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.


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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April 21, 2009

Optimism is depressing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 9:56 pm
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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.”

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