Radical feminist, you say?

I have been quite a few years now around various “radical feminist communities”, enough to notice that the majority of women who claim to be radical feminist, lesbian feminist or radical lesbian feminist today don’t in fact get anywhere near the ethical, pro-woman and anti-violence behaviour they claim to believe in or embody. They are simply not the radical feminist or radical lesbian feminist community they claim to represent, but a sad parody of it, and actively prevent women’s liberation from men, from men’s control, men’s violence and parasitism.

This is a difficult topic and a difficult post, but the reason I venture to talk about this is because as radical feminists I believe we have a moral duty to take a stand against harmful behaviours within groups that claim to be radfem, and make it easier for us to identify it and disengage from it. It’s not about criticising women’s individual behaviour but seeing it as politicised destruction of female truth-sayers and male-organised erasure of radical feminism, the transformative and liberating kind. I want to take women seriously and hold each other responsible and accountable for our actions, and also want to be truthful about what represents itself as the radfem movement today and what consequences it has on women, so it can be discussed.

When we look at the more radical spectrum of feminism (this excludes the funfem, queer, pomo, liberal, conservative kind), within this range there are still quite a few ideologies to be found that are toxic to radical feminism. What’s confusing is that the women who buy into those ideologies claim to be radfem, which makes the phallacies more difficult to spot if we’re not used to it. They will say some things that make sense or that borrow from radical feminist theory (anti-rape, anti male violence, anti pornstitution, anti-queer, etc.) yet some aspects will feel like a false note, will feel wrong, empty, plastic, thought-terminating. Amongst those ‘plastic’ or ‘potted’ feminisms (terms coined by Mary Daly) we can find liberal influenced feminisms and reformist activism (the men can change trope), male-friendly feminism, “gender roles/dom-sub as the problem” feminism, radical lesbianism, pro-PIV or pro-relationships with men, intersectionality, refusal to see men as inherently violent – just to name a few.

I’m not going to go into those different ideologies specifically and how they trap women into murky male quicksands because it would take pages to take them down separately and it isn’t the point here.

The fact is that all those different groups have in common the following:

  • they claim to be radical feminist / lesbian radical feminist;

  • they repeat or produce key radical feminist ideas (anti rape, anti porn, anti prostitution, anti male violence against women, sometimes even anti-PIV or anti men)

  • but their analyses are partially flawed or truncated or obfuscate some of the truth, whichever the male ideology it is intoxicated with;

  • The women have reached a certain feminist consciousness but freeze at a given point because of a perceived interest in doing so (status, regognition, publicity, hierarchy, group inclusion, any male carrot)

  • continually forwarding, developing and improving radical feminist thought and action is only secondary (or inexistant) to their aims;

  • In practice, their relationships are ridden with violence which prevents women from moving, and they have to deny this violence in order to keep hold on their male carrot (whichever it is). This ‘freeze’ state is thus maintained through violence and brainwashing.

I’m going to focus on the last point because that’s the most important here. It’s not enough to dislike men, or be anti-pornstitution and anti-lots of things, or to throw some theory or quotes here and there. The base of radical feminism – before we even look at ways of understanding, naming and explaining men’s violence, how it affects us and how it works on many different levels – is to identify the danger and get away from danger. May I repeat: to get away from danger – whichever the danger, from PIV to physical and verbal abuse to mind control to exploitation, etc. If you identify actions that endanger your integrity and expose women to violence, our responsibility is to get away from it, and if we can, to encourage other women to get away from it and identify the source of danger – with all the deprogramming it may entail. Radical feminism, at its core, is about ending all forms of abuse against women and in our own lives, whether it is exercised by men or by male-colonised and mind-controlled women.

This is basic radical feminism and also very basic, common-sense ethics and human decency. When we see abuse in our groups, we need to 1) always empathise and side with the (female) victim, including ourselves, and refuse to identify to the abuser or give excuses for it – and 2) disengage as soon as possible from the abusive woman / group if she/they refuse to stop (with men it’s different, they are inherently abusive so we need to get away from them regardless). If the abuse doesn’t stop, there is no point in negotiating because she will continue to use you for her abuse as long as you are in her reach.

So: side with the victim, cut all proximity and contact with the abusive woman or group if she/they continue despite being warned, and warn other women about the abusive behaviour so they don’t get trapped into it either, to prevent new victims to be drawn in. This might mean leaving the whole group if the others happen to side with the abuser and try to shut you up for calling it out. It might be a difficult decision but it’s a necessary one, because it means leaving an unsafe, dangerous environment where the costs of staying are far too important, regardless of the perceived benefits. The world is big, possibilities are infinite, it is a lie and a reversal that your life and sanity depends on this group. And if it’s me being abusive, I need to stop immediately and thereby try to understand why I need to inflict pain on others or to control others, what pain or fear am I trying to escape by doing so, so I won’t repeat the violence again and again.

There is simply no change and no liberation possible if we continue to expose ourselves to some form of threat or violence, whichever the form of violence. It is antithetical to freedom, life-terminating, psychically and physically maiming. So at it’s most minimal, the point of radical feminism is to rid our lives not only from men but from all male instituted forms of relating based on life destruction, trauma, sadism and parasitism. This doesn’t disappear magically just because women get together in a same physical space. It requires deep, dedicated and continual change from the way men groomed us to be, so we can experience freedom.

Now back to the last point of the list. I said that the vast majority of those claiming to be radfem and representing the “radfem movement” aren’t, in fact, radfem. Yes. And really, the most striking aspect of this is the observation that in practice, their relationships are ridden with violence. I realised this in group after group, with disbelief (or not). To me the presence of interwoman violence is the most important factor to look at when judging whether I can trust a woman to be radfem or not, and it is also a matter of personal survival and personal safety – I can’t afford to expose myself to more destruction. And women who condone, excuse, deny violence, side with abusers or exercise some forms of violence themselves and especially refuse to stop when told, are not radfem and actively prevent women’s liberation. I’m saying this because it is important that women realise this and don’t repeat the same mistakes and stop doing them.

The kind of violence or disruption I have witnessed include:

1) the bystanders:

  • Basically, they never side with the victims, rationalise the abuse and refuse to take a stand against it, identify to the abusers, continue to engage with them in spite of lots of evidence that they are destructive, deny the facts, etc. Subtle variants are:

  • to indirectly or unwittingly drag other women into unsafe or abusive situations simply because they themselves are incapable of getting away from it. This is why bystanders aren’t safe to be around with either if they show no willingness to change.

  • refuse to listen to the women victims when they say they were abused / badly treated by other women

  • remain silent or “neutral” to maintain an imaginary sisterhood, which equates to siding with the abuse and abuser

  • they’ll admit the abuse happened but won’t accept to see XYZ woman’s behaviour as chronically dysfunctional or toxic and therefore side with the abuser.

  • they’ll admit that they themselves were badly treated but deny that it’s abusive, or minimise the harmful impact it had on them and rationalise that the benefits exceed the costs – therefore they can’t identify with the other victims

  • they don’t accept the abuse happened so they will deny the abuse altogether and try to erase it from their minds by silencing the victims (accusing them of being divisive, of lying, exaggerating, trashing, of being unsisterly, etc.).

Bystanders form the majority of the non-movement and are in large part responsible for the undermining and sabotaging of radical feminism (or maybe, should I say, responsible for nothing else but the fraud of their non-movement, because once you disengage from them, they don’t sabotage your work any more because they don’t have access to you). Responsibility not in a punishment or guilt-tripping way but in terms of responsibility to stop, disengage and take an ethical stand against the abuse and disruption. So few women take that responsibility in the “community”, it’s shocking (or maybe unsurprising?).

The essential dynamic to understand with bystanders is that it works very much like victims of cult groups (which does mean that the groups in question function like cults). Radical feminism is perceived as a status or source of recognition that can be gained, lost or competed for (as opposed to a way of being and thinking regardless of where and with whom we are), and the group or the leaders of the group perceived as holding monopoly over delivering such “status” or recognition. The point is to “move up” to the leaders / and stay close to the group to continue to benefit from this recognition or magic status, or access to resources or audience, or whatever carrot. The leaders take advantage of their own scarcity as “radfems” (scarcity which is man-made) and of other women’s emotional deprivation to reinforce their dependency on the group and gain control. A common tactic to reinforce dependency is to alternate between love-bombing and abuse or domineering behaviour.

Victims will believe – to different degrees of course – that this group is their only means for emotional survival, that without this group there is no hope for women’s liberation, nothing else exists, they would be alone with nobody to help them and will suffer terribly (exclusion can be perceived as a matter of life and death, especially when it touches on trauma of childhood emotional abuse, this is not to be minimised). Their fear of being excluded or of losing the perceived benefits secures their loyalty to the group or leaders no matter how unethical, perverse, disruptive to radical feminism or abusive the leaders are. The bystanders must forsake their critical thinking and belief in their perceptions and be in denial of their own pain and suffering to remain in that group.

This is of course profoundly anti-radfem, and goes against women’s freedom. I believe we have a responsibility to stop supporting abusive behaviour, or if some don’t want to stop, to be at least a bit coherent and stop calling it radical feminist. We also have a responsibility to stop calling the bystanders and abusers of the non-movement, radical feminist, because doing so is participating in their fraud. It indirectly supports the destructive power of some women over others, allowing them to usurp radical feminism to recruit more victims, putting women in danger and actively preventing women’s liberation from men.

2) the abusers

  • They are a smaller part of the non-movement and do the lion’s share of abusing and terrorising women, and are usually chronic abusers. I have witnessed such behaviours as:

  • Generally functioning only in power-over modes, and driving out those who refuse to submit.

  • Punishment of women who exercise individual, critical thinking

  • Alternating between abuse, threats, and lovebombing

  • Destroying, pillaging, exploiting, stealing women’s work in radical feminism, especially from women with no perceived status

  • Contempt for women’s time, involvement and safety, extreme poor planning that strains or endangers women and saps energy

  • Outing women and compromising their anonymity

  • Economic control over women, or using economic resources to gain control over women

  • Domineering behaviour, control of all processes of organisation at the expense of the group or group decisions, underhanded or under the table decision-making processes (for instance where the real decisions are taken outside of the meetings by a small minority and the collective meetings are merely used as a facade)

  • Strong involvement in male-modelled politicking, careerism, activism, all based on male modes of power-over, control, competition, hierarchy, scarcity, sacrifice, dissociation

  • taking over groups as a form of ‘coup’, and purging of all opponents

  • Purging of women from the network who threaten their monopoly over xyz resource and control over the group, doing everything to prevent their access to resources or contacts.

  • Pathological lying, chronic trolling

  • Constant instrumentalisation of women to achieve dubious ends, and then discarding them if they are no longer of use / treating women only as useful means for ends

  • Invasive behaviours (for instance blackmailing)

  • Aggressive verbal / psychological behaviours: shouting at women, treating women like shit, insulting women until they cry, demeaning women, mocking them, humiliations, verbal attacks and public libel/accusation, guilt-tripping, gaslighting, manipulation and deceit, terrorising, causing panick attacks, etc.

  • reprisals against women who denounce or name the harmful behaviours (usually by creating alliances against the name-caller, isolating her and silencing her).

  • Securing of certain key positions, alliances and resources so they can continue to dominate and abuse with impunity.

  • Sexual objectifying of women

  • Sexually invasive and aggressive behaviours, including sexual assault

  • Abuse within a lesbian couple, including physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

Disgusting list ey? These are horrible behaviours yet they are the norm in the ‘radical feminist’ non-movement. And those are the behaviours that the bystanders support. Sad picture. There’s not that much more to say about the abusers really, most has been said about how they organise their monopoly and control over women in the bystanders’ part. The most important thing to remember though is that abusive women rarely change in a fortnight, especially if they still have access to their victims. Unless there’s evidence that she can both listen to the victim and change her behaviour, that is, put an end to the harm in a short amount of time (because sometimes the former is possible but not the latter) the best thing to do both for the victims and for the abusers is to cut all ties with them, never to contact them again, and disengage from those who support the abuser, too.

It’s pretty simple in fact, and it changes your life! I personally feel much freer now that I’m not tied any more to those from the non-movement. I can tell you that non-abusive, non-dominating relationships between women are perfectly feasible and it takes you very far, it’s wonderful. And no more wasted time and energy reacting to the endless soul-destroying and life-sucking non-activity. The possibilities are so much more infinite.

To conclude, it is our responsibility to refuse to name destructive groups or behaviour as radical feminist, even if they claim to be so or are longstanding ‘radfems’, and to be very rigorous in our definitions of radical feminism. This isn’t about hurting women’s feelings and excluding women (from what?) but about being coherent between what we say and do, and acting ethically. It’s taking our liberation seriously and refusing to live in a world of violence and insecurity. It doesn’t mean we should all be perfect at once, but that we should strive to refuse violence and act on it when we see it in other women or ourselves – all women are capable of doing this. Women aren’t stupid, we know when things feel or are wrong or not. If we claim to be radfem when our behaviour says otherwise, it’s exactly like abusive parents who tell children not to do something while doing it themselves. It completely discredits the intended message, the messenger, and it’s lying. It is of no use at all, except to prevent women from accessing radical feminism. For those who think I’m harsh, well, what I find harsh is all the abuse and tolerance of abuse in the so-called radfem community, the harm it does to women.


* I thank all the women with whom I’ve had discussions about this, it helped me see everything with much more clarity. Thanks to Delphyne for putting the word ‘bystander’ to the secondary group of damage-supporters.

68 Responses to “Radical feminist, you say?”

  1. 1 FCM July 23, 2013 at 10:50 am

    lots to think about here, thanks! you touched on this above, i wont quote you back at yourself but it reminded me of how our herstory is being constantly erased and that this happens “from within” as well as from without and one result, besides our work being destroyed, is that women dont know what happened or who to trust (or not). the incident “blows over” and whoever is still standing at the end is what comprises the “movement” and it just continues from there seemingly without question. to say that its a parody and a non-movement is completely apt in my experience. ive never seen anything like it.

    to give a concrete example, i had someone email me recently to ask whether cathy brennan ever owned the HUB domain. it was documented by arthur goldwag writing for the SPLC, based on an interview he conducted with her (he also quotes her directly) that she did, and yet this very basic fact has apparently been lost to history. when even the most basic facts are in dispute and become lost, even when they are documented in the nonradical press, there is an enormous problem. what about the more complicated facts, or the ones that were never documented by anyone reputable, like a male author writing for a male organization? this situation is absolutely ripe for abuse and to be taken advantage of by just about anyone who is interested in doing that. heres a link to the article documenting that cathy brennan did, in fact, own the HUB domain (at the time this interview was taken):

    “Cathy Brennan owns the domain RadFem Hub.” — Arthur Goldwag, writing for SPLC Hatewatch, Intelligence Report Article Provokes Fury Among Men’s Rights Activists. May 15, 2012.


    there you go, in black and effing white. is that “documented” enough to become part of our herstorical record? sadly, its probably not.

  2. 2 witchwind July 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Thanks for that. I decided not to name anyone in particular in the bystanders or abusers here because the list would be three-pages long and doing so could also compromise my anonymity, and I guess lots of women will recognise abusers and bystanders by themselves, wherever they are from, because this is applicable everywhere. The point by setting such a standard for radical feminism (which is merely a standard for human decency, really I expect this ethics from any woman) is that before you even look at the women’s politics, this standard makes it very easy to recognise who’s reliable and who’s not. Signs of abuse and control over? Not radfem. Supporting it? Not radfem! In one blink of the eye you can tell who’s abusive and who’s NOT taking a stand against it when they know about it.

    Of course the point of abuse in groups is to silence women through fear, and most of the abuse is already done by men or fathers so it taps on pre-existing fear to speak out against harm against women. I understand that reasonable fear to take a clear stand and disengage from unreliable, destructive groups, but women must realise that none of us gain from closing our eyes to it, it doesn’t protect any of us, it doesn’t preserve the movement or an imaginary sisterhood: because of the harm and insecurity, the movement and sisterhood never existed in the first place, since it never provided a safe space for women to free ourselves. By preserving this, you preserve not sisterhood but violence. You preserve a movement that feeds on destroying women and preventing them from getting any further, and thereby encouraging them to continue to expose themselves to men’s violence, because this is the ultimate aim of anti-feminism and feminism sabotage – increasing men’s hold on us.

    It’s like the tip of the iceberg may I say, but a very telling tip, and you can be 100% sure that when you scratch below this first surface, you will also find also all the political, analytical and theoretical dysfunctions that go with it and sustain this violence. It never fails!

  3. 3 Rina (@arinabean) July 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    “liberal influenced feminisms and reformist activism (the men can change trope), male-friendly feminism, “gender roles/dom-sub as the problem” feminism, radical lesbianism, pro-PIV or pro-relationships with men, intersectionality, refusal to see men as inherently violent”

    why is radical lesbianism part of that list? it does not seem to fit

  4. 4 witchwind July 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Before I reply to this question, I’d like to ask you how you define radical lesbianism and why you think it is coherent with radical feminism?

  5. 5 witchwind July 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Also, this might be self-evident but i’ll add this nonetheless: the point of setting standards for radical feminism is not to create a status of gold-star radfem as opposed to “bad radfems”, distribute good points and bad points and that crap.

    As I said, the basic point of radical feminism is to end abuse of women and protect ourselves / free ourselves from men and the destruction they cause in us. What we need to remember is that compromising on radfem analyses (for example separatism from men, criticism of PIV / forced reproduction and relationships with men as the centre of our oppression, etc.) isn’t a question of accepting or refusing women in a VIP club or something, it’s a question of that it directly compromises women’s safety from men’s violence, and we have no interest whatsoever in diluting radical feminism to make it conform to men’s interests in accessing women or destroying women’s liberation. It defeats the purpose of radical feminism. Behind each woman who says “PIV is good for me”, or “I will raise my son to be pro-female” or “I have a nigel and he’s nice / helpful” or “she shouted at me but it’s fine, she didn’t mean it” or “I don’t want to divide the movement” there are men waiting to pick them up as victims and take advantage of that situation. So when I say X Y Z woman isn’t radfem, it’s not because I don’t want her to be radfem but because it does us a disservice to name that behaviour / analysis / situation as radfem. It puts women in danger.

  6. 6 witchwind July 23, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    ” women dont know what happened or who to trust (or not). the incident “blows over” and whoever is still standing at the end is what comprises the “movement” and it just continues from there seemingly without question.”

    yes that is very true. The turnover being quite strong, new women arrive and since the women who destroyed weren’t removed from the “movement”, they continue to erase and destroy other women’s work, and none of them were warned about it or they think they were alone. And even if some are warned, it’s shut up.

    The question of not knowing who to trust is important too. All this combined, it serves to drive a lot of women away from radical feminism too, or conflate this with radical feminism and be disillusioned by it, when they don’t represent radical feminism at all

  7. 7 FCM July 23, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    but whether someone is a “good radfem” or indeed radfem at all is the point really, bc if she isnt, she isnt safe to be around bc she will place you in harms way simply by being around her, bc she puts herself in danger too. for example, reformists place themselves in harms way by organizing with men, or confronting men directly on mens terms which is not safe, and sucks our energy. this is what you are saying, correct? so you could get there either way, through an analysis of her politics, or this “shortcut” youve outlined here to look for certain behaviors of “reliability” or abusiveness as you say. this is what i am getting from what youve written, and im finding it useful already. this is how i usually spot trolls on my blog, they give me this uncomfortable feeling coupled with the obvious fact that they dont know what the hell they are talking about. and lo and behold, when i spam them, out comes the abusiveness and attacks! so i guess i would add “feelings of uneasiness” to this too, to trust your intuition about certain people. if i had followed that one rule, then added it to the analysis of politics plus the looking out for the behaviors you mention here, it wouldve saved me a lot of grief over the past couple of years let me tell you!

    the behavior shortcut is especially useful bc it would save precious time and energy, but once you recognize that failed or incomplete politics is dangerous too, that also becomes a shortcut. its nearly 100% guaranteed that a reformist will gaslight you at some point, or compromise your anonymity via privilege checking, so you neednt wait for it to happen! if you spot reformist politics, RUN, would be my advice. and as you say, its not bc they are “bad women” or anything like that, its simply in the interest of saving time that you realize it early and act on it. bc its coming down the pike, 100% guaranteed.

  8. 8 FCM July 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    saving time and controlling the damage, i should say. the earlier you realize the damage thats coming, the better you can get out of its way/mitigate it or even avoid it altogether.

    also, some might be wondering why i *didnt* perform the analysis of womens politics, and couple it with the notes on their behavior and the uneasy feelings this all gave me (and unexplained uneasiness/intuition as well). as you say, there are a lot of reversals at play here, in this parody of a movement (non-movement) andthe big ones are that there are finite resources to go around, and that its the group thats keeping you sane. LOL i could laugh about that one all day long if i wasnt still so bitter about it. did i say bitter? i meant traumatized. ive actually been quite ill over the last year, and i think all of this had something to do with it. it was a horrible, painful experience walking through all of this with nothing to guide me. so maybe this discussion can be that for someone else. i hope so!

  9. 9 witchwind July 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Yes the shortcut works either way, thanks for spelling that out! It is very true that you can tell 100% that any woman who buys into not-radfem politics (while claiming it is) will put you in harms way as you say. What I meant by “good” or “bad” was more that radical feminism isn’t a magical status that can be delivered to you by someone else, or by hanging around with that person, and it’s not an identity or a cloak that can either be denied or accepted by others (as in when we deny men’s “female identity”) but a clear defined politics and ethics that you abide to or not. It’s integral and you can’t just pick and choose, it has direct consequences on women’s safety and on women’s liberation (which is the point of radical feminism).

  10. 10 Sargasso Sea July 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    This is definitely one of (the most important) discussions to be had re “radical feminism” and I thank you WW for hosting it.

    Chonk and I have been burned more than once by women – we don’t necessarily do the (non) movement thing but we do TRY to collaborate with women/girls from our present and past – and if nothing else it informs us that, indeed, our uneasy feelings were usually correct. Most importantly though we’ve learned to only extend as much as we are willing to *lose* and that helps with the gynergy suck problem 🙂

    Lots to think about here and hope to be back soon to stay up on the convo. Thanks again!

  11. 11 witchwind July 23, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    @ FCM, yes I agree that damage avoidance is a major part of it. We can’t afford to waste more of our time and endure more violence and throw our liberation to the bin. And the uneasiness feelings are very important, I know I always feel them when something is wrong. They are the direct consequence of thought-terminating politics and unethical, gaslighting aggressive behaviour. Also what you said on your last blog post about whatever is abusive, is men: that’s exactly what guided me to go through the various groups or communities without being too personally destroyed by it. I knew that if something was wrong, abusive, illogical, it was male violence at play and therefore to be avoided. Over time I learned to recognise the patterns and talking about it a lot with other radfems has helped a great deal. The mechanisms are the same across the globe it seems.

    Quite a few women have told me to be very hurt by their experience in the non-community, and I think traumatised is the correct word. I myself have been on the receiving end of abuse but thankfully it didn’t drive me away from feminism, and I think to see it as male kept me focused too. The fact so many women admit to being further hurt by the non-movement is also evidence that the “community” is not what it claims to be. And because of all the reversals etc, letting go of the idea of what this community represents can be very hard, as in a grieving moment. But again that’s a reversal too because once you let go of things that destroy you, you can only feel better and freed.

  12. 12 witchwind July 23, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks S4! I hope more will comment over here to share their perspective or story or how they got to identify these mechanisms themselves. Or whether they identified other things too. The more exchange the better. I’m glad that so far there hasn’t been any accusations of trashing or divisiveness. I’m aware that it’s quite a thing to say that the vast majority of the “radfem movement” isn’t one. But after these few years and based on a lot of observation and evidence, this is the obvious conclusion to make.

    Sorry to hear you have been burned too. In fact coming to think of it, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. The positive side though is that as soon as I have nothing to do with the non-movement any more and associate only with radfems, the burn out, exhaustion and abuse disappear. Like magic! It really is transformative, that is my experience of it.

  13. 13 witchwind July 23, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    To recap from this discussion, the main thing about the non-radfems (bystanders + abusers) is:

    – FLAWED POLITICS : it always puts women in harm’s way + necessarily leads to dodgy behaviour

    – DODGY BEHAVIOUR : it always puts women in harm’s way + is linked to flawed politics

    In both cases, if we’re not sure of our analysis (why the politics is flawed or the behaviour dodgy), we will necessarily feel uneasy or bad and we should trust that feeling. The unpeeling of why we felt bad (understanding of the violence going on, how it worked, its effects and immediate + wider purpose) will come bit by bit, and talking it through to trusted and lucid women always helps.

  14. 15 witchwind July 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I just received an accusation of a woman being abusive. I’m not going to post it because accusing individual women especially without explaining where she (the accuser) talks from, without analysis or examples isn’t the point of the post. It would make sense if we had a list of ALL the abusive women AND ALL their supporters (or ALL the politically flawed women) in the non-movement to help women get away from them and help them avoid damage and wasting their time, and also to support the argument of the post that it is dodgy ethics and dodgy behaviour that rules in so-called radfem groups, not peacefulness, safety, political and ethical rigour – but I’m not going to do that because it would compromise my- and other women’s anonymity.

    However in private I do warn women I trust against women from the non-movement, and explain WHY they would waste their time and risk being damaged by staying around with them.

  15. 16 witchwind July 24, 2013 at 8:44 am

    And the point is also not to stir up more shit but to GET AWAY FROM IT. Individual, anonymous accusers singling out one women instead of a set of behaviours and wrong politics without seeing the bigger patriarchal picture is part of the problem. It makes you suspicious of everyone but without understanding why, and it leads to the kinds of misogynistic beliefs that women ‘just can’t get along with each other, they’re always fighting’ etc.

    This is essentially why I hesitated in writing about it in the first place. My question was – should I get away from it and ignore it, not even think about it, and just get on with my own business? How can I talk about it without recreating a sense of anxiety in women and without participating in the mess I’m denouncing? But then I got fed up with this because I also think it’s important and necessary to put ourselves and other women to scrutiny, basically to use our judgement to see whether women hold up to what they say. If the movement’s a fraud, I think it’s important to say it out loud, to understand how we got there. And then move on.

  16. 17 FCM July 24, 2013 at 9:35 am

    yep. and even as impractical and difficult an undertaking it would be, a comprehensive list would only be useful for our (mostly online) purposes if you cross-listed everyones alternate akas/nyms/aliases too. which sometimes isnt even possible, and compromises everyones anon besides as you say, including the ones making the accusations (and connections between nyms which not everyone knows). and even then it would only give a false sense of security if it missed someone or wasnt regularly updated! although it does seem unfair that theres not a way to warn women, especially newcomers about whats really going on and who isnt to be trusted. i guess thats what gossip is for. 🙂 er, i mean “private conversations” as you say.

    really the point is that the larger movement is a farce. *thats* the point and im so glad you said it. if women knew half the shit that went on behind the scenes it would spin their heads around. the problem is pervasive and huge, and has been around as long as feminists have, i imagine. part of the thing that pulls women in and keeps them from leaving, i think, is that theres this illusion of numbers, even as tiny as that number is. we get attached to the numbers and to the group. well, get over the idea that theres even a movement at all, or that the group of trustworthy and creative (non-destructive) women is more than just a tiny few, because its not. get over that, and youre halfway there! then, learn how to spot this shit for yourself, and thats the other piece of the puzzle innit? im very glad this convo is being had.

  17. 18 FCM July 24, 2013 at 9:54 am

    also, maybe it would be helpful to post links to classic treatments of this and related issues, (and problems in the non-movement) such as the “trashing” article, the tyranny of structurelessness, and even more recent ones like the one in the NYT (i think?) that was posted when shulamith firestone died, and mentioned how terrible feminism was to her and to the women who were involved in it, including common abuse/manipulation tactics that seem to transcend time. the quote “sisterhood is powerful — it kills women!” was coined a long time ago — and i think thats even a misquote but i cant find the original at the moment. see how these things get lost?

    the point of putting all of this in one place, even if its just in the comments in a convo on one blog, would be to help women realize they arent crazy if they notice the same things and think they are alone bc our history is erased and lost. not reinventing the wheel and all that!

  18. 19 wwomenwwarriors July 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Reblogged this on when women were warriors.

  19. 20 witchwind July 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    part of the thing that pulls women in and keeps them from leaving, i think, is that theres this illusion of numbers, even as tiny as that number is. we get attached to the numbers and to the group

    YES! absolutely. This need to focus on numbers as opposed to quality and substance is completely male-oriented and a trap. Just as with closing our eyes to the abuse / flawed politics / dodgyness doesn’t lead anywhere, being attached to dysfunctional groups just for the sake of numbers makes no sense at all. Numbers means nothing at all, NOTHING if those numbers aren’t radfem. Not only it doesn’t make but it’s actively harmful to women and to radical feminism to recruit more and more women who aren’t radfem or show no sign of evolution, no willingness to learn. To have a mass movement as opposed to many small helixes or small interconnecting groups also means having the top-down male-like military organisation that goes with it. Otherwise it isn’t a mass movement, it’s just separate interconnected groups. Men need vertical hierarchy and control over because they’re not connected to each other or to anything, they can’t regulate or organise themselves naturally or without violence it seems.

    Besides, as long as there are women around us, either IRL or on the internet, there are some potential radical feminists, even if it may take time. It is not true that we are completely alone.

  20. 21 delphyne July 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Well I wrote a long response and it got lost in the computer. Thanks Witchwind for writing such a comprehensive article about the issues and dynamics in our community which are causing it to be so dysfunctional at the moment.

    To keep it short, the point about potted radical feminism (thanks Mary Daly!) is very important I think: it looks similar to radical feminism, it offers similar feelings, thoughts and ideas to radical feminism, but it doesn’t allow women to be free. It’s a feminism that is contained and tamed e.g. women controlled with injunctions to “sisterhood”, or women being forced to make a choice between abuse and community. It’s a radical feminism that is not allowed to put down roots or make connections. Once I realised this about what is on offer at the moment a whole lot of things became much clearer. I too have found that it’s much healthier to stay as far away from the dysfunction as possible. Like you say rather than shutting down opportunities, staying away from harm, increases them enormously, including the possibility of participation in the real women’s movement (a movement that maybe is yet to come back into being).

    I also agree that recognising the problems then *moving on* is what is necessary here. The job of radical feminists, especially with our currently tiny numbers, is to uncover the truth and speak the truth. It’s not necessary to have a fake male style radical feminist movement to speak the truth, and it’s not necessary for a woman to be addressed by a fake male style radical feminist movement to hear the truth. So it’s possible to keep going even when on the surface it might look like we’re losing a great deal, which it has felt like sadly.

  21. 22 witchwind July 24, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for that comment Delphyne and for reminding that the job of radical feminists is to uncover and speak the truth. Uncovered truths always lead very far and spark many women, whereas lies or truncated truths contain women – naturally. There will always be women who will be ready to hear the truth and will want to go further with it and make more connections within themselves and with other women. And it is the only thing that does us good. Not only is it not necessary to have a male style radical feminism, but it’s harmful and counter-liberation. It is NOT possible to speak the truth with a male style radical feminism because male-style = men’s interest to contain us, keep our minds captive, keep ourselves bound to them and their modes of being.

    Also I’m glad to see that this post has been received as something positive and helpful. Because it was meant to help clear the ground and especially help newcoming women who aren’t necessarily in the “inside” of the non-movement to understand what’s going on, make it easier for them to “to spot the shit for themselves” as FCM says, and prevent the constant reinventing the wheel phenomenon.

  22. 23 witchwind July 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Also if some want to add bystander/ enabler & abuser behaviours from the non-movement in the list, feel free to do so! I might have omitted some.

  23. 24 delphyne July 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Yes male style will get us nowhere. Male style politics were created in order that men could hold on to power and administer it amongst themselves whilst maintaining their power over women, so male style politics can’t ever work for us.

    If I was to delve back into the past and back into my swallowed post, the moment I realised it was time to move on was when I started thinking maybe I ought to be taking screenshots of outrageous behaviour in order to make sure that there was an actual record to counteract the ongoing lying and rewriting of history. Then I realised that if you have to prepare evidence in order to get colleagues to believe the truth i.e. what actually happened, and then it turns out they’re going to side with wrongdoers anyway, then whatever is being fought over is already worthless. I’d rather stay far away from that kind of situation than attempt to fight it out and fail. The bystanders, or maybe a better word for them would be enablers, do need to be held accountable for the current state of the radical feminist community. Whatever male-created benefits they’re getting – status, insider knowledge, control – are not outweighed by the harm that enabling abusive behaviour has done to our community. Lying and spying seem to have become acceptable actions in rad fem groups. The scapegoating and attacks on anybody who stands up and names problems are also a huge issue.

    I hope your post does help newcomers, and also perhaps will help women still stuck within the dysfunction to see that there are other approaches, and in fact it’s a radical feminist duty to uncover them.

  24. 25 witchwind July 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    With regards to the classic treatment of abuse (Jo Freeman, Shulamith Firestone), they are very interesting but I find they don’t go far enough, unless all you want to know is that you’re not alone in having experienced this and it spans across time.
    They uncover only certain aspects of it, for instance trashing, tyranny of structurelessness, but they don’t explain how and why it works on a wider political perspective, don’t give advice as to how to avoid the damage and recognise it more easily, and on the whole they give the impression that feminism isn’t possible outside these dysfunctions. I found it full of despair actually. Whereas for my part I’m very hopeful about what I’ve learnt and where it will take me.

  25. 26 Rididill July 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks WW for writing this. YES to uncovering truth as the point of rad feminism.

    This is worse than doing ‘nothing’ b/c it will destroy women’s last hopes. They found rad feminism and it resonated with them in a way that nothing ever had; they joined it, and it proved awful and damaging too. It’s not a surprise that they are desperate not to face up to this. The fear of this happening is one of the reasons I have been quite reticent about joining any group like this. I joined one (which was rad-ish but not really, but anti porn etc) and it was very alienating. I had already run a mile before I could put my finger on why, but I felt guilty about it until reading these discussions here and over at Femonade.

    As to numbers – perhaps anything in large numbers is already an indication of its lack of truth? Truth would not be permitted to convene openly in large numbers in patriarchy – not just from external attacks, but women would be too fearful from internal conditioning. The larger the numbers, the wider the umbrella and the fuzzier the agenda.

  26. 27 FCM July 24, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    yes ww, i guess the only real point to providing women with that history (previous articles re trashing etc) would be so that they didnt feel alone when it happened to them and so they would know the history and the truth there, including the despair. thinking more on it, i think mary dalys concept of “potted feminism” is really all we need to understand the reality of it (minus the despair perhaps) and move forward and it perfectly describes what this is, with a simple concept and few words. its perfect, and i am so glad you put that in and that delphyne commented on it! and ive been saying for months that very few of “us” are able to spin off other women, and this was the same thing wasnt it? there is no real radical feminism happening if we are unable to spin from other women bc thats the whole point and its what happens when we become free in our minds and free to *be* with other women. taking quotes out of context too — saying the words, but not understanding what they mean, and being unable to take it further — these are all characteristics of potted feminism. its boring and life sucking, and thats bc its not feminism at all.

  27. 28 FCM July 24, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    also, i loled at “screen shots.” omg. good call to just leave at that point. by then theres simply nothing left worth saving.

  28. 29 thebewilderness July 25, 2013 at 4:48 am

    This was very timely and I thank you for it.

  29. 30 DavinaSquirrel July 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Thanks for a great post WW, very informative, and I admire the style of not naming names, because that is generally counterproductive. There just has to be a grown up way to do it! Although I admit, I have tried and failed, there is an enormous amount of resistance to sorting out the movement, and getting things back on political track.

    This bit you made in the comments, really bears highlighting:

    This need to focus on numbers as opposed to quality and substance is completely male-oriented and a trap. Just as with closing our eyes to the abuse / flawed politics / dodgyness doesn’t lead anywhere, being attached to dysfunctional groups just for the sake of numbers makes no sense at all. Numbers means nothing at all, NOTHING if those numbers aren’t radfem. Not only it doesn’t make but it’s actively harmful to women and to radical feminism to recruit more and more women who aren’t radfem or show no sign of evolution, no willingness to learn. To have a mass movement as opposed to many small helixes or small interconnecting groups also means having the top-down male-like military organisation that goes with it. Otherwise it isn’t a mass movement, it’s just separate interconnected groups. Men need vertical hierarchy and control over because they’re not connected to each other or to anything, they can’t regulate or organise themselves naturally or without violence it seems.

  30. 31 FCM July 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

    i agree that the “numbers” thing is important. terri strange wrote about this on her blog, and mentioned that the numbers cant be a priority for us, and that unleashing our wildness and creativity is the point (im paraphrasing) and someone wrote a whole tumblr post “responding” to it saying exactly the opposite, that the numbers ARE important, because (male-identified) reasons. and nothing about wildness and creativity at all. the woman writing the response was a communist (i think?) so its unsurprising that she would prioritize/embrace a male model or advocate organizing using tactics that are known to be effective for men, including the mass-movement idea. when are people going to realize that womens oppression by men, and therefore our liberation from it, are its own thing and unprecedented historically or politically? oh wait — a few are. 🙂 thats good enough for me. it kind of has to be, since thats the reality of it, and since numbers dont matter, the truth matters.

  31. 32 witchwind July 25, 2013 at 11:44 am

    @ rididill, yes drawing women into the non-movement certainly is worse than doing nothing. And the reason it works so well in destroying women’s hope is that we’ve been programmed to react to violence by trauma-bonding to the abusers rather than getting away from them, and to believe that we can only survive by being dependent on someone else, by someone having right of death or life over us, that we can’t exist without existing through someone else. this really cripples our self-preservation instinct and survival intuition.

    Because this is the abuse model of us as girls / babies being held captive to abusive fathers / parents, where escaping from captivity means death, abandonment and probably even worse suffering, but where at the same time our survival is dependent on people who threaten our lives. Because we suffer this from birth and as infants, we have no other choice but to adopt this survival mode as a form of living, it completely conditions all our relationships, and we don’t remember it so the conditioning plays at a mostly unconscious level and the survival reaction (dissociation + trauma bonding to abusers) kicks in whenever we experience situations that are similar (it doesn’t mean it can’t be healed though).

    Anyway, all this to say that any kind of abuse against women, whether from men or from groups, organisations or movements who claim to “help” or “free” female victims (and to some degree, they always provide some sort of comfort, even though it’s a trap), feed on this dissociation / trauma-bonding thing and that’s the opposite of liberation. What we want is to be able to reinforce our capacity to NOT dissociate or identify to the abuser in the face of violence, to stop feeling guilty to protect ourselves from abusers (ie fear to hurt the abuser’s feelings if we ward off his / her attacks or manipulations) and to stop feeling that our life depends on someone else than ourselves, or from some external factor, or that we can’t exist emotionally if this group, this person isn’t there for us.

  32. 33 witchwind July 25, 2013 at 11:48 am

    In other words, our survival instinct to long-term abuse as girls (dissociation + trauma bonding) is also what prevents us from getting away from the abuse as adults. Men know that, they know how trauma and PTSD works and they instrumentalise our reaction to violence so we can’t escape it as adults.

  33. 34 witchwind July 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Here are some quotes from the Wickedary, pp.217-219:

    potted passion: species of pseudopassion: stunted, articificially contained, twisted, and warped version of a genuine passion; contorted, distorted passion, bent in unnatural directions, stopping at the wrong object.

    Potted virtue: species of pseudovirtue: stifled and stifling habit which stops at the wrong object; limited and distorted virtue which functions to inhabit Original movement and Realization of one’s Final Cause. Examples: a: the “prudence” of a woman who stops herself from “going too far” b: the “courage” of Athena, who forgets and denies her Mother and Sisters, committing herself to fighting boys’ battles, to serving the masters’ purposes.

    plastic feminism: elementary substitute/replacement for Original woman-identified bonding and movement; man-made pseudofeminism; rageless, humorless product of boredom: fashionable, feminine “feminism”.

    plastic passion: species of pseudopassion: mad-made feeling which lacks natural Wildness; blob in inner space which pre-occupies and paralyzes its victims – predominantly women – draining energies, prevent E-motion, distracting from the pursuit of Pure Lust; free-floating feeling characterized by lack of specific and nameable causes, which functions to mask the agents of repression/oppression. Examples: guilt, anxiety, depression, hostility, bitterness, resentment, frustration, boredom, resignation, full-fillment.

  34. 35 farishcunning July 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    “… letting go of the idea of what this community represents can be very hard, as in a grieving moment.”

    This is so true, even at the individual level. Talking with loved ones about radfem ideas, only to receive abuse in return, makes one realize that they (the loved ones) are in fact dangerous to one. Withdrawal is the only safe response.

    Being one of the newbies to radfem, I am ignorant of much of the goings-on you describe. However, I must say I am grateful to Gallus for giving me a heads-up on Brennan when she noticed CB interacting with me on Twitter. I am sure she saved me time and gynergy in so doing. So I wonder if some private tips, as mentioned above, wouldn’t be helpful.

    Finally, I appreciate all of y’all being patient and generous as I try to get my mind around your “sparking”. I have only recently found that the things I have been thinking/feeling for so many years have a home in radical feminism.


  35. 36 iwsay July 25, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve been reading posts on radfem blogs for a while now.. it was pretty obvious that the online community didn’t get along very well, I could foresee the conflicts from outside the non-movement , but had no idea about what was going on “behind the curtains”.
    I recently had my very first real life contact with the non-movement.. it left me with a feeling of despair.
    I’m very happy to read the article and comments.
    If the dodgy behavior derives from the flawed politics, and the flawed politics block any criticism of the dodgy behavior, I wonder how can the vicious circle ever be broken.. it prevents them from going further in the radfem analysis because the implications of such progression in their feminist consciousness is contrary to the male-inspired activism they have long been into.. I now realize how much it is harmful. Thank you for pointing out that we need to get away from abusers and enablers, for the sake of our mental and physical health, for the sake of survival.
    And.. eeum, I’ve been thinking about the numbers… I agree about it being male-centered, though after I had been confronted to the “community’s” double talk, manipulation and trauma-bonding, I have to admit that I continued to feel the need to stick to the non-movement. but I think it had more to do with (the fear of) isolation than with caring about the numbers.

  36. 37 witchwind July 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    I think a very important thing to remember as well, is not to try to “save” the women who are trapped into that circle, or change them. If you feel there’s no opening or you’re not being listened to or simply that your message is not hearable in that particular setting (because of the abuse and vested interest of the abusers in preventing women to go to the ends of their thoughts and the fear of the enablers who will also police outliers and put them back in line), there’s no point insisting. You ask how to brake the vicious cycle, well, I’d say the first way to brake it is by not being in it yourself, whether as a victim or enabler or abuser. The best thing you can do for yourself and for them, by setting a positive example, is to get away from the harm. If they stay there, there’s nothing you can do for them because trying to convince them would mean going back and risk exposing yourself to more scapegoating or backlash or abuse or manipulation. Been there done that, really, I’m saying it out of experience, and I’m sure some other women would be able to corroborate that too.

    I’m sorry to hear that this experience caused you despair. But it is not true that you will be more isolated outside because if that interaction was harmful to you, because it’s destructive it breaks connections rather than creating them, it prevents any kind of positive bonding, the kind that breaks isolation and transforms you.

  37. 38 witchwind July 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    A lot of women won’t take themselves seriously at all as a movement or group or as persons with a lot of transformative power if they are only two or three, or even just one. They believe they have to be at least, I don’t know, 13, 15, 30, 50, to have impact on other women and change things. That’s ridiculous, because as I said earlier it doesn’t mean anything.
    And besides, one woman speaking the truth to other women can reach very, very far.

  38. 39 Sargasso Sea July 25, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Women have no understanding of what it means to truly BE an individual – we’re mothers or daughters or girlfriends or friends or whatever but we are not allowed even the idea of being individual entities. Men are allowed and/or encouraged to be “rugged individualists” and “be their own man” and all that but women are allowed and encouraged to be individuals only so far as they are contributing to the herd mentality.

    It’s sad to me that women in the non-movement fear “isolation” (which really is taking the time/interest in yourself and your thoughts and feelings for a damn change!) so much so that they threaten and abuse other women with it.

  39. 40 witchwind July 25, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    I agree. Not so long ago I started to think about what it meant to fear “being alone”. It means to fear being with yourself too. How insulting is that to myself if I find that the worst company is to be with myself, when I’m the best person to be with for myself (obviously). Also, as long as I’m there, I’m never alone, since I’m there for me. If that makes sense. There’s so many things I can be / do with me. And also, there are so many other living beings than humans with whom to be too. Ok, it’s not the same kind of connection, but still. It’s like when men say “what are you doing all alone” when speaking to 5 women, meaning, what are they doing unaccompanied by a man.

  40. 41 FCM July 25, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    the really funny thing is that in terms of “numbers” in a male-politicking way, whats the difference between 10 and 20 or between 50 and 100 or even 1000? when the numbers are so tiny that even a very bloated one which would necessarily include nonradicals and partly-radicals is still very very VERY small, who really cares? and as far as getting any large numbers amassed somehow at some point in the future, well, its almost as if they are using it as an excuse to never be successful, because they are putting conditions on success when those conditions are impossible. as in never gonna happen ever. BTW this fits in perfectly with “misogynists” (meaning men and male-identified women for our purposes) always being agents of the state, even if they dont do it on purpose and even if thats not their official job. because the state is built on the sexual and reproductive abuse/control of women by men, and its the whole entire reason it exists. using male-identified models, strategies and the like are basically sabotage. we see this in action when nonradical people kill radical spaces, even when its “inadvertent” and regardless of whether it is or isnt.


  41. 42 witchwind July 25, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Yes that’s a very important point – regardless of whether the sabotage was intentional or not, applying male models on our movement and liberation is inherently disruptive and kills radical space. It has the same effect. The male models are deliberately set up in a way that will make our action fail if we take it as a model, because it will be the exact opposite of what we should do to free ourselves, in every way. In fact they don’t work for men either, because men already have power, that is, the power to access women. Men use manactivism just to have more of the same, not to free themselves of.. what? Malehood? Nah. They want more of the same (access to women) without the inconvenience of being treated too much like shit by other men.

    And also it is just not true that you need to be a lot to change consciousness. It works by network. You spark one woman who will spark another and so on.

  42. 43 beyourownwomon July 26, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Thank you for this article. I think that the point you made about the ‘Number’ often regarded as a token of effectiveness and legitimacy, is very much accurate. This is such a male practice and masculine way of thinking. Instead of making a space of appearence as full-fledged radical feminist activists, and having radical feminist politics prevail, we are told to be kind of ‘consensual’, as if we needed to use male concepts to be politically appealing. But politics is not about being appealing, it’s about conflicts. We need this dissidence to make radical changes.

  43. 44 witchwind July 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    To define the male focus on numbers as tokenism makes it very clear too. Wanting to add women just so they can stand there and deceive people into thinking there are lots of radfems included and it’s a big radfem movement – this is tokenism. And who does tokenism benefit? Men, because it’s in their interest to mislead us into dead ends, to dull down women’s movement and kill radical spaces as FCM says, by planting token feminists (as male state agents) everywhere.

    However, what do you mean that politics is about conflicts and that dissidence is needed? Radfem politics and politicking are two different things. And one of the problems that plagues the non-movement is also involvement into male-style politicking, where many women apply the strategies they learned from long-term involvement in unions, male organisations and political parties, based on “resistance”, engaging with men and their institutions on various levels, including but not limited to demonstrating, lobbying for law change, reacting to certain men in the male media, etc. – as said before (see Sonia Johnson / + discussions on FCM’s blog) this “resistance” model has disastrous effects on women, and it forms part of the larger reformist ideology which is toxic to radical feminism.

  44. 45 beyourownwomon July 26, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    What I meant by that, precisely, is that we don’t need to beg men to exist and organize politically. This is about fighting male institutions as womyn, as political subjects using our political power to destroy Male Supremacy and on our own terms (dissidence). Which implies autonomous initiatives that might not be approved by men’s law, values and practice. And this is a source of conflict, since we are not trying to integrate men’s world ( which is what liberal ‘feminists’ do) – that destroys politics, domination is no politics, or at least it is privatized by men- but we are imposing ours. Feminist politics takes over and breaks off with the phallocratic government as it dismantles the patriarchal order.

  45. 46 FCM July 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    i wanted to mention, in general but also considering farishcunning’s comment what is meant by “spinning and spiraling” or at least what i mean when i say it. its not complicated, i promise! when you read something, just pay attention to your own thoughts. memories, connections that come to mind between what youre reading and something else (something you read, did, thought etc) and just what you think about when you read it. then, share your thoughts with the other women there. thats all. there is always something interesting that comes from this, and something that can be built on, and this sparks memories/connections in others etc. the key is to SHARE IT. its helpful if you just do this privately of course, like its not worthless if you dont share and this can still cause a spiral effect in your own thought processes and your own life. but speaking as a modder, this is what i look for in the comments on my own blog. its what makes it worth doing, and it often inspires new work. one post is often just a summation and continuation of the leaps made in prior posts. this is “living work” and it is refreshing and a joy to participate in both as a reader/commenter and as a writer.

  46. 47 FCM July 27, 2013 at 10:02 am

    and also, since this post is about “safety” i should mention that spinning and spiraling is how we recognize females in our online spaces. men cannot do this, they cannot learn to do it and they cannot fake it either. they certainly cant keep it up over any period of time even though they have gone to such lengths as studying it and copy/pasting our words in order to infiltrate and gain trust. they are simply unable to show reading comprehension for anything we say (because they dont understand radical feminism bc its a female perspective) and they cant relate to it bc they are men. this goes for trannies too of course.

  47. 48 farishcunning July 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    FCM: ” … spinning and spiraling is how we recognize females in our online spaces. men cannot do this, they cannot learn to do it and they cannot fake it either …”.

    They never seem to realize how easy it is to spot them. More male arrogance on display.

  48. 49 witchwind July 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    THanks for that contribution about spinning FCM, I very much relate to your definition of it. Discussions and spinning with other radfems or reading radfem work is mostly what inspires me to write and discuss more too. And connecting the radfem material to your own life, to your own experience and to experiences of other women you know is really the basis of feminism and consciousness-raising and liberation.

  49. 50 luckynkl July 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Where did you ever hear RFs were non-violent? I’m sure you know Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol? Andrea Dworkin said in 1999, “My prayer for the women of the next millennium: have hard hearts and learn how to kill.” Does that sound non-violent to you?

    I think you may have mixed RFism up with the Summer of Love and the 60’s hippies who advocated peace, love, drugs, and rock and roll. Martin Luther KIng Jr., Ghandi, and John Lennon may have wanted to give peace a chance, but they weren’t RFs. RFs originally had more in common with Malcolm X or the Black Panthers than MLK, Ghandi, or John Lennon. RFs were quite militant – warriors who advocated revolution and the dismantling of the system, not peaceful reform.

    RFs also oppose gender roles and have never advocated that women behave and be sugar and spice and everything nice. RFs have never advocated that women be lady-like and conform to feminine gender roles – or have called women “man-like” for not doing so. Just the opposite. RFs seek to eliminate these fascist gender roles or as Dirt would put it, “the gender strait jacket.”

    RFs focus on women’s commonality, not their differences or behavior. Our focus is on dismantling men’s power and their systematic oppression of women – not policing other women’s behavior or pressuring them to conform to feminine gender roles – which is just business as usual for women living under the patriarchy.

    Sure, I’ve been the target of and subjected to harassment, bullying, scapegoating, exclusion, etc. All that and then some. More so than most. It’s no fun, I admit. But then, I’m no angel either. So what? As Mary Daly told me, they don’t matter. What matters is what YOU are doing. Stay focused. Do your part and keep doing it. Then practice what you preach IRL. RFism is a way of life, not a label.

    RFism is grassroots. It is a movement which affects almost every aspect of women’s lives. I don’t know how it became all about politics. Master’s tools and all that rot, RFs do not believe the system can be reformed. Politics is one of the master’s tools. Politics are all about power. Always has been. I understand harm reduction is necessary, but RFs seek to dismantle political power, not reinforce it. Politicians almost as a rule are self-serving narcissists and sociopaths, who seek power and position by using and exploiting the ppl they claim to care about. Needless to say, I trust politicians about as far as I can throw them. I don’t appreciate these assholes making a career out of my oppression.

    As I was told a decade and a half ago by prominent RFs, the movement is filled with cowards and sell-outs. I was told to forget the label (which has been rendered almost meaningless) and to just align myself with a few who were on the same page. Then figure out what we wanted to do and just go out and do it. Key words there: DO IT. RFism is about activism and actively undermining and dismantling the power every which way we can.

    Hope that helps.

  50. 51 witchwind July 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Your comment does not reply to any of the things I said or did. I am not saying women should stop being violent against men or refrain from killing men. What I refuse is violence against women, in this particular case, from other women – because it is counter-liberation and anti-woman.

    And I see you not only support violence against women from other women, but you admit you can be violent and believe that it’s ok too, because it means getting you out of the feminine gender role? How does that make any sense? This is just unethical. In response to that gender thing, it can also be easily argued that being violent against other women and reproducing male-style activism is exactly what is required from us by men, as part of our forced “femininity”, as part of our subordination to men in other words. Unless you believe that getting free of “femininity” (it”s not a “role” we play by the way, it’s violence that men force us to exercise on ourselves) means becoming more like men. Which is really not a good idea from a radfem perspective.

    Also, I continue to focus on radfem work and encourage women to do so too. Again, the opposite has not been said or implied anywhere here.

    In other words, your comment is a derail, and untruthful, except where you say you think women’s violence against women is fine and normal, which seems to be an honest avowal of your position. I’ve heard the phrase “I’m no angel” many times, and always from women who deny the effect of violence on themselves and who refuse to take a stand against it for various reasons. To make your position seem credible, you have to paint me and other women as sissies and crazy utopians: discredit the person instead of engaging in the argument – classic domination strategy.

    Using “prominent radfems'” name to support your claims and make it seem ok? Or maybe even make me feel intimidated by it? Not impressed. And even if they did agree with you then I disagree with them too. But it seems they were talking about taking weapons against men, not women. Then your use of their quotes would be inappropriate.

    The only reason I’m publishing this comment is because it’s exactly the kind of attitude and standpoints I’m criticising and getting away from.

  51. 52 witchwind July 28, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    By the way me pointing inconsistencies & flaws in what you’re saying is nothing but that and I don’t intend to dig at you with it in any way.

    Something that should be said as well about women using abuser tactics / saying incoherent or inconsistent things in order to support or justify some kind of violence against women, is that you can always trace them back to a male abuser / husband / father (other) or abusive parent or any chronic abuser of any kind that had lasting destructive impact on that woman – but it always leads back to men. Use of such tactics can be understood as a sign that the woman is still exposed, occupied or persecuted by that abuser in some way or another (either in real, or by a person replacing the abuser combined with PTSD)

  52. 53 mhairi July 29, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Interesting post.

    I’m not a rad fem, but I see what you describe happening all over the place in feminism and its a disaster. The level of abusive behaviour aimed at women within feminist organisations is disgusting.

    Have you read “Power and Helplessness in the Women’s Movement”?

    This has a go at explaining the phenomenon of trashing as part of the wider female imperative – that women exist for others, and they are unable to do anything without other’s help

  53. 54 FCM July 29, 2013 at 10:41 am

    im glad you posted that link here, and one reason is that i will read anything written by joanna russ! but it underscores, as would other essays on the topic written decades ago when read in conjunction with this essay and this discussion, the destructiveness of the movement and how pervasive and widespread it really is. russ suggests that this is because all women are ambivalent about power, which is interesting when thinking about the witch trials and what “power” has meant for women historically (she mentions this specifically).

    another thing it made me think about, also having read luckys comment above, is that theres some disconnect about what “abuse” and violence (destructiveness) really are, as differentiated from other things, including hurt feelings or not acting “nice” (or zealously defending your own work and not allowing others to destroy it) and other emotive, uncomfortable (or whatever) things that can happen alongside or within creativity/movement whereas destructiveness cant. its common that women in particular are unable to recognize violence because too many things are labeled “violent” when they really arent, and at the same time abusiveness is normalized or even completely reversed (like PIV and “making love” for example). this is reality for us. the fun fems demonstrate this disconnect when they say that misgendering is “violent” meanwhile they allow an abuser like hugo schwyzer in their midst for years. they are unable to recognize an actual predator when they see one and this is deliberate. we likely have the same problem.

  54. 55 witchwind July 29, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I think only the enablers and abusers have a problem in identifying the violence over the long run, because they have an interest in denying it. Even still, they’ll admit it happened to them but deny the harm it caused and deny that the abused made any victims. For my part it has usually been pretty clear when someone was being abusive or not. Sometimes it took longer than others to get away from them.

  55. 56 FCM July 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    you report identifying PIV as being destructive/abusive very early in life too. for some reason, that one took me awhile! i was a fun-fem afterall. and fun fems are also complete enablers, which is the definition of womens “auxiliary” afterall.

    did you also automatically recognize “destructiveness” as abuse too, or as inherently negative/violent? because i know there are feminists who believe (like other male movements do) that we have to destroy in order to create. or that some amount of destructiveness is natural and necessary. funny how they are utilizing a natural model to explain/justify male-centered politicking which is anything but natural (or good for women!) but they do. WRT to destructiveness/abuse in the movement, i think i was performing a cost-benefit analysis on it too, as if any amount of creativity (well, PRODUCTIVENESS within projects anyway, which is not the same thing) that came out of it couldve canceled out the destruction and destructiveness. on the other side, and much too late i might add, i realized its impossible and they cannot coexist. i shouldve left a long time ago.

  56. 57 FCM July 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    also, have you ever misidentified “hurt feelings” or “someone made me mad” as abuse or violence? this might be what lucky was talking about. this happens a lot, the fun fems obviously do it, but radfems do too. for example, when people become “hurt” (or mad) because you wont submit to their abuse, or you wont let them easily destroy your work or you (and are very vocal and determined about this). ask me how i know!

  57. 58 FCM July 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    but i see that your list of “abusive” behaviors is very specific, and includes obviously abusive behaviors, like economic coersion, destroying/pillaging others work, and wasting time/sapping energy. so yes, although women do misidentify things that arent abusive as abuse/violence and throw around the label of “abuser” very liberally (and abusively) without addressing the list or differentiating her complaints from yours, luckys comment was basically a derail.

  58. 59 Sargasso Sea July 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Lucky: “Key words there: DO IT. RFism is about activism and actively undermining and dismantling the power every which way we can.”

    So how or what do you DO (or not do) to dismantle the power? You say that you hope what you said “helps” but there are no examples offered of how to deal with abusive women except to just shrug it off or focus on what *you* DO.

  59. 60 witchwind July 29, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    FCM: to reply to your first question, as I became feminist I identified all “human” destruction and destructiveness on earth as coming from men, and deriving directly from their abuse of women – rape (PIV) + use of reproductive functions / captivity. To me men’s destructiveness is necessarily abusive in some way or another, because based on men’s necessity to shatter women internally and externally as much as we can survive before dying, so they can force us to do what they want from us. So all abuse is male (as you said earlier on you blog) and all abuse is destructive. The intention and function of abuse is to destroy the person’s integrity, by whichever means. It necessarily puts you in danger and there is no interest ever in staying near abuse.

    It’s great that you managed to leave form the destructiveness though. Many women don’t, or it takes a looong time.

    I see a lot of feminists being completely desensitised to violence and destructiveness against themselves and other women (it goes together) usually because they believe they have no other choice or that alternatives are not possible (for further reasons).

  60. 61 Sargasso Sea July 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    To clarify – I don’t mean to derail the discussion by asking Lucky to be less *cryptic* about what she’s said. I would really like for her to share some examples from her long-time experience of being active, if she will.

  61. 62 witchwind July 29, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Second question, whether I’ve misidentified “hurt feelings” from abuse or violence. This is a difficult question but interesting to think about. because to me it has always been very straightforward, either something is abusive or it’s not, then there are different ways of dealing with it according to the person, whether she’s generally abusive or not, whether she’s willing to talk about it and act differently the next time, etc.

    Then there are also more complex situations with friends where over time there might be something dysfunctional that builds up, and might hurt, which usually feeds on or emanates from previous wounds and abuse, but if that woman doesn’t want to take power over you and is careful not to harm or use the other for her own ends, then talking it through and trying our best not to repeat it usually solves it, and we move on.

    But it would help if you gave me concrete situations where the question of hurt feelings vs. abuse arose and in which context the “hurt feelings” was used, so I could answer with more clarity. I’m finding it difficult to make sense of.

  62. 63 witchwind July 29, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    The question is also that Lucky is saying that as long as we do something to dismantle patriarchy, how we get there doesn’t matter. This is wrong. How we get to that doing DOES matter a lot because if it means abusing more women, it’s not going to dismantle patriarchy, it’s making more women victims. This is not acceptable. The means are the ends. What I’m interested in is forms of doing or being that don’t expose women to more abuse.

  63. 64 FCM July 29, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    i suppose im using “hurt feelings” as kind of a throw-away word for things that may be unpleasant, unexpected/unwanted, offensive or upsetting, or even destablizing to the group but that are not demonstrably or objectively harmful or abusive/violent. like dissent for example, which can be terrible for groups. your list was pretty comprehensive, or we can extrapolate from it the types of things that really are demonstrably, objectively harmful or “abusive” and then we can perhaps easily tell the kinds of things that arent. and im talking about the kinds of things that arent.

    so you asked for a concrete example, so use “dissent” and even heated protracted arguments around dissent, followed by escalating abuse toward the dissenter, perhaps provoking an angry or self-defensive response and then gaslighting to make it seem like the initial dissent was abusive and so was acting in self-defense later, when the group attacks.

    accusations of abuse and abusiveness are often used abusively and unfairly, is my point.

  64. 65 witchwind July 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I think you can easily tell when accusations are reversals or not. And also you (a general you) know when you yourself wanted to demean or control the other person (which is abusive) as opposed to criticise the person’s point or actions.

    Also, dissent or disagreement might or might not make a group split up for example, but either way, if the dissent wasn’t in a context of abuse, then the women won’t be harmed by it. It might be sad to leave for example, but they know and agree that it’s better this way. Likewise, there can be dissent on certain things and we can choose to work only on the things that we mutually agree on, and it works fine, because there’s no abuse / intention to destroy.

    I don’t think people abuse because of dissent, or for any other reason than having a problem that expresses itself through the need to control others – in women’s case, because it gives them a sense of security after being abused themselves, I guess, it’s a way to avoid being confronted to it again, to dissociate, to compensate for a perceived lack… Difficult to describe for sure.

    Anyway in this case dissent is usually a pretext to accuse and guilt-trip the other woman, destroy her work, etc -when what’s really happening is the abuser punishing the woman for insubordination. And because there’s no limit to abuse, no matter what you do, it will cause punishment.

  65. 66 FCM July 30, 2013 at 10:27 am

    its a pretext, exactly. coupled with reversals and gaslighting. abuse coupled with severe mindfuck, which is also abuse. in the russ article linked to above, breaking a woman (using these tactics and others) and causing her to leave is the accomplishment — the feminist/feminism was driven out, i think she says. it was chilling to read it that way, like an excorcism. the mission of the feminists was to drive out the feminism. this is a very real phenomenon, i think. again we are back at “agents of the state” and nonradical people killing radical (feminist) space. this is their mission and they will stop at nothing to accomplish it, including using the words of feminism and the words of abuse/violence, all inappropriately and in furtherance of that goal. it SOUNDS like something other than what it is. its the goddamnedest thing i have ever witnessed.

  66. 67 FCM July 31, 2013 at 12:45 am

    also, for farishcunning, i wrote about spinning and spiraling previously here:


  67. 68 farishcunning August 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks, FCM; will check that out.

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