Learning Feminism

June 14, 2009

Unfun feminism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 2:49 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

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.)



  1. This post is AWESOME, Joce Claire!! Thank you so much!

    I think it’s really important that we continue to very clearly, and very carefully articulate WHY this empowerfulment/individualism is NOT the goal of feminism. I also like it when you break-it-down as to why it’s so HARD to do the work of feminism–it’s not fun! There’s nothing FUN about recognizing how much men hate you. And how much *you’ve* internalized misogyny. And how hard it’s going to be to RESIST it’s continuous barrage of propaganda. It sucks. But we also have to keep our eyes on the REWARDS of getting men OUT of our lives and OUT of our heads. The best part is, we don’t need male cooperation for that!

    Comment by Undercover Punk — June 15, 2009 @ 9:07 am | Reply

  2. My litmus test (or, well, one of them) is: “how soon is this going to stop males from killing us and raping babies?” – soon being the operative word.

    Comment by Mary Sunshine — June 17, 2009 @ 9:51 am | Reply

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