Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"But is that really -feminism?-": off of that:

the previous post, I mean: as I also said over at BL's, in response to this question of whether it's time to "take a break" from feminism (you need to read the whole article and the piece to do it justice, trust me), I sez:

Here’s my thing. As someone else I forget where was saying: “feminist” was just one of those things I figured, of course I’m one, what reasonable person wouldn’t be?

After these past few months, I seem to be picking up the message from some fronts that feminism is not, in fact, the radical notion that women are people; it is the People’s Notion of Wimmin Radikals.

some people seem terribly terribly invested in spreading this meme. not many; but it doesn’t *take* many.

personally, I’m not for letting the fuckers appropriate that.

but if they succeed, I gotta say I’ma be hard put to blame Rush Limbaugh and his ilk exclusively for the demise of feminism.

it’s not much use blaming a distorting stereotype when you ARE a distorting stereotype.

anyway in terms of theory, in this regard at least, I’ve always been more drawn to queer studies. I’m probably down with a broader integrative movement really reassessing gender and sexuality and sex. so for me, feminism’s inevitably a key part of that; but it’s also inextricably linked with gay rights and trans activism and sex pos and sexual abuse studies/activism and gender/body policing studies/activism, and a serious look at ways to overhaul the toxic aspects of “masculinity” in this culture; so, yes, working with men would be a good idea too, yes. not just as allies but for their own sakes.

call it what you will.

all I know is: if people don’t like it, they are cordially invited to suck my tampon.

22 comments:

Renegade Evolution said...

BD:

No, "they" just don't get to have the word. "Feminism" is not something they just get to lay claim too.

And I have been pondering a rant on "the masculinization of female sexuality" (i know, sounds wierd to me too) but I just know the hellstorm such a thing could bring about...

Meh. You're a feminist on your OWN terms, and anyone who does not like it, TOO BAD!

belledame222 said...

Well, that's sort of Ariel Levy's schtick, the "raunch culture" business, but I sense that's probably not what you mean.

What it is is -neutering.- It is. Ultimately it is. You can't just keep chipping and scraping at this desire and that feeling and expect to come out on the other side all free-flowing and full of teh self-esteem. eternal second-guessing and self-doubt; not really terrific for teh lusty feelings.

And as I was just saying earlier, yeah, I have particular buttons about this "o sex doesn't really matter that much" wrt lesbianism, particularly when it comes from people who sure -seem- like they're appropriating the term to mean "super-feminist and I'm sick of men."

belledame222 said...

oh yeah, and as I also said:

normally I'm really reluctant to play the "realness" shit. normally I think, so you say you're a lesbian? nu, you're a lesbian: godspeed and god bless. enjoy and happy exploring.

but it is pretty fucking ironic to hear, essentially, "lesbianism means whatever I say it means!" RIGHT AFTER PERSON FINISHED SCOLDING PEOPLE FOR SAYING FEMINISM MEANS WHATEVER -THEY- SAY IT MEANS.

in both cases of course it's pig-ignorant of history; but hey, who needs HIStory when you have self-righteousness?

Renegade Evolution said...

oh, there will be mention of the whole raunch culture thing, trust me (and a link I found to cite that made me grin for some reason)...

And I can see where peoples defining of lesbianism would get to you, indeed. I'm not a lesbian, but here is my definition:

Lesbian: A woman who prefers the sexual company of other women, is physcially and sexually attracted to females, and has a standard of sexual and physical desire rooted in a preferance for the female body.

Accurate, or do I have it wrong utterly...

belledame222 said...

Works for me.

I know bi folk who've ended up with (and/or becoming) male-type people who call themselves "hasbeans" or suchlike. as far as I'm concerned they're welcome in the "community" anytime they like; they were there, they know the drill.

and generally speaking i think people get to pick their own labels.

irony, however, i can't pass up. particularly when it's in as fuckwitacious a package as this one.

belledame222 said...

for that matter: I know people who aren't too keen that "they" have appropriated "radical" feminism (Lady Aster for one; my LJ pal trin for another; I've seen others), seeing as how they feel that they, too, are interested in the -root- cause of women's oppression, might even be inclined to see the patriarchy as the uber-oppressive structure, and so on. they just don't really care for being offered up as sacrificial lambs to the altar of dogma on account of their personal lives (once again, pretty much always having to do with the person's own body and what -she- chooses to do with it, which yeah is pretty much feminism 101); and who the hell can blame them?

as far as i'm concerned: you want "radical" feminism, o Dworkin and Jeffreys acolytes? You can keep it. I'm not too keen on "radical" anything these days, due to my own negative connotations of the word. i think i even wrote a piece about that, at the sidebar.

but again: some ovaries, trying to claim that this particular variant of radfem is not only all radfem (a look at the early history says different) but all of FEMINISM--honey, no. Just: no. Your ignorance is not an excuse.

Renegade Evolution said...

amen and pass the ammunition! oh wait... too radical :)

belledame222 said...

like I also said, somewhere back there: Hothead Paisan is my favorite radical feminist. she don't take no shit from NOBODY.

i mean, if you're gonna smash the patriarchy, then SMASH THE PATRIARCHY.

and knows the value of a cute tranny and a handful of clothespins on a sweltery sumer night.

piny said...

and knows the value of a cute tranny and a handful of clothespins on a sweltery sumer night.


...Actually, DiMassa took great pains to make it clear that Daphne was _not_ meant to be a clearly-identifiable tranny, because that would make it more difficult for DiMassa to sell comics to transphobic dykes who don't want to see HH betraying them with a SCAM. Much as I love it, it's not a trans-positive comic, and it definitely isn't drawn by a trans-positive artist.

belledame222 said...

oh, is -that- why? i'm dense sometimes, i admit it.
anyway it seemed like she was pro-fluidity (body and gender) from some of her other strips.

anyway it seemed like there wasn't any other way to read Daphne except as going through transition; (what she didn't make clear was in what direction) but I could see where if you -really- didn't want to believe it, you could pretend it wasn't so, I guess.

sort of along the lines of what happens with "coded" gay storylines on mainstream TV shows maybe? soften and blur and throw out hints for the cognoscenti while letting the phobic cling happily to their beliefs...

(am thinking of the Willow/Tara business in BTVS, particularly the early stages. "what? magic? a what-a-phor? no, I don't see it at all...:eyeroll:)

and I know someone else has said she's come out as "yay, MichFest," which I guess I just filed away under "huh, bizarre" because it seemed so out of context with what I thought I knew of her.

too bad.

belledame222 said...

...it'd be especially lame because she stopped altogether shortly after the Daphne storyline ended anyway. in fact I think there was only one more issue.

well. I like to think the clothespins alone pissed plenty of people off...

Lady Aster said...

"....all I know is: if people don’t like it, they are cordially invited to suck my tampon."

ROTFL, thanx belldamme, this phrase is priceless.

piny said...

is -that- why? i'm dense sometimes, i admit it.
anyway it seemed like she was pro-fluidity (body and gender) from some of her other strips.


I did, too. I'd seen positive portrayals of transmen (can't remember if there were any particular ones of transwomen), and was very pleased. DiMassa's work was actually the first time I saw a graphic representation of a transguy who was hot.* And once I figured out that Daphne seemed to be trans, I was overjoyed.

...But then there was this horrible interview in Bitch magazine. What happened was, there was a HH musical at Michfest last year, with music by Bitch and Animal (IIRC). Some transwomen/CT/transfemale-inclusion people made the point that Daphne herself would not have been allowed to attend Michfest. DiMassa was vexed, and responded by complaining that:

1) How dare you assume that Daphne is transgendered and not a woman!

2) She herself wholeheartedly supported the policy, which was _not_ transphobic in any way, shape, or form.

...And used words like "male-born," and ascribed the unwillingness of transwomen to just quietly accept exclusion to their male-privileged aggression.

This is problematic for a couple reasons:

1) As a matter of fact, Daphne fucking well is excluded. The festival is for women only; to the extent that Daphne is not a woman, does not identify solely as a woman, and is not unambiguously identified as a woman, she is formally prohibited from attending fest. By attending fest, she accepts an identity of female-born-female.

2) DiMassa doesn't get to make this call. She also doesn't get to take umbrage at transwomen reading her work one way, given her self-serving approval of other women who read HH:HLT and Daphne as trans-exclusive.

*Anorexic that I have been, all my anxiety about transphobia was projected onto my body. "No one will love me," became, "I'm gonna look like Denis Franz!"

piny said...

It's also a problem for her to get so angry that transwomen are so eager to see representation because...just what the fuck is her problem? Are they just so greedy, with their joy at what might be the second or third recurring transfemale character in a dyke strip _ever_? Does that indicate an embarrassment of riches? It's like the Gonzman's diatribes about secret tranny handjobbers: it implies an existing level of cultural visibility, acceptance, and power that's frankly risible.

piny said...

...And I've gone and hijacked the thread. Should we go back to talking about how awesome HH the character is?

belledame222 said...

damn. well, that's seriously disappointing. and yeah, had I read that interview, I'm sure I would've come to the same conclusions you did. well, I mean, obviously I believe you. but I'd just been going on the book, which, like you say, *seems...* and I know she'd at least included one drag queen character (very minor scene)...

She also has that whole section which is specifically about her own transphobia (HH's, of course) and how she deals with it there, I thought, was really honest and cool (one of the "flights of fantasy" sections; first she admits that the truth is that she's actually pretty damn close to a man herself, and if she'd been born a "testosterone container," she'd've liked to be a Hell's Angel mechanic, "hairy and scary, and wouldn't give a fuck about anyone!"

then there's a bit where she cites the kind of crap that the Questioning Transgender site has ("hey! all I need to do is go down to the clinic, poof! privilege problems all gone!") and a pissed-off fantasy transman (who -is- explicitly drawn--is that who you meant by "kind of hot?") who explains exactly why this attitude is wrongheaded and insulting. including the part about why, after all that, he wanted to change his body ("it was like trying to swim in a wedding gown; very uncomfortable").

so yeah, it sucks that she's apparently backpedalled like this. weird. I wonder why?

I mean it -could- be that she just never got over her thing with MTF's as opposed to FTM's, but...i dunno, it doesn't really add up.

belledame222 said...

oh hey, 'scool, I hijack all the damn time. i don't even remember what we were talking about. oh, yeah. that. roughly that apart from the straight-man-phobia/homicidal urges toward, I had -thought- HH was a good example of a radical lesbian feminist that I actually could relate to her as a -lesbian- -and- a queer, not just a feminist. otherwise it would've left me cold.

i am more sympathetic toward hetbuoyz than HH, clearly; and I am femmey; but on the whole, the comic really spoke to me.

which is more than i can say for many if not any of the real-life "radical lesbian feminists" I seem to be encountering (and that includes theorists like Jeffreys).

mostly I think: y'know, hetlez works in more ways than one. I don't know but that I don't find the "political lesbian" -more- alienating and offensive than the drunk femmey girls making out in front of men, representation-wise, I mean.

because of course the "political lesbians" are STILL doing it all for men; it's just that they're doing it as a gesture of -rejection- rather than pleasing.

but at the end of the day: so the fuck what?

and further: pleasing at least seems to me more straightforward, somehow.

how do you define a negative?

and if it's really all about the wimmin-love, even platonically as it were...well, by and large, this woman ain't feelin' it from here.

antiprincess said...

but it is pretty fucking ironic to hear, essentially, "lesbianism means whatever I say it means!" RIGHT AFTER PERSON FINISHED SCOLDING PEOPLE FOR SAYING FEMINISM MEANS WHATEVER -THEY- SAY IT MEANS.

OK - I was going to comment at length on this, in painstaking detail, in glorious Drecknicolor...but seriously - what for? you've already said it better than I could have.

belledame222 said...

ah, go on. i wanna hear your take on it.

well, and I imagine that the biphobia, that comes in nicely too, doesn't it, with the whole "realness" and policing crap.

Bitch | Lab said...

piny -- rock! you rock! thanks for these rants.

piny said...

She also has that whole section which is specifically about her own transphobia (HH's, of course) and how she deals with it there, I thought, was really honest and cool (one of the "flights of fantasy" sections; first she admits that the truth is that she's actually pretty damn close to a man herself, and if she'd been born a "testosterone container," she'd've liked to be a Hell's Angel mechanic, "hairy and scary, and wouldn't give a fuck about anyone!"

Right. That was something that stuck with me, too--I mean, her positive representation of the whole thing.

so yeah, it sucks that she's apparently backpedalled like this. weird. I wonder why?

I mean it -could- be that she just never got over her thing with MTF's as opposed to FTM's, but...i dunno, it doesn't really add up.


I think that she's accepting of ftms in fact, probably because she doesn't see them as properly men. They're an in-between category for her, because they spent time as dykes. I think that she was accepting of transwomen in the abstract, but when some of them challenged her comfortable biases as prejudice, she got defensive and said some things that revealed her prejudice. Uneven acceptance is formal for some dyke feminists; on a less-articulate level, it's really common. Julia Serano--who rocks--calls it "trans misogyny," i.e. hatred of transwomen as opposed to simple transphobia. I'm inclined to agree.

because of course the "political lesbians" are STILL doing it all for men; it's just that they're doing it as a gesture of -rejection- rather than pleasing.

What irritates me most about it is that "lesbianism" needs to be redefined away from sexuality. How exactly is political-lesbian practice separate from radical-feminist separatism? Why confuse solidarity with desire when it's clear that a lot of dykes separate them to various degrees?

belledame222 said...

well, yeah, exactly. I mean: if you're not interested in having sex or an erotic relationship with anyone, aren't physically attracted to women, but want to spend your life in the company of women, well, hell, nothing wrong with that. You're a separatist. Live with women if you like--have a "romantic friendship" or a commune or whatev'.

Reading some people, I do get the impression that maybe it really is the ex-gay thing in reverse--like, men are attractive but dangerous and oppressive, whereas women are gentle and loving and sexuality between women is fundamentally different--hell, maybe to the point of not even actually needing any--so, you convince yourself you've fallen in love, or you will any day now...I'm just speculating.

and/or, as BL said, some people were probably already pretty fluid, and are extrapolating from their own experience of "choosing"--which they really did do--to everyone else.