is terribly important.

By not recognizing "transperson"/"transwoman" and transman - I am deliberately rejecting THEIR OWN OBJECTIFICATION.

Since I see clearly that largely we position ourselves in stating our identities - I leave no room for that positioning and othering very deliberatly and with awareness of what i am doing.

I have offered an entire manifesta of identity without ever mentioning the word gender and i have located gender where it actually reside instead of where trans says gender which is major stumbling block with radical feminism.

In doing this I have also equally distributed the burden of identity to EVERYONE not just persons who recognize they are assigned to the wrong class.

I have done this in way that confronts construction of object reality that oppresses women.

What I have done is to recognize that the concept of a privileged identity is a patriarchal construction. I think I've said that all of society would profit immensely should we come to see ourselves in this light.

This is truly liberatory for every one and it is radical feminism at it's best.

I have never been able to get this out before because usually i have thrown off a board before i can lay the groundwork.

Plainsfeminist must be recognized for two things. First of creating a space that will tolerate a radical approach.

Secondly there is an issue of faith here. I think that at some level she understood that my rigidity had a poltical purpose to it. It was to shed off something that is basically patriarchal and to give us an opportunity to try on something new. In other words I think she could see that bigotry was not my real motivation.

Thirdly something that she should also be recognized is "pattern recognition". What I've been saying is highly nuanced. Amidst all of the nuances, i believe she detected a consistency and a consistent direction. It requires either faith or enormous intelligence to do that.

I think plains Feminist shows both.

In Sisterhood,

WomansSpace

plain(s)feminist said...

I am calling them “confused”, not implying a defect but I am saying that their model for understanding themselves is beyond suspect it is plain out and out defective.

I'm not going to agree with you here, but I'm not going to argue with you, either. I don't try to force transgender theory to fit feminism. There are people who are writing transgender feminist theory, and I think you'll find that they address some of the issues you are talking about here and elsewhere, but I'm not versed in that theory and so I'm not going to get into it further.

PLEASE GIVE THIS DEEP SCRUTINY. IT MEANS THAT EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING TO GIVE UP. BUT IT ALSO MEANS THAT IDENTITY, AS IT IS CONSTRUCTED AND SUBSEQUENTLY EXPERIENCED IS A MAJOR PIECE OF GLUE HOLDING PATRIACHY TOGETHER.

Yeah, I've read that before, and it's not anything that most feminists don't already do. The fact it, though, that we don't all come to the same conclusions.

As you say, people are not objects. I take issue with a politics of gender which is why I say there is no such thing as a transgendered person.

It is deeply disrespectful to not allow people to claim their own identity labels. You can disagree with what those labels are based on, but to say "there is no such thing" is just rude. I'm not talking about politics here but about communication. I understand, I think, your point, but the way in which you are making it is not doing justice to your argument.

I wrote:
Transgendered people are far more likely to be sexually assaulted, raped, murdered, battered than are cissexual women, just for instance.

You replied:
That is not a feminist issue.

So, women who are raped, beaten, and murdered - that's not a feminist issue??? The reason they are raped, beaten, and murdered is because they are challenging gender norms. That is a VERY feminist issue. That's why *lesbians* are raped, beaten, and murdered. (And, incidentally, we're talking about transgendered people and lesbians as if there's no overlap between these groups, which, of course, there is.)

Yes, and Betty Friedan was a heterosexist woman actively involved in the oppression of women who love women. When I say trans issues in a feminist space diverts the space, please hear what I am saying that I am rejecting the political model of trans as being flawed and oppressive to women –all woman. I am rejecting a MALE/Patriarchal model of gender and what it is. I am flat rejecting the trans poltical until it get it shit straight.

At the same time, I am saying that essentialists and patriarchists do not have their shit straight either and ALL of us need to come to grip with the patriarchal components of our identity.


You're saying a lot more than this. You're saying that you don't accept transpeople (and you may not like the term, but it's a real umbrella term and I'm going to use it). That's a lot different from saying that you have issues with the whole ideology that gives birth to the term. That's what I'm taking issue with.

Now then, I ask you if you can see that your identity is a construction and that your identity is only validated in patriarchy?

Which identity would that be? I mean, of COURSE identity is constructed. But patriarchy isn't the only thing that is validating identity.

If you can and do recognize that, and I recognize this is a large leap

Actually, I'm a social constructionist, so there is no leaping involved here.

I have been saying for sometime that hearts camp is NOT radical feminism.

So have a whole slew of feminists who would disagree vehemently with you about trans issues. The only people who think that Heart represents radical feminism are Heart and her readers.

Renegade Evolution said...

Sally- as I said,I think humans need to acknowledge other humans, so, well, heh, I acknowledge you and every other human and all...may not like all of 'em, but acknowledge, hell yeah...

WS:

wrt to the revolution:

"It is going to have be done by consensus."

And you are going to have to force people to "consent". Is that not, really, in some ways just as flawed as the Patriarchy? Women dislike having "the dominant male view" forced upon them, what is to say that people...a lot of them, might throughly detest the idea of this consented to society being forced upon them? As I said, and do heartily believe, one persons idea of utopia is another persons idea of hell...and perhaps there is a place somewhere in between. Utilitarian I suppose...the needs of the many and all...

Oh, and trust me, I know more about the sociopath condition than I would like...yes, it is commonly considered to be a personality disorder...some say there are roots in the biological for it, others disagree, but very few see there is ANY form of treatment for it, and not a lot has been done to really dig into what makes a sociopath, or a psychopath, or many other personality disorders...aside from abuse. Yes, abuse can make a personality disorder, but does little to explain all those folks with PD's who were never abused, as such...

In any event, I do not think a society with no concept of "power" can, well, exist. In nature animals, while motivated by far different reasons (food, shelter, procreation, survival) fight for dominance...the best hunting/feeding areas, the best mates, the safest places to live and raise young...humans are animals, is it realistic to think humans would not, do not, and would continue to do such things?

WomansSpace said...

***Sigh***


"So, women who are raped, beaten, and murdered - that's not a feminist issue??? "

Women are murdered and robbed and raped because we are member of class woman and feminism is intended to address this.

"The reason they are raped, beaten, and murdered is because they are challenging gender norms. "


Yes and they are also perpetuating the basic tenets of gender.


"That is a VERY feminist issue. That's why *lesbians* are raped, beaten, and murdered. (And, incidentally, we're talking about transgendered people and lesbians as if there's no overlap between these groups, which, of course, there is.)"

That lesbians are transgendered is trans billshit.

Lesbians are murder and raped because we are members of class woman which makes it a feminist issue.

It is deeply disrespectful to not allow people to claim their own identity labels. You can disagree with what those labels are based on, but to say "there is no such thing" is just rude. I'm not talking about politics here but about communication. I understand, I think, your point, but the way in which you are making it is not doing justice to your argument.

Thank you for hearing the argument. I am being jarringly confrontive but i am so used to not being hear and so used to reassigned people being kneejerky about it that's a rut I've fallen into.

I might be rude. It could be argued that if some holds a gun to their head and slowly squeezes the trigger that intervention is also rude.

wbdjdr said...

"Actually, I'm a social constructionist, so there is no leaping involved here."

I am so weird... I'm getting wet ;)

Renegade Evolution said...

also: wrt to identity...asking someone to "give up their identity", as framed and defined by the Patriarchy or not, is asking A LOT. One's identity is the sum total of outside and in, their thoughts, experiences, the bottom line of all they've seen in their X amount of years on the planet earth, both good and bad, and frankly, I don't think sloughing it off like a snake skin is possible, or perhaps even healthy. Disconstructing identity means disconstructing a lot of other things, relations that have been good, positive experiences, and, in essence, accepting all you are and all you've ever been was not just perhaps influenced by the patriarchy, but coded and utterly dictated by it...leaving very little room for things like personality and free will...which I tend to think we all have to some extent or another. The idea of throwing all of that to the side is not only terrifying, it's creepy. You can wipe a harddrive, you cannot wipe a human being.

WomansSpace said...

Oops... that wird name was me.


In any event, I do not think a society with no concept of "power" can, well, exist. In nature animals, while motivated by far different reasons (food, shelter, procreation, survival) fight for dominance...the best hunting/feeding areas, the best mates, the safest places to live and raise young...humans are animals, is it realistic to think humans would not, do not, and would continue to do such things?

RE: there are at least three distinctions in power:

Power-over, Power-with, and Power-to

It is power-over that feminists take issue with. I'd invite you to further research these distinction. One person i know that discusses them is Starhawk, I'm sure you find others.

WomansSpace said...

"also: wrt to identity...asking someone to "give up their identity", as framed and defined by the Patriarchy or not, is asking A LOT. One's identity is the sum total of outside and in, their thoughts, experiences, the bottom line of all they've seen in their X amount of years on the planet earth, both good and bad, and frankly, I don't think sloughing it off like a snake skin is possible, or perhaps even healthy. Disconstructing identity means disconstructing a lot of other things, relations that have been good, positive experiences, and, in essence, accepting all you are and all you've ever been was not just perhaps influenced by the patriarchy, but coded and utterly dictated by it...leaving very little room for things like personality and free will...which I tend to think we all have to some extent or another. The idea of throwing all of that to the side is not only terrifying, it's creepy. You can wipe a harddrive, you cannot wipe a human being. "

Read what I am saying very carefully. I did not say give up their identity anywhere but simply to recognize that it is constructed.

i can say... Oh yes, my identity is contructed and my identity does not changed. I still have my life experiences. However I gain something.

I have the opportunity to see that what i really am is a self interpreting entity as opposed to a natural object - and if everyone one the planet saw that.

The revolution will have occurred.

Renegade Evolution said...

WS: No, I am not going to do a bunch of net running wrt to power-over at the moment. Few reasons, one I am tired, two, often I have found feminists unwilling to go into the topic from their point of veiw refer you to the writings of someone else, and three...eh, I am tired. A nap is in my near future. However, I think there are natural levels of power over, as it were, that are necessary...parents technically have power over their children, and for a reason. The thing that needs to be addressed is not the whole "power over" spectrum, but mens power over women, yes? Which is, in fact, an issue feminists of all stripes do attempt to address often. Methodology varies, but it is a Main Concern... and probably has a lot less to do with mini skirts and bdsm than many would like to think...in fact, the older I get, the more I see and experience, the more I get the distinct impression that the anti bdsm sentiments of some feminists are way off the reality of it and charactarized only by the worst they have seen or heard of it... in any event, this is (continues to be) interesting and enlightening, but I must sleep...I shall return later.

plain(s)feminist said...

By not recognizing "transperson"/"transwoman" and transman - I am deliberately rejecting THEIR OWN OBJECTIFICATION.

Since I see clearly that largely we position ourselves in stating our identities - I leave no room for that positioning and othering very deliberatly and with awareness of what i am doing.

I have offered an entire manifesta of identity without ever mentioning the word gender and i have located gender where it actually reside instead of where trans says gender which is major stumbling block with radical feminism.


I can understand your position. My own response has been to set aside what certain schools of thought within feminism say and to let transgendered people speak for themselves and challenge (or apply) feminism themselves. I think my job as a cissexual woman is to read the theory that comes out of people's lived experiences as FTMs or MTFs and to be an advocate for them.

As I said, I believe that some of the issues you raise are being addressed. I know some of this came up recently at little light's blog, where many trans-identified people were discussing some of the tensions between certain transgender ideology - or between the patriarchal impact on transgender experience - and feminism.

But I will add, again, that the way you have stated these positions has also been deeply hurtful. You've still fallen back on stereotypes and made hurtful comments. You've still positioned transgender people - a term which most readers will understand as a class of people, not as a definition you're disagreeing with - as a threat to feminism by virtue of their very bodies and souls. Part of this is, I think, just the difficulty of talking about theoretically complex issues. But part of it is what I still see as bigotry on your part, even though that may not be your intent.

Plainsfeminist must be recognized for two things. First of creating a space that will tolerate a radical approach.

I think that many spaces tolerate radical approaches. I think that, for example, I could go over to Ren Ev's site and post some of the same concerns that you've posted, if I wanted to, but in very different language, and that there would be interesting dialogue.

Transgender people hear, often, the notion that in a non-patriarchal world, they wouldn't feel the need to alter their bodies or they wouldn't feel the deep sense of wrongness of their biological bodies. You know, this might be true. We don't live in a non-patriarchal world, so I don't know. But then again, in a non-patriarchal world, all kinds of things might be the case. People who are now lesbians might not be; people who are now heterosexual might not be. Not being under that iron fist might change all kinds of things. But just as I would never suggest that someone be in a relationship with a person they didn't love because they might love that person in a different world, I think that when someone says that their gender is at odds with their biological sex, we need to give them room to do what is healing for them and not insist that they sacrifice themselves for the movement.

Now, I know that this isn't exactly what you're saying. You're saying that radical feminism would liberate people so that they aren't wrapped up in these identities. My feeling is that there are transactivists who are also radical feminists, and that there is a bridge there: the impact of the patriarchy on people who feel their bodies are "wrong" is being explored and examined. (I think Emi Koyama writes about this - I know she addresses radical feminism and transgender.)

I also think that there are ways that movements evolve. The first issue is survival. The second issue is inclusion and acceptance. And then movements grow radical. Witness the homophile movement and it's transition to demanding gay rights; abolition and a long assimilation before Black Nationalism; the right to vote well before radical feminism.

(Readers: I'm worried that I'm sounding patronizing toward transgender issues and theory - I apologize if this is the case. I'm trying to make a larger point that, while it may seem easy to look from the outside and critique someone else's movement, people involved in a struggle should have the freedom to determine for themselves what their struggles will be and how they will fight them. And political movements shift and change over time, so the entirety of movements shouldn't be judged on the basis of a snapshot moment. (I'd be deeply disturbed if all of feminism was judged by the evidence of Ms. Magazine.))

Secondly there is an issue of faith here. I think that at some level she understood that my rigidity had a poltical purpose to it.

You had contacted me privately before we had this thread, and so I knew that we began with some shared ideas and respect. You have also often been open to interacting with differing opinions (as with Ren Ev). It's not that I saw your purpose but that I saw a willingness to dialogue.

Amidst all of the nuances, i believe she detected a consistency and a consistent direction. It requires either faith or enormous intelligence to do that.

No, I'm just familiar with radical feminism and I could see some of what your larger perspective was.

plain(s)feminist said...

That lesbians are transgendered is trans billshit.

I'm not saying that all lesbians are tg. I'm saying that some tg people are lesbians.

WomansSpace said...

And that i would say....

So some people are lesbians?

We knew that. ;)

WomansSpace said...

"Emi Koyama writes about this - I know she addresses radical feminism and transgender.)"

Emi Koyama - is trancentric and therefore I reject Koyama's writing. Radical feminism is not transcentric that's for sure.

WomansSpace said...

"You have also often been open to interacting with differing opinions (as with Ren Ev). It's not that I saw your purpose but that I saw a willingness to dialogue."

Any good radical feminist is willing to dialogue with other women. I'm not saying I am good at all. I am only saying that i do my best to be.

Experience is one thing, imposed a transgender model to interpret that experience is another.

I am saying the entire model is really wrong and if people are using that model they have started out on the wrong foot and I don;t mind saying that at all.

The model is not their experience although after internalizing the model the two become difficult to separate. This is why i am saying the model itself is damaging.

Renegade Evolution said...

WS

wrt to identity as a construct vs identity as self...

When I introduce myself to someone out in the real world, I use my name. "Hi, I'm Ren." so to speak. I don't introduce myself as "Woman", or "heterosexual woman", or "jew", or "asian-american", or "graduate", or any other such thing. I use my name. Now, yes, people can immediately look at me and determine I am, or at least certainly appear to be female, some even can guess 'eurasian', but they have met me as what I introduced myself via, my name. The net makes this even more possible, you can converse with a wide variety of people with different thoughts and experiences and never know what gender they are, or how they ID sexually, or any such thing. You never know who or what they might be unless they tell you, other than that, they are a net handle. A faceless, genderless entity if they choose to be...which is interesting. When I first started commenting and blogging, people assumed I was a man. Reasons cited for this were my username, my stance on pornography, and my style of debate...all described by many as masculine traits...however, I am female. Gender itself is already blurred on the net...there are lots of places in real life where gender is blurred as well...subultures and various scenes, where things like "Hi, my name is Ren." Or "I'm Geri, nice to meet you", or "this is my friend Nicky" is all that's needed...everything else, gender, sexual preference, race, so on, is secondary to not really important at all. Is this not, in some ways, what you are working for?

Also, how do you feel about male feminists or male feminist allies?

WomansSpace said...

Renegade Evolution:

wrt to identity as a construct vs identity as self...

Construct (noun) and Constructed(verb) are two different things.

Our identities are contructed meaning when you popped out of the womb, you give a name name and wrapped in a pink blanket. You came into the world in an established social context and learned to make sense to the world via the interconnected meaning of that context.

This is what I mean by the fact that our identities are socially constructed. They are scultured, as part of an active process we are told who and what we are and the label for that process is socially constructed (verb) as opposed to gender for example which is a social construction (noun) as well as socially constructed.

Male feminists.... *sigh* that's a hugh topic in itself. If we deferred that to another time would that be OK?

Renegade Evolution said...

sure.

heh, my first blanket was green :)

WomansSpace said...

You're very kind... although your Avitar is a little scary to me, Renegade.

It's a little hard to look at and to match your kindness up to that picture.

Renegade Evolution said...

yeah, well, that's my not happy face. trust me, my mood? Not always so good and benevolent and whathave you. I can be a worldclass asshole when necessary. :) I have, however, pondered changing ye old avatar as of late...hummm

WomansSpace said...

Please take care. I think you are really nice.

Renegade Evolution said...

I think I may open up the whole "male feminist, male feminist allies" can of worms over at my blog..y'all are all more than welcome to drop by and participate if you like (keep in mind, my logo does contain nudity of an erotic nature, thou hath been warned.)

WomansSpace said...

Hmmmm ... I tend to be rather snow white.

Renegade. There is a message for you at:

www.womansspace.wordpress.com

Cassandra Says said...

Trin - Agreed completely RE the Second Wave as VERY VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS vs Third Wave as a bit more irreverant. I think that's a big part of the communication problem, actually, the fact that to a lot fo Second Wave people it seems like the kids just aren't taking things seriously enough.
Another way to conceptualise it is that the Second Wave seem to see all kinds of pleasure-seeking activities as a distraction from the cause, whereas a sizeable part of the Third Wave is more inclined to think that, given that the system isn't going to change tomorrow, why not wring every little bit of joy we can for ourselves out of life now? It's a question of how one views the concept of delayed gratification and whether one waits until "after the revolution", IMO.

Trinity said...

"Trin - Agreed completely RE the Second Wave as VERY VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS vs Third Wave as a bit more irreverant. I think that's a big part of the communication problem, actually, the fact that to a lot fo Second Wave people it seems like the kids just aren't taking things seriously enough."

Yes, I understand that. I really don't know how possible it is to bridge that particular gap, though. I don't personally feel that having a carefree, exploratory spirit about one's personal life and identity is damaging, or causes people to be any less serious about issues of oppression. I just don't.

In fact, earlier today I was re-watching Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist and thinking about the way morbid humor helped him to survive as long as he did and to cope with having a terminal illness.

I think we can understand and honor the people who need play and still also understand that oppressed groups need to be accorded respect and standing.

Trinity said...

"It's a question of how one views the concept of delayed gratification and whether one waits until "after the revolution", IMO."

And personally I don't think there's gonna be a "revolution" in that sense. Call me wimpy, but I think that if the radical ideology of the second wave were really going to result in this brilliant overthrowing of whole systems of thought, ushering in a bright new world for women... it would have happened already.

I think feminism is a slow, steady erosion, not a brilliant, sudden re-polarization. Sometimes it's useful to behave as if the re-polarization is going to happen if we only get a little louder RIGHT NOW or find a few more people for THIS MARCH, etc.

But I no longer (if I ever actually did) feel that the Revolution is really going to come. It's like sitting around waiting for a Messiah with a cunt.

Anonymous said...

What strikes me as really odd about this exchange, is that womansspace had a blog up for a while where she described taking synthetic estrogen to transform her (formerly) male body into a more feminine form.

However, she also states that because she transitioned young, found easy social acceptance, and does not id as transgender, she is not a transwoman.

I must be missing something, but OK. A lot of us lie about our pasts. In a trans hostile world, it is certainly safer...

It does however, make this exchange *interesting*