Wednesday, February 06, 2008

tangentially: on "advanced feminism" and related topics

Just highlighting this tangential exchange from a thread at RE's, because it's a fair point.

A Nomen Nescio says:

now and then i run into self-described feminists who insist that people should read up on the basics of feminism before commenting on it. these are folks who can get very upset with anyone who tries to criticize what they (the "anyone") see as "feminism" without first having read some laundry list of classics the self-described feminist considers essential to any enlightened debate and criticism of the subject. these are the sort of people who'd not only start "feminism 101" websites, but insist you have to go read all the back archives of same before speaking up on feminism.

which, y'know, is reasonable in itself. there's lots of subjects that people really should read up on before jumping in with both feet and landing with them both in their own mouths. no reason why feminism can't be one more such subject, really.

except... that's usually the case with subjects of academic study. ivory tower stuff, where the language used is highly technical jargon and one reason to read up is just so you'll be able to understand what's being said, and so on.

but if you want to have a grassroots movement for social change --- that is, political activism --- then you really can't afford to retreat into the ivory tower. if you want to change the society we all live in, you'll have to speak to everybody using everyday language that nobody needs any special education to parse. that's really just the way social activism works, i think.

so, is feminism an academic specialty for rarefied study, or is it a grassroots in-the-trenches movement for changing how everybody lives? can any one thing be both at once?

My off the cuff response:

eh, i feel two ways about it. yes, there is more to feminism than usually gets talked about on the blogosphere, and it'd be nice if more more. and no, activism and theory are definitely not exclusive.

meanwhile, thing about feminism 101, that actual site as conceived, I mean, is meant more as a sort of perma-intrablogular FAQ so that other topics elsewhere don't get dragged down, over and over, by people responding to the same questions or points that have been posed by other people a million times before. this, i don't have a problem with. it's not that the concepts are so difficult, it's, well, FAQ.

but yeah, i do find it obnoxious when people throw around shit like "this is advanced feminism," particularly when it's painfully obvious that if there -were- any such thing, that would not be it: 9 times out of 10, it's not about o say comparing subtle differences between early radical feminism, socialist feminism, and cultural feminism, or an exegesis of Helene Cixous' idea of the "abject," or even a non-academic but still complex "personal is political" discussion of the ways in which sexism intersects (o noez) with racism, homophobia, ableism, classism...

but no, most of the time, no no no. usually what it means is, the person is pulling rank, making up in spittle and volume what she (sometimes even he) lacks in either activist cred -or- theoretical chops. much less plain ol' decent behavior toward the actual other women in the topic...

"Cool it. I'm an ice cream salesman. I am senior to both of you."

forget it, Jake, it's Internetstown.


That doesn't really address how it does and doesn't play out in what is laughingly known as "real life," I realize.

There is also the (long predating Internets) feminist concept of "the personal is political," which has been tossed about here before, and if I can find the relecant conversations, I'll come back and link 'em.

Nutshell, mine at least: it was supposed to be, and this was indeed a radical concept, once, that so-called "trivial" shit, iow everything normally consigned to the domestic sphere, is also part of the political structure.

So, basically, what this means in practical terms is, sometime during the throes of the Boomer generation sociopolitical upheavals, a number of women who'd been fighting for various leftist causes looked at their lives and then each other, and went,

"You know, Radical Robbie keeps yakking away about labor, and don't get me wrong, I support the union, too; but somehow he doesn't seem to make any connection between the exploitation of the Workers (tm) and the fact that I'm expected to make his damn dinner and do his laundry, without pay, while he yaks away, completely oblivious as to how dinner got on the table and the clean clothes got in his drawer. What's wrong with this picture?"

...among other things. Including reproduction and yes, sexuality in general, which is arguably where the whole thing went pear shaped. Or perhaps, where it became not just "including" but "primarily about, to the exclusion or at least dwarfing of all else." I'm not gonna argue that either way right now. Certainly it's gonna be explosive, because its incredibly intimate and we have (again, arguably, depending on your standpoint) all manner of collective sexual and bodily hangups which cannot be rectified by anti-misogyny alone, although yes, there does seem to be a connection.

Anyway. Long story short, for whatever reason, and however it came about, what seems to have happened here is, "the personal is political" has devolved, by and large, into

"If we all rigorously police ourselves and each other for our individual choices, some of which blatantly support the Patriarchy (tm) and others do not, all those individual decisions to abstain from porn-watching, lipstick wearing, blowjob-giving, and so forth, will add up to Revolution. This is by no means Underpants Gnome logic. p.s. By a total coincidence, those things which I need and value in my own life are among the acceptable compromises or even no problem at all, whereas the things -you- need and value are frivolous at best, oppressive of women, which is to say Me, at worst, and you really need to stop doing it or at least feel guilty about it or I can't treat you like a human being. Why must you be so divisive? You must not be a real feminist. No, really, you're not a feminist. ...Where have all the feminists gone?"


Kim has apparently been thinking along similar lines, again. Or rather: here is, perhaps, where that pesky "intersection" comes in:

In Ideal Feminism, all prostitutes are poverty-stricken addicts, bonus if they are under the thumb of an evil male pimp. These prostitutes are all miserable, broken shells of women who want desperately to be set free from sex slavery and addiction.

In Ideal Feminism, all women in domestic violence shelters are beaten and broken frail little husks of themselves, desperate to embrace a life free from the men who abused them.

In Ideal Feminism, homeless women are victims as well; victims of deadbeat dads who don't pay child support; unable to find employment due to sexism in the job market and unequipped with the necessary survival skills due to abuse they suffered at the hands of the patriarchy.

In Ideal Feminisms, all these women are the Linda Lovelace of homelessness, domestic violence, addiction and prostitution.


In the real world, many women just don't have the hatred for The Patriarchy that many of these educated, privileged, soaked-in-reading feminists have. In the dog-eat-dog world of crushing poverty, addiction and homelessness, many women could give a rat's ass for Dworkin or Frye. So much of feminism today seems limited to college campuses, quaint coffee shop discussion, hip little bars and of course, the internets. So much of it seems so marinated and basted in Idealisms, Theories and Ain't I Smart? that I damn near could vomit.

I want a working tool, not a fucking fairy tale.

In the real world, every woman is not Linda Lovelace, beaten, broken, repentant and begging to be rescued. The perfect damsel in distress for feminism to play its knight in shining armor role – and then to plaster the damsel's sad, sad story on poster boards as proof.

Too, these feminists who fill up their blogs with post after post of the plight of third world women and those feminists who apparently scour the internet for stories on violence against women.

You’re talking a real risk there, sister. Good for you for not leaving your house and congrats on your internet searching ability!

"But I am raising awareness," they pout. "I am letting THE WORLD know about these horrors, oh and here is a quote from a famous, published-for-real feminist to back me up!"

Bullshit you're raising awareness.
Who is reading your blog other than those just like you?
Additionally, I never trust an “activist” with clean fingernails.

...Feminism is a woman’s movement.
I do indeed believe women still battle for equal rights and therefore, I believe a woman’s movement is needed. Still, I’m calling it as I see it: today’s feminism, especially blogging feminism is a tainted, stinking, foul cesspool of rivalry.

Right, then:

White feminists v. WoC Feminists.
Anti-porn radical feminists v. “sex pos” feminists.
Born lesbian feminists (with a “clear-eyed gaze”) v. heterosexual feminists.
Non-trans feminists v. trans-feminists
Perfect Grammar Feminists v. Not-So-Perfect-Grammar-Feminists
Childfree by Choice Feminists v. Breeding Feminists
Daughter only breeding feminists v. Son-breeding feminists (I shit you not with this one.)

For starters.

Anyone who claims feminism is some giant umbrella of sisterhood is sadly mistaken. Would that this were so. Rather, feminism is polluted with exclusionary tactics and Orwellian “more equal than others” philosophies.

Saddest of all, some of these feminist bloggers who claim to care so very much about women are the same women who have so polluted this movement for me.

I’m certainly not alone here. Many feminist bloggers show a trail of bodies behind them: women who all finally reached their personal saturation point with whatever exclusionary, sometimes cult-like dogma was slung their way once too often...

No, she's not alone.

There is also, again, the question of: so, is this mostly an online phenomenon. Certainly there are plenty of actual longtime activists who find this blog drama as bewildering and offputting as the next person. The Internets do have qualities of their own, yes.

But, no, at the same time, I think, it's not only that; the 'Net isn't in a completely separate sphere from the "real world," people being people, by and large. and frankly, this shit is, well? Not new.

Eh, rambling now: floor is open.


thene said...

but no, most of the time, no no no. usually what it means is, the person is pulling rank, making up in spittle and volume what she (sometimes even he) lacks in either activist cred -or- theoretical chops. much less plain ol' decent behavior toward the actual other women in the topic...

I tend to read it as: 'NO, I have argued on the internets about this BEFORE and I was RIGHT THAT TIME so it has passed into HISTORY and I'm not going to engage you as an individual, you're just an argument I already had.' 'We've been here already' has its place, but a quick explanation is going to get your point across much better than a mile-long reading list and the insinuation that you're the bestest feministestest.

the 'Net isn't in a completely separate sphere from the "real world," people being people, by and large. and frankly, this shit is, well? Not new.

Not new, and yet, feminist IRL trolling is hardly dead.

Desipis said...

It's been about a month since I've started to read a lot of feminism material online, and I can't help but agree with what you've quoted from Kim.

There is also, again, the question of: so, is this mostly an online phenomenon?

I think the underlying causes are nothing new, but the way it manifests itself is probably different online. Most movements or political organizations are started a lead by people with enough brains to prevent trivial shit from taking centre stage. The infighting and mudslinging is typically kept behind stage. However in the online sphere the cost and chance of getting on stage becomes much more favourable to the radicals who begin to drown out the original cause and more thoughtful messages.

thene, the impression I have is the 'intellectual' feminists meticulously redefined common words to refer to abstract notions ("Patriarchy", "Privilege", etc) and become frustrated that many people cannot communicate in this newspeak.

A. Nonny Mouse said...

I dunno, the anger and stupid "pulling rank" shit gets to me, but like, I enjoy it when people point out that I'm wrong if they can do constructively, or even slightly less than constructively, if they say something that challenges me to think and helps my life change for the better.

If someone says "Wow, most feminists know this thing that you don't," or "OMG READ THIS PERSON NOW BECAUSE Z/S/HE PROVES YOU WRONG!!!" I go and read up, and if I still disagree I say so. Often I've realized that they at least had a point. Unless they tell me to read Ayn Rand. Ugh.

As for feminists going around accusing each other of "not being real feminists," well, that's a legit concern for some people. Dominant systems like to incorporate protest into the system and market it back to you as something sexily rebellious yet ultimately harmless. It would make sense that our patriarchy system as it currently functions would encourage young women to display blatantly antifeminist behaviors and then try to pass these off as a part of their own special brand of feminism.

Any movement which acts counter to the wishes of our fascist overlords (tm) must expect this and be willing to call out those who fuck up spectacularly when they fall for it, be it infighting feminists or anarchists trying slowly, repeatedly, without killing anybody, to explain why "anarcho-capitalism" is bunk.

Alon Levy said...

I guess pulling rank is a good explanation... it's probably better than the way I used to put it.

I'd also add that the notion that if you disagree with the feminist line on something then you ought to be reeducated is intellectually totalitarian. If I think feminists get rape wrong then it doesn't have to be because I need my consciousness raised; it can be because I've examined the evidence and seen no support for Susan Brownmiller's theories.

I think it's an online thing almost exclusively, but my experience with these offline arguments is with new atheism rather than feminism. I've had people on new atheist blogs' comment threads scream at me for suggesting Dawkins is clueless. Offline it hasn't really happened; people instead offer real arguments as to why he might be right.

Part of it is that offline the participants will typically have movement credentials. When you're a member of the campus secularist group, you already have secularist credentials; nobody's going to call you a concern troll for suggesting that shrillness is counterproductive. That, and offline the discussion is with real people as opposed to online stereotypes.

belledame222 said...

welcome, desipis and anm.

Alon: yeah. Although it depends what you mean by "wrong;" it's true that a lot of feminism is about positions, but y'know, there's also making arguments along such lines as "There's no such thing as ____" or "Statistically, studies show...which is why we should support ____" or "Betty Friedan was a lesbian" or "Second Wave feminism was named after Griselda Wave II, an Icelandic farmer and proto-feminist in the tenth century..."

which, yeah, then "correcting wrongs" is appropriate.

otherwise, though...yes, it can devolve into quasi-Red Guardism pretty easily.

and yeah, I can see that happening with the atheism comms. Dawkins is a putz.

recent convert syndrome is pretty common in actual religion offline, though, ime. or for that matter, at the sort of political meetings at which one tends to find such types of people. online is special that way, though, partly because spaces are set up exclusively for such things and they go all day and all night, partly because no one can actually smack you through the screen.

Jezebella said...

Nice take-down of the straw-feminist you built there. Everything you say about "Ideal Feminism" (which does not exist, btw) is a crock.

You can keep tilting at windmills if it pleases you, however.

belledame222 said...

Why thank you kindly.

technically that is a quote from someone else.

p.s. i'm not saying you might be one of the animate scarecrow army, but i am thinking you may want to stay away from lit matches.

-lights match-

-sharklike smile-

Welcome to my 'appy 'ome, jezebella. You caught me in a -real- good mood.

Can you, perchance, play "Melancholy Baby?"

belledame222 said...

p.s. Jezebella? What do you make of this, as uttered by an apparently flesh and blood self-identified feminist? as backed up by a number of people, including one rather well-known feminist Internet personality?

And the fact still remains that it’s easier to rape you if you’ve already appealed to a guy’s libido and you have fewer clothes between you and him. Above and beyond the oppression inherent in participating in an industry that says to men, Here I am all wrapped up for you as a commodity because YOU ARE ENTITLED TO IT. addressed to/about a woman who is a sex worker, who wrote about her experience of nearly being assaulted on the job, and yet still does not blame the job or herself for Capitulating to the Patriarchy, but rather the assholes in question.

If you were to suggest that to do otherwise, as the above-quoted poster has done, is -not-, in fact, Real Feminism, I would agree. In fact, this is exactly what we had been discussing, which led to the tangent here.

however, if you wish to claim that people do not say such things in the name of feminism, or that such things in no way put formerly gung-ho feminists off both the label and much of the "culture" that is associated with it, often getting cynical and just staying home, even if they do maintain the same values and beliefs they did before...

if you wish to claim such a thing, well:

make your case.

but probably today would not be a good day, because today, I am not in my most patient mood ever.

which is in no way heightened by the knowledge that I am almost certainly talking to a drive-by and thus wasting my limited energy.

Because, see, this is the sort of thing that Kim was alluding to. Perhaps you're new around these parts.

belledame222 said...

...or, ironically:

I tend to read it as: 'NO, I have argued on the internets about this BEFORE and I was RIGHT THAT TIME so it has passed into HISTORY and I'm not going to engage you as an individual, you're just an argument I already had.' 'We've been here already' has its place, but a quick explanation is going to get your point across much better than a mile-long reading list and the insinuation that you're the bestest feministestest.

something like that, how meta.

i -am- tired, though.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I think it is and isn't an online thing.

I mean, when I ran into it online, it was in no way inconsistent with the bullshit I'd run into before -- like I've mentioned the acquaintance who had a conversation on a bus stop or something that went something like:

Person: So what do you do?
Friend: (indicating stroller) I'm her mother.
Person: No, I mean, what do you do?
Friend: I'm her mother.
Person: But aren't you a feminist?

Sometimes it's more subtle than others, but there's always been, in my experience, this sort of undertone of policing the whole thing, some forms of womanhood Not Acceptable, and so on, and so when I got online, objected to this stuff, and got responses of, "This is feminism 101, kid, come back when you know something", it was just ... people aren't doing anything new online, just kind of more obnoxious. That sort of attitude was already implicit in a lot (not all, but a lot) of what I'd run into.

If it were just the Internet Wankers, it probably wouldn't have gotten to me the way it did. But the Internet Wankers speaking the subtext I already knew -- and successfully silencing anyone who wasn't an asshole in public spaces, because Internet Wankers have a swarm attack, and eventually one learns to stop kicking the wasp nest^W^Wbeehive -- I just, what's there to fight for anyway?

Deoridhe said...

If I promise to never call myself an activist, can I hide in my living room with my internet and my theories? ;)

I find it difficult to take the wanking of the blog-o-sphere seriously. Including my own. Except when I take it very, very seriously. That is when I am most funny.

I'm always reminded in these talks about the "suddenly the room isn't safe" phenomena talked about in that lovely 1980s speech by ...someone whose name I've forgotten but who was a woman of color feminist speaking (primarily, I think) to white feminists. You want to include all these people, but suddenly the room isn't safe, so you need to come up with a way to make it safe again while still maintaining the idea, real or not, that all of your values are intact.

Sometimes you look for a way to kick the "not safe" without visibly compromising your values (the paradigm "identity politics aren't progressive" springs to mind here). Sometimes you include the safest "not safe" so you can kick the rest out with a clean conscious (the paradigm of tokening occurs here). Sometimes you kick all of the "not safe" out while agreeing to talk about the "not safe" sometimes (if you can't find the paradigm here, you ain't looking). And sometimes you say the not safe is REALLY not safe, and so it is bad, and so not a part of the people in your room at all (see: this post). And sometimes you realize it isn't your room, and maybe you're not actually safe yourself, and so you start looking for the door and find it in the middle of your forehead and open it but trying to walk through is really a challenge (the paradigm of Deo has weird dreams is evident here).

DBB said...

"In the world of identity politics, one woman's bad date is Every Woman's call to victimhood." Kathleen Parker (via Wendy McElroy)

belledame222 said...

deoridhe: you may mean the Bernice Johnson Reagon piece, "Turning the Century."

belledame222 said...

DBB: i don't care for that spin on it either. there is a balance somewhere between "there is no such thing as codified misogyny, and no connection between a whole lot of "bad dates" (if that means "date rape," that's really trivializing)" and "I'm Every Woman; every interaction with any man ever is fraught with danger; there is no such thing as a sex act that can be simply enjoyed for its own sake without "examining" it for Deep Political Meaning, etc."

DBB said...

I'm not sure what the quote means, ultimately, though I had an inkling. I read your post here today (which by the way I really like) and I happened to read McElroy later, and the quote made me think of this, so I put it here.

I think there is a link on McElroy's page to the full article where the quote came from, but I didn't follow it.

I think feminism is at its best where it is about equal rights and equal opportunities for women. I just don't get the sense in the blogosphere that a lot of self-identified feminists sites have that as the focus - the focus seems elsewhere.

I don't call myself a feminist - I'm for equality, and that should be enough of a description for what is right as far as I'm concerned - but I can say this. If the word 'feminist' just meant people like you belle, and Kim, and Amber, and Octo, and Ren (and many others I'm sure I'm missing off the top of my head, like from this thread for instance) - if that was really what feminism was and what people thought of as feminism, I'd be proud to be called a feminist.

A. Nonny Mouse said...

See, I would say that pointing out to a prostitute that she in endangering herself and all other women with her choice of work is more than REALLY FEMINIST, it's human.

Or I could point out that when someone disagrees with you on your blog you go and have an internets hissy fit before you pull rank on them by suggesting that they are new to these parts.

Or I could point out that the reason most people believe that the internets are full of angry hypercritical trolls is that in our real lives, by virtue of wanting to hang out with people who don't constantly fight with us, we tend, to some extent, to make a conscious effort to surround ourselves with those who agree. It is harder to do this online. Just because you don't know any "IRL feminist trolls" doesn't mean... anything, except that you, like almost all humans, like to make friends and associate with those who share your beliefs.

belledame222 said...

The latter two? Valid points. And yes, irony already noted wrt my own "are you new here."

The first? Uh uh. What makes you think said sex worker/prostitute hasn't heard such shit a thousand, thousand time before?

And herein we get back to the "are you new here" business, ironic or otherwise. Well, I did say I understand the desire for "101," because one has already had such conversations a million times. Anon, I get that you're coming from a rather radically different position wrt such things than I am, here. You're welcome to post here, but right now, I'm tired and don't want to get into it. Particularly since it's not directly my fight. You can go over to Renegade's or Jill Brenneman's or Bound Not Gagged and read what they have to say, and if -they're- not exhausted, they'll engage you. Although, as with feminism, yeah, there's material already existing which might already address what you want to say, might be worth checking out.

But if you're going off the other post I have here addressing dana whosis' assery: no, in fact, there is -no- excuse for going "I told you so" when a sex worker gets assaulted, or even nearly so; nor is the appropriate response dependent on how humbled the sex worker in question is, whether or not she sees the radical feminist or any other ideological light and forthwith goes to change her entire fucking life or at least apologizes for her existence.

That is, as at least one radical feminist who is also a sex worker has noted, feminism 101. That is,in your own words, more than REALLY FEMINIST, that's...human.

Beyond that: yeah. Tired.

belledame222 said...

to clarify: that should be "as with non-sex-work related feminist issues," I should say. because as far as I'm concerned, this, too, is feminism.

belledame222 said...

...oh, i see, i quoted it right here. without all surrounding context, but really: --goddam, i said i didn't want to get into it.

but *really.* anm, as a -feminist,- you don't see a problem with,

And the fact still remains that it’s easier to rape you if you’ve already appealed to a guy’s libido and you have fewer clothes between you and him.


Octogalore said...

I agree with Dw3t-Hthr that it is and isn't an online thing. I know IRL radical feminists who don't go in for the kind of policing and "fixing" of other women that happens online. I know others who might well wish to do this, but don't because of IRL social conventions.

I do think Dana's comment that you quoted is much more likely found online. When you see someone in 3D, it's much harder to treat her like an object, as Dana did. Of course, some people still would and do do that, but fewer.

Deoridhe said...

Yes, Belle, that's who I meant. Lovely, lovely speech. It's all octopus-tendrilly in my brain now; so fun.

See, I would say that pointing out to a prostitute that she in endangering herself and all other women with her choice of work is more than REALLY FEMINIST, it's human.

I'll bite. How does one woman's job endanger all other women?

(10 internet bucks on the response being, essentially, "by being a whore and whores are bad - all women should be moral angels to guide the poor, helpless men who lack self-control", which is a deeply patriarchal paradigm and which the acceptance of actually supports the patriarchy and is sexist against both men AND women in different ways. Any takers?)

Renegade Evolution said...

"See, I would say that pointing out to a prostitute that she in endangering herself and all other women with her choice of work is more than REALLY FEMINIST, it's human."

Call me curious on that one too. I mean, what, the prostitute is MAKING someone, anyone, hurt/degrade/attack someone? I mean, unless the sex worker in question is actually kicking the crap out of you, how is she hurting/endangering you?

How is her choice (if it is her choice) to do what she does for a living any less valid than your own?

How is it any more influenced by the big bad patriarchy than any other job within a patriarchial capitalist society?

You realize pretty much everything you own, eat, wear...someone, somewhere, was exploited to make it, and possibly abused in the process...and in many cases the very use of this thing in and of itself can be dangerous...after all, more people die in auto fatalites than in sex work in any given year.

Now, if it's just that old time gut reaction of "those whores are making us look bad", hey, interesting topic for certain...but endagnering other women? Takes a lot more convincing.

As for human, well, I'd hardly say endless name calling, speculation, lies, and "you shouldn't have worn a short skirt" is human at all.

Kim's quote? Priceless, and needs to be hung from the tower walls..

In 92 point font.

Alon Levy said...

See, I would say that pointing out to a prostitute that she in endangering herself and all other women with her choice of work is more than REALLY FEMINIST, it's human.

When you understand why you think it's bad form for the mainstream media to tell women drinking alcohol might get them raped, you'll understand why Belledame thinks it's bad form for you to tell prostitutes their line of work might get them in danger.

As for the other two, you're overgeneralizing your own experience. I've been referred to feminism 101 for a lot of things about which I knew the feminist line and reasoning perfectly well, just didn't agree with it. And maybe you only stick to people you agree with in real life. I don't, and it's gotten to internet-style trolling exactly once.

thene said...

I first got into the blogosphere because of this one IRL feminist troll who was trying to derail a conference I was attending because it had a porn workshop that wasn't totally dominated by APRFs. She took it onto the internets, I followed, and fortunately found myself in greener (purpler? pinker?) pastures soon after.

Then there's male feminist IRL trolls. Oh god. I bet I don't need to describe these people - you're picturing them already, right?

Renegade Evolution said...

Okay, I mean a good example of meatspace trolls...

SexWorkers Were Not Welcomed or asked to partcipate at any of these Wheelock College Porn Forums. Those who objected to this were called out, called names, then henceforth mocked throughout cyberspace.

Yet, Gail Dines and Robert Jensen went to the goddamn AVN Awards/Adult Industry show/conference and had to be asked to leave for harassing... oh wait...researching...the performers WORKING the booths at the trade show. And you bet I am mocking them in cyber space as well.

Daisy said...

It seems to me that feminists have always argued in the way you describe. Like, from day one, or close to it.

I told some of you about the whole musical intervention some of us endured, and I went to the wall for the Sex Pistols. That was the truth. There was a period around 1978-82 that was horrendous, in terms of radfem PC meddling. (Pat Califia chronicled it well, being one of the main targets.) Ronald Reagan's election seemed to jolt everyone out of it for awhile, but certain radfem enclaves still ran on the unquestioned Maoist criticism/self-criticism model, Michfest being the most famous. Also, I remember separatist women's AA groups, one becoming "Women for Sobriety" (which I see is now some incorporated thing, but started as hardcore seps, or maybe someone else is just using the name?).. the idea was that recovery demanded an analysis of patriarchy also. There was a lot of that, trickling down into 12-step groups, domestic violence centers, rape crisis centers and the like.

After reading Marilyn French's THE WOMEN'S ROOM, and her account of suburban housewives in the 50s all nosily keeping track of each other's business, I started wondering if this is some primal thing that we once "needed" in an evolutionary way, and has been channeled into moral-policing. The fundie wives do it, sorority girls do it, Mean Girls do it, and feminists do it. I used to think it was a manifestation of oppression, but after working in day care (briefly!), I changed my mind. I saw LITTLE GIRLS, barely aware of what was going on, start creating cliques, huddling together to keep certain *other* girls away.

I hate evolutionary psych, since I think it often sounds like another version of "How the Leopard got his spots" and such, but I am interested in how certain behaviors may have been very useful at crucial times in our history (fat storage! love of carbs!) and are liabilities in the present day. I think the way women organize ourselves into groups may well be one of those old memes that helped immeasurably when we all had 15 children apiece, but doesn't do us any good now. Time to evolve.

Speaking of evolving: Alon, have you written/argued about Dawkins? Do you have a link? I'd love to read your arguments.

Alon Levy said...

The best example was on Lacrimae Rerum, but got deleted when the blog got a makeover.

There's an extant example on The Uncredible Hallq, which began here and spilled over here. It's nifty in the sense that I used a lot of analogies everyone here will be familiar with, but the one on Lacrimae Rerum had the standard "You're a concern troll" response whereas this one was substantially less shrill.

Anonymous said...

Naomi Klein and Arundhati Roy are postcolonial feminists to me even if they don't call themselves feminists. They spend most of their time fighting globalization, empire, racism, capitalism and neoliberalism. My problem with the postcolonial feminism I've seen online is most of their motivation and energy went towards criticizing mainstream feminism and not the prison industrial complex, militarism and neoliberalism. It got to the point they were more sexist than feminist and dare I say it oppressive. The last paragraph of the Combahee River Collective Statement:

In the practice of our politics we do not believe that the end always justifies the means. Many reactionary and destructive acts have been done in the name of achieving “correct” political goals. As feminists we do not want to mess over people in the name of politics.

Perhaps I am more sensitive to criticism of mainstream feminism because my life depended on it but it's wrong when criticism becomes sexist and less about racism in feminism. The hatred of Clinton is sexism more criticism of her policies. A couple months ago, I realized the constant criticism of mainstream feminism was more sexist than a criticism of racism and classism.

Anonymous said...

And no this isn't wanking. I consider it deep concern when I see something wrong.

A. Nonny Mouse said...

Oh puhleaze. I believe none of the crap you are attributing to me. I can't afford, as a former sex worker, someone who works with sex workers, and a friend to the sex workers in my life, to be that naive. I do believe that to try and give a woman shit when she's been assaulted because of her job is completely wrong because it amounts to blaming her and fucking with her ability to recover from a trauma.

I also believe that sex workers are more likely to be assaulted than women working in other industries. I also believe that sex work is degrading to all women and simulates rape for the people who pay, and that the vast majority of these people are men. You can disagree with me, but if you could do so without sticking words in my mouth, that would be awesome.

Beacon of fucking purity my ass. Since when do I have to be a conservative right-winger in order to fit into your idea of what an anti-porn feminist is like?

A. Nonny Mouse said...

Oh, and Renegade, I forgot to point out that as an anarchist who is constantly struggling to improve the rights of these other exploited workers, I totally agree with the fact that there are more dangerous industries and that something needs to be done for these people too. So I don't really see your statement about that as related to anything imparticular or indicative of my being some sort of hypocrite. :-)

Deoridhe said...

I also believe that sex work is degrading to all women and simulates rape for the people who pay, and that the vast majority of these people are men.

How? Please explain how what Ren is doing on one side of the continent endangers me, on the other side of it. And please explain how consenting to sex acts is simulating rape.

Renegade Evolution said...


did i call you a hypocrite? hell, did i call you....anything?

i asked some questions. as per usual, no actual answers.

shrug. nothing new.