Search Results for 'colonisation'

On colonisation by men, friendships with type #2 colonised women, and how we understand it as radfems

There seems to be two types of colonisation:

#1: one where the woman is colonised but something of the spell or the rigidity of the colonisation has been broken somewhere and she is ready for the leap. In other words, radical feminism has the potential to create connections and liberate her from invasive male presence. If talked to about radical feminism, it will immediately make sense, or very shortly after. These women are great to be around with as a radfem because convos just flow, there’s no mental blocking out to what you’re saying and you can trust that she understands the words you use, which is not a small feat in patriarchy.

#2: one where men have placed auto-immune defences against feminism in a woman: she is made to fear and block out feminism from her mind or some parts of it, to see it as a threat, and will eliminate, sabotage or shut it down or turn against herself and other women.  It works very much like an auto-immune disease or cancer where she is unconsciously, unwittingly acting on men’s behalf, defending their interest by destroying her healthy cells. (Men are cancer).

In fact the two are really different things or states. I still don’t know exactly what makes the first situation possible, that is, how the transition or short cut operates from #1 to #2. There has to be some freedom from a man at some point to have been able to go to the end of our thoughts somehow, but how exactly, for instance if that transition or realisation happens while still being individually enslaved or controlled by a man, is still something I’m thinking about. However I do know what puts women in state / stasis #2, I know what makes spiritual, intellectual access to radical feminism IMPOSSIBLE in the present moment – which is male violence and men’s constraints. And this is what I’m going to focus on here.

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Note. I’m writing on colonisation because I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships with non radfem (though already into feminism) women lately and how difficult these relationships are. This is a really important question to me because talking to women about feminism (spinning) and creating bonds with women in order to decolonise collectively from men is really what’s most important and what I believe feminism and liberation is based on. But sometimes I just get so much shit, and it never stops being painful and exhausting. I make friends with women, I introduce them to feminism, I’m full of hope that finally there will be women with whom to discuss and further radical feminism, just BE with them and not in dissonance as it usually is with colonised women, but at some point they end up betraying me, hurting me, they stop and stagnate in the middle of their tracks, may revert even, turn against me, because i’m too far ahead and they can’t go there yet, because they’re not ready to meet certain feminist standards, they have a boyfriend who keeps undoing what she just learned, they’re still not feminist enough to value our friendship and the feminist space we’re giving each other, they have no idea how rare and precious it is, or may still prefer male company. It hurts every time the same.

At first I was always wrought from brain contortion by trying to figure out what I’d done wrong for them to do that to me, I’d go over and over the situation to decrypt some hidden understanding I might have missed, something I could do so it wouldn’t repeat itself. But something new always crept up again. And I had enough, I had to find a way to protect myself because the whole thing is just too unbearable, it’s not feminist to let myself continually be hurt by women. So recently I’ve figured out a pattern: that every time a woman does this to me, this weird turning down and gaslighting or whatever she chooses to do to harm me, it’s because she was type #2 colonised. It is the common denominator to all these women, no matter how ‘almost there yet’ I thought they were. It never happens with women who aren’t type #2 colonised, or if it does happen, it mends itself easily, I know I can trust them and I don’t feel like our relationship will be threatened every minute, not knowing what to expect from them.

Through thinking and talking with other radfems, I came to the conclusion that it’s just too dangerous to have high expectations of and become emotionally close to women who aren’t yet radical feminists, in the nut sense – especially women who are still with men and colonised by those men. They are too occupied by men’s violence to prevent themselves from exposing it to you too, they will inevitably turn against you because it’s the way male colonisation is configured to work, there’s nothing personal about it; so long as they’re colonised they will be likely to turn down the relationships with women that are most likely to lead them to feminism or free them from men or embedded maleness.

Even just acquaintance-type, friendly interaction with a colonised woman is stressful because I know to some extent that I can’t rely on her, that I’ll be in the waiting for her for whatever we’re involved in together because she might pull away for being freaked out by what I say, cancel meetings in the last minute because of a dude or out of disrespect to my time and won’t take me and our/my projects or work seriously enough because we’re women, I’m a woman, and a feminist. Or she’ll expect me to abide to mindfucking politeness rules that are impossible not to break. She won’t share with me the same desperate need to talk about feminism, blame men and value feminist discussions, spinning and sparking. Now I know for my own safety not to expect too much of colonised women, to not place too much hope in them, not to drain my energy – and trust that they will take their own path in their own time even if they end up rejecting the stuff I say (and myself with it) at the beginning. I won’t take it personally any more.

My disposition now is to what I can do, say as much truth as I can in the short time I have, and then run away to leave her with processing while maintaining distant contact in case she’s ready to move forward again. Becoming close to her too soon is not only risky for me but for her too, as it might damage any chance of being there when she’ll really need it: because it gives her the opportunity to destroy that relationship before she can appreciate what it means.

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Male psychic colonisation is the most deadly and effective way for men to maintain our submission. It consists in them turning our uncontrolled self-defence mechanisms against ourselves, so that each time we defend and seek to protect ourselves from male threat, we hurt ourselves, not them. Hereunder are a few illustrations to make my point clear

Case #1: reduced psychic colonisation.

low colonisation

This illustration isn’t describing the ‘transitional’ situation #1 as written above, but rather a post-first-transition situation, after a first leap into radical feminism / lucidity or male-myth cracking. In this situation, psychic colonisation may still subsist in the form of PTSD. That is, we are still internally inhabited or spooked by men’s violence (past or present) through traumatic memory and may continue to act in ways that go against our interest or expose ourselves to violence, but we are aware of its workings to a certain extent and continually seek to free ourselves further from the layers of embedded trauma / male violence.

#2: strong psychic colonisation

high colonisation

Another way of putting embedded maleness: instead of being whole like this:

looking whole

We are pushed outside of ourselves like this: (it’s as if we take the shape of the impact of men’s violation)

impact male violation

In this state, we are colonised, occupied in every sense: men occupy us totally, it is a totalitarian regime in every possible aspect.

PHYSICALLY: men physically and sexually violate us with extreme frequency and severity (PIV, impregnation and sexual violence and harassment), enforce lack or absence of physical and body autonomy, privacy and integrity, restrict and tailor our physical and biological movement in many ways. Men can touch, grab, verbally invade, take and penetrate us whenever they want, impose their presence on us. The repeated and ongoing nature of men’s sexual and physical violence and our captivity to those men who claim ownership rights over us, makes escaping psychic and spiritual colonisation by those men almost impossible, even without their added tools of anti-woman propaganda, reversals, erasure and brainwashing and their whole system that supports them.

SPIRITUALLY: we are constantly spooked and spiritually invaded / alienated by men’s virtual presence. Our soul is driven outside of ourselves through forced dissociation, because we wouldn’t otherwise be able to survive the amount of violence and invasion men inflict on us. We are like ghosts trapped outside of ourselves in nothingness, somewhere between life and death. We follow our lost, invaded self/body around from outside of ourselves with melancholy and a painful sense of loss and separation, without understanding where the pain comes from, believing men’s lies that it’s because we lack them or their attention, instead of lacking ourselves.

PSYCHICALLY: men occupy our thoughts at all times, there is no thoughtspace left for ourselves, we are not allowed to go to the end of our thoughts, we aren’t allowed to even think of being free from men or from thinking about them. We have to control our thoughts so they don’t deviate from submission to men and their orders. We identify to men and no longer to ourselves, we are in a constant state of terror and occupied by obsessive, circular, anxious thoughts.

Psychic and spiritual colonisation is nothing else but trauma-bonding or stockholm syndrome to men or their virtual substitutes (institutions, ideologies, beliefs… such as religion, male gods, universities, states, the law, corporations, schools of thought / political dogmas such as marxism, any form of male instituted dom/sub hierarchy or status, or female token torturers). For more on trauma-bonding and stockholm syndrome, see my previous post on heterosexual grooming, FCM’s excellent post on trauma-bonding or Dee Graham on societal stockholm syndrome. Colonisation is indeed achieved through trauma-bonding. The latter far encompasses so-called “love” relations to individual men, that’s just ONE aspect of it. As all men are our oppressors, their oppression is inescapable and we are forced into dependence on them, we necessarily trauma-bond to ALL men as a class, and their virtual substitutes.

Trauma-bonding and stockholm syndrome, at their very basic, work through a reversal and mindfuck which is achieved through men holding us captive to them.

The way they hold us captive so we can’t escape their sexual violence is by making us dependent on them for our physical, emotional, psychic, economic survival. We have no other choice but to depend on them or their institutions in order to survive and EXIST. This is the reversal / mindfuck / paradox: we’re thus dependent on their violence to survive, but their violence is precisely what destroys us and threatens our survival. The reason it works so well is because on top of this they erase our awareness and memory of the violence from our consciousness, through gaslighting, isolation of women and reversals (such as PIV/rape is love-making, marriage is romantic and being exploited for a salary is independence). IOW they wipe off all external and internal reality of the violence from our minds and prevent us from naming and identifying it, which causes amnesia, dissociation and burial of our awareness in the traumatic, unconscious memory. The violence thus disappears from our conscious perception and we experience this captivity and violence on a conscious level only as being saved and helped by men or by their virtual substitutes. It’s a very clever illusionist trick that men play on our psyches.

As we can no longer experience or perceive men’s violence directly and therefore can no longer identify men as violent, our terror of men is thus misdirected, too.

So on the conscious level, men’s violence has disappeared because we dissociate and we see them as our saviours or life/existence-givers (they have right of life and death over us). Our terror of men is thus experienced not as terror from their actual violence but as terror of losing them (or their substitutes) as our vital saviours and protectors. Loss of that man or male substitute is seen as annihilation or as a threat to our physical, economic, emotional or psychic survival, rather than the violence itself seen as annihilation. It’s a reversal.

As an example, a woman might not go into feminism because she is economically and emotionally dependent on her husband and thinks that she would be homeless and nothing without him, therefore that he protects her. So if she went to the end of her thoughts, that all men are violent oppressors including the man she lives with, her actions would have to follow and she would have to leave that boyfriend but as she sees leaving him as a threat to her life, she stops her thoughts from going there. The thing is that the reversal or myth that the boyfriend is protecting her is based on a half-truth, and that’s why it works well: she is in effect made to be dependent on him. But it’s a complete lie that she can’t live without him or find an accommodation without his financial help, it’s a lie that he’s supporting her since he’s stealing or appropriating her own resources, time and and work, and it’s a lie that he’s protecting her, since he’s invading and violating her. The truth is that she will be far better off without him, in every possible way.

You can replicate this model for anything patriarchal that women fear to lose. Reformism, status, male ideology, etc. It is always based on the lie that our life, career, social recognition, meaning of life, existence depends on it and that these things are helping us, making our lives better. What makes the violence and the illusions / lies inherent in them harder to acknowledge still is that it means letting the reality of the pain and the reality of our situation coming back to us in full blow, it means to reintegrate. And it may be very painful at first, there may be a lot of grieving necessary, to grieve what we have lost of ourselves, what men have destroyed in us. It means letting go of what we built our lives around, admitting that we built our whole lives around myths, lies and self-destruction. It means making a leap into dramatic change, and overcoming the fear of change, or rather redirecting our fear towards men instead of ourselves. The biggest lie of all is that it’s difficult to make the leap. It’s actually really easy, once the spell is broken, the change happens viscerally. What is difficult is to bear male reality on an every day basis, to face your unbearable loneliness because most of the women around you may not have followed your leap and you see them still in middle of destruction. But this is a million times better still than being colonised.

Second, in a colonised state the threat of men is experienced no longer as coming from men, but from:

#1: OTHER WOMEN / FEMINISTS: what we have to cling on (male attention) is a scarce resource and we are in constant threat of it being taken away (loss is inherent to it because the resource in question in a myth, it doesn’t exist: men have never loved, supported, cared for us): as a result any woman is seen as a competitor, an enemy and threat to our access to this perceived vital resource – even in feminism. So we believe that by eliminating other women, by turning them down, pushing them away, sabotaging their work – as a way of eliminating competition (for male recognition, status, resource, etc.), this will increase our chance for survival. The very nature and structure of men’s oppressive system does this, because we don’t have the power to attack men anyway and we attack those who won’t retaliate: women – but men reinforce this dynamic tenfold with this form of colonisation and pervasive woman-hating propaganda, next to constant glorification of men, which means that women despise and distrust other women all the more. What all of this does of course is that we keep betraying each other, destroying our only allies, our own kind, the only bond that saves us from men’s deadly hold.

#2: The threat is experienced as coming from OURSELVES. This is the deadliest of all. everything in ourselves is experienced as as an obstacle to pleasing men (or their substitute) and therefore as an obstacle for gaining this perceived vital male resource, as an obstacle for our survival / existence. We are forced to into ourselves what defects may have caused his anger, his coldness or inattention, his sadism, or to blame ourselves for our lack of social (male) recognition, our lack of (male) status. This is reinforced by men’s reversal of guilt both on an individual and systemic level, and ongoing, all-pervasive woman-hating propaganda in the form of mind and body surveillance dictates.

Any part of our body or thought may be seen as an obstacle to pleasing men and therefore as a threat to our existence, since our body and thoughts never fit to men’s standards, as their purpose is to destroy us, not for us to fit in. A pimple, skin colour, stretch mark, hairs, nose shape, stomach shape, leg shape, hair form and colour, eating food, clothing, body noise, body smell, sweat, body functions or body fluids (etc.), ALL of which are NATURAL and NORMAL human features, will terrorise and disgust us beyond limit. We will hate every fragment of our body and it can be as strong as wanting to rip off our own skin.

Since we are alive and that means we ARE all the time, our body / self is transformed into a PERMANENT threat, at all times. AT ALL TIMES we have to survey our existence, at all times there will be a protruding hair, stomach, foot, pimple, eyebrow, chin, buttock, fingernail to punish. Since we are alive and not dead, there will always be a movement of body or thought to control, it never stops so long as we’re still alive. So it’s like trying to kill ourselves and our natural life movement every second of the day. This is the form that mental occupation takes when we are not possessed / obsessed in thought by an individual man (“love relationship”): the constant, ongoing thought and body control, obsessing every minute of the day about whether our body will be good enough for us to survive in the eyes of men.

What it means is that men have managed to turn our very breathing, Being, into our enemy. It is an unbearable mindfuck and paradox: our existence is made to be a threat to our existence – which is what it means by turning our vital life energy and survival movement against ourselves. This is terrible because it makes every minute of our life excruciatingly painful as we are forced to become a constant burden to ourselves, which makes us want to disappear. We are ripped off of ourselves, committing small suicides, mutilating our life, spontaneity, our creative movement, our organic and biological functions. The end result of this is death.

This I believe is the depth of men’s genocide against women, this inside, every day murder. It is the invisible yet ubiquitous killing of each woman – all the more effective that men have made women do it to ourselves and each other and erased this killing from our conscious perception – from the inside as well as the outside, it looks like the victimless crime, the perfect crime. Their system is very well rounded. But the reality of the violence and the consequences never lie, we are the most colonised, destroyed and traumatised, dissociated people on earth – the signs are there for whoever wants to see them, no matter how much men try to hide it. So just to conclude that when we speak of colonised women, we speak of women who are in terror, a terror which even they themselves aren’t completely aware of since that terror of being annihilated by men is not only misdirected against themselves or other women but completely normalised and made invisible as femininity.

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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.

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.

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like these insightful and humorous quotes from Flo Kennedy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Taking notes on male activism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intellectually dishonest?

It’s quite by chance that I stumbled upon Elizabeth Hungerford’s latest post, and had to read it a second time before I understood that it was a hidden critique of my and other women’s posts on essentialism and PIV as rape (Anntagonist, FCM, TYP…) – it was so indirect that I totally missed the point of the post at my first reading:

The gist is that you can only be a Real Radical Feminist if you agree with the specific ideas currently in vogue. For example, male essentialism is very popular among women identifying as “radical feminists” on the internet. That’s fine, but it is intellectually dishonest to present this as The One True Radical Feminist Way. Andrea Dworkin wrote a scathing critique of biological superiority in feminist thought.^4 If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend taking the time to do so. Even her preamble is interesting. But presenting certain conclusions as foregone– such as the biological inevitability of male dominance, or that all heterosexual sex is rape– when these ideas were not universally accepted in the first place is historical revisionism. And nobody likes that except The Man.

(Italics mine).

I usually ignore the vacuous, passive-aggressive criticisms from other women because they’re boring and replying to them is even more so, but I think this time is a good opportunity to address them and break down what’s happening and what it means politically when they say that. I know how easy it is to be convinced by it through intimidation even though the arguments have no substance whatsoever. So I think it’s worth recalling basic principles of rational discussion and assess those criticisms in this light. Just so you know, this isn’t about EH specifically and I don’t want it to be understood that way, it’s about a wider patriarchal mechanism against radical feminism.

E.H. claims male essentialism is very popular in internet radical feminism. I find it weird to frame radfem thought in terms of ‘popularity’ because radical feminism isn’t about advertising and making things nice and palatable to the masses. To me the purpose of radical feminism has always been a rigorous and honest research for truth about men’s system of domination, where the insights we gain through discussion inform our actions and reshape and transform our lives, shape the way we free ourselves from men’s dominance. This is very important because it might be life-saving or fatal. It’s not an abstract intellectual pissing contest; it’s thought that emerges from the real horror of what men do to us, grounded on the real emergent need to escape men for our survival, and grounded on millennia of universal and timeless EVIDENCE of who men prove to be. The truth isn’t nice. The only reason we take the insane risk to publish those thoughts on a blog isn’t to gain popularity but in the hope that our insights may be shared with other women, as a way to transmit our knowledge and research for the sake of women’s liberation.

Agreed, the view has gained a bit of momentum in the last year or so, but if we talk of popularity in terms of numbers, it isn’t difficult to see that the vast majority of women in the radical feminist community, especially those who have written and influenced current feminism, are not male-essentialist. As bloggers and regular commenters, including those who left, we’re just a handful, probably around 8-9 women, and the only published essentialist writers I know of are Mary Daly and Sonia Johnson. That’s two. Sonia Johnson, who in order to have her work published uncensored, self-publishes, and Mary Daly, whose immense philosophical work is often discounted as merely spiritual, and her essentialism is rarely if ever discussed seriously in radfem work. By contrast, the number of non-essentialist, genderist bloggers is around 30 (probably more), and published writers, around 50-60 (that I know of).

So we have on one side, the genderists who comprise of the vast majority of published writers and bloggers under the name of radical feminism, and on the other hand, a handful of women writing on male-essentialism and PIV as rape. Now when a group is numerically much smaller, and isn’t recognised as representing radical feminism as a whole, you call this a MINORITY. We are a minority, that’s a fact.

So what has happened in the last year or so is that some women such as FCM, me, Cherry and TYP have carefully outlined arguments, based on evidence, observation and reason, leading to the conclusion that men are inherently violent, that PIV is inherently harmful and PIV is rape. And have pointed out the various contradictions, false equivalences and problems in genderist thinking and politics. To this, E.H. says:

It is intellectually dishonest to present this as The One True Radical Feminist Way. … presenting certain conclusions as foregone– such as the biological inevitability of male dominance, or that all heterosexual sex is rape– when these ideas were not universally accepted in the first place is historical revisionism.

Her first criticism is that we don’t accept the genderist view as true: well that’s true, I do hold the view that genderism is an inaccurate, misguided and even endangering perspective of male violence, and there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s correct. Critical thinking is perfectly reasonable, and is part of what research and learning is about: you understand where something went wrong in order to improve on it, to take it further and not repeat the same mistakes, remember this is in a situation where we are trying to save our lives from men’s violence.

The next bit is lies. Our conclusions aren’t foregone at all since we formed them with serious consideration of evidence and arguments. And I don’t see the problem with an idea that’s not universally accepted, why that makes it wrong and how that links to historical revisionism. What the hell! Nobody’s denying the historical presence of genderists and their prominence in the radfem movement. In fact to criticise genderism we have to acknowledge its existence. And yes, if we define radical feminism as dedicated to the truth about the roots of our oppression, well that does entail excluding certain positions or definitions from radical feminism if they prove to inaccurately explain the root of our oppression. Why not? What’s wrong with that, again?

I expect women, when criticising my work, to measure up to very basic standards of rational discussion and reading comprehension. If you say my conclusions (ie that all PIV is rape) are wrong, you need to demonstrate it, explain why I’m wrong and where, otherwise your criticism isn’t valid. You need to show for instance how the conclusions don’t follow from the arguments, that the evidence used is incorrect, the global worldview (ontology) is unsound, something doesn’t make sense or the pieces don’t connect together and fit, on a logical/rational or even intuitive level. And I always appreciate good criticism. If I’m told I’m wrong, and that criticism makes sense, well I’m going to accept that and move on, or take that seriously and review my work to verify that.

E.H.’s criticisms and many others in the same vein aren’t valid. They fail basic reading comprehension, never address or discuss the content of my work, let alone demonstrate why it’s wrong. In fact EH never even says my conclusions are wrong, she’s not really concerned about the truth or falseness of my (and other women’s) work. Her real problem seems to be with these conclusions being published and gaining minor credibility amongst a tiny group of women.

So when that takes the form of lies and false statements about what we say (foregone conclusion, historical revisionism, erasing feminists, intellectual dishonestly) we call that slandering. It’s intimidation and reprisal.  Interestingly, all the accusations can be reverted to her own post. Her statements are foregone conclusions and intellectually dishonest since based on no evidence or demonstration whatsoever; slandering has the effect and intent of silencing essentialist feminists; she effectively erases essentialist feminism by failing to mention the content of work and the writers even in name.

This is not new, and has recent historical precedence of which FCM has discussed at length on her own blog. It’s a classical antifeminist response, and you know it’s antifeminist precisely because it’s full of slander, mindfucks, reversals and gaslighting, which are male anti-woman tactics / patterns. Antifeminism occurs when women are colonised, act as token thought police on behalf of men. The very nature of colonisation (type two colonisation) means that such women will have to shut down and prevent any discussion, event, or whatever because they perceive it as a threat to themselves: it’s a survival mechanism, which works as continued self sabotage.

What’s happening here, is women from a male-embedded group – reformists, liberals and genderists, a number of whom are given token status by a some males and male institutions for holding and publishing these views – attempting to quash women from a minority group – essentialists, who certainly aren’t given token rewards by men for publishing these views: and women know this, that there’s a threat, a loss of token status, a loss of hope that men will change, something to lose, at least in appearance. They see what men do to the women who say such things. The rift is thus between those women more colonised by male ideologies such as reformism and genderism, and those who see through the traps of reformism and tokenism and name them for what they are.

In retrospect to the 85,000, reformism and other things

When men view our blogs in such large numbers, it’s a threat. They’re not just looking at it, they view it with the intent of harming radical feminists and women in general. They do it to collect information so they know what next to do to prevent women from going there. They batter radfem work in public for all women to see and show the result of their verbal and written battering as an example of what will await women if they do, think or say the same. They write nasty and threatening comments, that in order to trash, I have to read at least a few words of. Even though it doesn’t hurt my feelings, they are still harmful and inevitably affect my thoughts.

85,000, that’s the maximum number of views I had in one day a couple of weeks ago when the liberals and MRAs circulated my PIV blogpost for punishment. Unlike a normal blogger, attracting 85,000 hits isn’t something I want to celebrate. It’s threatening: you know they’re after you, it only means you’ve hit men’s radar and you have no idea what they plan to do. Will they attempt to hack into my blog? Will they try to find info about me? The kinds of thought this leads me to is 85,000 men going after me in real life. Probably a bit less if you discount the women. If that happened, how on earth could I hide from tens of thousands of men?

Receiving so many comments denying what I said one after the other reinforces my sense of isolation, of outlandishness, of being the only one who knows. It makes me doubt the reality of my perceptions, it makes me waver, it shakes my foundations for a bit. I start questioning what I said. If so many people assert this with such confidence and if it contrasts so starkly with my perceptions, how can my assumptions be real? The wavering doesn’t last for long thankfully, I regain my senses quite quickly, sometimes more so than others. Writing, talking about it to friends and receiving radfems comments helps a lot. It’s the only thing that ever helps actually.

All this is gaslighting and bullying, men’s lies are meant to sound convincing. They convince with the use of force, ordering me to comply to their view by using an authoritarian, terrorising tone. ‘How dare you see otherwise. You’re crazy. You’re a bully. Etc.’ Which is why it works so well to instil self-doubt because it’s a mindfuck, it’s thought-blocking, it’s also an assault and it creates fear and willingness to appease to avoid further assaults. Brainwashing works through a mix of mind assaults, terror and constant repetition of a same message until it’s hammered into our brain, which is psychological violence. 85,000 views and hundreds of trolling comments is in effect a blitzkrieg brainwashing attack by men and male-colonised women. Hundreds of men and their pawns attempting to reprogram the minds of deviant female bloggers, women who don’t comply and who break through men’s myths and lies.

It’s interesting that Cathy Brennan’s response to the whole thing led a commenter, Tracy, to comment about what it meant on reformism: I hadn’t framed it in that way (see discussion here, here and here). I’ve been thinking about it for a while but haven’t had the time to comment on it properly so I’ll continue my thoughts in this post. Tracy defined CB’s post as reformist to the extent that CB doesn’t name the agent, that is why men isolating us from one another is so dangerous, why it’s so important to huddle together in this circumstance [because men are waiting in line to rape and kill us]. CB asks us to take safety measures against a threat -men- that she won’t name, and at the same time treats men as an audience to appease, as if they would take note and change their behaviour accordingly. Tracy named that gaslighting because it’s acting as if two opposites (truth vs. omission/lie; threat vs. safety) were the same. Of course it’s not CB’s fault because she herself is victim of it.

So reformism defines as gaslighting because it acknowledges a threat -violence- and the need for it to stop, yet it never names the threat -men- and then requires us to RELY on that threat as a source of help. It requires us to resort to men as sensible beings who would stop being violent if told so, which causes the opposite of the aspired safety: renewed vulnerability to men’s violence. So it IS a mindfuck: we should see there’s a threat, but treat it as if it weren’t, then go back in harm’s way to try to plead with our rapists and murderers instead of getting AWAY from them. Resorting to men – policemen, lawmen, statesmen, whatevermen, to protect us from… men! It always leads to more abuse, not less. We are supposed to seek safety from abusers, and truth from lies. This is very deliberate, the very point is to prevent us from seeking safety where safety is, and from identifying men for what they are, so we never get away from men’s dominance.

Gaslighting is an abuse tactic of individual abusers against individual women. But all male abuse patterns work on the structural level, too. If we apply gaslighting to reformism – which men institute globally as a mode for liberation through state policies, daddy-funded NGOs, the UN, male-led activism etc – well that gives us, as Tracy mentioned, a campaign of gaslighting women at a global scale: therefore reformism is worldwide psychological abuse of women. The repetitive, circular nature of reformism, the erasure of the radfem alternative to reformism (liberation / separatism), the fact it’s always planned from within patriarchal institutions (or with their approval) and applied in ways that assault women, also defines it as brainwashing of women on a global scale: it’s the fabrication and implantation of a false reality into women’s minds on a mass scale – as with all other false feminisms.

This led me to the following insight: thinking about reformism as abuse by men on a collective level, it struck me that the cycles of abuse from relapse to outbursts of more explicit violence applied to the system too. Male abusers of women, especially husbands and boyfriends, never or rarely maintain a constant level of violence over time. There are ups and downs, there are phases, and these phases serve a purpose. After a certain time of ongoing overt violence, women inevitably begin to get a wake-up call. They reach a limit, I have to go now or I will die, I have nothing more to lose. This is a breaking point where the spell of fear or trauma-bonding is broken, where she has the potential to free herself. When men sense that this wake-up call is happening, that women are no longer responding with the usual terror and preparing to escape, they might increase with violent repression to put her back in line, OR they might shift tactic altogether and pretend to be nice for a while to revive her hopes that he will change, that he has finally stopped being violent. He may buy some flowers, say “romantic” things that he stopped saying a long time ago, say he’s sorry, allow her some leeway that he didn’t before, and keep a low profile for a little while.

The fact is that during this relapse phase he never really stops being violent, but the contrast is stark enough in comparison to the previous one to give the illusion to his victim that the violence has stopped, especially if she has been accustomed to much worse for a long time. This phase is crucial in that it enables the abuser to restructure his dominance over her, to reinstall her trauma-bonding and emotional dependence to him, her belief that he has changed for the better, to make sure she won’t escape again. He needs to regain his psychological hold over her. And once this control has been re-secured, he will then rise the bar of violence again progressively and insidiously enough that it won’t alarm her.

On a structural, global level, this is what reformism is about. It’s a phase of relapse between two phases of more overt violence and genocide of women. It’s men collectively pretending to have changed for the better by agreeing to superficial transformations of their system of domination – which contrast enough with the previous phase to give an illusion of a halt and freedom, even though the violence hasn’t stopped. It’s a crisis response to movements of liberation of women, to reinstall women’s collective trauma-bonding and emotional dependency to men. Indeed, it seems that women have never been so trauma-bonded to men collectively now than ever before we can remember.

If you look at the shifts more closely though, none of them pertain to an actual decrease of men’s violence against women – number of rapes, abuse by husbands, etc. The levels have probably never changed, and the power structures have remained completely unchanged too. What has changed is the number of token women in the patriarchal institution (Mary Daly calls this strategy “assimilationism”) and the number of women with token economic and civil rights (to have a bank account, to be salaried exploited, to vote, etc). Have these shifts freed women collectively from men? Nope, not in the slightest.

Historically, it fits, at least from a western-centric perspective, but as far as I can see, western treatment of women and genocide tactics in occupied territories mirrors and complements its own internal genocide of women. We have, from the 12th or 13th century up until the 19th century, a very long period of overt genocide of women by western men across the globe. It has never really stopped of course but at the time there was no illusion that male institutions and colonialists were and could be helpful to women. In Western countries, this wave of genocide was itself a reaction by the religious states to women fleeing men en masse and taking more and more importance in society to the extent that they threatened the monopoly of the states’ power. So what ensued was mass, organised slaughter of women to physically prevent them from gaining autonomy, and men’s global colonisation, resource pillage and genocide served to increase their institutional caste power over all women and reinforce the global rapeability of women with worldwide trafficking in women for prostitution.

What happened from the early 19th century onwards, is a vast and global movement of liberation and decolonisation of women from men in western and colonised countries alike, which continued in major ways until the end of the 20th century, and continues today too. But what has happened this time is that men caught women in the traps of assimilation to them and to their own anti-classist and anti-racist movements: into the trap of reforming men’s system. Men indeed shifted their institutions, their outside appearance and discourse to give the illusion of benevolence to women and shared interests in fighting ‘sexism’. Colonialists, capitalists, pornographers, pimps: they all sold their invasion, raping and killing of women as sexual liberation.

Time and again, woman liberationists in every place of the globe were lured back into male institutional control by being offered money and offices or positions by states and institutions such as the UN, European Union and their derivatives, in exchange of complying to male interventionism and control, and of focusing only on useless, exhausting legal change and tokenism, or ‘gender mainstreaming’ or whatever shit they invent. Women being sorely deprived of money and land, it wasn’t difficult to hurdle them back in with this carrot, or to use this as a way to divide and destroy the integrity of groups between those who refused to take the money and those who believed it would work despite the compromise to their autonomy. The irony today is that there are many woman-only so-called autonomous movements in western as well as non-western countries who’ve identified this male state / institutional takeover of feminism and refuse to have anything to do with them, but on the other hand are completely colonised by the male academic takeover of feminism with all this queer, postmodern, pro-trans and pro-prostitution bullshit. It really has been a takeover on all fronts.

Anyway, so what this presages, is that if we see reformism as an intermittent relapse phase, well that doesn’t look very good does it, it certainly means that there will be a progressive resurgence of overt violence soon. And I think it’s already happening really. It’s not my type to cast doom though, and the good news is that patriarchy fundamentally doesn’t change, so I really don’t think it’s cause for more alarm than usual. All times are good to free ourselves from men. We should do it now.

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