Learning Feminism

September 18, 2009

“Feminist” men

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 5:56 am
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Can men be feminists?

Well, I think they probably could be. Not because I think there are any men free of male privilege, or any men who don’t act on male supremacy, but because I don’t think there are any women who don’t collude with male supremacy in some small way or another. The social conditioning is too ingrained.

So being a feminist can’t mean never partaking in male supremacy, because then there would be no feminists. Feminism means trying to battle male supremacy, every day. Can a man do that? Sure. Do many (any?) of them? Doubtful.

Now, while I think a man could be a feminist, I don’t think he should call himself one. It’s our word, one of the few words created by women, for women. Plus, enough women are against men identifying as feminists that it would just be disrespectful to.

I like “pro-feminist” and “feminist supporter” for men. I don’t like “ally” as a self-designation. I feel like it is the people who are fighting the war who get to decide who their allies are. I want to be able to choose if I want a man as my ally, not be told I’m in an alliance I haven’t consented to. And if I don’t want any men as allies, I want that choice, too.

Now, I think it is very very very important to be wary of pro-feminist men.

Kyle Payne was a popular pro-feminist/anti-porn blogger until it came out that he sexually assaulted a woman (Nine Deuce’s take).

Terrence Crowley, in the essay “The Lie of Entitlement” from the book Transforming a Rape Culture (recommended), writes of how he spent decades in the feminist movement while coercing women into having sex with him.

And my best friend was stalked, and her roommate raped, by a man she met in college who was very active in feminist and anti-rape student groups.

Pro-feminist men can be especially dangerous because you’re more likely to let your guard down with them. But even the best pro-feminist man is never really going to understand. He will never know what it’s like to be raised and socialized as a girl, to be treated as a woman in this culture. At best it will be an intellectual exercise for him. But it is our lives.

July 24, 2009

My mother’s daughter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 4:06 am

My mother, whom I love and who is awesome in many ways, knows I’ve been reading a lot of feminist theory. She took some old books a male sociology professor colleague was getting rid of, and gave me the ones she decided were somehow related to feminism.

These are the books by mom thought her feminist daughter might enjoy:

A Group Called Women: Sisterhood and Symbolism in the Feminist Movement by Joan Cassell

Ok, probably not going to read it, footnotes show more than half the authors cited are male, but yes, feminist book, success.

You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen, Ph.D.

See, women like to talk about feelings, and men don’t. It’s almost like we’re from different planets or something! Someone should write a book about that.

Callgirl by Jeanette Angell 

Some kind of semi-autographical and super sexxxy story of a woman’s fabulous and sexxxy adventures in prostitution. I’m getting liberated just thinking about it!

July 9, 2009

23rd Carnival of Radical Feminists

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 12:58 am

Carnival Buttons

Welcome to the 23rd Carnival of Radical Feminists. Thanks so much to everyone who participated. As someone relatively new to the movement, it’s been an honor to play host to such a talented group, and to do my part in presenting various aspects of the radical feminist mindset. 

This carnival focuses on the basic issues of radical feminism, from separatism and solidarity to prostitution and pornography. Since this blog is focused on the experience of discovering radical feminism, I hope that one of these submissions will be the gateway for a new member of the fold.

My own intro to radical feminism was less than direct; a largely disconnected series of writings on liberal feminist blogs ignited a spark of self-evaluation of my views, on both gender and race. Further investigation led eventually to interest in the radfem ideology, and my learning began in earnest then.

Radical feminist theory is not easy to find if you are not looking for it, and I think many more women would be open to our views if given a chance. This Carnival obviously is not the end-all and be-all of radical feminism, but I hope women will be able to find some exposure to radical views both on this site and through the links within.

Again, I thank everyone for their contributions, and for their part in easing the way to radical feminism.

 

I had found, for the first time, a politics that genuinely wanted complete revolution and social change. As I read the painful stories of so many women and girls that were written in radical feminist books, I felt pained but I also felt heard, echoed. It was reassuring: I was not the only one these things were happening to. 

Young blogger Maggie at Supporter of Women’s Liberation details her entry into Radical Feminism: Rad Fem.

Maggie also gives instructions for how to argue with porn supporters, including detailed arguments refuting every point they may make. The Porn Apologist Bullshit Arguments List and How to Respond with Confidence.

 

A woman does not usually approach me with the arrogant, SEXUAL PRESUMPTION that men do. She is not lasciviously undressing me with her eyes before she is granted some invitation or hint of sexual reciprocity.  She’ s not trying to push and violate my social boundaries, aggressively seeking my willing subordination to substantiate her virility.

Undercover Punk, a 30-year-old lesbian separatist who just started her blog this February, writes about the importance of putting other women first in her post on Solidarity and being a woman-identified woman in her post Lesbian.

 

I have yet to see any rationalization of being “moderate” on abortion that does not involve, either subtly or overtly, disgust with the concept that women who are sexually mature actually have sex.

Must read! Amananta from Screaming into the Void writes about why feminists must never compromise on abortion rights, and the flaws in the left’s position that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.” Radically Pro-Choice.

 

In all the anti-censorship arguments, I have yet to hear anyone explain the social value of sexually explicit materials. I’m not saying there isn’t any; I’m saying I’ve never heard anyone discuss what positive effects “erotica” has, except of course as an aid to masturbation. I’m not a liberal, so I’m not going to accept that something should exist because it does exist, or because people like it, or because of “free speech.” And it seems to me that as feminists, we ought to place a premium on understanding whether any phenomenon under discussion contributes to ending women’s oppression. I’m drawing a blank about how “erotica” gets women free.

Amy at Feminist-Reprise questions whether “erotica”is substantially different from pornography, and why some women find the hypothetical existence of feminist erotica so important. Good Porn vs. Bad Porn.

 

What’s important to keep in mind in discussions of separatism is the radical, revolutionary potential of lesbianism–that is, the potential for love and solidarity between women to undermine male supremacy–even if that potential is not acted upon by very many lesbians.

Amy also gives an introductory explanation of Lesbian Separatism, and how it strengthens the bonds between women. Some Perspectives on Lesbian Separatism.

 

… I Am Your Sister is not just a collection of Lorde’s seminal work, but a celebration, an honoring, and a thoughtful presentation of who Lorde was—a black lesbian feminist activist and writer.

Chelsea at Feminist Review discusses radical feminist Audre Lorde’s book, “I Am Your Sister.” I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde.

 

2. Reading Andrea Dworkin makes you  enraged. But not at Andrea Dworkin.

Brand-new blogger Redmegaera wrote this amusing post, 10 Reasons to Suspect You’re Not the Fun Kind of Feminist.

 

Radical feminists are not “anti-sex”. They oppose a capitalistic, patriarchally-defined sexuality based on objectification and a dynamic of domination and submission. … Men and the patriarchal  institutions of prostitution, marriage, compulsory heterosexuality should not have the power to define what we call “sex” in our society. For radical feminists “sex” is not “natural” or self-evident but inherently political.

Allecto at Gorgon Poisons started a bit of a spat with sex-positive feminists with her post, Sheila IS My Sister about her support of anti-prostitution writer and activist Sheila Jeffreys. Redmegaera writes her response: The Sheila Jeffreys Debate: My Two Cents.

June 16, 2009

I’m hosting a carnival!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 11:11 pm

I’m hosting the Twenty-Third Carnival of Radical Feminists! Thank you, Heart, for giving me this opportunity.

The theme of this carnival is “Why Radical Feminism?” I’m looking for posts that introduce some of the bare bones concepts of radical feminism as sort of a RadFem 101. There’s no place on the internet women can go to learn what radical feminism is and why it is the only path to real female liberation. Amy’s feminist-reprise is probably the closest place, and it is invaluable to me, but I think we can update it with our modern, personal experiences and more contemporary critiques of patriarchy. I want to create something we can point women to that explains radical feminism in our voices.

I think reaching out to other women is extremely important for the movement. I was a liberal/sex-poz feminist just four or five months ago, and a large part of that was only because I didn’t know there was anything else out there.

There are many women that have instinctive issues with pornography, prostitution, maleness, etc., but since the primary criticisms come from religious-conservative male viewpoints, their exposure to alternatives is limited. The false dichotomy between conservative/liberal in our society causes women with the potential to be radicalized to settle for merely being liberal, as it seems less overtly misogynistic. With this Carnival, I hope to provide a center to allow women to move beyond “less misogynistic” to radically feminist.

So I’m looking for submissions! Previous blog posts and new writings are both welcome. New voices are also welcome, and if you would like to write something but don’t have a blog of your own, I’d be happy to host it here.

Email submissions to j o c e l y n m a t h e rs @ gmail.com with “Carnival” in the subject. Submission deadline is July 2nd.

 

I’m especially interested in posts on these topics:

What is radical feminism?

Why radical feminism?

Real liberation versus false choice

Consciousness-raising

My feminist awakening

Separatism

Solidarity

Lesbianism

Living as a radical feminist

The problems with liberal/sex-positive feminism and liberalism in general

Male entitlement

Critiques of prostitution, pornography, sadomasochism, compulsory heterosexuality, marriage, religion, etc.

The ubiquity of sexual coercion

What would a post-patriarchy look like?

 

I’d appreciate links to this post so I can widen the pool of submissions. 

Thanks, everyone!

June 14, 2009

Unfun feminism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 2:49 pm
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This “fun feminism” bullshit is all about what makes you happy, what makes you feel empowered. Women want to think they live in a vacuum, that they’re “too smart” or “too savvy” to buy into media hype or be overly affected by their environment. Why? Because it’s fucking painful to admit that you’re not You, that you did not appear fully formed in this world with all your individual personality, likes and dislikes. People, especially Americans, value individuality, and it hurts to realize just how affected you are by your external environment.

A real feminist consciousness entails not just realizing the atrocities against women that go on in the world — female genital mutilation in the Middle East and parts of Africa, or child sex slavery in Thailand and elsewhere — but realizing how patriarchy affects you, and those around you.

It’s not fun. It’s not pleasant to realize that your father, brother, husband, male friends and male coworkers get off on the subjugation of women. It’s not cool to look around you and notice that entitled white males don’t even see you unless they’re looking at you as a sexual object. It’s not enjoyable to see how your female friends perpetuate patriarchal values in their own relationships. And it’s especially not fun to realize all the things you’ve said and done to perpetuate those same, woman-hating values.

Radical feminism isn’t popular because it isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t fun.

Much easier and more immediately pleasurable to be a man’s fucktoy and call yourself “empowered” because you get cunnilingus once in a while.

Where mainstream feminism really lost the plot was during the Sex Wars — Pat Califia and her ilk decided that since they personally got off on sadomasochism as lesbians, it must be value neutral. And then everything sexual must be value neutral as long as women claim to enjoy it. Now mainstream feminism is now full of “empowered” women who prostitute themselves or direct porn flicks.

Personal happiness — and personal “empowerment” — is not the goal of feminism, nor should it be the goal. Pleasure is far overvalued in our society, and it should never come before, say, morality, compassion, fighting inequality, etc. Where feminism went wrong was when it switched from being about liberation of women as a class to being about individualism, and especially individual happiness/pleasure. Because happiness and pleasure in a society result from upholding societal values; patriarchy rewards those who support the patriarchal structure. I don’t think happiness is based on some internal, pre-existing, inborn reward system.

How does personal sexuality actually advance female liberation, anyway? Celibacy does, I think, because it refuses men, as a class, their role in using women, as a class. As does lesbianism. But personal sexual fulfillment just improves personal sexual fulfillment. I think even if women, as a class, were to try to redefine heterosexual sex to be more woman-centered and less pornified, it would not help matters greatly because it depends too strongly on male cooperation.

Recommended reading:
Sheila Jeffreys — “How Orgasm Politics Hijacked the Feminist Movement”
Dana Densmore — “Independence from Sexual Revolution” (I’ve linked this before, because it is just about my favorite thing ever, so here you go again.)

June 11, 2009

New First Amendment

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 8:26 pm
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newfirstamendment

June 10, 2009

Talking to sex pozzies

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 11:41 pm
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I’m found that some radical feminist positions are really obvious if you think about them, but few women ever get exposed to them. I was fully in the liberal, sex-poz camp before a game of link leapfrog introduced me to radfem writings online. I think a lot of liberal feminists could be converted to radical ideas if they were exposed to them.

I’m now working on converting some of my friends. “Susie,” a friend since childhood, is engaged to a man and very much a liberal/sex-poz feminist. She’s also always had an aversion to pornography that she couldn’t pin down. 

This is a conversation we had online today.

Susie: hey, help me out. i’m talking to my fiancé about porn and i can’t articulate my issues.

Me: well it’s very male centric, and almost all the acts in it are solely for male pleasure

Susie: my fiancé says, “I would say women are probably less exploited in the field of high-production value pornography than they are in most others. Most fields of employment discriminate against women, but porn discriminates for them. Female porno actors make many times more money than their male counterparts.”

I told him, “yeah but i can’t see how it wouldn’t fuck with your head or why you’d get into it as a woman if you weren’t fucked up. i know that there are some who do and are just fine, but i think the chances are extremely high that any particular woman in a porno has serious issues”

the fiancé says, “Which part is the fucked up part, the part where you think sex is fun, the part where you make tons of money, or the part where you get to be a star?”

I said, “the part where you think your body is the only thing you’ve got going for you”

The fiancé says, “Who said they do? You’re projecting an awful lot. Does a basketball player think the same way? Or a construction worker? You can undertake a physical profession without thinking of yourself as less than human.”

Me: but money is a form of coercion

in psychology ethics, you’re not allowed to pay someone enough to make them do something they wouldn’t want to do otherwise

and what makes him think it’s fun for the women? i never see/hear them make any actual enjoyment noises, just really really fake ones

having a dick shoved up your ass and then having to suck on it is degrading!

they don’t even do that in gay porn (i’ve actually researched this), but it’s really common in straight porn

Susie: huh, interesting

Me: it’s like suicide food, have you heard of that?

Susie: no

Me: like the BBQ franchises with a smiling pig mascot, like, “Oh boy, i can’t wait to be eaten!”

so they make this whole thing in porn of women smiling as they’re choking on a huge cock

or making all these really fake enjoyment noises

to lessen men’s guilt about them being exploited, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy it 1

also women in porn don’t seem to get hardly any foreplay, which is necessary for sex to be unpainful

the fact that we can pay people to pretend to enjoy something means nothing

and honestly, i think porn/prostitution only seems “empowering” to women who’ve had a lot of unwanted sex in the past and feel like at least if they’re getting paid they get something

and not necessarily unwanted sex as in rape, but as in feeling obligated or pressured or like they can’t say no

Susie: you make very good points

i can’t google it from work, but i know there have been studies done about the percentage of women in the sex entertainment industry who have been sexually abused, and it’s high.

Me: yep. 60-80% according to various studies 2

oh, that’s just childhood sexual abuse, so probably more who have been raped as adults

and lots more who have been pressured or coerced into unwanted sex, which is practically all women

Susie: yeah, it’s obscene. i don’t see how that could be arousing

“gosh, i hope this hot chick is one of the 20% who are okay!”

Me: watching women reenact their own childhood rapes isn’t arousing to you?

Susie: wow, goddamn, well said

 

I think a lot more women would be open to radical feminist ideas if we gave them a little more credit and kind of “eased” them into it. And I think a big part of Women’s Liberation is reaching out to other women and educating them. The first liberation has to happen within women’s heads, right?

June 5, 2009

New rules

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 3:52 pm
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Well, I’ve tried to be civil and even-handed and “nice” (though being overly nice has always gotten me fucked over in the past), and it’s not working with some people.

So, new commenting policy:

1. If you cannot treat my commenters or  me with a basic amount of human decency, you will be banned.

2. Personal insults and attacks on my commenters or me, or intentional use of misogyny, racism, anti-lesbianism, classism, sizeism, ableism, etc. will result in banning.

3. Unintentional use of any -ism will be given a chance to be called out and discussed, since we all make mistakes.

My blog, my rules.

June 4, 2009

Woohoo! Amy’s back!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 9:13 pm

Amy put all the articles, links, and book recommendations back on her site! 

http://www.feminist-reprise.org/

June 3, 2009

Not Contaminated

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 2:58 pm
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The purpose of this post is not to stir up drama, or to take sides, or anything. The whole “contaminated” issues just brought up some feelings in me, and I’d like to share my perspective.

I’ve felt contaminated. I’ve felt impure. I’ve felt dirty and tainted and gross and disgusting and marked and ruined.

I, like, 25% of American women, was raped.

I spent years feeling dirty and damaged. I starved myself and cut up my arms, legs, chest, crotch and face. I felt like there was something rotten and bad inside me that I could never get out, that I would never be whole and clean again.

Rape is not uncommon. Statistics vary, in America, from 1 in 6 women and girls to 1 in 3, and that usually doesn’t include incest. Sex that doesn’t fit the legal definition of rape that is still coerced or pressurized is even more common. So is being sexually harassment, molested, groped, stalked, etc.

I can’t find good statistics on lesbian rape victims (and Google keeps giving me porn results, ugh), but I know I’ve read somewhere that lesbians are even more likely to be raped — “corrective” rape, anyone?

I’ve had consensual sex with a man. I’m not applying for any Gold Star here. But being called “contaminated” — in a feminist space, no less! — just brings back old memories of the years I spent feeling dirty and bad because of something a man did to me.

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