“individualism” and relational deprivation

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about relational deprivation between women in Western countries recently, and even more so since I’ve been spending some time with two feminist friends from a non-Western* country who were here for a few months (and left a few days ago).

Seeing their photos with their friends, how physically close they are together, and seeing how tactile they could be with me too, in ways that would be interpreted as lesbian (sexual) here without ambiguity, when apparently it’s acceptable female friendly touch there, and hearing about how much time they spend with their friends and how casually they can reserve entire days for each other, made me realise that I wasn’t hallucinating about feeling isolated and deprived of contact with women in this part of the world, even from radical feminist friends. To see that women could relate differently elsewhere really opened my eyes to my own situation, and to the effects this deprivation has on women in general, and on feminism.

I’ve been noticing more and more clearly the divide between how I organise my life, travel destinations and work time according to friendships and how this is rarely if ever reciprocated in the same way, and how it always feels like going against the tide when trying to catch up with my local friends. I completely understand now what various female immigrant friends were talking about when they’d say how depressed they were because of being isolated here.

As usual when I strongly need to get my head around a pattern of violence that affects me personally, the things I’ll share about myself with women I know and trust will tend to revolve around it, in the hope that they might have some helpful answers or perspectives. Even just formulating it verbally or in writing helps a great deal. And the insights these discussions lead to are always surprising and incredibly enlightening.

After these friends got back home, I mentioned to one of them (I’ll call her A) how fascinated I was by her relations to her friends and how it contrasted so much with norms of acceptable closeness to women in Western countries. Here much of what we consider friendship often barely exceeds acquaintance relationships. I never thought that differences between countries could be so strong, or that it could even be possible to be so close to women as adults. I thought it was impossible, that it’s something we only experience as a child if we were lucky enough, and everything stops as we become adults and have to give up our friends for men and work. It was really interesting to talk about this with her, to compare social organisation in our respective regions and how it affects women.

Another one of these exchanges was with my mum. Mentioning a close friend of mine who had moved to another town for work reasons a few years ago, she mused about how enthusiastic this friend was in doing things with me, even in sharing mundane chores, which is very unusual. And yes, it’s true, she was the only friend like that, it’s one of the reasons why particularly I miss her since she’s gone. This made us think of how little we do things with our female friends. Our friendships are mostly restricted to fixed appointments for a cup of tea, sometimes booked weeks in advance, which rarely exceeds 2 hours and it’s you tell me your life and I tell you my life and we analyse it a bit and then bye-bye, until the next appointment.

Yet going through common experiences and discovering, learning things together, committing to each other for projects, music bands, repairing our bicycles on a sunday afternoon or sleeping over at each other’s places, gives depth to friendship and teaches things about each other that a once-a-month discussion on its own, sitting in front of each other in a square room or in a noisy cafe without moving doesn’t. It’s like we’re not allowed to commit to each other more than being therapeutical social workers.

By the time I talked to Friend A, I had already given some thought as to why women’s isolation in the past century in Western countries has worsened:

  1. The first factor being, I think, the capitalist nuclear family model becoming much more the single primary unit of socialisation for women, where we are left completely on our own to deal with children and domestic slavery, with much less access to support, community or regular female presence from the “outside world”. Western individualism has reduced some amount of control/surveillance on women by the surrounding group (control by neighbours, relatives outside of the nuclear family (brothers, male cousins, aunts etc), which is the downside for women in less individualist countries), but has increased our emotional dependency on our male-owner and reduced our possibilities of creating sustainable bonds with other women.
  2. The second thing is the ongoing disappearance of sex-segregation in all our major places of socialisation such as schools and workplaces, which means nowadays entire generations of women in Western capitalist countries have never experienced interaction that wasn’t physically monitored by boys and men, where surviving and adapting to their sexually abusive behaviours takes up all or most of our social efforts, where we are kept in all ways possible from bonding to women. Almost two generations of women have been conditioned to despise and fear women-only spaces, to view them as a threat to our social existence, as something backwards, revolting, from a dark distant patriarchal time. This has immensely contributed to destroying our capacity to socialise with and to identify to women early on in childhood and to increasing our trauma-bonding to men / idealisation of maleness, and self-hatred.

Going through our comparisons with friend A, she added a factor I hadn’t quite seen: that Western women tend to be more absorbed by their professional work. She said women she knew from Western countries were always busy, always working, and had very little life outside of work.

Well that was an interesting finding to me, as I had always assumed that because the level of women’s occupation by work was similar in all places, it had similar effects. But it’s very obvious that the kind of work women are expected to do differs from place to place (and social class) and this affects our social relations too. It’s true that here, our outside work and “career” has taken a similar function or status as that of marriage / coupling with men, as we are also expected to sacrifice our lives for it, including our local networks which are essential to our social survival and take many years to build, especially as a woman.

What’s even more interesting is that as I began to write this post shortly after my discussion with friend A (excited about sharing all these new insights), and halted at precisely this stage because I didn’t know how to formulate it — another friend (which I’ll call B) responded to one of my emails with the most amazing analysis of how busyness and work divides women in Western capitalist societies. Answering her question of how I spent christmas, I said (in part) this: “I was a bit frustrated that my friends from my town weren’t available (or even responding) as this time of the year is usually when I have most time, and I was hoping to catch up with them. It’s been a bit frustrating lately that many of my friends are so busy and taken, and not to be able to spend more time with them. I realise how in Western countries adult women aren’t supposed to prioritise friendships at all, and how difficult it generally is to become close to women.” to which she responded this (forgive the long quote, but I thought everything was worth sharing! with her permission of course):

“I can totally relate to what you are saying about your friends. […] I find that other radfems tend to prioritize their friendships more, but I have found it very hard since [..] I have a lot more time on my hands than other women so I am wanting to be in touch more but they are often too busy.

I think a lot about busyness vs not. I know this guy who is happy to work weekends on top of the week because he wants the extra money, and he lives in this incredibly cheap place and doesn’t do a whole lot – I wonder what the hell he spends it on. And him and this other guy I know – both of them struggle to use up their holiday! Can you imagine? I mean why on earth would you want to spend all that time working? I think about the SCUM manifesto, what Solanas says about men not being able to be alone with themselves, and it’s true.

There are two things to think about this. One is that for all this talk about capitalism being alienating, it seems like men like it that way. The world is like this because they built it that way and it suits them. I mean, whenever I’m out in mensworld, I need a lot of down time to recover, it’s always been that way and it was that way too for some of my other women I used to know, nonfeminist ones. Men don’t need to recover from it because it’s their homeworld, it nourishes them, in fact they feel empty without it. In fact married men often work more to avoid their families too.

The other thing to think is how entering into the capitalist workforce was supposed to make women less dependent on men, but in some ways it has increased the dependence and has worked very effectively to divide women further from each other. Firstly, women are overburdened in both the workplace and the home – they do more work for less pay, shittier work, and they work a double shift of domestic labour if they are living with a man or children. So they have less time. I am currently reading The Women’s Room by Marilyn Frye and her account of suburban housewives, it really struck me how much more emotional support and friendship the women had among each other than they could ever hope to have if they were working. The housewives’ community was a women-only space – something which working women rarely have. The mensworld was like a foreign country to them. Today it feels more like women’s world is a foreign country because entering into the male workforce means being around men all the time and it means having to absorb their ideologies to get ahead.

In the home, the women were left largely to their own devices and were in charge, at least of the children. They had a sphere of influence. Even though the man ruled over them, he wasn’t there for a large quantity of the time and also didn’t care about many of the decisions women had to make. Now, women don’t have time to create a local community of women since they are working and child-rearing at the same time. So in both spheres they are isolated from women and alone.

On top of this, since women always have to try harder to get ahead in the workforce, they have to do all this extra training and always feel like they have to be doing some kind of self-improvement activity, endless accumulation of ‘human capital’. Men have to do this too, to some extent, but they can bond with men in the workplace while women can’t bond with women, because if they bond too much with women and stand with women the men will reject them so they will never get ahead. You have to be male-identified to get ahead. Additionally, capitalism says we should move with our jobs, which hinders building a local community of women. And we are indoctrinated into this ideology early on – and it’s not just ideological, it’s legal too. I mean, you might expect your family or your partner to move with you, but to prioritize your friends over your job when deciding where to be? It’s basically unthinkable.

I know probably most of your friends do not have men or kids, but we absorb this mentality early on. I remember living in the US and how hard it was to make friends, everything was so superficial. It seemed like there would be no more friends, only acquaintances to have dinner parties or drinks with, now and again. I thought, is this it? Is this what adulthood is supposed to be? It was horribly empty. But everyone was so busy, all the time, all the time accumulating internships or volunteer work. Not that I really liked those people, but still.

Anyway the point is that while women were largely shut out from mensworld, they had much more opportunity to bond with other women. A lot of that has been destroyed by women’s entry into the workforce, and it has resulted in women becoming much more male-identified. In the book the main character gets divorced and goes to graduate school, and she talks about the contrast between being a housewife, where at least in some sense she was in charge for large swathes of time, and the way she gets treated like a child and an idiot by male professors.

It’s so obvious how relational deprivation, isolation from one another and more generally, the promotion of individualist ideologies are a very deliberate repressive strategy against women: to prevent any form of bonding which is the precondition for concerted rebellion against men’s control. Since the 90s and even more so in the last few years, with the global, massive taking over of neoliberal capitalist politics, it has become harder than ever to mobilise anyone even for non political activities, as the oppressed have so integrated that we have to compete with others and focus on ourselves in order to defend our own interests, and that our interests and life conditions can be separated from those of our class. Yet only members of the dominant class can further their interests (as oppressors) purely through individualist pursuits, because their egocentrism is congruent with their actual dominance.

Men define long-term social isolation and relational deprivation (when used against men in “real” political repression with “official” prison cells of course), as a method of political torture. It is recognised as affecting victims in most durable ways, destroying their ability to socialise even long after their liberation, causing them to lose their jobs and ties with family… 

Indeed, destroying our relationship to ourselves and to women is probably the worst, most deeply traumatic effect of men’s oppression. Intentional male violence is essentially relational, as in, their actions deliberately annihilate our bond to the world and to ourselves, which, when it doesn’t kill us, is an act of spiritual killing — as they need us emptied of our selves in order to be useful for them for very large amounts of time.

In the same way, an essential part of healing from trauma caused by male torture is through reconnecting to women and to ourselves. My own healing largely progressed along with my ability to form stable friendships with feminists, as well as reconnecting to my body, my soul and making cognitive connections about men’s necrophilic system.

It’s more and more obvious to me that there is no such thing as individual freedom and identity outside of social context, social relations and even natural environment. It’s illusionary and absurd to think that our lives and pursuits for improvement can be done entirely on our own, abstracted from social interaction and change.

Our raised consciousness, our leaps, our movements of liberation and solidarity networks are inherently relational. Feminism is entirely dependent on the bonds we create with women, on our continued interactions, and nothing of this would exist if we didn’t meet and spend time together, away from male surveillance. The more we do this (and learn how to do it in healthy, respectful conditions obviously), the stronger our feminism.

This is also why I eventually chose to structure my post according to the genesis of its creation, to show how each new connection and feminist understanding was very directly stimulated by all these spiralling exchanges with women, as well as by my own thoughts, readings and analyses of my social experiences with women. To quote friend B again:

Isn’t it funny how these things are happening at the same time? i think this is like, the wormholes Sonia Johnson talks about. Because I feel you have been working on these issues a lot longer than me, so you can help me shortcut to where you are, and then I can add to that too, and you can add to that, so we all advance more quickly. I’m sure the same is happening with your other friends too, and then I benefit from that too even though i don’t know them because it works through you”

The constant stimulation and discussions I have with other feminists are my life force. Creating an alternative world can’t be done in isolation, it can only develop and evolve in relation to other women.

***

* I use Western vs. non-Western here as I can’t be more specific about location, but I’m obviously not making generalisations about ALL Western vs non-Western countries. What i’m referring seems to be pretty specific to some places.

Submitting, capitulating to the oppressor doesn’t mean supporting oppression. Or “She should know better” part three.

Something we come across frequently is the idea that some women internalise and then reproduce or reinforce our own oppression. That we participate more or less out of choice (or ungratefulness towards second wavers) in making ourselves more oppressed, in losing the few rights we have gained, in betraying and failing other women and especially in making life more difficult for lesbians, radical feminists and women’s liberation…

Men are the problem, but not the only problem. Women are also the problem according to this view, and I can’t help but notice that a fair amount of energy is and has been spent reacting to libfem women (liberal feminists) in order to rant about them, mostly about how they throw women under the bus, betray radical lesbian feminists, and seem to be taken for the biggest threat to radical feminism and women’s liberation today.

The first thing I’d like to say is, as radical feminists, I don’t see why we should get so tired or impatient over this group of women more than any other. Yes, libfeminism is very strategically posted at the gate of feminism to prevent women from getting near liberation, and these patriarchal reprisals are those we are most exposed to once we’ve stepped into the feminist movement. But active libfems represent only a small portion of the female population and this “brand” of backlash is only one facet of men’s repression tactics overall.

Mental and physical alienation and destruction of relationships of solidarity between women isn’t specific to liberal feminist enclaves. It’s the normal consequence of being invaded and colonised by men — which is the case everywhere and liberal groups are just one group in which men hold power over women, collectively and individually. The same is true for women attached to right-wing, religious, atheist, conservative or activist men, at whatever age, from whichever country, etc. The workings of colonisation by men and compliance to their rules in a situation of captivity are always the same, except men’s methods differ slightly from one group to another. Similarly, to every breach opened by women to escape men, whether it be lesbianism, spinsterism, feminism, running away from an abusive family or husband, men respond with the specific kind of repression that go with it.

More importantly, no woman or group of women are responsible for men’s organised anti-feminist repression, whether actively or passively (ie lack of resistance). It’s materially, concretely impossible for an oppressed to be the one responsible for her condition of oppressed.

Whichever group of women we’re looking at, women aren’t the problem, or responsible for the situation we’re in. As the oppressed group we can’t reinforce our own oppression, we can’t have both the agency to maintain this oppression and at the same time, because of this oppression be so stripped of our agency as to be incapable of escaping patriarchy or doing much about it. Only the oppressors are in a position to oppress and maintain this oppression, which they do with the use of force. Their violence is unilateral, and violence in a context of oppression is always unilateral.

By definition, oppressors, abusers, slave-masters, tyrants or whatever we call them, enforce their oppression whether we like it or not. They force us into being useful to them. They resort to violence, to methods that destroy our will and turn us against ourselves and other women so to keep us useful and subservient to them. Only chronic violence and long-term captivity (to the owner-father, owner-husband, owner-pimp) can obtain such extreme results of adaptation and submission to abusers. Submission doesn’t ever equal active, willing participation. We participate into our annihilation only as victims.

The more a group behaves submissively to another, and in ways that appear contradictory to its own interests, the higher the level of occupation and repression this group is subjected to: this is a universal law. Not only the level of submission is always proportional to the level of terror, but the kind of submissive, traumatic responses of the oppressed group also directly mirror the various methods of torture used against them.

The level to which women in the left or libfem women are terrified of radical feminism (or of lesbianism) and fearfully obey to men’s demands, reflects the violence with which men infiltrate, invade and destroy the feminist movement from the inside. It reflects their controlling and abusive attitudes towards women, the way they’ll threaten, intimidate, harass and verbally assault women merely because they refused to submit to men’s fabrication of reality (ie demanding us to call men “she”). It’s also an effect of their sexual sadism towards the women they vampirise, as these men are usually supporters and active practitioners of pornographic and prostitutional violence. Liberal women are misdirected by the false hopes that not all men are bad and that equality is the solution, because liberal men constantly lure them into these myths and exploit women’s desires by posturing as allies and mimicking feminist discourse. More often than not these men manage to control women by becoming the boyfriend-owners (or “best friends”) of liberal women, and impose their interests in women’s groups simply by infiltrating her thoughts and actions in the “privacy” of her/his home, and in her bed, where he enforces PIV and sexually humiliates her, while calling this liberating.

Women don’t “let” men in feminism. Forced proximity to abusive men is simply THE central aspect to all women’s condition in patriarchy and so it is that women continue to struggle with it once they step into feminism. It doesn’t disappear because we say it should, especially if the women are already bound to an individual man. And the time it takes to become a separatist, that is to gradually be in a position to reject proximity to men, depends on the opportunities we have to free ourselves from our individual oppressors. Anyway.

Men are the ones who damage the movement, who cause trouble amongst women.

When we talk about women betraying women, this is something organised politically, beyond ourselves. Men are the only agents of this betrayal, they are the ones organising it, they very literally stand between us and the women that are important to us, attempt to control, limit and sabotage our contact in every possible way. The list of ways in which they break our bonds with women — whether within the patriarchal family (mother, aunt, sister, cousin, in-laws etc), within our friend-circle, our political groups or on a larger scale — is endless, literally endless. What’s more, men are in fact the ones who betray us constantly, constantly! Quite contrary to women, who mostly act in good faith, who are expected to be transparent and honest at all times — planned deception is how men proceed by default. The contrast between men and women in this respect is so stark that it takes years to even imagine how men can be so calculating. They’re capable of betraying our trust for decades onwards, stealing everything we have, tricking and manipulating us at every turn and opportunity. The backbones of all their institutions, from marriage to capitalism to the democratic state to medicine to religion (etc) are built on lies, myths and reversals.

So. If we encounter a woman acting in accordance to what men have demanded of her, I don’t see any point in telling her off, being angry with her, or even accusing her of betrayal. I think that’s being abusive to women, unjustly holding them responsible for the effects of men’s actions on them. It’s getting the enemy wrong, hitting on the co-victim instead of the oppressor; we remain caught in men’s endless cycle of hijacking our (real or potential) relationships of solidarity with other women. We may be that person, and certainly have been before, and would have expected empathy rather than scorn. She necessarily has very little control over the abuse that makes her act in this way so to avoid further punishment. The reasons and cause for her actions do not lie in herself but in the men who are taking her mind and body as hostage, one way or another. As feminists, it’s with these real men, and their real control over her we have to deal with first, not with the intellectual debates, or debates about who has the right to call herself radical feminist. The problem isn’t an intellectual one here, but a material problem of violence.

‘She should know better, she had access to radical feminism’, # part two

BEHIND IDEAS AND WORDS, THERE IS THE USE OF FORCE. MEN’S WORDS ARE PRECEDED AND FOLLOWED BY ACTION. PATRIARCHY ISN’T ABSTRACT, MERELY A CULTURAL OR IDEOLOGICAL OPPRESSION.

Why am I writing this series? Because I hear and read, again and again, feminists treating women as if we had the same access to freedom, knowledge and consciousness as men, expecting women to act as knowledgeable and conscious beings when we “tell them so” and being impatient and angry at them when they don’t meet these expectations because they submit to men’s distortions and reversals of feminism.

Expecting women to act as already free when we aren’t, and being angry at them when, in effect, they can’t throw their mindbindings and shackles off when “we tell them so”, is misogynistic. It denies the reality, effects and intent of domestication of women by men.

As said in the previous post, we don’t have the same access to knowledge as men, especially knowledge and consciousness of patriarchy. Men attack our psyche and awareness though intellectual deprivation, by playing tricks on our mind, and do everything in their power to prevent our access to feminism. They destroy, erase feminist theory and replace it with woman-hating propaganda in women’s studies, women’s refuges, lesbian centres, women’s collectives and wherever feminist theory and practice has emerged. Men repulse women from feminism by turning well-known radical, lesbian feminists into foils and repellents through public ridicule, slandering and demonisation, using the words feminist and lesbian as an insult against women.

We know this. If women don’t know it’s because in this condition we can’t, in fact, know better.

However, intellectual deprivation and mindfucks aren’t the only cause for mental colonisation, which is why educating women about patriarchy is rarely enough on its own to break the effects of mindbindings (when it is sufficient, we do notice it: the effects are immediate), and why simply explaining things may give so poor results. That’s because mental colonisation is always rooted in direct violence, and without addressing this violence there’s no way we can address the effects it has on a woman.

Male ideas are backed by action: they are enforced with the use of violence and torture. Women are not merely colonised by ideas but by men.

The following situation might seem familiar: we see a woman infatuated with male woman-hating ideas so we confront her “ideas” with ours, radical feminist. And take this as an ideological opposition, an argument that we hope we will win. We expose the fallacies of her “positions”. We hope to “convince” her with our truth, we hope to get men’s lies out of her head. We think she has “just” been brainwashed and it’s just a case of exposing the facts to her. But she doesn’t seem to understand. We keep repeating until we get angry at her. If she doesn’t listen, she must be stupid, ungrateful and ageist. And she must be really privileged to deny women’s reality in this way, cut from women’s reality.

Except things don’t work this way. This is both an inappropriate reaction and an incorrect understanding of colonisation (on top of lack of empathy for women as oppressed). The meaning and weight of ideas aren’t the same for each woman in this case. Radical feminist ideas have no or little weight against the misogynist ideas here because it isn’t a matter of replacing one with the other in our head, of getting rid of some wrong theory we’ve read in a book once. The misogynist ideas are implanted in our minds with the use of force, through a process of breaking down, violating our physical and mental boundaries — through a process of torture.

Men’s distortions of the truth, lies, reversals and woman-hating propaganda work because they are sustained, expressed in repressive, destructive action by every single man and every single institution: it permeates every aspect of our life. Men don’t only say women are subordinate, women are sluts, intercourse is sexy, feminism is vile, lesbianism is monstrous. They enforce it. They force us to serve them as girls and wives, they forcefully use us as receptacles for their brutal penetrations, they effectively punish us when we resist or try to escape. They make their words match reality and make sure we don’t experience any other reality than this. What makes brainwashing so effective is that it’s accompanied, preceded and followed by sexual and physical violation — that is, brainwashing in a context of torture. Once the violation is total, the mind — the final barrier to any kind of violation — breaks down.

Psychological colonisation is not a mirror outcome of mere psychic attack or proof that we’re so “privileged” as to be deluded about women’s reality, but quite the opposite: it’s a direct manifestation of men’s combined sexual, physical and psychic torture, always all three together. Repeated, prolonged sexual invasion and surrendering of self to a man in a context where it is socially defined as love-making causes the most severe form of psychic invasion and trauma-bonding in the human being. If a woman is mindbound, you can be sure that the violence was total: that physical and sexual invasion are or were equal to the level of psychic abuse.

The more a woman has assimilated the will of her oppressor, the more she is in danger with him and the higher the degree of his violence. Domestication and captivity to our torturers/oppressors combined with societal persecution is what causes mental colonisation, not absence of it. As women we live with our oppressors 24/7, we are forced to share the same bed with them, and they have right of access to our minds and bodies at all times. We are born in men’s prisons which are their homes, brothels or “asylums” and often die in one of their prisons, never having known any form of autonomy. If a minority of women do manage to escape this level of appropriation by men as adults, all women are or have been individually tortured by at least one man in a prolonged and repeated way, and cultural propaganda was enacted in this backdrop of torture and servitude since girlhood. Never, ever assume that a woman hasn’t been tortured. Even the positive effects of escaping husbandry or prostitution (as lesbians or spinsters) may be mediated by men who continue to control our minds and actions in many ways — as psychiatrists, doctors, male “friends”, “dates”, lawyers, teachers, colleagues, brothers, father, male activists, media, etc. Not to forget that the effects of torture on the mind can persist well beyond the worst of torture has ended, and may stay until death so long as they’re not treated.

If a woman rejects feminism, refuses to go further or makes back and forth movements from and to feminism (apparent advancements in lucidity followed by recessions), we should always ask ourselves: which man or men are very concretely acting as a screen between her and her reality, between her and feminism, her and other women. Some men are necessarily behind this chronic blockage, imposing real constraints and limits to her physical and mental liberation. They notice immediately when her behaviour presents a threat to their authority over her, and know how to readjust their strategies accordingly. (More seldomly, in the case the woman is a separatist, this job might be done by women who are themselves colonised, however precedence in torture from men is always a precondition). When our psyche is invaded by male ideas, we are very literally invaded by men, sexually, physically and psychically all at once.

So in the case of mental colonisation, it’s not just with male ideas but with this torture and the oppressor himself we have to deal with: we have to attack them directly, identify these particular men or male institutions in her life, their access to her. We are dealing with victims of torture who are often still exposed to their torturers or still live with them, and/or live with the effects of prolonged torture on the mind — that is, being forced to experience ourselves and our reality through the eyes of our oppressor.

We can’t counter it, make this violence and its effects vanish just by link dumping or explaining the definition of radical feminism when we already have evidence it hasn’t worked. If we do want our words to have some positive effect, we have to take into account the concrete, material situation of the woman, the ways in which men (individually and collectively) methodically destroy her will and consciousness. Our words have to be backed by actions and support which help her get out of this situation, protect herself from the men who persecute her or get her own oppressors out of her mind (and bed). It means taking her side against those of her oppressors, helping her identify their particular strategies and plan her escape without their notice, and never urging her to do things she can’t do, or being angry at her when these men manage to block her progress or regain control.

We have to remember that to each misogynist idea implanted in women, there is its pendant in male violence. The kind of justifications a woman will tell you to men’s predatory behaviour, to prostitution, to sexual violence or any aspect of patriarchy, reveal the kind of violence she herself is or has been subjected to — they cryptically reveal the procedure by which she is being destroyed and broken, the particular ideology her own oppressor(s) uses against her. The link, the cause-to-effect is linear. If she asserts that “anal sex is erotic” you can be almost certain that she herself is being subjected to anal penetration by her male partner, and that she has absorbed his version in this condition of brutal violation. If she says pornography is liberating, chances are that her own boyfriend or a male acquaintance films the sexual humiliations inflicted on her, who tell her this is about liberating her own boundaries. If she shouts at you accusing you of racism because you denounce prostitution (this happens) it’s very likely men frequently use this method against women in her activist surrounding. If she defends her father or husband who is known to be abusive to other women, she’s necessarily one of his primary victims. Etc, etc.

Halloween Twofer: FCM & S4

witchwind:

I don’t usually reblog, but I’m happy to see both FCM and Sargasso writing, and it’s all the more exciting that they’ve written it together! Happy Halloween

Originally posted on Radical Resolution:

Part I: “Haunted” Asylums = Patriarchy, Unmodified by FCM

hello!!  here i am, hanging out with sargasso sea in a super secret feminist location enjoying a lovely fall day.  since halloween is coming up i thought it would be nice to do a hallo-weeny type post, which i will.  but first let me comment on the hanging out with sargasso sea part, which i think people might be interested in reading as well.  because its exactly where we left off, isnt it, over a year ago when i first quit blogging (and was getting ready to quit).  feminist in-action, together.

i have missed some things about writing and particularly the discussions very much and have often thought about coming back, but like a bad and well reasoned break up, i always decided not to.  the reasons i left in the first place are still valid and the things that made…

View original 1,775 more words

Why doesn’t she leave ? I told her so. She should know better, she has access to radical feminism. She’s just ‘stockholmed’. Part one.

SUB-TITLE: Some limits of consciousness-raising and concrete causes for psychic colonisation: why are we colonised? Do we make a ‘choice’ to ‘take men’s side’? Are we ‘just’ brainwashed into submitting to men? (Warning: lots of scare quotes in this post).

**Thoughts from reading Maria Mies (patriarchy: accumulation on a world scale) and reflexions from a friend’s reading notes on Nicole Claude Mathieu (special thanks – the book is entitled Anatomie politique)**

The reality of our oppression is so erased that we tend to forget that real persecution, captivity and torture are what prevents us from freeing ourselves from men, not just the effects it has in our head: even though breaking us down psychically is one of the intended effects of oppression, our freedom lies very concretely in men no longer being able to assail us, not in gaining more self-confidence for instance. Intentional male violence isn’t just something in our head we need to get rid of by becoming feminist, but outside of ourselves, real, something we have to concretely escape and free ourselves from.

PART ONE (another series!): Women don’t share male beliefs about patriarchy. Our consciousness of patriarchy is limited because men withhold information and destroy our access to reality.

Liberal men in modern Western totalitarian regimes (which they call democracies) say we are ‘socialised’, ‘educated’ into subordination ‘patriarchal values’ because they project their own experience of dominance onto us, and conveniently erase the violence it takes them to beat our heads down under their boots. They define our oppression as something imaginary and symmetrical, as if we were equally influenced as them by ‘ideas’ and ‘culture’, as if our subjugation were a shared cultural lag of past patriarchal times and we happened to be on the wrong side of it, to still be persuaded or brainwashed by its ideology — all it would take would be ‘education’, and if that didn’t work, we’d be really dimwitted. We’d thus play a part in ‘reproducing’ our oppression because we’d believe in it and identified to men (not because we’re forced into it).

I know most radfems are on board with the criticism of this. But anyway. Oppression isn’t symmetrical, unwittingly or even consciously ‘reinforced’ by the oppressed. This is a patriarchal reversal. Men take the moment we are already colonised and captive (to our husbands for instance) to say “see, there’s a coresponsibility, she behaves like a subordinate, she lets the man take a position of power over her life” — omitting the decades of carefully planned assassination of her will the husband had to execute in order to obtain this result.

Even if we look at things purely from the perspective of ideas, they aren’t equally shared by men and women, and nor is there the same power in turning beliefs into reality. When men believe in patriarchal ideology, it becomes true. There’s a coherence and integrity between men’s patriarchal beliefs and their actions: they’re the subjects and agents of them. If they believe women should be treated like rape-targets, they will effectively treat women as a target for rape. If men believe women’s vagina is a hole to be brutally pilloried, they will treat our vaginas as holes for their dicks. If they believe women should treat men like gods, they will force women to treat them as gods. That’s because they have the oppressive power to enforce their misogynistic beliefs and turn them into actions, as an oppressor group.

One thing that’s important in free choice is knowledge. You can make free choices only when they’re properly informed. For instance, you wouldn’t choose to eat something if you knew it would poison you. If someone intentionally gave you some poisoned food while telling you it’s good for your health, it can’t be said you chose to poison yourself. The choice you thought you were making was only in eating healthy food. You were forced to eat poison out of deception.

Knowledge is something that the oppressors reserve for themselves and deprive the oppressed of, to maintain their oppressive system. Men know their domination. They know they’re the dominant class and need to exclude women from it, and know how to treat women and men distinctively to maintain this sexual dominance. It’s very clear to them what constitutes an affront to their masterhood and what doesn’t. While they might not know all the ins and outs of the patriarchal system (and don’t need to), they do know perfectly well where their interests lies — in keeping the subordinates underneath them — and know how to go about doing it. And that’s all they need to know. Access to this knowledge is part of their birth-right, and transmitted to them by other males.

This isn’t so for women. We don’t “share” their ideology and reproduce it in turn, against ourselves, as the intents and workings of patriarchy aren’t clear to us at all: we simply don’t have access to the same information as them. Men prevent us from seeing it by excluding us from their institutions, boards, meetings, parties, peer networks, forums, rituals, clubs where they openly exchange about their dominance, where the important decisions are made, where all the crucial knowledge and skills are transmitted and where they bond over sexual degradation of women in the most overt ways (mostly prostituted women).

Men also typically withhold their true intentions, whether on an individual or systemic level. They lie about their intentions. They lie as they breathe to women. They know how to fake love, romance and interest, to fake humane emotions, to fake legitimacy and erudition, they know how to reverse reality, to turn our minds upside down, to blur our perceptions. They have a very clear vision of what they’re subjecting us to and why exactly they’re doing it, while they methodically destroy our consciousness of their own actions against us, as well as all material, written, historical evidence and memory of their organised crimes. They eliminate, publicly smear and silence those of us who might reveal the truth to women.

It takes us a considerable amount of effort, even years or decades to unpick the lies from the truth, to revert the reversals and uncover the perversions, manipulations, gaslighting and mindfucks, whereas it will take a man a split nano-second to react and know what to do (and why he’s doing it) if a woman toes out of line – it’s a second nature to them, they don’t even have to think about it. We simply don’t have the same right of access to reality – to the consciousness of it.

In this condition it can’t be said that women believe in patriarchy and thus won’t choose to get out of it, but that our consciousness of men’s violence and of our reality has been deliberately disintegrated, fragmented, atrophied; which prevents us from even wanting to get out. Our perceptions have been forcefully twisted and deceived, we are cut from the information we need to see the whole picture, to see men’s sinister conspiracy against women. Men know about the oppression and how to oppress, while we are kept in the dark and cloaked with a false reality. In this condition of forced confusion it can’t be said we consent to anything they subject us to.

The game is rigged for women. Men need to lie, omit the truth, manipulate and deceive us, play tricks on our minds, play a role, create false hopes of love, security and inclusion in order keep us obedient and confused. Such covert psychic warfare saves them a great deal of coercive effort.

Men are devious cowards and ethically crapulent, they will never, ever attack us directly and loyally. Imagine if men came up to women and instead of pretending to be ‘attracted’ to us (and breaking down our boundaries stage by stage in order to extort a first “yes” — to having a drink for instance — which they then use as a pact that seals our permanent violability to them) just said outright “my only intention is to use you as a receptacle for my dick, to rape you as much as I feel fit, to slap you in the face, and then use you as an incubator for my sperm. Penetration is the most barbaric thing you can do to a human being and this is what I want to subject you to. I want to enslave you for the rest of your life, I want you to make you as miserable and broken as a human can be. Now let me attack you.” And then pounced. Well, we’d sure try to run away, or put a fight first. All of a sudden the prince wouldn’t appear so charming. It would complicate men’s business of subordinating us, for sure.

Note: I’ll allow comments at the end of the series.

UTOPIA: what would a women’s society look like?

I haven’t been writing in a while, and it’s not because I don’t like writing any more but things have accelerated elsewhere in my life and I can’t be involved everywhere at once. As this isn’t paid work, obviously I can’t afford to put blogging first.

Anyway, there are still many posts waiting to be finished. In the meantime, I’ll start another one.

I often muse about all the things that we’d need to change about patriarchy if we abolished men’s rule over women and the earth. Everything and every single aspect of social organisation is so much the opposite of how it should be, it’s dizzying to even begin to think about all the things we should stop / change.

Mostly it’s about men stopping from doing harm. But stopping men isn’t enough because beyond that there is the entire world to relearn, to heal, and our entire society to rebuild. We would be faced with the immense task of replacing all the misogynist, genocidal, biocidal practices men have ordered our society with for eons. So many of us now are acculturated, cut from land, nature and from one another.

If we managed to overcome men’s tyranny over us, how would we rebuild our world? I just want to throw some ideas here that I often come across these days. I dream for concrete, down-to-earth, simple and easily applicable measures of stepping out of patriarchy into a female-loving, biophilic world. This isn’t by any means a realistic plan of how to achieve it, but just reading it makes me feel happy. It makes it feel more real, more possible. Enjoy!

SOCIAL STRUCTURES

Men’s position in society

Before we do anything, the very first measure to adopt is to take all men out of all positions of decision-making immediately, and actually out of any kind of social, professional position whatsoever.

Major serial killers, serial torturers, pimps, pornographers, severe domestic abusers, serial rapists, genocide planners, biocide planners and pedocriminals across the world will simply be euthanised: the decisions will be taken by women in a mass world tribunal for patriarchal crimes. This is by far the best solution, and is the most legitimate, ethical way of reducing male population to more reasonable levels. Such men would otherwise forever pose a threat to women, children, animals, the earth and society as a whole, and we know they have no chance of ceasing their violent behaviour after having reached such an advanced stage of sadism and sociopathy. It would be reckless to spend space, resources and energy in keeping them alive in prisons.

All of men’s (alive and euthanised) belongings, property, resources and land will be confiscated from men and handed back to female care and supervision – property rights over land will be abolished. You can’t own land!

All men at least above 15 (or younger if very asocial) should live separately from women and children, on their own in small huts or studios, isolated from one another and scattered around so that women can keep an eye on them (they should never be in groups or packs, that would be illegal). So it would also be illegal for male adults to impose their presence on females, girls and children. Men would have to care for themselves on their own: food, laundry, etc. No male above his age of puberty would be allowed to receive any kind of service from a female. Their life expectancy would probably drop to the age of 40, but that’s how things should be. Women’s life expectancy without men would rise to 130 years at least.

PIV would be illegal too of course, as well as the initiation of any verbal or physical contact to women and girls or boy children, unless solicited by a woman for specific matters. I’m not sure what to do about boy children. Obviously you know my opinion, but let’s say that’s up to the mother to decide what she wants to do before he turns of age to leave the female family circle.

In order to keep all men and post-pubescent boys busy, we’d send them to clean up the vast amounts of detritus, pollution and toxic wastes men have littered and almost killed the world with. Much of the damage to the earth is irreversible, however with a great deal of effort and genius, women will find sustainable, natural and simple ways of healing a lot of the damage men have caused, and send men off to do the dirty work. No man will be allowed to take any decision without female guidance. We know what happens when men decide on their own! DISASTER.

Family, child-raising and reproduction

Fathers’ rights will cease to exist. There is no such thing as fatherhood — as we all know, it’s a myth. Men will necessarily lose all and any power to dominate and control women’s reproductive capacities.

It’s the inalienable right of each woman to control every phase of her reproduction and life creation. Abortion will be possible at any stage of pregnancy, however there will hardly be such a thing as undesired pregnancy since there won’t be any men forcing pregnancies on us any more. Abortion will nonetheless be recognised for the trauma, mutilation and loss of life that it is. The number of children and human population will naturally decrease to sustainable levels, so will the number of males born. Women will be free to experiment parthenogenesis or procreation with two female eggs.

The nuclear family will be abolished, in particular the parent’s property rights and absolute power over her child. Children will be considered as persons in need for autonomy and all form of punishment, authority or educational manipulation over children will equally be abolished. Raising and caring for children will be a collective responsibility for women, and motherhood / childcare and especially capacity to be empathetic towards children will be taken very seriously, as something that needs to be (re)learned and studied over years before being fully competent for this immense task.

Schools as we know them as punitive reclusion centres for grooming into male domination and female subordination (as well as selection system for elite executors of patriarchal institutions) will be abolished. Boys would definitely not be around the girls, certainly not most of the time, and never beyond the age of puberty. And obviously no adult male would be allowed near children.

There will be no such thing as “teachers” with positions of authority over children. “Guiders” could learn also from the children or students as much the students from them. We’d learn anything we’d want from languages to sciences to art to music to medicine to building to witchcraft to swimming (etc) without restriction of age or time, as long as it’s adapted to our capacities, level and availability. Learning would be autonomous, with guidance when needed, instead of enforced and dictated. They’d be no need for external reward, marking or punishment because the process of learning in itself is so rewarding and fascinating that it’s self-sufficient. Anyway I could go on and on, non-patriarchal learning is truly riveting.

Social structures between women.

All relationships of authority, domination and subordination will be abolished between all women of all ages. We will be able to recognise each other’s strengths, expertise, guidance and capacities (or lack of) without it implying superiority, inferiority, veneration or lack of respect. We would find each other beautiful. We would live our friendships, love and affection for women unhindered.

MEN’S INSTITUTIONS

All oppressive male institutions will be abolished after men have been retrieved from them. We obviously won’t keep these institutions. They will return to the nothingness that they belong, just as a distant, bad memory.

Military:

No more military, no more army, no more wars! It would be illegal for men to hold weapons. Global peace would be the immediate consequence. Most weapons will be destroyed (or recycled into something else), such as weapons of mass destruction, anti-personnel mines, tanks, machine guns, all manners of terrestrial, marine and air-bombers, and all the many disgusting things men have invented. For the remaining weapons such as guns or blades, women will hold exclusive right of use over them in order to defend ourselves from men, from the risk of them taking power over us again.

State:

States, borders, nations, laws would be abolished and totally dispensed with. Laws mentioning the number of prohibited acts will be kept for men only. Women do not need laws to contain ourselves. Laws were created by the male elite to protect their property from other men. Laws are rigid and static, that’s because their purpose is to hold existing patriarchal powers in place. Our own society would be in constant evolution, improvement, creative renewal, yet grounded in reality and adapted to our needs and circumstances.

Women would be able to move freely.

Societal structures and decision-making assemblies wouldn’t exceed roughly 300 women (representing no more than themselves). Keeping numbers low for cooperation is important because the greater the size of the unit, the more horizontal cooperation becomes difficult and requires vertical hierarchy. Possibilities for peaceful, cooperative organisation between women are infinite – as long as they respect the individual integrity of every female – the group should never weigh over the individual but be a source for support and efficient organisation of collective life and space. There could easily be associations of exchange between different groups and peoples in order for women to cooperate regionally and globally where necessary. There would be no limit in age of participation in decision-making for women and girls, which means adapting the format to different ages and capacities.

Medicine:

Men would be permanently banned from any kind of medical practice. All woman-hating, genocidal institutions such as gynecology, psychiatry, obstetrics, big pharma, the torture of living beings in the name of “scientific experimentation” will be banned. Men’s fragmented, objectifying, sadistic view the human body will be part of history, replaced by biophilic medicine. Medical science will no longer be monopolised by a small elite but available to all at any age where appropriate. The (female) doctor’s role will be to guide the patient in her own healing, never to exercise authority over her or take decisions at her expense. Special healing spaces (where surgery is necessary, etc) will be so nice, warm and welcoming that just being there will make you feel better. The soul and life conditions of a person will always be considered part of the body, and symptoms will always be understood in a holistic way. There will be no more chemical, synthetic and toxic products with often worse side effects than the illness itself it claims to heal.

Perfect health would be the normal state of women anyway, as we will learn by experience and observation what we should eat and do to stay healthy at all seasons and times. Most women will have rediscovered our healing, divination and extra-sensory communication powers.

Religion:

Patriarchal religions will crumble down with men’s oppressive system. Religious ideologies, along with its hierarchies and vacuous rituals will cease to exist. I believe a woman’s world would be spiritual. Spiritual connection isn’t based on faith but on critical observation and experience, on a real personal connection to the elements, beings and spirits that surround us, and on the real magnetic power of beings.

Economy (tied to ecology):

Obviously, Slavery, men’s exploitation of women, men’s capitalist systems will be abolished too. The most important aspect of male economy is that it’s based on men’s competitive accumulation of resources (by killing, destroying, commodifying, taking control over, extracting the greatest possible amount of life) and based on production of poisonous, addictive, programmed obsolescent goods — in order to win the patriarchal game of achieving greater domination over women and girls.

This necrophilic relationship to the world and the environment will be abolished, to be replaced by biophilic ecological and economic principles. This will encompass every single process of our life activities, from house building, to food consumption, to communication, travelling, furniture making, cooking, etc. They will have to be carefully designed and thought out in a way as to never endanger the survival of any species, never pollute any environment, never require the use of poisonous, non-recyclable materials, never to require indentured labour or exploitation in order to be maintained. This would obviously impact the nature and scale of our activities. “Work” (exploitation and division of labour) as we know it would disappear. It would be the responsibility of each individual or group to sustain herself more or less autonomously.

We should learn to observe our environment and deeply understand the interconnectedness of all beings around us, as well our own impact before deciding whether or how to transform it. Our lives have no more or no less value than those of a rabbit, fly, tree, plant, fish, seashell or stone. For instance, if we pick leaves of some plants, it’s important not to rip the whole plant off, to take only parts of it so it can grow again. Or to only take a few plants (or seashells, whatever) where there are many, so to respect the survival of the species where it is settled. If we cut trees to build our house, replant them. There are also infinite ways of making the most of materials for energy, food or production while using it as efficiently as possible. Building houses in ways that don’t require heating in winter or cooling in the summer. It is now widely known that energy such as electricity can be infinitely renewable if we use wind power, magnetic power, water power… And everything can be made DIY.

We will learn to be autonomous again and make our own clothes, food, furniture, houses, soaps, detergent products – or maybe someone else will make them but most things can be handmade and it’s so much more rewarding.

In a biophilic world, nothing is garbage, nothing is pollution. Everything is conceived so as to be part of a life cycle. This doesn’t mean we should keep the same toothbrush for 50 years or never improve on our machines, technology and infrastructure, but there’s no such thing as a dump, or toxic spilling. All materials should be harmless, recyclable or biodegradable, given back the earth if we no longer need them.

Industrial agriculture and farming:

Genetic modification of plants, pesticides, monoculture, field ploughing and consequent aridification of the land will be considered criminal. Our right to self-sustenance would no more be confiscated by mega food corporations – as they will no longer exist.

Agriculture should always be small-scale, local, and as much as possible be modelled on wildlife, self-growing / self-renewing conditions (the less work and intervention, the better), and especially be conceived so as to nourish and sustain rather than deplete wildlife and environmental balance. Again, possibilities are infinite, we have so much to learn.

And seriously, killing animals you’ve raised yourself in a farm or keeping animals enclosed is cruel. I’m for the liberation of all farm and domestic animals. It’s up to them to decide whether they want to live with us or not, and they should be able to come and go freely. Maybe after a few decades, after the human population has stalled, male population has decreased, and after we’ve made serious efforts for reforestation and restoration of wildlife on the earth, it would probably be fairer to hunt animals occasionally. Right now, given the extinction rate of animal species, I find it criminal to hunt or fish. We don’t need to eat that much meat anyway.

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This post is already too long!

I hope you got the point of it though. It isn’t so much as dictating what women should do but establishing basic principles of respect of life and female integrity along which we can devise an infinite number of possibilities.

Summary of lefty male anti-feminist tactics

Or: mapping some of the big branches of antifeminism, where they come from and where we are today etc. Or: looking at intersectionality, radical lesbianism, contempt for victims and general male activist / reformist practices from a broader perspective.

I’ve been preparing a synthesis between the criticism of radical lesbianism and intersectionality to have a bigger picture of both and where they come from, and as I see things in patterns I thought I’d first draw it out to make it clearer to myself and others. So this is a first introductory part and more will come later.

We do know the vast majority of women from the women’s movement in the 70s either came from the left or civil rights movement, and were subsequently joined by women coming from lesbian and gay activism.

The positive influence from the left was that women carried with them and further developed the structural analyses that led to the radical feminist theories we have today. I assume at the time, many more women had a basic understanding of politics and oppressive structures compared to today where neoliberal patriarchal ideology has completely taken over, and so many women are convinced that everything they think comes from their own mind and their choices are the result of their own self-determined will.

However the lefty escapees who shaped the WLM also brought with them some of the internalised male attitudes and masculinist activist practices they had to cope with in the male-led organisations, which then visibly shaped the way they applied their feminism. It’s true that these women made a great effort to decolonise from the imperialistic practices of the organisations they fled from, such as getting rid of hierarchical structures, vertical decision-making and doing the immense work of cutting through all the misogynist lies and reversals about patriarchy etc, however some of this work remained largely incomplete as is evidenced by the fact we still struggle with it today, even with newer generations of feminists. Not that it’s their fault, I think it’s a normal process and they went as far as they could at the time.

The interesting thing is that the pattern works the same whichever the generation of women it concerns: what men did against women in leftist organisations then, and how it trickled down to feminism once women left those organisations afterwards, is happening today with younger generations in the same way. The tactics of sabotage of feminism haven’t really changed.

Hereunder I’ve summarised the different male left anti-feminist practices I’ve identified, then and today – unwittingly brought in by women escaping the left and forming women-only movements. It’s also a summary of the different anti-feminist politics I’ve observed in radical lesbian or intersectional-lefty influenced feminist groups, from which male groups they come from and what they have in common. For instance, a lot of misogynist radical lesbian ideologies and practices come from gay male groups. But radical lesbians are also heavily influenced by intersectionality since RL is based on liberal identity-politics and more generally influenced by the left, so that’s where it crosses over with lefty /socialist men.

Anyway hope it makes sense (click to see it full size).

male toxic influences on feminism

I’ve also noticed that whichever lefty liberal strand anti-feminist strategies come from, they present the same characteristics. This is what I’ve tried to summarise here:

Lefty male strategies of anti-feminism

I assume this is very obvious to radical feminists but it helps to have it laid out properly. If I’ve missed anything or if you’d add anything to these lists, fire away!

What’s female-centred anti-racism?

Sparked by Cherry’s recent post “the White woman” and by the discussion that ensued (and my über long comments) I decided I’d make a post of my own, or make my comments into a post: I’m very far behind my blogging now and there’s a massive queue of posts waiting to be finished and posted, but when my mind is in posting mode it just takes me forever to finish my post, whereas in comments I just spin off spontaneously. So comments into a post it will be.

Anyway, this is a followup from the intersectionality series. I’m quite glad to see more and more criticism of intersectionality (= the fact of attacking feminists in the guise of anti-isms) springing up lately, as it’s greatly needed. We really don’t have the luxury to keep on with all these forms of backlash within feminism, and it’s been going on for decades, it’s time to stop this shit. Formulationsofoppression is no longer public but she also wrote a couple of insightful posts on this issue too.

We talk a lot about the effects of pseudo-anti-racism on feminism, how it’s male-centred, how it erases female experience of racism and patriarchal oppression in general. How it’s used to destroy all the basic tenets of radical feminist theory and to sabotage the movement from within (by lefty men). But little have I seen feminists talk about what female-centred anti-racism actually means to us.

Yet it’s crucial for feminists to work on this seriously. How do we try our best to make liberation the liberation of all women? What is an anti-racism truly centred on women’s experience of racism and our need to free ourselves from men collectively, that doesn’t target women as straw enemies and isn’t used to divide and conquer women?

I obviously don’t have all the answers, but I’ve been discussing and thinking about this for some time already. This is what I said at Cherry’s, reformulated and edited:

What I’d like to see happen wrt anti-racism in feminist circles, is:

#1. Misogyny to be considered always as seriously as racism, classism, anti-lesbianism (and all other isms) and not LESS as is often the case from those who claim to defend the anti-racist cause (or anti-classist, anti-lesbian, etc.). And especially to consider all other forms of oppression as variations stemming FROM misogyny, and thus as having similar patriarchal mechanisms, intents and effects on women, since they’re all organised and executed by and for men within patriarchy. The central organising principle of all oppressions is men’s oppression of women, all other hierarchies are subordinate to, serve this primary purpose. Therefore within feminism we should treat racism (and other isms) in the same way as we’d treat misogyny in women: through consciousness-raising, with all the conditions it entails for the unravelling of thought to be possible, or self-protection when the woman is too violent to be dealt with.

#2. That as a rule we stop attacking women in feminist circles for any reasons whatsoever, whether it be racism, misogyny, whatever. Assuming that something she said / did was problematic, just try to explain to her how what she said / did was anti-woman/racist, without accusation or guilt-tripping. Most of the time it isn’t a big deal and it’s just a matter of getting it and not repeating the same mistake: like, “putting it this way is actually racist” “Yeah, you’re right, it’s racist. I’ll be careful not to say it again”. If simply laying it out doesn’t work, if she isn’t capable of hearing that right now, just leave it for a time being and maybe take some distance. Depending on what the problem’s about, and generally as all forms of consciousness-raising it might not be integrated overnight. It might need some time, patience, etc. Nothing’s straightforward when we decolonise, and the process might reveal a lot of pain. Changing the way we think and behave and see/relate to the world is a very long process, and the time it takes depends a lot on the material conditions in which we are at a given time, which determines the freedom with which we can actually change (ie whether we’re in a fairly safe situation or not wrt male violence / institutional violence, strong PTSD etc.). As said in the paragraph above, we should protect ourselves and our work from women who are too destructive to be dealt with, and if necessary warn other women about the way they operate in groups so to prevent them from continuing their rampage, but that’s all. Never attack women. Never ever.

#3. I want to see an anti-racism actually focused on the big picture, that is on identifying, naming and challenging the institutions and men responsible for racism, and on researching how racism against women operates specifically in our area (or globally) so that we can actually do something about it collectively. Ie sharing resources, making services accessible to women excluded by them, supporting women who face administrative discrimination, putting pressure on institutions, etc.: this to me is far more effective and productive than having our eyes autistically riveted on ourselves or other individual feminist straw enemies. Bashing women (or ourselves) as an anti-racist strategy is not only destructive and divisive but is of no use whatsoever for improving the condition of women affected by racism. Alone, women don’t have the power to change other women’s situation (ie bring down the racist institutions) precisely because they don’t have this power, because we are all oppressed by the men in charge of racist institutions.

#4. And especially, I’d like to see an anti-racism focused on seeking to reach out to, developing ties, friendships and networks with as many women from different classes as possible, and to integrate this as a constant feminist ethics and effort of liberation. It is only through getting to know women and by working or being with them on a long-term basis that we can support each other, create the kind of actions that can really protect us from certain forms of institutional (racist) persecution or exclusion and create meaningful alternatives for ourselves; it’s also the only way to better understand how women from different social backgrounds or histories of violence are affected by patriarchal oppression. Feminism remains limited in scope and depth when it doesn’t have the potential to adapt to, involve and include as many women as possible (as long as it remains strongly feminist-focused), whether coming from the lower or higher male social hierarchies. Depending on where we come from, it might take a lot of thinking and some effort to figure out how to reach out to groups of women in our area we don’t usually have access to (for social, economic, class, generational, cultural, ethnic and many other reasons). It especially requires a lot of time and patience as certain groups of women can be so far off from our own social world that it can take years to find each other, build trust and start doing things together. On the other hand, it’s really not that difficult, and it really leads to amazing things.

#5. This effort of constantly trying seek outwards for long-term feminist friendships and networks with women rather than staying within one’s own group out of habit is also, I believe, the only thing that can truly eliminate the divide and conquer patriarchal rule between women. Once we become friends or colleagues, the question of how we should “include” such and such women becomes completely obsolete. We’re part of the same network or group, it’s obvious everyone will actively participate from beginning to end, and this in turn will necessarily affect the result and the kind of women who attend. Once we know each other and work together, it reduces the potential for conflict, and women are there to speak for themselves.

[NOTE: This stands in contrast to token inclusion which usually makes up for the fact that the event or service has been made by and for a fairly monolithic group of women. In the case where true feminist partners haven’t been found, whatever the reasons, I’d find it more honest admit that there’s still some effort to be done and not to invite some women in the last minute to serve as tokens, especially if their agenda doesn’t really fit in the context – you can’t invent cooperation. It actually reinforces a sense of separation and resentment between groups and is also an insult to the intelligence of the women invited to speak – it means to some extent that they’re not invited for their work and skills but to represent a social group and be used as a cover-up, and it also reinforces the lie that feminists can only be found within certain social classes. So inviting women mostly for the group they represent also results in forsaking feminist standards in the name of token inclusion, which can lead to awkward situations whereby such women say awful anti-feminist things and the set-up makes it impossible to criticise because it would then appear as racist.]

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Here are the rest of my comments, edited for clarity

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I find pseudo-anti-racism disguised as feminism far, far more damaging to ALL women within feminist circles than the problem of racism per se, because it destroys feminism more than racism itself does, and it’s totally deliberate. This is the pattern I see over and over again. I must say I’ve never seen a feminist collective being destroyed by the sheer level of racism from women against other women within it, such as concerted, organised group efforts to attack women in front of everyone in a racist way, however I’ve seen countless collectives being brought down because of women attacking other women as straw racist enemies: women attacked in the most vicious ways, that literally took the form of a trial, under the guise of purging racism from a group. Sometimes even 50 or 80 women would stand around one woman, who would be the accused, and she’d be denied even the right to defend herself. What it did was to purge feminists from a group.

I’m sure I’ll be burned at the stake for saying this, but the fact is, racism coming from feminists within feminism (as opposed to the racist persecutions conducted by male patriarchal institutions) is actually a minor problem within feminism compared to the ravage of false anti-racism (and the ravages of male-instituted racism), which is ironically what prevents and diverts women from doing substantial anti-racist actions in the first place.

Of course radical feminists still say and do racist things, just as they continue to do and say anti-women things: there’s always room for improvement and some things are outright awful, destructive and unacceptable. I’m not denying this. But once women become radical feminist, most are very aware of the different systems of domination in patriarchy and are very careful to pay attention to different women’s needs, and usually try their best not to reproduce behaviours of domination and subordination. They are well-meaning, most of the time (I’m not talking about infiltrators here). Racism (classism..) being one of the oppressions defined by men and thus defined as real (although not racism as experienced by women), many women are MORE careful not to do or say racist things than they would even with misogyny, because it’s considered a far greater crime than misogyny in patriarchy.

We have to be clear: when we talk of racism WITHIN feminist circles, we’re not talking of women who exploit poor or marginalised women, who are employed in the immigration offices that kick female immigrants out of the country, or employed in patriarchal media corporations or institutions that invade and loot people’s land, who manages the slaves of her husband / owner, etc, etc. We’re not talking about any such level of responsibility in racism (not that any of them have any decision-power to make it stop, other than not participating in it herself). No. We’re talking about things that feminists SAID, as in WORDS. Or minor behaviours such as limiting the scope of her projects or actions to her own network of women which reflect her class belonging, to some extent. Or a woman bought a Nike T-shirt. Or she fails to include this or that issue in her book, film or whatever.

These minor behaviours that can usually be corrected through cooperation will be treated by women in feminism as irredeemable crimes of the highest order worthy of being banned from the ‘movement’ forever. And very often, women will be accused of racism in spectacular ways for no valid reason at all. Well yes there was a reason, each time it was in a context of the accused woman criticising men, men’s sexual violence or aspects of male violence. It was very specifically anti-feminist, and framing it as anti-racism was a way of making the attack unassailable by conferring activist legitimacy to it.

It’s a sad reversal to accuse and attack feminists in this way for barely saying or doing anything when in such contexts the REAL agents directly responsible for racism (men and their institutions – state, corporations, media, etc) are never even named let alone directly attacked, and rarely if ever is anything concrete suggested to understand the big picture or make things easier for women who suffer from institutional racist oppression, which would actually do something about racism.

Besides, in these contexts where women are dramatically accused of racism as if they had massacred 20 women, usually nobody bats an eyelid when anti-women decisions are taken or when something misogynist is said and goes unchecked, etc.

***

The attacks are often framed as you, by nature of being white, are inherently  guilty of this great (invisible, multiform) crime, and if you don’t feel guilty it’s because you’re in denial of your own guilt. Alternatively, if I’m annoyed by what she said it’s because I’m in denial of my racism.

This creates a climate where anyone and everyone can be guilty of something even without knowing, like there’s something bad and rotten inside you that can spring up any time. We dread being accused of racism like we dread the Last Judgement, as if it would taint our soul for life and we’d be denied our place in feminist heaven. It’s a climate of terror because you’re made to believe you can be bad in spite of yourself and you don’t know when it’s going to happen, so you have to anxiously survey your thoughts and actions all the time out of terror of being accused, as it can cause you to be kicked out of feminism and that can have serious consequences if it’s the only thing your life holds on to at the moment. You can see the difference in atmosphere whenever we talk about racism: all of a sudden it takes a hush-hush quality, you can feel the tension in the room when just before it might have been quite jovial. Women don’t talk so freely anymore, everyone seems to be stepping on eggshells. There’s this invisible thought-police like a sword of Damocles hanging over women’s head. This is an excellent way to censor women and make feminist women fear to speak and even think.

In this context, if you may have observed, the only one(s) looking relaxed and confident will be the accusers themselves, confident of their moral superiority to the other women. Sometimes they may be even very charming and charismatic, which increases the level of mindfuck or the feeling that you can’t question her politics because she was so nice to you, she offered her help, etc. The women who do this accusing and bullying are undoubtedly colonised by lefty male standards or definitions of racism and usually hold a lot of contempt for feminism, so much so that they might feel legitimate in lecturing an entire assembly of women or radical feminists who have decades of political experience with absolute lousy, non woman-centred political analysis, on the grounds that it presents as anti-racism. I’ve seen it time and again. This legitimacy comes from men, which is why from this perspective women’s work and women’s collectives have so little value as it to be acceptable to destroy sometimes decades of community work in one single bout of accusation.

Anyway we can’t underestimate how anti-feminist it is to persuade women that they might dominate others in racist ways even against their own perception (on top of the fact that it reverts patriarchal blame on women). Trying to dominate someone else certainly isn’t something that can be done unconsciously, we’re always aware of when we want to manipulate, take power or assert our authority over someone. It means telling women to suppress their perceptions of reality, and that’s the best way to gaslight and assert power over someone. Once it’s legitimate to attack women in this way, to use the threat of racist accusation in order to obtain submission, it makes us vulnerable to scapegoating and opens the door to all sorts of power abuse: denying the right to speech, taking control over decisions in the name of anti-racism, etc.

***

 

a not so feminist separatist communitarianism

Or: some reflections on hierarchy, non-hierarchy, control and letting things go.

After a succession of intense and mind-blowing discussions with friends, recent events and several weeks of trying to get to the bottom of why I find radical lesbianism so misogynist, I’ve just experienced a major shift or breakthrough in my feminism. One thing led to another, and I realise that the essential problem i’m trying to talk about is much larger than radical lesbianism, and relates to separatist communitarianism as a liberation strategy – the idea we should form a small, elitist community separate from women as much as from men, rather than focus on our potential to bond with all women and on all women’s potential to wake up to our reality.

Thanks to the women who have made this post possible and for their contributions to these insights.

Even though radical lesbianism is a condensed form of separatist communitarianism, it isn’t exclusive to lesbian separatist communities at all and aspects of such attitudes and beliefs can be found in many different feminist groups, to various degrees. So i’ll use this term as a really broad set of attitudes and beliefs of contempt over women outside of the small feminist group and making this the basis of our group identity.

A friend just sent me the definition of epiphany (wiki):

An epiphany (from the ancient Greek epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) is an experience of sudden and striking realization. … It can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.

I do have the impression of having having found a missing link which now helps me to see the whole picture with much more clarity and depth. Therefore my focus will no longer be on radical lesbianism and identity politics as such, but on the wider phenomenon of separatist communitarianism, whether it be radical lesbian, lesbian feminist, radical feminist, “intersectionalist”, etc.

When our bonding with women is based on the exclusion of other women, then we aren’t really bonding with women but erecting a fictitious shield of “us” vs “them” to protect ourselves from persecution (a threat in which we include women), but which prevents the spreading of feminism to other women by preventing our contact and bonding with such women. We reproduce a shadow of male bonding or homosociality which is cemented by the exclusion, contempt and putting down of women. We also participate in a very normal – but colonised – survival reaction, reminiscent of our coping strategies at school, which is to gang up in a small group of women and create an artificial group identity based on assimilation to certain behaviours and dress codes as well as exclusion or even mockery of other girls, in order to escape the psychological devastation of extreme isolation, social persecution and scapegoating. Separatist communitarianism bears some resemblance to this strategy. It is understandable, but I realise it isn’t feminist and can’t liberate us as a class.

Separatist communitarianism based on fear and dissociation.

Why fear? Separatist communitarianism, as mentioned above, is a natural reaction to anti-woman social persecution and isolation. Social persecution orchestrated by men is so total that we experience rejection and misogyny as the wiping out of our soul, as psychic annihilation – it’s what it is. We want to escape the real threat of being killed, the end-point of social erasure and persecution.

Separatist communitarianism also is based on the terror of being abandoned or betrayed by women. Putting a distance between ourselves and other women by feeling superior or outside (claiming the most oppressed status is part of it) is an unconscious way to cope with the unbearable isolation of being amongst misogynist women, or a way to cope with the terror of being rejected by the women we love or place our hopes on. We put an emotional distance between us and women in the hope that it will prevent ourselves from being hurt.

This emotional distance comes at the cost of losing empathy with women and empathy for ourselves, and losing touch with ourselves and other women, which is the basis for misogyny. It’s a form of anaesthetic which gives an impression of invulnerability and strength but which isn’t quite true, since the reason we do this is because we’re vulnerable, oppressed, and we’re traumatised by persecution and rejection by people who were supposed to care for us. This distance provides temporary relief or (false) sense of security, but doesn’t prevent rejection unfortunately since it’s based on rejection. If that makes sense.

Our first source of security as humans (females) comes from women, that is, as a child, from our mother. We relate to women and to the world in part according to how our relationship to our mother was structured: our basic psychological development and survival in the first several years of our life is essential and entirely dependent on our close bond and care from the mother or female surrogate.

Men break this security by oppressing both mothers and daughters, taking control over women and girls. They create a state of abandonment and forced betrayal by the mother which they then take advantage of to organise trauma-bonding to men.

Once we become feminist though, it’s easy to separate ourselves from men because our bonds to them were never a source of safety, were always fake. We realise men don’t represent anything to us.

However with women this is different because #1: we know that a true bond is and has been possible therefore it hurts more to  lose it and #2: once we become feminist and no longer interact with men, we’re more likely to associate women with the fear of being abandoned and betrayed once again and #3 our liberation is dependent on our connections with women, which makes rejection even more intolerable. I don’t think there’s a more excruciating emotional pain than that of being rejected by women we love or count on. It also triggers the traumatic memory of first abandonment, more or less pronounced in women.

So I think separatist communitarianism, by way of putting lots of distance, statuses, hierarchy and barriers between me/”us” vs “other” women (lesbians vs het, radical vs colonised, “real” victim vs. “false” victim, “star author and academic” vs anonymous blogger, etc.) is an unconscious way to protect ourselves from the risk and fear of the pain of future betrayal by women (which we may consciously rationalise as a way to protect ourselves from women’s misogyny infiltrating in our groups or minds). It also explains in part the bottomless anger we can feel against women when our needs and expectations of safety and sorority aren’t met, on top of male reversals etc.

Anyway, I don’t think separatist communitarianism works as a liberation strategy – as in dissociating from “other” women and from oneself on top of separating from men, however appealing the idea of escaping patriarchy may sound: It isn’t viable as a way to liberate all women.

Recruitment is not a feminist strategy

The obsession with recruiting masses (or even smaller numbers) of women into a more or less purist elite club doesn’t work. Recruitment is based on the wrong perception that we are already outside or above other women and that they need to make the effort to heave themselves up to our ranks; not the other way round. While it’s true that women who’ve escaped individual appropriation by men have escaped the worst of oppression and that freeing ourselves from men is the major part of liberation, it’s not true at all that we’ve reached some kind of pinnacle, a “there yet” land outside of patriarchy or outside of the influence of colonisation by male perversions. The fact is that separatist communitarianism is a very product of oppression. The very fact of feeling superior to this or that “other” woman is a colonised reaction. There’s nothing to feel guilty about, but it just isn’t feminist.

Recruitment into a movement is a male tactic. It requires the use of force, even minimally: that is the use of persuasion. It requires controlling speech and interaction (out of fear of hearing misogynist or anti-feminist things), not really listening to the woman in front of you, not paying attention to where her position comes from and on what violence against her it’s based. Even if it’s well-intentioned, it requires treating her as a target for your explanation and recruitment rather than as a person and requires treating women as numbers. We forget the bond we can create with this woman and that she too has the potential to originate feminist insights and participate genuinely in the movement. It’s alienating, both for the recruiter and recruitee. Women don’t need to be “taught” but to find the means to wake up to our own reality, we can’t bash or brainwash the truth into a women’s head: liberation can’t be imposed on.

We want to recruit because we are desperate, we are isolated as radical lesbian feminists, and we can’t stand the constant backlash against feminism or how dire the situation is. But the irony is that recruitment and putting ourselves above or outside women reinforces isolation, anger and desperation more than anything else. It puts in a perpetual state of frustration, dissatisfaction and disappointment because we’re always waiting for and expecting something that doesn’t yet exist and isn’t happening now. It fuels resentment on both sides because it’s based on unrealistic expectations of what women can accomplish given their current situation. So when women aren’t capable of meeting these expectations (for instance that all women call themselves lesbians in solidarity of lesbians, or that they all leave their boyfriends NOW, etc.) this causes feelings of guilt and shame of being a failure in the “othered” women, and causes feelings of being betrayed and let down in the “aboved” women.

But being impatient about women not ‘freeing themselves fast enough’ is like asking women to run when their feet are still chained and to leap when their minds are still bound. It’s a mindfuck. It’s like requesting someone to swim now when they’ve never learnt how to swim. We should see things the other way round. It’s up to us swimming experts to spend time with women and show them how to swim and help them overcome their fear of water, and once they are ready we’ll dive in together as naturally as fish. If we want our sisters to “join” us, we have to come to them. Reach out to them. Help create emotional and material conditions for all of us in which they can free their minds from the male mindbindings – and once such conditions are met the mindbindings will unpeel naturally one after the other, the magic will unfold, there will be no great effort to produce as the magic of consciousness raising is that change happens viscerally. As women lucky enough to understand the workings of patriarchy, the onus is on US to do the work of consciousness-raising. It makes complete sense to me.

Feminism is about bonding with women

(I know, I know this is being repeated again and again and sometimes in so many vacuous contexts but I just uncovered a new meaning to it)

Creating divides between women and treating women as “other”, divides us. It’s not feminist. I realise how strongly feminism is dependent on the inter-individual connections we create with women since the only alternative to patriarchy is the world we create between ourselves. And for our world to be truly alternative it has to be based on relationships that are sustaining, safe, nourishing and feminist. This can happen online, IRL, etc, but I don’t see any other way. Otherwise we automatically fall back into dissociation, denial, fragmentation, division, anger against women, etc. I find it important to interact with women from as many backgrounds as possible, talk to them, listen to their stories.

Feminism just can’t happen or flourish in conditions where we put ourselves above other women or castigate them for not being feminist enough, are frustrated when they don’t meet our expectations of what a good radfem should be, or distrust women’s potential for change and leaps. It doesn’t mean that we never make any mistakes, that there are never any tensions, conflicts and obstacles, but if we can understand that, there’s always room for adjustment and cooperation according to our needs and circumstances.

Feminism can only spread by creating genuine horizontal relationships with women and genuine bonds in which we trust each other’s capacity or potential to participate in radical feminism and freedom of all women. When we take each other into consideration it’s easier to respect our pace and rhythm, to be aware of what we’re capable of doing right now, of the level of danger we face and reward each other for the small (yet big) steps we’ve made.

One day all our bonds will form a web so tight that I hope nothing will be able to break it again.

As a radfem / lesbian feminist, creating a trusting relationship with a woman is in itself a concrete material condition which makes leaps possible. Feminist-centred woman-bonding has to be experienced directly in order for it to be conceived as an alternative, in order to be able to live this alternative. It can’t be explained if the woman has never experienced it. This is another reason why woman-bonding is the driving force of feminism. Sparking can only happen in a situation of true equality and horizontal exchange.

It really doesn’t mean we should accept misogyny and violence from part of women and I never will, but the response to it isn’t by going against such women. The only way to share feminism is within a context (discussion group, gathering) defined by radical feminist principles, by really taking women into consideration rather than trying to distance ourselves from them by one means or another. Once we stop viewing women as an “other” camp, once we’re in empathy with how they’re being trapped by embedded misogyny or men and trust in women’s capacity to free themselves, once we trust women’s potential; it really takes the tension and desperation away, relieves us from the feeling that we have to control the interaction and from the perceived burden of having to free all women. We no longer see the world as resting on our shoulders, and just let things flow.

Non-hierarchy is truly the most amazing thing to experience: that is when you come to the point where you can rely on your feminist peers, follow the flow, and everything you create is intimately intertwined with the creations and input of other women. Where you trust that everything they will say will be mindblowing, witty, and bring a new light and dimension to what we are discussing, or what we are co-creating. Where ideas that aren’t as good are naturally discarded for the better ones.

I now much better understand the profound meaning of women being naturally anarchic. We really are. And when it happens, it’s just magical. When we let ourselves be carried by the flow, It feels like witnessing bursts of life, the very movement of life, and participating in it too.

Anyway, I don’t know if any of this makes sense.

 

Additional notes on heterosexuality and privilege

Just to make things clear, my series:

is NOT in any way a defence or excuse of anti-lesbianism from part of heterosexual women. Anti-lesbianism is part of men’s arsenal to crush women and prevent us from resisting compulsory heterosexuality and bonding with other women. Just as with anti-feminism, racism, classism and general maiming of women, men use the women they own as vessels of anti-lesbian repression. I have repeatedly stated in many of my posts that any form of misogyny from part of women, whoever the woman is and whatever the form it takes, is a result of being oppressed and colonised by men and that it can be unsafe to be around such women. Although I never blame any woman for being oppressed or colonised by male ideas, I do hold her responsible for ceasing to harm other women.

I also maintain that just as with any aspect of male oppression, anti-lesbianism is driven and organised by men, not women. Focusing on the snide remarks, exclusion and snobbery of women compared to the institutional crushing of lesbians by men is like looking at the pebble instead of the mountain. It is not women who set up the asylums to lobotomise and electrocute lesbians, who commit corrective rapes of lesbians, who write the laws to outlaw lesbianism, who control the medical and psychiatric institutions which pathologise lesbians and force us to mutilate ourselves so to assimilate physically to men, nor do women secretly control the male gay movement which turned lesbianism into phallic-worshipping BDSM practices, own the porn industry which transformed the entire lesbian movement into an LGBTQ male porn fantasy, or control the male trans lobby which erases lesbians to the extent of replacing us by men in dress, etc, etc.

My series is also NOT a judgement of lesbianism, of lesbian communities, lesbian commitment or of the rightful anger against the oppression and erasure of lesbians, and actually my post has not much to do with lesbianism at all (sorry). I’m criticising the misogynist and male-centred views on heterosexuality of a very specific, small group of women which has emerged in the 80s and call themselves radical lesbians. Radical lesbianism is a small fringe within the lesbian and lesbian feminist movement and doesn’t represent all of radical lesbian feminism at all. It’s a hybrid lesbian separatist movement with some twisted input of pseudo feminism, intersectional and gay/queer ideology on heteronormativity. For some reason some radical lesbians also call themselves radical feminists or radical lesbian feminists and I don’t know whether or not they’re aware of the difference in meaning but it’s important we don’t confuse them and name radical lesbian ideology accordingly.

In fact radical lesbian views on heterosexuality works very much like intersectionality in that it’s displaced anger against women based on a myth and reversal of female privilege, and especially based on pervasive hatred and disgust of what men have reduced women to be under eons of debasement and sexual subordination – the disgust of women who are penetrated by men. While the anti-lesbianism of such women is real and truly felt by lesbians, the fact these women are beneficiary agents of this erasure, and deserving of contempt for being owned by men is totally wrong. As I said colonisation of women by definition works against all women, the colonised as much as the recipient of their misogyny. Take a look at my posts on intersectionality and colonisation for further information as I’m not going to repeat myself.

In the same way as intersectionality, radical lesbian views on heterosexuality are an outgrowth of lefty male anti-feminist tactics which renders men’s responsibility invisible, undoes feminist analyses of men’s sexual violence, intimidates and silences those women who denounce it and targets women instead of men.

The reason I insist in writing this and on criticising radical lesbian views on heterosexuality is that it specifically attacks the foundation of feminist understanding of our oppression: the inherent oppressive nature of intercourse and heterosexuality. Intercourse and hetero-captivity being the central building block of men’s oppression, it comes to no surprise that men do everything to erase our awareness of it. It’s also perfectly normal in a context of continued backlash against feminists that the reversals and denials have deeply infiltrated women’s groups, whether lesbian or not. However such misogynist views have no place in radical feminism and my point is to demonstrate that having contempt for the vast majority of women trapped by men’s heterocaptive system is, well, extremely misogynist.

Anyhow I don’t understand why hardly anyone openly protests against the enormity of the reversal that hetero-captivity and intercourse are a source of privilege and freedom of choice for women. This belief fails such basic understanding of patriarchal violence and is such a direct product of common male propaganda that I can’t understand how it’s been tolerated for so long in the radical feminist movement. Not to mention that it is primarily lesbians who produced most of radical feminist criticism of intercourse and compulsory heterosexuality, and saying that it’s anti-lesbian to name the inherent violence of PIV and heterosexuality is just laughable.

I’m also sick of the crass misogyny of statements such as heterosexual women are privileged dick-lovers who should own up to it and go eat more dick (paraphrasing here), and that radical feminists who criticise PIV and heterosexuality are just “ex hets” frustrated about having had bad sex with men and want to whine about it or get sympathy from lesbians. The “you just need to be fucked right” is the typical kind of rape-threat men throw at women who refuse to submit to them sexually. These views are unacceptable and a reproduction of the most vile and base woman-hatred. What it also amounts to is accusing women of being whores who are too stupid to admit they are one.

Well, why not say that to prostitution survivors? Say that to incest rape survivors. Say that to abuse survivors. No? Because this is what we all are as women. Prostitution, PIV/rape and incest *are* the heterosexual institution. Ask a man if it’s gay to penetrate his daughter, his wife, the prostituted woman. The essence of heterosexuality is sexual violation, and no woman has escaped this violation when in close and prolonged contact with men. We are all survivors of male abuse, at different degrees for sure, but male abuse it is.

***

Some basic facts on heterosexuality:

Heterosexuality is compulsory, that is we are psychologically conditioned (through propaganda) and physically forced into it (through sexual harassment, rape, marriage and pimping). This is one of the very basic tenets of radical feminism. Compulsory means the opposite of choice. By definition women never choose to be owned by a man, and the only free choice we can make is to resist hetero-captivity by becoming separatist, lesbian or celibate.

Heterosexuality is the system which guarantees each man sexual access to a woman and exclusive ownership over her so he can rape, impregnate and use her as his personal breeder and domestic slave. It’s the foundational institution of patriarchal oppression, on which all patriarchal institutions – economic, state, medical, religious, military, etc – are built on.

Most if not all patriarchal societies have divided the heterosexual system into two sub-systems: one is marriage in which individual men acquire individual women exclusively for intercourse, reproduction and domestic slavery; the other is prostitution, in which some men (pimps) own and rent women exclusively for being raped by any passing man, as a form of public service by and for men.

In the old days and still very much today, marriage used to be the only political structure that guaranteed men’s right to acquire a woman permanently for intercourse and breeding. The term “heterosexuality” is fairly recent in history, and appeared in the 19th century at the same time as the pathologisation and psychologisation of lesbians and gays. When women started to free themselves from the institution of marriage, men progressively replaced marriage with compulsory intercourse to all men, and this was sold as sexual liberation to women. However this was nothing other than the liberation of lefty men so they could fuck all the women they wanted outside of the constraints of bourgeois society (see Ti-Grace Atkinson, Sheila Jeffreys and Andrea Dworkin).

***

Heterosexual privilege?

No radical lesbian so far has given any concrete and sound evidence for this mythical heterosexual privilege: on what economic, material, psychological advantages is “het” privilege based on? On anti-lesbian behaviour by some women? Anti-lesbianism from part of women is no evidence of privilege, but of being colonised by men. Economic advantages? Possessed women don’t even own themselves and most husbands control or loot their wive’s resources. Heteronormative advantages at work or in social circles? How can it be a social advantage to exist only as a potential prey for sexual harassment and as dick receptacle to men? I can’t see how women who are turned into penetrable, touchable possessions by men, devoid of any right even to basic integrity, colonised to such an extent that we don’t even have thoughts of our own, socially gain from this. It makes no sense at all that this be considered a privilege.

In the same way, the claims that lesbians and celibate women are more subject to violence than women who are directly possessed by men are unfounded. It’s a reversal both from a logical and statistical perspective: the degree of freedom from patriarchal oppression/violence is measured by how much male violence you’re subjected to, in terms of frequency and severity, and thus by the extent to which you’re held captive to an abusive man or male institution. Women who are or were recently possessed by men are by far the most exposed population to regular rape, beatings, psychological violence, forced pregnancy, persecution, exploitation, theft and murder, because that’s exactly how men maintain and exercise their sex right over us. Statistically, around 80% of rapes and all forms of violence against women are committed by men close to the victim – that is men who have ownership rights over the woman (father, husband, pimp/trafficker, boyfriend, brother etc.). Women’s first cause of death in the world is murder by a male partner.

Therefore, absence of male owner = less exposure to the violence and terror of a male owner. It’s of absolute simplicity. Those women who live furthest away from men on a daily basis and who are more economically autonomous from men are those who are least exposed to male violence, whatever their sexuality is. The further away you go from a source of danger, the least likely you are exposed to that danger. Once we leave men and former abusers no longer have their grip over us, the violence is more likely to come from the outside rather than from within our own home, which makes a lot of a difference both in how we perceive it and how we can escape or resist it. And it doesn’t mean lesbians or spinsters are privileged or less oppressed, but simply that once we’ve ejected men from our intimate lives we’ll be less exposed to male violence on a regular basis compared to a woman who lives with and is owned by a man. We’re lucky. That’s all. This isn’t oppression olympics but simply stating a fact that the closer you are to violent men, the more you’re exposed to their violence. And that’s the very point of freeing ourselves from men and becoming a lesbian / radical feminist separatist in the first place, because it’s a way of protecting ourselves from the worst forms of male violence.

If we view heterosexuality as a privilege and free choice instead of as the source of all women’s oppression, how can we even claim to be a feminist? What is women’s liberation based on if the point isn’t for all women to free ourselves from men and save our lives? If lesbianism/separatism is more oppressive than being owned by a man, on what moral, political and ethical grounds should we argue for women to leave men if we see it as forsaking privileges and social protections? On the grounds that lesbianism or separatism is morally purer, that women can purge their sins of being a whore by becoming a lesbian? Is that what it means?

If we view heterosexual women as privileged, then what’s the point of creating rape crisis centres, women’s refuges, support networks for abuse victims who want to get away from men? We might as well send them all back to their abuser’s home and ask them to check their privilege first, how dare they come up with het stories up into our face! How oppressive and inconsiderate to us! And before they leave, not forget to wag a finger at them for having made a bad choice and for betraying us lesbians. Is that what lesbian feminist solidarity is based on? Or, maybe the view is more “nuanced”, and we distinguish between “real” victims who are completely innocent because reasons, and “bad” privileged victims who are slutty dick-loving traitors who asked for it because they had all the choice of the world, but they just can’t own up to that fact and pretend to whine about it?

Seriously, I’m not saying that lightly, I’ve rarely seen or heard such misogynist and woman-blaming statements by women as from radical lesbians.

The truth is that the menace of het privilege is as phony as cis privilege: it’s a lie, to intimidate women, to make us feel guilty for what men inflict on us, and especially, to threaten and silence women for denouncing men’s sexual violence, for calling intercourse and heterosexuality for what it is: rape and enslavement.

Women, don’t be deceived by it.

 


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