The thing I don’t like about numbers

While documenting the extent of the horrors men commit against women is important and eye-opening, I’ve always found certain uses of stats, especially the state-approved ones, boring and even obscuring.

In many cases, they grossly under-represent the extent of the violence. Take the statistic that one in four women have been raped in a lifetime: it’s inaccurate even when applying more conventional definitions of rape. Which het-interned woman has not submitted to PIV under some form of pressure, out of fear of loosing their boyfriend, emotional blackmailing, or because they were too tired to say no and to have to justify themselves for the next 30 minutes, or because they didn’t even think they had a right not to do it, etc. ?. But most importantly it completely denies the fact that PIV is inherently violent and is always obtained through some form of coercion or another, and that the risk of rape is inherent to hetero-internment because that’s the point of it. The correct statistic would be that all women conscripted to ownership by men have been raped at least once in a lifetime: which means that we can easily assume that all women have been raped, save for a tiny, tiny minority of very lucky women who have escaped incest rape, hetconscription and sexual violence altogether.

The statistics are state-approved because they don’t depart from a radical feminist (and truthful) definition of male violence. It counts only a minority of the most obvious and overt forms of violence – the rare occasions where male strangers rape non-prostituted women in the streets or in the outside “public” sphere. That is, the kind of assaults we are trained by men to fear and identify as threatening, so we behave like good girls and don’t go out at night by ourselves and consider our owners (rapists) as our protectors and saviours. At the very best, stats will only take into account the few times where the husband or boyfriend used more violence than usual to obtain his daily, weekly or monthly ratio of PIV. The same applies to counting killed women; in the number of women killed by men every year, we don’t count girls, prostituted women, and women killed through forced ‘suicide’, the women who died a slow death from the years of abuse and confinement, form cancer and other consequences of male violence. Sometimes we count them but these figures are rarely if ever put together.

Such stats are also confusing because they treat rape or abuse as something accidental, as something that happens to some women and not others, as if it were some kind of lottery between winning the good or bad man. It implies that despite the fact a lot of men are bad, some aren’t, and treats rape as some kind of inchoate catastrophe falling upon some women – like car accidents.

Unlike other statistics which aim to point out the harm of certain situations for those trapped inside it – say, a survey on the damage of coal mine working on the employees, which demonstrates that one in four mine worker gets lung cancer. It will be very clear to everybody that the cancer is directly linked to the fact the workers work in a coal mine: what causes the cancer is constant exposure to coal and the harm of getting cancer is inherent to this exposure. This is the very point of the survey, to denounce and stop exposing humans to coal on a daily basis.

However, stats on male violence always erase or obscure the context in which women are raped, as if it happened randomly and had nothing to do with the inherent problem of being constantly exposed to men (to be more accurate, owned by them). Such surveys will never introduce the subject with phrases such as “We wanted to demonstrate the inherent harms of exposure to men by showing that one in four (or all) women will be raped by a male at least once in a lifetime”. The way the stats are presented is truncated and circular: rape is bad because women are raped. This blindfolding of the context deliberately prevents seeing the big picture – exposure to men is bad because men rape women – and prevents going to its logical conclusion – we should avoid interaction with men because it’s too dangerous.

What I also highly dislike about stats is that it microscopically singles out one small aspect of men’s oppression of women as if patriarchy were just a sum of discreet, separate acts of violence against women, and not a coherent, organised system set up by men. Of course being raped by men is one of the main problems of oppression, but men don’t rape in a vacuum. The very reason men can rape so many women and so often is because they hold us captive so we can’t escape the rapes. They marry us to them. They force us to live alone with them and organise society in a way that we have nowhere else to go than being owned by a man. If we looked at slavery, we wouldn’t denounce slavery by saying that slavery is bad because one in four slaves are whipped once a week. We show how slavery is inherently violent, because violence is necessary to keep the slaves captive and submissive – to keep them enslaved. The problem in slavery isn’t that one in four slaves are whipped, so we should fight for slaves’ rights not to be whipped: the problem is that humans are being enslaved, and that it’s inherently violent, oppressive and deprives of freedom. Or take another example: animals in a cage. The problem isn’t that the animals aren’t fed properly, but that they’re encaged and held captive and this is inherently limiting and traumatising to animals.

The same applies to women. These “one in three”, “one in four” or “one in twelve” numbers obscure the fact that captivity to men is necessarily violent to all women in patriarchy. It encourages seeing rape as something external, as something that happens to other women, to think of ourselves as the lucky 3 in four women who haven’t been raped, and thus encourages the thought that not all women are concerned by oppression and patriarchy, it allows to think of yourself as an exception. It masks women’s oppression and the very nature of oppression: that it’s necessarily oppressive to all members of the oppressed group. And since the primary means of men’s oppression against women is sexual violence, well it follows that all women have been subjected to some form of sexual violence or another because this is how we are oppressed. Sexually violating us and imprisoning us in a system where we can’t escape sexual violation from men at least once in a lifetime, is the reason why men set up their patriarchal system.

Stats give the impression of being objective facts, but if the context is erased, numbers are

minimised and the very point of such stats denied (to encourage women to avoid the danger – men), well, that’s lying. It’s confusing.

 

 

Intersectionality, part V: additional notes on amnesia and springing from Outercourse

When we can’t see men as the oppressors, men’s violence is suppressed in the unconscious realm (or in the “subliminal sea”1) and what remains visible and conscious to us in the foreground2 is the betrayal by puppeted women orchestrated/remote-controlled by the invisible male lords/puppeteers.

Failing to see men’s oppression and turning our anger against women is fundamentally based on amnesia: our forgetting of men’s genocide. The depth of this insight popped up to me with instant clarity as a friend of mine and I were discussing why some women so readily turned against other women even in cases such as having been raped or tortured by their fathers. For months one woman angrily resented her mother for about everything her father had subjected her to, and instead felt sympathy for him. Her mother wasn’t enough this, she had failed to do that, etc. There were vast periods of torture she had forgotten but she remembered the lies her father had told her about her mother and this is what stayed. However when she started recovering memories of what her father had done to her, her anger against her mother abated, she began to see how she too was victimised as a wife to her father and started to express anger against him.

This works on all levels. Our capacity to feel empathy towards women, to reverse the reversals and to make the connections about men’s violence is deeply and directly connected to our uncovering of the suppressed memories of what men have done to us. When we forget the oppressor, there is no other option than to turn against women, because that’s how patriarchy is configured: there is one oppressor class, men, and one oppressed class, women, and if you’re not against men, then it’s mechanically at the expense of women and of ourselves. There is no in-between, or third outlet: women are the only counterpoint to men’s violence. Either we see men as the oppressors and therefore our rage is turned against them, either we have effaced some or all of their role as oppressors and we automatically resent women for one thing or another.

The amnesia is organised both on an individual level and collective level.

It’s individual in that men’s violence and psychic warfare tactics which causes the amnesia happens to each one of us. Individually, we are forced to suppress some awareness and memory of what individual men or institutions have inflicted on us and on our female peers at various points in our lives (violence from our father, husbands, brothers or other males / institutions). The amnesia is organised on this micro level through the lies and reversals of the perpetrators, the denials and terror of our peers and the complicity of surrounding men with the perpetrators. The true stories of rapes against our sisters, mother, aunts, grand-mothers, cousins and daughters will be silenced. We will never understand why our aunt was alcoholic all her life or why our mother had fits of crying and nervous breakdowns every now and then, or why our friend became muted after the age of 8. Men will tell us they are crazy, liars, will instil distrust and contempt in these women. We will never or rarely be told about the women who escaped, the lesbians, feminists or spinsters, whether in school, by our peers or family.

The amnesia is also organised by men collectively: the perpetrators’ lies wouldn’t have so much impact on us if men’s violence wasn’t so absolutely obliterated from discourse everywhere we go – nothing in foreground reality, whether written or spoken, ever confirms the reality and depth of the what we’re subjected to, it is spookily omni-absent. Men have monopolised the power of naming and thereby blocked our capacity to even name our experience and ourselves with their words. We live in this reality of war-zone under male-rule, dying inside and outside, yet all there is to see on the surface are those tantalising fake smiles, “sex”, “marriage” and plastic happiness. For this silence to be maintained, men actively repress our re-calling of the genocide and be-speaking of the truth. They erase all evidence of their crimes, both external historical evidence and in our own psyche, by reprogramming our minds. They erase our culture, our writings, our art, our discoveries, our history of liberation, our presence and love to ourselves. In this context we have forgotten who we are before we could even know who we were.

Amnesia is also a form of dissociation. It’s a coping mechanism to ongoing trauma when the violence is both unescapable and unacknowledged. It is one of the many ways in which the self splinters itself for survival – which is why so many of us suffer various degrees of “multiple personalities” from having to forget event after event, life after life, each time having to distance ourselves farther from who we were and reinvent a new plastic persona in the attempt to add more make-up over our suffering.

It splinters the most traumatic parts from our conscious memory and digs them deep into the unconscious memory, which then only resurfaces in cryptic ways: through flashes, panic attacks, physical and psychic disorders, cancer, etc. Formulating the truth of men’s oppression even in thought being an unthinkable crime, these cryptic ‘symptoms’ or outbursts are messages from ourselves to desperately try to reconnect and awaken our consciousness, to break the spell of dissociation and phallic coding so we reintegrate and get away from the source of harm (men). These messages are there to bring the truth back into our conscious thoughts and direct our rage at men instead of against ourselves. We are saying to ourselves “hello, I’m here”. “Doing this to me is harmful”. “I’ve been hurt.” “These rapes / violations / insults / psychic devastation have hurt me”.

Anyway, all this to say that I recently realised more than ever the importance of seeing and naming the connections, and how this is really the first momentum of liberation because organised amnesia is men’s primary form of psychic – and therefore physical – annihilation of women. Without consciousness there is no doing, and by destroying our knowing/seeing (or pushing it into unconscious, subliminal realms), men paralyse our doing and being.

Amnesia, the obliterating of men’s past and present violence and erasure of our past and present selves, leads to blindly turning against women and more generally, to what Mary Daly calls aphasia, the “inability to Name the Background reality as well as foreground fabrications and the connections among these” and to apraxia, the “inability to act as Radical Feminists” (Outercourse, p. 6 and 195).

Intersectionality, just as any form of anti-feminism, are part of men’s phallic lies and global brainwashing tactics which generate amnesia and the inward-twisting of rage against ourselves and other women. Again, to paraphrase Mary Daly, exorcising amnesia requires acts of unforgetting and be-speaking, of unmasking and breaking through the foreground lies into our background presence. The task of the radical feminist is to actively explicate the connections, to make the reversals, fragmentation, destruction and genocide explicit and overt. (P. 6-11, Outercourse).

“Knowledge [of patriarchal horror] … is compelling and expelling. When a woman really faces the horror she is morally compelled to Act (overcome apraxia) and to begin changing/Be-Witching. She becomes empowered to expel the demonic embedded Self-censor within, who has blocked her from Spinning. She dares to begin Be-Witching.” (P. 197, Outercourse).

1Term by Mary Daly : the Sea of subliminal knowledge, knowledge which is covert, “Background” knowledge that is shared by women in patriarchy (Outercourse p. 13).

Background means “the Realm of Wild Reality; the Homeland of Women’s Selves and of all other Others; the Time/Space where auras of plants, planets, stars, animals and all Other animate beings connect.” (Wickedary, by Mary Daly and Jane Caputi).

2Foreground is defined as “male-centered and monodimensional arena where fabrication, objectification, and alienation takes place; zone of fixed feelings, perceptions, behaviours; the elementary world: FLATLAND”. (Wickedary, by Mary Daly and Jane Caputi).

 

Intersectionality, part IV: attractive vs. destructive forces, or what can we do

Our task as radical feminists is to undo, unlearn and un-peel the workings of men’s violence – including how men’s patterns are embedded in our psyche – and to reveal them to other women, so to spark our movement towards liberation. We are to revert the reversals, crack through the lies and myths, name the horrors, uncover the truths, dig out the treasures of our past and present being hidden beneath and between the depths of men’s dead grey layers.

As said in the second part, women’s class and status is defined by the class and status of our husband or father. If we leave our male lord, we’re nothing. However we might keep in appearance the traits and habits of those men. For instance white women bear the skin colour of their male oppressors and are assimilated to their male racist culture. As such, women reproduce and embody this male presence – as all women do with the male determinants they grew up with. Their cultural assimilation to white men is a forced-upon mask that men have fitted on women’s bodies and spirits, which does not belong to women. It covers who we really are and separates us from ourselves and from womenkind, deliberately so. Assimilated and tokenised in men’s clubs, non-feminist women afflicted by a sense of superiority towards other women are totaled and totally deluded. They have been whirred by the illusion of exceptionalism, blinded by male worship and frozen by the contempt directed against her sisters who supposedly haven’t ‘made it’.

We have to understand that cultural and social racism or insensitivity from part of women is integral to our colonisation by the men who occupy us. Racism, sexism, classism, any kind of condescension – all are one and tied to the same anti-woman package, they are inseparable. It’s male-identification.

‘Racist feminism’ or ‘classist feminism’ is an oxymoron, in other words. This means we cannot be feminist without wanting to exorcise all forms of male domination and subordination, without seeing them as interlinked and mutually supportive of women’s oppression. We discover empathy and searing rage for the plight of all our sisters and that in spite of differences, we are all subjected to variations of male rapism. We see patriarchy as universal. By identifying ourselves as women we identify to all women as women, embrace each other as our people and reject male blocking of our movement/convergence. When woman-identification fails us, it means we haven’t been fully touched by feminism, maybe we have reached some glimmers of truth such as perceiving some “unequal” treatment between men and women, but conserve our hope in men / ascension in male clubs and haven’t yet dissipated the fog obscuring the big picture.

When I look at intersectional articles, who are they directed against? Women, women, women, women, women, women and women. All of them. It is the primary distinguishing factor of intersectionality. But if women are so oppressive to us, what’s the point of being feminist, may I ask. Either we perceive men to be our oppressors and we’re feminist, or we hate these women who oppress us so much – and we’re misogynist. But we can’t have it both ways.

Women, girls and animals are the only beings we are given license to attack, because it reinforces men’s power. We are very easy targets and scapegoats, because we know deep down that women won’t have any means to fight back. We’d never dare to confront men in the same way since it would be too dangerous. By contrast it is possible to flatten or disintegrate our little self-esteem and sense of self in just a few words. It takes no effort to guilt-trip each other because we already feel guilty for merely taking up space. Woman-punishing is always credible and legitimate in patriarchal sado-society, in fact it’s the only thing men allow us to do.

Targeting women also gives a false sense of power and of activating against our perceived powerlessness. Sonia Johnson said that we get highs from it. Ultimately, doing so is the response of the colonised, we’re still colonised by men’s reversals and woman-hatred because we got the enemy completely wrong. Radical action is to stop blaming women.

I really understand the maddening anger of consistently going through an oppressive situation that some other women are (more) exempt from, and this problem being ignored by them. Even after being told, they refuse to understand or act upon it. It feels like being choked, slammed in the face, stabbed in the heart. Feeling pain and anger is normal because it’s disgustingly unfair. I wish we all had enough money, housing and access to certain resources and that everything would be justly distributed. But men don’t let that happen for a reason – which is why freeing ourselves from men should always be our utmost priority.

If some women have escaped some worst forms of drudgery or torture, well good for them. They’ve been lucky. But wounding or resenting these women won’t make our wounds feel any better. Whether the woman’s ‘fault’ is simply to have it less worse or to actively participate in anti-woman practices – shouting at, blaming and fighting against such women will not change anything to alleviate/eliminate the oppressive setting that causes our pain.

I like these insightful and humorous quotes from Flo Kennedy:

We don’t say a word when Madison Avenue makes millions off us, but we get all resentful and suspicious when somebody in the Movement gets attention or makes a dime. That’s Nigger Nobility. If you have to lose to prove you’re a good person, we won’t get anywhere.

Divide and conquer–that’s what they try to do to any group trying to make social change. I call it D&C. Black people are supposed to turn against Puerto Ricans. Women are supposed to turn against their mothers and mothers-in-law. We’re all supposed to compete with each other for the favors of the ruling class.

In the name of elitism, we do a crabs-in-a-barrel number, and pull down any of our number who get public attention or a small success. As long as we’re into piranha-ism and horizontal hostility, honey, we ain’t going to get nowhere.

Guilt-tripping is wrong because there’s no guilt to be had for being colonised by men or for the atrocities committed by men. As explained in previous parts, it is unfounded since we aren’t responsible for patriarchy. Guilt is corrosive and counter-liberation, and the climate of fear caused by guilt-tripping tactics paralyses women and increases barriers and misunderstanding instead of enhancing connectedness/ deepening insight. Whatever the reason, it is uselessly abusive to punish women for having been groomed into participating into her/our own demise and annihilation. Doing so is reinforcing the cycle of abuse against women instead of helping each other getting out of it. As Adriene Sere says in her article “In Remembrance of Mary Daly- Lessons for the Movement:

The accusation of racism needs to be treated carefully, rather than thrown at people like sticks of dynamite. … The dynamite-throwers, when they are tolerated, or even treated as “leaders” on the issue, manage to generate a climate of fear and disparagement that crushes female-identified empowerment – just as racism itself does. Such a climate also inhibits honest connections between women, allows a sexist disdain to be directed toward women who aren’t oppressed by class or race, and legitimizes a finger-pointing that might coercively yield results but is not necessary to making real and deep change.

In short, the mechanisms of intersectionality are strikingly similar to trans-phonery: setting up women as straw oppressors (especially feminists); putting women in harm’s way as outlets for other women’s (and men’s) anger; use of punishing, silencing and public shaming tactics; requirement to ritualistically confess your guilt before you speak (something pointed out by Janice Raymond in A Passion for Friends).

More fruitful than guilt or punishment in the face of male-identification is to see that we all have the forever-going responsibility to stop and disengage from harmful and necrophilic practices against women and the elements. Each woman has the duty to continually seek to exorcise the maleness and males from her life, whichever male religion, ethnicity, class, group or nation we’re bound to. We are to disrespect all the father-founders, no group is exempt from patriarchal rule.

And if a woman can’t change a destructive behaviour after being told, it’s because this disengagement from patriarchal influence isn’t psychically available to her at present time and the best option I think is to protect ourselves and withdraw from such women if we haven’t found a safe way to engage. Just leave them and do your own thing, craft with the women with whom you can craft and maybe get back in touch when time is rife.

I’ve learned that enforcing change on a woman who is destructive to the ‘movement’ and shows no willingness to change or isn’t ready, is a mistake. It will require using ourselves some amount of coercion or violence which not only is unethical but will fuel more destruction, as she will respond to it by fighting back more and increase her defences against what we’re trying to say. Instead of stopping the destruction it generates more of it – as a friend said to me, this is like reformism. Withdrawing doesn’t mean we’re ok with the harm but it’s simply a choice of focus. We can’t allow ourselves (and I certainly can’t allow myself) to be constantly distracted by and drawn into negativity or the men in women’s heads. Our focus should be on attraction and convergence of those currently willing to make the leap, not running after those who presently can’t – we can trust that they will find their own path at a different time or in a different life. There are three billion women on earth, it’s ridiculous to think that this one woman or small group of women are going to stop us from bonding with women all around, or that these women are our only hope or way of doing feminism. If we look around, there are always women to be met and with whom to spark new paths of liberation. Women are everywhere.

So this is what I mean in my title by attractive force vs. destructive force, which is a concept I drew from Mary Daly in Outercourse. As Mary Daly says, radical feminism should do good, it should be fun, ecstatic, spiraling, lead to new dimensions and deep change, undo the blocks and unleash our splintered selves. What inspires to move is to experience women’s courage to be/to sin. Radical feminism touches women by attraction, not by conflict with women. Conflicts mostly teach us that we need to get away from them, they are repellant. In Outercourse (p.159) she quotes the following passage of hers in Beyond God the Father:

The power of sisterhood is not war-power. There have been and will be conflicts, but the Final Cause causes not by conflict but by attraction. Not by the attraction of a Magnet that is All There, but by the creative drawing power of the Good Who is self-communicating Be-ing. Who is the Verb from whom, in whom, and with whom all true movements move.

Radical feminist movement is indeed self-communicating, I think this is a very important insight. Freeing ourselves will automatically spark women around us to awakening, it happens mechanically and naturally. Feminism can never be completely experienced and understood in conditions of enforcement, punishment or guilt, the effect will be reverse, of repelling and undermining. Enforcement is antinomic to radical feminism. To paraphrase again Mary Daly, the process itself of Seeing and Naming connections and of being present to ourselves and each other is what generates more awakening, kindles more female fire/gynergy, heat and light. This spinning makes possible new leaps, increases the momentum of our movement. (Outercourse, p.198).

This process is true for every form of male sadism. Since all forms of domination such as racism, classism, urban vs. rural domination, adult vs. child, human vs. animal, etc. stem from the same male-rapist root, our attitude to all of them should be the same – in short, only a radical feminist attitude towards male domination can be liberating. It is what we already do: raise awareness, name the workings, lies and reversals of patriarchy and reveal our reality as women in this or that form of patriarchal oppression. Explain how men benefit from this practice and how it’s at the expense of all women. How it deceives and traps women in its net. How it reinforces and is linked to male rapism. Seek to meet, make friends with and listen to as many women across male classes, borders and race, and talk about our respective experiences and lives.

Women will relate to that, it will expand our consciousness, deepen our understanding of how men oppress us. It will give each other the power to see which will spark our ethical rage and rage to be free.

 

Intersectionality, continued: part III, reintroducing the start

I realise that my first part deserved a more in-depth clarification on my perspective on racism and classism beyond the definitions I provided in the first and second posts, lest it gave the impression that I consider racism and classism to be of secondary importance or that it doesn’t really exist compared to sexism, or something… Even if I haven’t said or implied any of these, I have no doubts that such claims might be used against me. Besides, there is always more to say about intersectionality, and as I said in my first post, getting lost in sub-sections was my regular fate whenever I attempted to tackle the subject. Consider this third post to be a reintroduction to the first.

I would like to stress that anti-racism, anti-classism and creating deep bonds with women beyond men’s wounding separations is fundamental in our flight and exorcism from male violence. However since racism and sexism necessarily target women in sexist ways, and that men are the common denominator for all forms of oppression, our anti-racist analysis needs to be precise, focused and above all, feminist. Female anti-racism/classism should always be a potential for deep re-connection with women and for connecting the dots.

Intersectionality is none of these: it’s obscuring, putrescent, leads us astray in a whirl of false directions and bottomless list of oppression-identities, and is poisonous to the women’s movement. It pulls us away from feminism, back into men’s hands, and it’s intentional. I obviously don’t have all the answers as to what we can do to replace intersectionality, and differences between women and class dynamics vary a lot from place to place. I find it all very complex to think about. But I definitely know what doesn’t work, and I know a few things that do work, which I will talk about later.

It is very unfortunate that most anti-racist analyses available in the mainstream or even in more radical spheres are insufferably liberal, individualist and male-centred. Intersectionality is academic, post-modern and Western at its core, very narrowly focused on day-to-day racist situations faced by female university students, women in academia or journalism, and always, always inclusive of men, putting men and women at the same level and assuming men and women benefit in similar ways from whiteness or economic wealth.

It is also insufferably US-centric, being originated in the US or North-America it is primarily a liberal criticism of certain forms of US-based racism, yet this perspective is uncritically propagated and applied in other continents with disastrous effects. For instance it is sadly ironic that feminist groups from non-western regions ardently positioned against white colonialism are colonised by this western, academic pseudo anti-racist theory, where you hear them quoting Audre Lorde in one sentence, and in the next, defending trans and sex-work inclusion and cursing “white feminists”, all in the name of intersectional theory – having themselves learnt this at university and not questioning its philosophical origins: white men, North America, the emperors of the emperors.

I know that some academic women from Canada, Ottawa University I think it was, have claimed the maternity of intersectional theory in the 90s (forgive me if I’ve forgotten their names, though last time I checked it was written on dickipedia), however their theory is not devoid of social context and their influences are very easily traced to post-modernism and lefty liberalism, both of which were the dominant ideologies of that period which had taken over women’s studies and social science departments as a form of backlash against the more radical years of the 70s. A quick look at the curricula in “gender” studies of some major Canadian universities suffices to show that it has completely souled-out to male shite.

On the male lefty strand, intersectionality stems from a very old male habit in (western) civil rights movements of punishing women with slurs of “classism” and “racism” for stepping away from their male peers, for denouncing the sexism of the movement and deciding to focus solely on women. Needless to say that it was very effective in disrupting the second wave of feminists, and no doubt must have been based on some truth, such as snobbery from part of some women, but as far as calling out all white feminists for being actively racist, hm. As far as I know, all of the prominent white radicalfeminist figures of the second wave weren’t racist (forget the liberal faux-feminist ones or women such as Lily Allen and Madonna, who have never represented feminism more that Disneyland has represented true adventure – ok the comparison is flimsy but you get the idea). Ethnocentric, (from their white-western perspective) certainly, but this is different from being racist or classist, as in deliberately ignoring race or class issues or deriding or putting down multiple-oppressed women.

The male-lefty dynamic of targeting white or bourgeois women is very similar to current male animal-liberationists who paint the white, bourgeois woman as the ultimate enemy to be publicly pinned down as traitor to the cause for supposedly wearing animal fur (most middle class women totally wear animal fur!!) and use this as a pretext for the most vile forms of woman-hatred in their campaigns. Yet it is a complete reversal since those who are responsible for such industries and economically benefit from the abominable treatment of animals are men, just as those who design those horrible fur scarves in the first place and decorate women with them like dead dolls: women have no decision-power whatsoever in men’s genocide of animals.

Intersectionality being a branch of post-modernism, it is closely linked to queer theory and as such, both have proved to be deadly weapons of reinforcing male surveilling presence in women’s movements, in the name of anti-discrimination. Notably by persuading women that we could oppress men on the basis of their “trans”sex (cis-shit, etc.). So much has been said on tranny and queer bullshit that I have no insight to add on this matter. You can check Sheila Jeffreys, Janice Raymond, Gallus Mag, Davina Squirrell and many more writers for further information.

Most of the solutions suggested by intersectional proponents are liberal, that is focused on token inclusion of class/race-oppressed women in male grounds, and as means of social change, requiring of white feminists useless individualistic navel-gazing and self-flagelatory behaviours such “privilege-checking”, with little or no mention of the wider structures, as if “internalised stereotypes” were the primary enemy in racism / classism (remember: it’s men).

This logic of tokenism may go as far as complaining about the lack of adequate representation of black women in pornography, advertisement or male media. The implication being that women in general would benefit from sexist dehumanisation, torture and rape once the racist element has been retrieved, and it implies also that white women are class-privileged for being over-represented in sexist imagery. This twisted logic thus promotes the equal dehumanisation and sexual torture of all women in the name of anti-racism. Such ill-logical woman-hatred is the logical consequence of adopting men’s perspective on racism, that is anti-racism without the centralising feminist focus on men’s specific sexual and reproductive harms against women. It leads to complete dissociation from our condition as women and causes us to treat men’s sexual and reproductive violence against women as inexistent non-problems – which is what they are from men’s perspective. See how it works? Adopting a male perspective on anything is necessarily detrimental to all women.

Male media is indeed horribly racist on top of being sexist and it is undeniable that the degree of erasure and violence against women increases along race and class lines, but intersectional theory misses the point that both women of colour as well as white women’s presence are erased in men’s foreground world – that the foreground appearance of white-woman-centredness is an illusion, since misogyny erases and excludes all women.

Not to belittle the harms of racist biases, snide comments and subtle digs, humiliations, exclusion and insults which permeate the wider western racist culture which are absolutely undermining and corrosive to the soul – but by focusing only on this aspect, it’s much easier to lose sight of the primary racist mechanisms which operate on institutional levels: state and institution-enforced acts of violence and control by the men in chargea systematic violence which is completely beyond women’s reach. This can be state decisions that grant secondary status to immigrants and excludes them from certain rights, restricts their movements, opportunities and liberty, persecution of immigrants, second or third-generation migrants or native people by the state and state officials, systematic geographic and economic ghettoing, and on a wider level, continued imperialism, colonialism, military occupation and invasions of global South countries by Western countries, which continually regenerates masses of expropriated, enslaveable, pliable, exploitable, rapeable peoples.

Once we see racist oppression in the big picture, it’s very easy to see how futile privilege-checking of some white feminists is to prevent this. However what privilege-checking is extremely efficient for is stifling women in paralysing guilt, thereby blocking our lucid understanding of both racism and sexism, and for crumbling down collective after collective. It works to undermine our liberation.

Intersectionality treats racism/classism as distinct from patriarchy, as if men weren’t the string holders of it all.

Moreover, by focusing only on the cultural and stereotype aspect of racism, it is far easier to see white women as the primary enemy and vehicle of racism, and to forget how it is the racist patriarchal institutions, the men on the top, who put certain women down and against other women for patriarchal reasons, and how this increases all men’s power over women as a result. This is made clear when we look at prostitution and pornography: not only women don’t benefit from the raping of multiple-oppressed women but widespread pornography and prostitution affects all women, even if in different degrees.

After all, men are the ones using women as vessels for racial reproduction – either for containment or expansion reasons – who are obsessed with the genetic “purity” of their offspring.

 

Cutting through the throes of intersectionality part II: on the structure of men’s interlocking chains

Androcentric view of oppression versus gynocentric view of oppression.

Intersectionality applies the logic of male status on women, which is the second reason why it’s off the ball. One thing I haven’t said in the first part is that what I’m attempting to draw here is a feminist understanding of men’s interlocking oppressive bonds, as opposed to an intra-male-sectarian vision of oppression based on the reversal that women, like men, are always subjects and direct beneficiaries of male status and economic wealth which awards us real power and security. This is true for men, but the same doesn’t work with women. Women’s situation is more complex since we are oppressed by all the different classes of men who are the originators and subjects of patriarchal snooldom. They are the rapists. The multiple violations men put some women into serve a completely different purpose than men’s own class divides – or put in another way, both serve only one class interest: male supremacy. Racism, classism and division of labour between men strengthens men’s global rapist apparatus against women, while from women’s perspective it is a male divide-and-conquer tactic to reinforce our sexual subordination to men.

Even though I’ve been thinking about this for several years now, I haven’t yet come across feminist theories of layered oppression that don’t lose sight of the core (men) and looks at how racism and classism attacks women, specifically as women. This is my first attempt to put it in writing publicly, and since I don’t have that many prior references to rely on or spring from except conversations with friends and a few comments or internet discussions here and there, there will possibly be some things to improve on.(there always is anyway)

For women, racism and classism have sexist intents and purposes, that is to increase our vulnerability to rape and to specific forms of female subordination to men. There is a world of difference between male and female victims of racism/classism: one simple example is the fact that male undocumented migrants and asylum seekers will at worst be enslaved in unethical corporations, whereas the typical route for female undocumented migrants will be prostitution or working as domestic servants, the latter also leading to rape and abuse by employers.

From men’s perspective, racism and classism is what provides male corporations with a continued flow of desperate, pliable male workers to exploit, who seek to escape the misery of their colonised country or impoverished region. It serves a capitalist and patriarchal interest because it supports the accumulation of wealth of a minority of men, which overall strengthens the patriarchal system. When we look at women, racism is what will provide all men with a continued flow of desperate, pliable women to be prostituted, raped and exploited in female subservient tasks. In this sense racism and classism benefits all men as it increases their ability to rape more women. Not to mention that all male economies are largely driven by trafficking in women, pimping, pornography and theft of women’s domestic work.

Men, as a sex-group, are not divided. Men’s borders, countries, classes, divide only women and set women against each other because men will increase their power over women with this system while women will have to treat each other as the enemy, which reinforces our bondage to men. Men fight each other because they want more access to beings to violate and don’t want to be at the bottom of the ladder. They are really at war against women.

Deadly division of women: assigning women to incubator and dick- receptacle functions.

Racism and classism are part of men’s arsenal for dividing women into different rape and reproductive classes. Which means that men arrange women into different reproductive and domestic functions according to their pre-assigned racial and class status. Treating women as machines, this division maximises the efficiency of men’s reproductive control.

Mostly, men distinguish between women belonging to their caste and women belonging to the caste of other men. They use the women of their own group as incubators, and invade other male groups to use their women as prostitutes and domestic servants (second-degree prostitutes). I believe this to be men’s core patriarchal-building method.

1.The in-group women: incubators, or married women

Groomed exclusively for breeding, married women are held captive in the man’s home and are either abducted, sold by the father or, more recently, manipulated or “seduced” into marriage and hetero-imprisonment. Her basic function will be to breed children until she dies from it, and if she doesn’t die after she has accomplished this horrific function, she may be killed, left to starve, or she will be used for domestic chores or to surveil other women’s children, or re-marry. If she’s lucky enough, she might be able to reduce the number of birthed children, survive her husband and enjoy slight freedom as a widow or spinster in the remaining years of her life.

Married women are evenly spread out across all male classes, nations and ethnic groups. All men of all groups conscript a majority of their daughters to marriage and forced procreation. All married women will be raped, forcibly impregnated and tortured to varying degrees according to the whim of their owner and more generally, according to the misogynistic customs of his male group.

Sub-categories of married women:

Married women are typically divided and isolated from other married women, especially from women belonging to other camps of male owners, since their interactions will mostly be limited to people authorised by her owner. The wife is assimilated to her owner’s condition, her self moulded like clay by the man’s identity. Her condition and expected behaviour is determined and tied to the social standing, class and ethnicity of the man who owns her (either father or husband) or by whom she was raised. It will also determine how other men and wider male institutions will treat her. For instance women attached to men of higher class will be exempt from various degrees of external institutional limitations, constraints, scorching poverty, violence and humiliations that will systematically be inflicted to women belonging to men of lower or colonised / genocided status.

Kept on a leash by their husbands, married women have no choice but to be loyal to her owner’s group-belonging and take his side in their useless wars, invasions and social divisions (racism and classism). Women’s autonomous class mobility is very limited if not almost impossible compared to men simply because all men will continue to treat us as property and not as subjects. The appearance of social mobility in women is achieved if a woman of lower class is married to a higher-class man, or if the low-class man she’s married to happens to climb the social ladder over years. But of course she will never be the primary beneficiary and her class belonging will remain that of a woman, underneath all men.

Another distinction between married women according to the social belonging of their owner, will be the amount of work and the type of work required from them inside or outside the man’s house, and the conditions in which they will have to breed and raise the children. While upper-class, wealthy men will hire an army of subordinate females to cook, clean the house, feed and raise the children, lower / midlle-class women will have to do everything by themselves or with little help, and those on the lower end of the class spectrum will have to work or toil outside of the house to earn money on top of her domestic and breeding obligations.

Finally, according to the country or region in which the women are married, degrees and intensity of men’s systematic violence against the women they appropriate may vary greatly, and women’s material and legal possibilities of escape varies also in degree from country to country or from group to group.

Anyway, there’s no way I can be exhaustive about all the different conditions in which men encage married women and what it means since my view is necessarily limited in time and scope. The point isn’t to get lost in details but to pin down the mechanism of oppression and class-division between women.

2. The outer-group women / unmarried women:

- Prostituted women: these are the women reserved for men’s leisure rape, a sort of necrotic public service organised by pimps and woman-traders who offer men the possibility to rape women without the bother of having to individually attack, manipulate or capture the woman themselves. This is the fate reserved to loose women, those who weren’t married or those made homeless through invasion, land expropriation, forced exile, child abuse or other.

Unlike married women, prostituted women are systematically othered: they are extorted from outside the dominant group, from colonised lands or oppressed minorities, generally bearing more outlandish traits compared to the local women. Women othered and debased in this way are more likely to be held in contempt or feared by the married women, so it reinforces division and illusion of lucky exemption in the married women. The point of men warring each other is for the male invaders to increase their poole of rapeable women, and to generally have free reign to rape all women since it’s the only time where they can break the rule of having to respect other men’s private property (women), when it comes to colonised men. Which is one reason why colonised men feel so “emasculated” (deprived of their rape host, probably experienced as their dicks being cut off). Of course the colonised men define it as an attack against themselves and their sacred rape-right, and not as an attack to women, since women aren’t considered as subjects. But I digress.

Hence most prostituted women will be found amongst those who were expropriated from their lands, severely impoverished or made homeless and forced into exodus to big towns where their only chance of survival is prostitution; those whose region or country was invaded, and the women systematically raped and sent to brothels, whether for the defending or invading army; those who formed the subsequent generation of women after the occupation or war and who are now so extremely impoverished they are abandoned by their family or have to leave their home to be prostituted in men’s big towns. In such colonised countries, as many as one woman out of two or three may be forced into prostitution at a given time, even many decades after the war has officially ended. Indeed the vast majority of women trafficked for prostitution or forced domestic work come from the global south. Within the group of colonisers or higher-class men, homelessness in women is mostly generated through severe child abuse, incest rape and pimping of their own children for child prostitution rings or pornography. All this appears to be true at the local as well as the global level.

This is my speculation but it is quite possible that the institutionalisation of prostitution and brothels came about through men’s systematic raping of unmarried or homeless women as a way of punishing them for not belonging to a man, to make sure no women escaped rape and male conscription. Collective raping of women is also men’s preferred form of bonding so it might be that men always considered prostitution necessary for holding the cohesion and fabric of men’s society together. Given that they’re obsessed by paternity and furthering their genetic lineage and that it’s considered a crime for another man to sully his reproductive property, they must have decided for the sake of male-peace-keeping and preventing too many fights over ownership to set some women apart for public, collective raping – to make sure that every man could have a go at raping. I guess they would otherwise always want to rape other men’s wives or daughters and it would have disturbed men’s social order or strict reproductive control scheme. I wonder whether the history of prostitution development has been documented anywhere. Someone told me that it first started in Sumerian societies, alongside the practice of veiling married women.

- Domestic servants: Same mechanism as for prostituted women except that their acquisition will be reserved to wealthier men who can afford to have slaves and/or servants in his domain. They act as surrogate inferior wives, wet nurses, cooks, cleaners, nannies, completing work that would otherwise be reserved for the married woman. The pater familias usually has right of rape over the domestic servants.

Then of course there are all those wild women who have bravely or luckily escaped male bondage: spinsters, lesbians, witches, hags, and other such revolting women that men have hunted down with all their might.

This is it for now. Stay tuned in for the next part which will focus on what it does when men inflict different degrees of violence between women.

Cutting through the throes of intersectionality: part I

This is one subject that I have been intending to write about for several years and have written a few drafts here and there, scattered around my notepads. The subject is so vast that every time I started writing I simply got lost in a maze of sub-sections, which is why I let it lag behind. But now I’m quite happy to give it another go.

Historically, intersectionality has come from men, in the 80s and 90s, with the purpose of persuading women that they could be oppressed by us too, that women were also oppressors of men and that the oppressed could all oppress each other. It’s an antifeminist mix between liberal male academentia and lefty male activism and forms a deadly weapon designed to undermine bonding of women against men.

In this oppression festival where everyone is considered both oppressed and oppressor, the definition of oppression is of course emptied of all meaning and this is exactly the intent of intersectionality: to erase and divert our eyes from the primary truth and fact that men are the only oppression-organisers of this human world, and that rape and impregnation of women is the fabric and central organising mechanism of men’s system of domination.

All forms of domination stem from and serve this purpose of maintaining men’s sexual access to women, globally: it is the first and final cause. There is no system separate from patriarchy because men are the sole rulers everywhere on the planet, and their tyranny is always and inherently sex-based, based on their sexual domination over women. Power-over is phallic and male, and men treat subordination as female and receptacle-shaped. Men’s dom/sub relationships and interaction with the world follow this male/penetrating vs. female/penetrated syntax, either literally or subliminally/symbolically. Being male, holding the rape-weapon between their legs, is what grants status in patriarchy, power to oppress and the privilege of being considered a subject. That is because at the very basic level, their oppressive power is both achieved and maintained with the use of their penis-weapon, through the raping, impregnation, capture and domestication of women globally. This is fundamentally why women will never share men’s power, but this is off-topic so I will discuss it more another time.

Intersectionality is liberal because it focuses on the particular, on individual agency and on individual perception of one’s condition at the expense of structural analysis and the reality of men’s oppressive structures. This is one major reason why it’s incompatible with radical feminism because our analysis is based on a structural, macroscopic perspective: we look at the structure of male oppression, at how all women, based on their sex, are held captive in a giant patriarchal cage.

So this is what I’m going to do here, I’m first going to look at the structure of men’s system in order to explain how intersectional analysis doesn’t fit the big picture.

Lie number #1: Women may oppress men.

(ie white women may oppress men of colour, etc.)

This configuration is not possible, as all men are oppressors to all women. If A oppresses B; B can’t in turn oppress A – otherwise B wouldn’t be oppressed by A. Oppression, as an institutionalised and organised form of domination by one group over another, isn’t revertible in any way. It’s by definition one-sided and unilateral, at the benefit of the oppressor group and detrimental to the oppressed. Men can’t be oppressed on the basis of sex and therefore can’t be oppressed by the sex class they themselves oppress, even on a racist or classist basis. For women to be able to oppress men in any way, men would have to no longer be our oppressors, but this is not true in patriarchy. Oppression can only go downwards in the hierarchy, that is, A oppresses B and B might oppress a third group beneath them, C. Although only men can be both oppressed and oppressors. Women are never oppressors because women as a group have no control-power whatsoever on whomsoever in male society. We only have token power-over. Which leads to the point #2.

Lie number #2: Some women can oppress other women when it comes to racism and classism or other isms

Sub-title: on the structure and function of difference in status between women, part I.

For the same reasons that women can’t oppress men, women can’t oppress women either. First because women lack the primary weapon of female oppression which is the penis, second because, as said above, women as a group have no autonomous apparatus of power with which to enforce any kind of oppressive system. Women’s status will always be a token one in patriarchy and the token’s only power will never exceed that of a subordinate executing the dirty work of the masters, policing women and undermining the spirit, solidarity and liberation potential of her own kind. Their condition is similar to that of a Kapo in the Nazi concentration camps, except that for women there is no outside world where there are no nazis, to which we can escape.

If some women may be exempt of certain kinds of limitations or violence, or may be individually assigned to dominate other women, this does not make them oppressors. To look at who the oppressors are, you have to step back and look at who is holding the reigns of the system of domination and who benefits from women dominating each other and from all forms of domination in general. It is evidently men. It is not difficult to see that men rule every aspect of this society and that women are excluded from any meaningful decision-making role. Second, it logically follows that the oppression planners are those who benefit from their own system of domination – that is, men. The benefits are intended and men’s oppressive system indeed increases their power over women in order to use them as reproductive hosts.

By contrast, women’s status in patriarchy never exceeds that of being owned or controlled by a privileged man (or its institutional representative). The reduced limitations or minor advantages certain positions might confer don’t benefit women to the extent that in and of itself, it doesn’t give the power to be free from the male owners (husband, father-state, religious institution or any form of male impersonation), nor does it protect us from men’s sexual/sexist violence. Men still conserve their right of ownership and sexual access to the token or assimilated women, it’s the whole point of the deal. It won’t protect her from sexual harassment, psychological conditioning, abuse by her husband, forced impregnation or domestic slavery. Exposure to men’s violence and tight control of our movement or thoughts is the very purpose of being granted pseudo-status in fatherland – it keeps us close to the masters. And the higher up we go in male hierarchy, the stronger their control will be, and the more dissociated and anti-woman we will have to act in order to survive in their midst, which of course is at our expense. If we chose to withdraw from men and men’s violence our pseudo-advantages or statuses would be greatly reduced or taken away. However only by withdrawing from men can we be free.

By submitting to the framework and rules men have dictated, assimilated women or token torturers work against the liberation of her own kind and therefore against their own liberation too – both are inseparable. Her escape from the fate of women is an illusion. Tokenism and assimilation to male institutions are not only useless but a crucial and deliberate strategy of men’s domination.

The analogy can be made between women’s situation and animal husbandry, even though it has its limitations. With domesticated animals, there are differences in degrees of violence inflicted to the animals according to whether they are farm animals, industry and battery farm animals, and domestic pets. According to animal-rights activists, farm animals are by far the most badly treated, especially pigs, but also other animals. Second in line are better-treated farm animals who live outside and are well fed but still destined to be killed and eaten eventually, closely followed by domestic pets, who are more likely to receive better treatment overall, even if most are punished and beaten too. With a stretch of imagination, we could imagine that the domestic pets have been groomed to believe in the superiority of their condition and show contempt or discriminate against their more unfortunate peers, as a way to show allegiance to their masters.

An intersectionalist would say that the domestic pets oppress the farm and industry-bred animals and are privileged traitors. But it’s perfectly clear here that none of the animals have any power to oppress any of their peers because they are all isolated from one another, and all are owned by their masters: they all share the same condition, only some have escaped the worst forms of torture. The only oppressors here are the human masters.

This logic equally applies to women’s  situation. But as opposed to animals, there aren’t vast numbers of undomesticated and uncaptured women living in the wild. All women are domesticated by men and most individually or collectively owned, and subjected to varying degrees of torture according to which male group, individual or institution they belong to.

I made another drawing!

male class system2

This is a very simplified diagram of men’s sex class / oppression system.

You can see that women’s status is aligned to those of the men they are controlled or owned by, which means that the woman who belongs to the man of class 1 will only set her slightly ahead of women from lower male classes, and so on, but it doesn’t put her in the male oppressor camp since she is still owned by a man / men. All women share the same condition albeit in different degrees. As you can see, the women are isolated from each other because they are shut in men’s homes, and are also divided by men’s class strates, but men aren’t – not on a sex class perspective: all men get to fulfill their sex-based right to possess (rape, marry, etc) a woman.

That’s it for now, the next part will continue my thoughts on the structure of hierarchies between women in patriarchy.

 

Taking notes on male activism

About a year ago, I was deceived into a male activist gathering by a few friends, who assured me the speakers were women, but who upon arrival turned out to be a man. Groan, what a trap! The problem being of course that these friends weren’t feminist enough to understand the danger it represented to be around male activists, as if the mistake didn’t make any difference. I shouldn’t have accepted in the first place, knowing it wouldn’t be feminist. It was too complicated to leave at this point, so I had endure the speech.

However listening to his speech was instructive, as I took careful note of the evening, reactions and content. He was invited to talk about his activism in his own country which was under military occupation (this is as specific as I can get) and what made his presentation rather enlightening was the comparison I could draw between colonised men and colonised women.

This man recounted his experience as an activist, the kind of actions their group did, his perspective on the occupation and on their means of action and strategies, gave some background info on the current situation, etc. It was infuriating and depressing to be reminded of men’s privilege as activists fighting for a male-accredited cause, recognised by a global community of liberals and lefties as the Noble fight for freedom against evil occupiers. A recognition that we, as radical feminists, could never dream of. Depressing to realise how many obstacles we have to face in comparison to male liberationists, how easy they have it all. Weird also to see how I’ve become so used to being attacked and rejected from all sides, isolated, having to constantly slash through the lies and reversals and gaslighting even in my own camp, that I completely forgot what it looked like not to have to endure that. At all.

Since he was speaking of occupation and colonisation, the parallel was glaring with women’s situation worldwide, us being the most colonised and repressed people on this planet, though obviously not one word was spoken about women. The injustice and inequality of his undeserved recognition was so insulting that it was like a constant smack in the face and I wanted to shout at the audience and the speaker that they were all hypocritical self-congratulatory bastards, but obviously I couldn’t do that without appearing completely crazy and inappropriate, so I just had to mutter and grumble to myself, containing myself from bursting at the people around me. These situations really drive you mad, the dissonance is unbearable.

Nobody in this room apart form myself realised or questioned the insane privilege he had as a male activist. The absolute luxury of being taken seriously, immediately. The admiring respect. The luxury of it being self-evident to everyone in this room that we are morally obligated to endorse this cause, to side with the oppressed and denounce the oppressors. He is certain of everyone’s approval. Everything is so easy for him.

He is free from the self-defeating, maddening burden of having to justify his use of the term duck for describing a duck and thus having to show what makes a duck, a duck, and how it applies to his case: since the bird he’s talking about has a particular form of beak, wings and feet, colour, and its capacity to both swim and fly. In other words, having to demonstrate how his condition of colonised qualifies as colonisation and how oppressors are necessarily oppressive. Of having to prove that military occupation is by definition forced on the occupied people and not chosen by them, that beatings are inherently violent and repressive and not expressions of love. He has no dread of being rejected or misunderstood by using straightforward terms to describe the situation. No one would dare come up to him to say “but what if your people enjoy being beaten, arrested and bombed?” I was envious of his privilege to name the agent and their violence in such a plain and matter-of-fact language, and it wouldn’t cross anyone’s mind to dispute the reality of his claims. It is obvious to everyone that the occupation is true and serious, that their need to resist is legitimate. There is no separation between language and reality for him.

Women by contrast are dispossessed from all the words necessary to name and therefore conceive of our condition – this is one of men’s most deadly weapons against women’s liberation. As Mary Daly says, “Women have had the power of naming stolen from us. We have not been free to use our own power to name ourselves, the world, or God.” (Beyond God the Father: Towards a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation (1973), p.8). Radical feminists are cursed with this invisible distorting lens, men’s false reality separating us from the world and from ourselves, the meaning of our words doomed to never reach our recipients – we may repeat the truth of the atrocities again and again but so erased and reverted is our reality that even to get women to glimpse a modicum of men’s oppression and understand that men’s violence against us is not a victimless crime, may take years. Imagine talking about pornography in the same way as the male activist, to that same public: “so, this year male colonisers have captured and tortured 3 million women in their mass rape industry, it is a terrible situation, so we have tried our best to harm men to stop their genocidal progress. We managed to sabotage two of their events a few months ago and we also ended up wounding two men. It’s not much but we do the best we can with the means we have[applause and acclaim].

Men’s reality is so distinct from ours. I wanted to laugh out loud at him, Mr brave hero, ultimate martyr of the 21st century. He believes to shock the audience by saying that every activist he knows has spent several months or years in prison, arrested by the settlers. I wish women had only that to deal with. Not long before, a woman had told me she spent 23 years imprisoned by her abusive husband – like 3 other billion women on this planet. I guess 20 years must be the minimum sentence for married or owned women, if they survive that long after childhood. The kind of lifetime confinement, torture and isolation women are subjected to by men is far beyond any man would ever experience or could ever imagine. Men’s short-term imprisonment is a child play in comparison, not only that but their prison is at least recognised as a prison, and they go in there knowing they will be greeted as heroes in return, that it was worth it, that they’re not alone.

I could go on and on, and I will in fact. I was so angry that evening.

Oh and when these activists organise meetings and conferences, thousands of people turn up in no time. Their primary means of communication is through social networks on internet, and everything they do is documented and open. They refuse to hide anything – their faces, their names, and hundreds of thousand people support them on the internet. People take photos of him during the speech, he’s happy about that. His aim, he says, is to harm the occupier as much as possible. It is his right, he says, according to international human rights treaties, that victims of occupation choose the means of their resistance, whether armed or peaceful.

How free he is compared to us! I think of how difficult it is in comparison to even get 5 women together for a feminist project, and for them to take that seriously enough or put women first. We have to face constant rejection and contempt from women. I also wish I could do everything in the open, and be more open in my writing too – since feminist insights are gained through interacting with daily life events, having to omit personal anecdotes in order not to be recognised has the cost of limiting the context and meaning of my writing. I hide my name and I’m so scared of being harassed by men with my blogging that I have adapted my day-to-day behaviour in order to leave as little trails behind me as possible. I refuse to have pictures taken of me in public. I have to be careful of what I say, at all times. I simply can’t afford to harm men directly in any way because if I went to prison, or if I were attacked or harassed by them, nobody could help me, I wouldn’t have a bunch of activist buddies who would have the power to bail me out in a few months. I would be alone. There is no international community of liberals who recognises our condition as being occupied by men even if it defines as occupation: the right to harm occupiers only applies to men. I wouldn’t be able to rally wider support either because my actions would only rally more hatred against me. Just look at what happens to bloggers and women when they only reflect about it.

He needn’t fear that at every speech he is invited to, there will be defenders of the colonisers there to intimidate him, or worse, invited to speak alongside him for a “debate”, to advance the position that occupation is freedom. That every activist he meets may be covertly working for the settlers, identifying to their interests or seeking to sabotage his group’s actions from within. It wouldn’t occur to anyone to complain about the absence of oppressors, it would have been considered a terrible offence to do so. He has the luxury of being part of an essentially undivided movement, where the big picture of freeing themselves from the colonisers is never lost to the activists, even if strategies may differ.

This made me think about our everyday experience of infiltration and sabotage within feminism, how normalised it is – the banality of horror, to take Arendt’s term. We are so filled with crooks, imposters or our very oppressors that finding an un-twisted form of feminism is almost a miracle. Not wanting to be in the same room with our oppressors when we discuss our liberation causes endless retaliation. Our movement is so deeply controlled by male interests or men that merely attempting to exclude infiltrators will warrant punishment and be seen as illegitimate. We live in such a different world.

Where this comparison is leading me to, that he admitted himself he doesn’t like doing what he does, that he’d rather do something else of his life but he does it out of duty, because he wants his people to be free. Well, I find that interesting. Male activism is indeed boring. Deadening, repetitive, necrophilic, threatening. There is indeed no joy, no life. He’s perfectly right. Our situation as radical feminists might be the most repressed but for nothing in the world would I quit radical feminism – because contrary to male activism, feminism saves women’s lives. It brings back to life. I don’t do it out of duty but because it’s a call of my soul, I follow the flow. We become alive again and we regain our senses and sight. I don’t think he will ever experience the beauty of spinning and female-bonding, which all the admiration of the world will never replace. It was interesting to contrast his model to radical feminism here, in fact I never really conceived of radical feminism as activism so much as a transformative movement. It is movement, the real movement of being. Liberation isn’t a distant goal we seek to achieve but something we experience on a daily basis. And each transformation, each revelation, connection and bonding brings back a swirl of energy and joy. You can feel the “pops” and crackling of the fire which lightens your soul and frees from men’s mindbindings.

I don’t know what to conclude really, it’s strange this paradox between our situation being the worst yet our movement being the best thing that happens to us as women, in spite of the unbridgeable gap and all the crushing obstacles, men never completely kill the life in us, this possibility to resuscitate life after annihilation. The extent of men’s power over women even when they’re oppressed is gross and humiliating but our liberation is so distinct from theirs that the only thing we can do is get over it and continue what we have to do, sparking other women and ourselves and withdrawing from men. We just aren’t on the same level at all, it’s perplexing when I think of it. Basically the only thing that men will ever inform you of is the extent of their domination over you, and that’s the only thing you can learn from observing and listening to their speeches. Once you’ve understood the extent of your oppression and their power over you, and gotten over the anger of it all, well maybe we will set the bar higher for ourselves next time but we can learn nothing from male activism except that it’s everything we shouldn’t do.

Men’s theft is more literal than we think.

We often underestimate that many women do in fact have some amount of resources of our own. Even though we may be ourselves privately owned by a man, father or pimp and most of our work and production are stolen by men, whether with forced domestic and child raising work in the home, by slaving for husbands or other males of the family to sustain their businesses, the constant extra burdens of unpaid chores required from women in paid jobs or when men steal and exploit the products of our intelligence, findings, inventions, genius and creativity at work – many of us still manage to earn something of our own, even if it may be minimal: we may have some income, and if we’re lucky enough, we may have just enough money to be able to pay a small rent and food for ourselves, or we have some property, furniture of our own, a flat, house, land, or we may have inherited of a bit of money from our grandparents, or have some daddy government benefits, etc. It might be barely just enough to live, or maybe not enough to live with but with a few arrangements over time can eventually made to be bearable. That is, we could potentially find ways to survive on our own, if our captor didn’t kill us after leaving him.

So despite women being the poorest and most destitute, pillaged people of the entire world (obviously, since men’s system of oppression is only directed against women), we are often not completely without any resources at all.

What I realised recently, is how misleading the male-centred view on labour exploitation is on explaining women’s primary source of impoverishment. Women’s first and foremost source of excruciating impoverishment is not, as reformists say, the 20 or 30% pay gap, the “double work shift” of paid job plus unpaid domestic work, the “glass ceiling” (man-ceiling) preventing women from accessing better-paid positions, etc. At best this perspective doesn’t explain anything and is dead circular logic. It takes a peripheral fact disconnected from its context by presenting a microscopic symptom of men’s accumulation of wealth (based on rape, theft and destruction) as a cause as well as consequence. Which is like saying the explosion is what caused the house to explode. The tautology is even worse than that actually, a more apt example would be: the presence of flying debris caused by the explosion is what caused the house to explode and this is at the same time a consequence and symptom of the explosion. Get that level of mindfuck and omission of agent? (where’s the terrorist who put the bomb in the house?)

Even if we adopt the more radical view that men’s global accumulation and monopoly of wealth is primarily achieved from trading women for rape and forced reproduction, and from pillage, genocide and destruction of the elements (one of men’s most lucrative businesses are prostitution, pornography, general trafficking/trade of women for rape and marriage, and derivative “cosmetic” businesses capitalising on the systemic torture and crippling of women), well that still doesn’t completely explain women’s excruciating poverty compared to men in places where women can work and have minimal income. Even these horrors alone aren’t enough to completely quash and disable all owned women economically, whatever their economic status.

That’s because the central cause of women’s impoverishment isn’t impersonal and institutional, but comes from men individually stealing from women in their individual homes. The owner, husband, master, stealing from the woman’s own pocket. I only realised how literal it was quite recently. This is the primary pattern of women’s crippling poverty. It became clear to me after hearing story after story of women being ransacked to the bone by their own husbands or boyfriends, it was typical of every abuse story I’ve heard of – these men systematically stealing their salary, signing credits, debts or mortgages in the woman’s name, binding women in suicidal financial situations or reckless business plans, stealing women’s property, flats or houses by signing it in their (the man’s) name, taking siege of the woman’s flat or house and refusing to move out, spending women’s income on drugs, cars, expensive restaurants, gambling, prostitution or whatever their pet fetish is, controlling access to their bank account, or systematically sabotaging their access to work, income or property in any form, by moving her far away from her work, wrecking her chances to find employment in any way possible, sabotaging her relationship with her employer, or finding ways to cut her benefits for childcare, preventing her from using the money she has for herself, etc, etc. The list is endless.

And what is peculiar about this theft is that men will do it regardless of their own status, income or actual financial needs, regardless of the woman’s status or income – they will steal her money or any potential to make money of her own, leaving her with barely enough to feed herself and the children and to pay for her daily necessities, and very often with not enough to feed herself and the children. The man can be rich and the woman earning a minimum wage, the woman may be earning a good salary and the man unemployed and without any resources of his own, or both having similar income – I have seen every possible combination, nothing stops them.

This is what “Domestic violence” training programs would call “economic violence” (yes lots of quotes here). What they mean euphemistically by “economic violence” is control of the woman’s resources by the “abuser”. This is actually inaccurate because they don’t just control her resources, they literally take it away from her. We call this theft, plain and simple. It’s the systematic pillaging of woman’s personal resources, and her complete financial crippling. The element of control is added to the theft when he demands his victim to justify her slightest spending and has to provide receipts to him for everything she buys. Well, that reminds me of something doesn’t it, isn’t that what the father state requires of women’s organisations, to justify every penny spent on the pocket money he gave them?

This sheds further light on the complete reversal and lie which is the idea that men maintain women financially so that women have to depend economically on them, explaining why they don’t leave. Well, the reality is worse, and men are far more parasitic than I even thought. The reality is that most women are most poor when living with a man, regardless of how rich or poor he may be, or regardless how rich or poor she was before she met him – he will rob her. I’ll always remember the example of Virginia Woolf who was well-off thanks to the success of her writing, yet her husband made her poor by taking away all her money: “By April 1938, the year she published Three Guineas, she was existing only on the pocket money Leonard allowed her– out of her own earnings.” (Cherryblossomlife, “The Life and Death of Virginia Woolf”)

Women can survive economically without men, and most would actually fare better without men from an economic point of view, contrary to what reformist stats say: stats generally state that after a separation or divorce, men’s net income increases, while women’s net income decreases: what it fails to look at is in who’s hands were the resources of the woman during marriage. Despite all the horrors committed to women at work, the fact women are globally impoverished by men in every way, the underpayment, the theft of our labour and creativity, the fact we have to raise kids in terrible conditions with no help at all (etc.), well despite all this, women are far better off economically on their own than with a man, because they avoid the worst kind of theft – of being financially drained by her own husband. Men don’t marry women to support us economically, they marry women to suck the life out of us, to own us, rape and forcibly impregnate us, and this requires plundering everything and anything we may have for ourselves – even our souls.

The reason why the reformist perspective is so misleading, above being a mindfuck, is that whenever we look at men’s oppression of women in male-centred terms, that is in terms of collective exploitation, slavery or institutional oppression, we miss the centre of men’s oppression of women which is the oppression and ownership of one individual man on one individual woman, whether by a husband, father or pimp. It is essentially a one-to-one oppression, of one man against one woman, and the wider institutions are only there to aggressively uphold this one-to-one appropriation. The reason it is configured this way is of course because this is how each man gets to control reproduction and force reproduction on women – in order to have this reproductive control, it is biologically necessary for men to keep raping a woman over time. And to prevent her from escaping she has to be locked in his home, deprived of any autonomy. This is what marriage is all about.

When we see it in these terms, it becomes obvious that the primary source of all women’s horrendous misery and poverty comes from being owned by a man and not from remote, impersonal pay gaps or lack of political representation. Women will always be safer by staying away from the men closest to us; always.

What this led me to think about is what it meant for women to free ourselves individually from each of our own primary oppressor (husband, father, boyfriend, pimp). That is, if we survived the hardest part, which is getting away from him without being maimed or killed by him in retaliation and managed to disappear from his reach after our flight, then I think the hardest part of liberation has been overcome. The rest is decolonising progressively from embedded maleness, and surviving in a hostile, male-driven, genocidal world. Surviving on our own in a male economy and confronting our pain and wounds might be harsh and even excruciating but it’s nothing in comparison to living under the constant reign of terror of a husband, father or pimp. It’s nothing in comparison to being imprisoned by our torturer 24/7. The biggest threat that we face in our lives is of being owned by a man or pimp, and being raped and killed by him or any male occupants. If we manage to escape this fate, anything else is violence of a lesser degree. It left me wondering what would really happen if all women started to leave men at the same time. What would men do? Would they start an open war against all women? Or would they target individually each woman that left them? Would everything collapse? Is the leap easier than we think it is, given that many women are persuaded that they’re better off with men despite all evidence of the contrary?

On writing and comments

I didn’t take the time to explain why I closed comments at the time I did. This is what I’m going to do now, as I now have a bit more time at hand.

The irony is that what made me take my decision to close comments isn’t directly because of the trolling, threats and MRA hits although it was an absolutely terrifying moment and I almost did close comments as a result; but because comments were beginning to work. I closed comments at a time where conversations were actually becoming very interesting, and the last few ones were the most interesting discussions ever held on this blog so far. Once the threats abated and the trolls decided I wasn’t their pet target any more, I expected to feel relieved and better, but I didn’t. There’s something inherently wrong with modding.

I love writing, and I love discussing with radical feminists. In fact there are few things I like more than being with and discussing with radical feminists, and if I didn’t have to find money to live, I would surely spend most of my time doing this. It’s maybe what brings me most joy in life.

Comments aren’t exactly like discussing with radical feminists in real life. They were making me feel physically and mentally sick. I wanted to run far, far away from modding and never come back to it again. I couldn’t think clearly, all these responses from so many different women were making my head spin and I didn’t know what my own thoughts were any more. I was starting to lose the desire to write, to feel that there wasn’t any point to it. It was intoxicating my entire life and thoughts, I was constantly worrying about the comments, not to mention behind the scenes tensions between this woman or that woman. And the obsessive checking, not knowing when the next message will be, or who it will be from. It might be from a woman you know, but maybe it will be form a complete stranger.

Modding is far too extreme and stressful. In no other situation in life am I to expect at any time of the day or night that someone, anyone might contact me in person, for which I have to check regularly in order to publish that message. Worrying about whether I want this or that message to be published or not. The message in itself might be good, but if you don’t know the commenter it’s stressful not to know whether she’s genuine or not. Or you see there’s a reading comprehension failure, but you don’t want to disappoint or hurt the commenter by trashing the comment because you know her. It is very unlike any form of internet communication such as emails or forums, where you may be in contact with several people but you expect a message only when you’ve sent one to them or because they said they’d write to you, and if you know the person you know more or less her speed of reply, so you’re not going to check every hour of the day to see if she’s sent you a message. And you can sense what they’re going to write about according to the conversation. You know more or what to expect, and who will get in touch with you.

No other writers but bloggers have to deal with such a high amount and scale, scope of constant intrusion, feedback and interaction. I find it insane. I only just realised this recently, as comments before used to be low enough so not to intrude in my life, but this… It’s a full-time job, and worse. I so understand why FCM decided to cut comments to three days a week for a while before she closed her blog, but even three days a week would be unbearable to me.

Paper-published writers spend a considerable amount of time writing on their own. The period before their work is published is usually fairly long, a time during which they choose who gets to read their work for feedback and with whom they want to discuss it. It may be their colleagues, friends, trusted people, etc. And once their work is published, well most writers don’t get a constant flow of letters and emails every single day in their mailboxes to which they have to reply, or republish. Their interaction with the public will be mostly through limited, specific and chosen, agreed-upon times such as gatherings, seminars, talks, conferences, workshops, inerviews etc. There will be a beginning and an end to it.

I’m not saying this is necessarily the best model but I find it so much healthier to have public interaction limited to one-time events, meetings or gatherings, maybe once a month or several times a year (or whatever is suitable), and to otherwise choose the women with whom I want to discuss my work, or thoughts. When I discuss my work with a woman, or discuss the topic of what I’m writing about, I choose her because she’s the appropriate person at this this particular moment. I don’t necessarily want to hear all women’s opinion about it right now, but only hers. Because I value her opinion, first, but also because I know her enough to be able to provide me with the kind of insight I need at this time. Because I know she’ll understand me in the way I need to be understood just now. Because I’m currently seeking one kind of feedback and she’s the person for that.

I found that having too many different unsolicited reactions at the same time made me lose focus, it dispersed my mind to the extent that I lost the meaning of things, even if each contribution, viewed separately, was immensely insightful and valuable. When women comment on my space I have to personally approve each one of their messages, which means somehow that I have to integrate their messages and voice as my own, by agreeing it to be coherent with the political and ethical stance of my blog; this absorption of so many comments at once is what caused the dispersion of my mind and why I had the impression of having 15 different voices jabbering in my head, which really was on the verge of explosion.

By publishing women’s messages on a radfem-only space, I also become responsible for endorsing what other women have said on my blog and for judging this to be radical feminist. The responsibility of judging, approving and publishing what other women say is a heavy responsibility which I find too burdensome, and this is not what I write for. It easily creates tensions and rebuttals about whether or not I should have published or trashed this or that comment. Concessions may be contested, and rightly so, but it’s all just a headache. Sometimes it’s painful even to deal with good comments when I would have enjoyed to only discuss one point further with this or that woman, yet deleting the other radfem comments and allowing only a one-to-one discussion would have been completely inappropriate given the context of semi-public discussion. And it’s painful because just the thought of wanting to discuss with one woman over another on this specific topic makes me feel like I’m a terrible person, yet it’s a perfectly normal thing to do in real life. Besides, unlike normal conversations or meetings, the other woman is dependent on the blogger/modder’s approval for having her message heard and seen, she has to use me as a vehicle to have her message expressed to others. I find that a very unbalanced and unequal form of interaction.

Private discussions with radfems are more equal and go more in depth since privacy allows for far more freedom to go to the end of our thoughts and follow each lead after the other. With public discussions we are always more or less self-contained because of fear of what others will think, fear of reprisals from MRAs, fear of comments not being approved, impossibility to mention relevant anecdotes or thoughts since they might reveal personal information that could compromise anonymity.

Finally, I realise I much prefer writing to an invisible audience rather than a regular, visible one, as I realised that I was increasingly censoring my thoughts or writing according to what I imagined commenters would think of it – fearing their judgment in other words, fearing to be misunderstood, and always dreading those threats if I went too far. I don’t think this fear can be avoided actually, it’s inherent to the comment format, to the possibility of anyone and everyone being able to comment on your writing at any time. Not having to confront myself with people’s unsolicited reactions to what I say is really liberating.

Now at this point I really want to stress that nothing here has anything to do with what a published commenter might have said or done personally, and really the contributions and insights have meant a lot to me in many ways. My thoughts here are about the inherent problems with modding and not with radfem discussions per se. There are few exceptions, but on the whole, spinning conversations is very much hindered by the blog modding format – to which we add the constant fear of receiving threatening comments and having to bear alone the responsibility of reading and deleting the threats and trolls in order to maintain a safe space for other women (which makes the space (moderately) safe for everyone except the modder).

I never had this impression as I was reading comments as an outsider, but being an insider it’s an entirely different story, and it’s interesting to see how it works. However even as an outsider I did experience the stress of obsessive checking and replying, the anxious waiting for my comment to be approved or for new comments to show up. Sometimes it would be excruciatingly frustrating, and it’s very dissociative too, as I could stay for hours in front of my screen without feeling sleepiness or tiredness when I was tired and sleepy. Separation is what causes this – separation in time and space between the emitter and transmitter, deferred sending and receiving. The screen deprives us from the sensual experience of interaction – there is a constant delay or lapse which doesn’t exist in instant / present communication, where each interaction phrase, gesture, tone of voice, touch is communicated and sensed immediately. Interacting with a screen is sense-numbing anyway. Internet and computer communication is probably the bleakest form of human interaction from a sensory point of view, despite all the advantages it has in terms of easily accessible information and fast communication.

Now that I’ve closed comments I feel immensely relieved, freed, and my clarity of mind and desire to write reappeared almost as soon as I closed comments, which is quite funny. Or rather makes perfect sense. I’ve been thinking about the effects of blogging and of the internet on radical feminist writing for a long time and these are certainly my most informed thoughts for now. That short experience in modding was surely a learning experience and I’m glad it allowed me to better understand how it affects writing.

All things considered, I’ve decided for now to try leaving comments open on the most recent article three days a month, every 1st, 2d and 3rd of each month; because these days are easy to remember. I hope I’ll remember them myself! If this is still too much to deal with, I’ll just reduce that to several times a year.

Sisterhood, sisterhood… Thoughts on identity and what it does to radical feminism.

Last week, through a conversation with a friend I finally came to understand why identity making made me feel uneasy, which led me to think about the definition of identity and why it’s an embodiment of foreground male presence as opposed to female being (I’m using Mary Daly’s notion of male foreground / female background).

I’m not talking about identity politics here, which may be related but is more blatantly liberal and generally comes from the queer / intersectional fringes and has really nothing to do with radical feminism. It’s something else. I was thinking about this more than a year ago, then left it as it was, and these thoughts sprung back again in the same state the other day. I knew something was wrong somewhere but I couldn’t tell how exactly, put words on it. What I felt was a ‘something missing’ which left a dissonant aftertaste in my tongue, as if there lacked some deep understanding. Something appeared superficial. If there was a problem in the understanding of men’s oppression such as with social constructionism, or problems in the way they were acting that contradicted their sayings, I had already broken that down and there was something else still.

I’m racking my brain, thinking about it: superficial, that’s fake. Sisterhood. Why do I not like the way it’s used? Something in there is fabricating an idea of a happy sisterhood that’s too exaggerated to be true. It has a groupie feel to it, that horrible feeling I had in school with girl cliques you were supposed to want to be friends with, and many of us pretended to stick together only because being alone was too dangerous, it meant you would be scapegoated and that was akin to death, so you had to obey to whatever conventions in order to show your belonging to this group, to give the impression to yourself and others you weren’t alone. I always found group assimilation alienating as it would leave me feeling more isolated than when I was alone. I never managed to fit in any of these groups.

In a similar way, I find alienating the repetitive use of ‘sisterhood’ and ‘sisters’ in contexts that don’t relate to the reality of an association or trusted group of friends. You’re invited to feel part of or witness a wonderful community in which all women are happy together dancing, laughing and singing and holding hands or whatever… but you know this isn’t true, simply because it’s not happening as you read / listen – at best you don’t have any connection to the women writing, reading, commenting, publishing, talking etc because you don’t know them – or at worst you’ve heard about behind-the-scenes stuff which are too stressful to think about. In either case, you’re invited to share an experience that doesn’t exist or contrasts sharply with reality.

I presume sisterhood loosely means a large or small group or community of women bound together in a solid and positive way. I do know the existence of groups but I have no interest in mentioning them except if it’s relevant to what I’m writing. So it isn’t something that happens or appears just because you use the word. It isn’t like the word “I apologise” which is also an action and so when you say it you’re making it happen. In this case sisterhood – or derivatives referring to false images of a big loving community, words and names of radical feminists – are used as rallying symbols for following or inclusion, instead of for the meaning they convey in a relevant context.

This is what advertising companies do. This is what male ideologues do, what religious males do. Not that women are any of them, but some of the strategies bear a resemblance as we’re made to believe that diffusing feminism is about recruitment, communication and convincing. But persuasion and recruitment are only necessary for men since their institutions are based on myths and lies. Feminism is the opposite: either the truth of men’s violence is blocked out or either you see it – because it’s always there right in front of our nose. The method of radical feminism is peeling off the veil that men covered our eyes with, it’s consciousness-raising, connecting the dots outside and inside, it is Seeing and Feeling.

Just yesterday a woman told me she wouldn’t attend a woman-only feminist event because it was “politically biased” (in feminism) and she didn’t want to feel tricked or forced into an “ideology”. Well, I found that laughable because she ignores that everything else she goes to which is supposedly neutral is a manifestation of patriarchal ideology, and the only thought and movement that isn’t ideological is feminism. I reminded her that feminism, unlike an ideology, isn’t based in reversals and myth-making as a tool of control of one group over another: it’s naming reality, saying the truth of what men do to us and there aren’t 3,000 ways of naming it, the fact men’s violence exists isn’t debatable. It isn’t about recruiting and brainwashing an army to take power, wage war, occupy or colonise. To this she replied, “well all ideologies strive to tell the truth and give their own interpretation of reality, religions do that, political parties do that, and so does feminism”.

Oh dear. No, male institutions don’t ever strive to tell the truth, this is female projection and blindness here. I gave up the conversation at this point, as she was too far away into male liberalism to understand a word I said.

The point being, while feminism isn’t an ideology, it’s sometimes treated as such. My friend pointed out references to rituals. Rituals! Yes that makes sense, it’s like religion. It’s about upholding an artificial reality through regular gestures, pomp or actions, and are explicitly or implicitly mandatory to show your belonging to a male group or institution (religious, legal, military, other).

Ah. Now I understand. Identities may be a form of ritual – performance, role-playing. Just like rituals, you have to repetitively execute a certain number of actions or use a certain number of symbols to keep up those roles, to uphold the myth, to prove your belonging to the fictional group, collective or nation. This is male identity-making. Actions are retrieved from their experience, the goal is separate from the process of doing the action in itself. You’re deprived of the sensory experience, which is why it makes you feel empty and repulsed by it. That is you’re no longer doing something regularly because it feels good and it sustains you but because you have to do it in order to be part of the group at this particular time. And if you don’t comply, you risk being excluded, of being called unsisterly, you’re punished in some way or another, it may be subtle enough so you don’t realise it but feel guilty. It really is about control.

I think this is what we mean when we criticise the use of radical feminism as an identity: the actions, symbols, words and names are emptied of their meaning and context and used in ritualistic ways to uphold a fiction of group-belonging, for power over or to show conformity to a group because you need to feel included, so you become emotionally attached to it and it’s actually what prevents you from continuing to understand things on a deeper level. Identity = ritual = fiction = trauma-bonding to false inclusion = tool of control. Hence why it’s so stressful to read / listen, and my impression of shallowness.

Blogging and internet makes this role-playing easier I suppose, as you can just create an alias and invent a whole persona, the truth is easier to hide. But dynamics are the same online as well as in real life.

I don’t think the identity-making is always done deliberately or maliciously. Often it is, as a manipulation tactic to gain control, but sometimes it just flows from our desperate need to feel part of a group, because radical feminism may have been the first thing that broke our isolation, it may have been the first thing that gave sense to our suffering. I think this is very sad. We have all terribly suffered from being abandoned, scapegoated, excluded, and we want these women to be the happy family we never had. We cling to women very quickly and place all our hopes and dreams of a free sisterly community in them. Except that it doesn’t work this way. It’s tempting to make an identity out of radical feminism because our female culture and sense of being in this world is constantly erased and we want to recreate a sense of community and belongingness very fast because we’re desperate, so we recreate one before it exists, in ritualistic ways. These idealistic images of sisterhood are tempting but most often they’re not true.

That’s it, it’s lovebombing – a word that Delphyne used some time ago. Don’t be fooled by love-bombing, because it may hide abuse, control or manipulation. Experience has taught me that in patriarchy it’s dangerous to leap into a group or a relation without taking a very long time to build trust, without giving it the test of time.


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