I’m at the point in my feminism where I’m realizing how fucked up my life is and that I’m going to have to change it. A lot. I’m much, much, much, much too tangling up in men. It’s completely unacceptable.
Case in point: Three different men have keys to my apartment. Two ex-boyfriends and a neighbor.
With the most recent ex, I asked for the key back several months ago, but he got all sad and didn’t want to and I just couldn’t bear to make him sad oh gosh no. The less recent ex was abusive and a rapist and generally has no respect for people’s privacy. The neighbor is an alcoholic and likes to let himself in and help himself to my reserves of vodka and wine.
Obviously the situation I am in is ridiculous and dangerous. So I’m thinking to go to Lowe’s and get new locks for my door. I’ve already emotionally distanced myself from most of my male friends, so this is the next step to separatism.
This all is highly embarrassing, but no one is born a radical feminist, and I’m sure you ladies had to disentangle yourselves from the mens at some point too.
How did you begin to separate yourself? What changes did you make to your lives? Any tips, advice, stories, etc. are very welcome! This is just the beginning.
A guy friend of mine is reading Gloria Steinem’s “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions” (my influence, natch). A male classmate of his saw him reading the book, walked up to him and said:
“Gloria Steinem? She’s crazy. The whole thing is crazy. She was hot when she was young though. She’s hot now too, I guess. Are there any young pictures of her in the book?”
The term “cisgender” bothers me. It’s the opposite of transgender — in biology and chemistry, “cis” means on the same side and “trans” means across or on the opposite side.
A transgender person is someone whose gender is the opposite of his or her biological sex, I guess. So cisgender means your gender is the same as your sex. Which I guess would be fine, if it were only being applied to those people who rigorously conform to gender protocols.
But what of the rest of us? By labeling everyone who doesn’t identify as transgender as cisgender, you’re basically implying that “cisgender” women match up perfectly with their gender stereotype.
This is not true for many people. Most “cisgender” women match up to some gendered characteristics of women and match up to other characteristics of men. Some women match up mostly with male stereotypes or androgynous ones. But if they have no desire to pass for a man, they’re still considered “cisgender.”
“All women are female impersonators to some degree.” — Susan Brownmiller
Few women are perfectly comfortable with the gender binary. Why would we be? We certainly get the raw deal.
The term “cisgender” — same-side gender — implies that if you are not “trans,” you must fulfill all your gender roles and obligations. It implies that you never experience any gender role dysphoria, when I’d bet everyone does from time to time.
Some have compared the terms transgender/cisgender to homosexuality vs. heterosexuality. But homosexual and heterosexual are self-defined categories. Anyway who isn’t solely attracted to one sex or the other may call herself bisexual. Are the majority of people who don’t fit perfectly into one set of gender norms to call themselves “bigendered”?
Cissexual, on the other hand, makes sense to me. I was born a biological woman, and I feel no conflict with my biological sex. Only with my gender.
I checked out a book from my school library, “Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader.” It’s a collection of various works from the American radfem movement from 1968 to 1975. And I have to say, it’s pretty depressing.
People were so optimistic back in the ’60s! They really seemed to think that a revolution was at hand, that we were thisclose to the death of patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. Modern feminists like to say how far we’ve come, but man, it’s like feminism’s done just enough to inspire women’s apathy.
Shulamith Firestone’s “The Dialectic of Sex” is in this book. It’s an important radfem writing I’ve heard referenced quite a bit on the blogosphere. And this passive stopped me in my tracks:
“For feminist revolution we shall need an analysis of the dynamics of sex war as comprehensive as the Marx-Engels analysis of class antagonism was for economic revolution.”
Um. What economic revolution? Capitalism is as strong today as it was in the ’50s. Parts of Europe are doing well implementing some socialist programs, but the gap between the world’s rich and the world’s poor just keeps increasing.
So what are we supposed to do? There was no revolution in the ’60s, and there’s not going to be a revolution today, with funfeminism keeping women complacent.
Individuals can only do so much. Radical feminists need to bond together if we want to start a new movement. Maybe we can use the internet for mass consciousness-raising.
I’ll post more as I get more out of my readings. In the meantime, whoever reads this should check out this article from Amy’s Feminist Reprise archives. It was written in 1973, but could have been written last week. An excellent analysis of where we are in the “sexual revolution.”
Note: I’m aware this is incredibly impractical, if not totally implausible, in our globalized society. It’s just an idea.
Pornography enthusiasts argue that porn is free speech and we shouldn’t restrict what goes on between consenting adults. I agree with that. People should be allowed to have sex with whomever they want to have sex with.
Pornography and prostitution are not about being allowed to have sex with people you want to have sex with. Pornography and prostitution are about being allowed to have sex with people you don’t want to have sex with, for money.
You can’t legally sell your organs (in most countries). You can’t sell your body. You can’t sell sex … unless you videotape it.
What kind of sense does that make?
I say we keep pornography legal, but make it illegal for anyone to sell it or pay for it. People could still have sex on camera all they want, as long as they’re not receiving money for it.
That way, we’re not regulating what consenting adults can and can’t do, just what they can do for money. It’s consistent with other laws, people are still free to have sex with whomever they like, and no one’s free speech is being violated.
I went to my university’s Take Back the Night event last night, and it made me so angry. It was sponsored by various groups, including NOW (which for some reason at my school includes male members), the National Panhellenic Council (association of black sororities), the Pan-Hellenic Council (association of mostly white sororities), and the Sexual Assault Response Team. The organizers went out of their way to be male-inclusive. They showed a powerpoint of celebrity victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and included a picture of Chris Brown as a victim. I figure their reasoning was that he grew up with an abusive father, but jesus christ. He shouldn’t be listed as a victim.
The presentation also included some statistics that made no sense. Parse the following:
1/4 women is a victim of sexual assault by age 18
1/6 men is a victim of sexual assault by age 18
10% of sexual assault victims are male
How does that math make any sense?
After the presentation, we had a march around campus. Our chant was: “We are women! We are men! Together we fight! To take back the night!”
I thought the whole point was that women wanted to take back the night so we could walk the streets without being sexually harassed or risking rape? The right men already have?
At the start of the march, women (including me) were in front. A group of men passed up during the march and ended up leading. They also shouted their part of the chant as loud as they could, so it sounded like: “We are women! We are men! Together we fight! To take back the night!” It was just like everything I’ve read about men needing to dominate every group they are a part of. They always have to be the loudest voices, even when we’re supposed to be fighting for women’s right not to be harassed by them.