Archive for the 'Our movement' Category

“individualism” and relational deprivation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOCIAL STRUCTURES

Men’s position in society

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family, child-raising and reproduction

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

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

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

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

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

Social structures between women.

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

MEN’S INSTITUTIONS

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

Military:

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

State:

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

Women would be able to move freely.

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

Medicine:

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

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

Religion:

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

Economy (tied to ecology):

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

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

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

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

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

Industrial agriculture and farming:

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

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

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

****

This post is already too long!

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

Radical lesbianism from a radfem perspective. PART I: Radical lesbian views on hetero-bondage and anti-lesbianism

The point of this new series is to break down radical lesbian ideology (contempt for non-lesbian women, obsession with purity) and practices (such as butch / femme roles, general depoliticising of lesbian practices in lesbian-only spaces). My aim here is to break down pervasive and insidious forms of pseudo-feminisms for the benefit of feminist readers, so to prevent women from falling in their traps and to improve on our collective understanding of how feminism is infiltrated by male interests.

*Note 1: I refuse to use the words “lesbophobia” or “homophobia” since they are incorrect and psychologising terms. Phobia is a psychiatric term referring to a mental disorder, and means an irrational fear of something, or to be more precise, projecting a fear of a forgotten trauma (ie having been raped by your uncle as a child) on another object (ie spiders or birds). The psychologisation of phobia is itself questionable though, since it’s a direct consequence of male violence and isn’t a disorder per se. Anyway, anti-lesbianism has nothing to do with phobia: it isn’t a mental condition nor a somatic disorder. It’s an organised male system of repression of women who refuse to submit to compulsory heterosexuality and choose to dedicate their affection, intimacy and lives to women.

**Note 2: I also don’t use the term “heterosexuality” uncritically as it defines women’s oppression from men’s experience of it: as a sexuality. From our perspective and condition, heterosexuality is nothing rape, trauma-bonding and captivity.

***Note 3: radical lesbianism is different from radical lesbian feminism. In the latter there’s feminism, in the former there’s a serious lack of it.

****Note 4: I’m aware that I might get in trouble for writing such a series, but what the heck. I’ve been wanting to criticise the misogyny of radical lesbian fringes for a while, I feel it has to be said.

Radical lesbian views on hetero-bondage and anti-lesbianism

What is radical lesbianism?

Although there appears to be radical feminists who define themselves as radical lesbians and vice-versa and not everyone seems to use to the term in the same way, what I define as radical lesbianism and the way I have seen it most commonly defined is something very specific:

What most defines radical lesbian ideology is its view on hetero-bondage and anti-lesbianism, so I’m going to talk about that first. Radical lesbianism is based on the belief that ‘heterosexual’ women benefit from (compulsory) heterosexuality and thus are part of a “heteronormative” class oppressing lesbians. A concomitant belief is that heterosexual women are traitors who ‘sleep with the enemy’ or ‘collaborate with the enemy’ (men) in order to reap benefits from being with them. Despite various degrees of awareness about male oppression and patriarchy, radical lesbianism emerges from a shared contempt towards non-lesbian women and from a desire to separate themselves from such women or even from the category of woman itself.

I don’t know how it’s possible to logically believe that women can both be oppressed from hetero-bondage (by men) and at the same time be a beneficiary agent of this oppression. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Well it can only make sense if you don’t view PIV/rape and hetero-bondage as the very core of men’s domination over women, and especially if you fail to see this oppression as inherently violent. That is, if you hold a male-centred view of men’s violence against women, and especially, a liberal gay male view on heterosexuality.

The critique of “heteronormativity” comes from gay male criticism of the repression of gays and of the unfair privileges of men who benefit from heterosexuality. This means that gay men define ‘heterosexuality’ as a status that confers certain social benefits and rights which are assumed as normal and are invisible to those men who conform to it, but from which gay men are excluded and causes them to be more or less discriminated, marginalised, bullied, persecuted, etc. However rather than questioning and fighting men’s patriarchal system at the core of compulsory heterosexuality, the vast majority of gay men simply want to have the same access to the benefits and privileges that heterosexual men have, and refuse to be relegated to a second-class status. Gay men’s political agenda thus consists in pushing homosexuality into the norm, by making it more visible and also by assimilating to heterosexual male values and institutions.

Now, it’s obvious that this definition of heterosexuality doesn’t apply to women at all. Gay men define heterosexuality only according to the male experience of heterosexuality, not women’s. The norm in this society is made by and for men, and only the subjects of heterosexuality are men. Heterosexuality can only confer benefits and privileges to men, not to women, and only men can experience this as sexual or as an expression of their sexuality. This so-called sexuality is precisely how men consume and destroy women, and on what men base their global oppressive system on. To men it means sex life, status, economic benefits, paternity rights, ownership and labour extraction, but for women it means being captive to men and subjected to all forms of violence and exploitation. Hetero-bondage can’t be a protective norm or identity for women because this is how men annihilate us.

So we can see that the problem with this gay perspective on “heteronormativity” is that it doesn’t differentiate between men (those who benefit from men’s oppression and organise it) and women (those who are subjected to this oppression). It’s absurd to see women and men as equal agents of compulsory heterosexuality, and thus to see heterocaptive women as oppressive to lesbians and enemy of lesbians. If hetero-bondage is the way in which men subordinate women as a class, it means that women bonded to men have no power whatsoever in men’s treatment of lesbians and neither do we have any control over how men organise and define the different ways in which they sexually abuse and exploit us. No woman is an agent of the oppression and repression of lesbians or of any other women for that matter.

It is true that women can be anti-lesbian or anti-feminist, but it isn’t possible to treat anti-feminist or anti-lesbian women in the same way as we’d treat anti-feminist or anti-lesbian men. On one hand, the anti-lesbianism of men directly relates to their class interests of subordinating all women sexually to men and of punishing insubordinate women; on the other hand, anti-lesbianism and anti-feminism in women are direct expressions of self-hatred and psychological consequences of being oppressed by men.

To Quote Christine Delphy, translated with the help of a friend: here she writes on anti-feminism but it also applies to anti-lesbianism (just replace the word “feminism” by “lesbian feminist”):

It’s normal for women to be anti-feminist: the opposite would be surprising. And gaining consciousness, becoming a feminist isn’t a sudden and brutal revelation; consciousness isn’t acquired all at once and once and for all; it’s a long and never-ending process, what’s more, a painful one, because it’s a constant fight against all the “evidence”: the ideological worldview – and against oneself. The fight against self-hatred is never ended. Therefore there is no clear breaking point between feminist women and “anti-feminist” women, but a continuum of perspectives on a same situation. Since whatever their “opinions” are, women are oppressed. Their anti-feminism – being a) an obstacle to their awareness about their objective interests and b) their oppression directly reflected into their subjectivity – is thus one of the means of maintaining this oppression.

(In: Questions Feministes, “Our Friends and us: the hidden foundations of some pseudo-feminist discourses”, p. 35, 1977).

There’s a reason why men accuse women of anti-lesbianism and of being lesbians’ primary enemy: that’s because it’s a divide and conquer tactic, it’s meant to obscure the real enemies and oppressors – men – and to pit lesbians and lesbian feminists against non lesbian women on the more colonised spectrum. It increases men’s power over women by diminishing female solidarity and feminist vision. Radical lesbian ideology isn’t feminist, because accusing women of being traitors, collaborators or of oppressing lesbians is deep-seated woman-hatred, a reversal and denial of the reality of men’s violence against women.

The idea that women are ‘traitors’ who ‘sleep with the enemy’ comes from a very old, hateful patriarchal lie that all women are vain ‘sluts’ or temptresses who seduce and manipulate men to get what they want, especially men’s wealth. It’s also a slur thrown at adulterous women, as in women who were penetrated by other men than those they were ordained to in marriage, or other men than those chosen by the male group they belong to. Such women would be publicly shamed and punished, similarly to the women, shortly after the second world war, who were shaved and humiliated after being accused of having had affairs with the Germans, which they also interestingly called ‘sleeping with the enemy’.

What it means is that men claim ownership over women in terms of sexual access and punish women for failing to be loyal to their master / slave-owner, that is, of breaching his exclusive right to rape us. The accusation ‘sleeping with the enemy’ is based on a double lie and reversal: first, that the woman is the agent of penetration and responsible for what the man inflicted on her; second, that it’s about sex, when it’s about a man raping a woman; third, that the woman is manipulative, when it is men who continually harass and blackmail women into submitting to intercourse; fourth, that women gain economically from being raped by men, when the reality is that men loot women from tooth to bone, on top of raping and owning us.

So in a similar way, radical lesbians castigate women for sleeping with (being penetrated/raped by) other people (men) than those ordained by radical lesbians (women), instead of empathising with women and seeing that women are victimised by being penetrated and owned by men. It amounts to a similar kind of sexual objectification and blaming of women.

Finally, systematically accusing women of erasing lesbians and of lesbophobia is an intimidation tactic similar to those that accuse women of transphobia and what not.

 

Reacting to Skulldrix’s post and thinking about reclusive separatism vs. boundary-living separatism

Just a few days ago I read Skulldrix’s post on a separatist state of mind, which I have found very refreshing and enlightening, and which brought me back to many of my own first experiences of separatism. I remember some conversations going on at FCM’s on separatism, maybe a year and a half ago, where several of us bloggers and commenters discussed whether we should call ourselves separatists or pro-separatists. FCM at the time argued that separatism wasn’t a realistic or feasible goal for most women under patriarchy because the reality is that we can’t completely escape men, so it would be more realistic to envision ourselves as pro-separatist instead of separatists.

I can’t quite remember what I wrote at the time or whether I expressed myself clearly but I thought that the distinction between pro-sep and sep was unnecessary once we conceive of it as a way of being, an ongoing journey and struggle, according to the means we have and what is safe for our survival. Though I agree about the fact that most if not all of us can’t escape men on a daily basis. Most women will have to work alongside men to some degree because that’s the only or least worst job opportunity we can find. Very often we will have to depend on men to learn a skill, or to heal from severe illnesses, because men monopolise and control all disciplines and sectors of their society.

Well Skulldrix’s take on it as state of mind is really important, because that’s how it is really, and that’s also how radical feminism works. Once you have the state of mind, a strong perception and insight of how male domination works – including on how it affects and colonises us – the willingness and drive to move on, and out, and take women with us on the ride: that’s the only thing that counts. Everything stems from here. And radical feminism and separatism from men and from male mindbindings are one and the same to me, both theoretically and in my experience: both were absolutely synchronous in my life. Radical feminism can’t go without separatism because separatism (or a separatist state of mind) is the logical conclusion to radical feminism, that is to seeing and understanding how men’s domination works and understanding the danger men represent to us. Once you perceive and feel viscerally how destructive men are and how their mere presence may suffice to sap our vital force, your gut reaction is to run away from anything male.

But this is where the importance of separatist state of mind comes, versus mere physical separatism from men. Refusing to interact with men as much as possible is not enough. It is not enough to flee men and hang around with women only, we also have to unwork the effects of men’s ideological and traumatic mindbindings on us and unlearn woman-hatred, and transmit this to other women in some way or another. Separatism is of no use at all if it’s to reproduce similar male hierarchies and values of domination and subordination between ourselves. In order not to do this, it requires a particular state of mind: both a clear vision and focus and a willingness to maintain and especially develop this vision and focus over time.

This is because in patriarchy, our radical feminism / separatism is constantly put at trial, and all strategies are used, from attacks to manipulation – to put as back into fragmentation. There is no moment pure free consciousness or place where we can leave our status of oppressed and where men’s violence will no longer affect us if we are subjected to it. Oppression continues to affect us and our mind, because that’s what violence does, and men’s violence remains pervasive, even if the degrees of violence vary. The separatist state of mind is a commitment to persist into radical feminism, deep empathy towards women and hatred of male oppression over time.

And sometimes, we have to choose between physical separatism of men and our own survival, most notably when we need a job, money, skills, care or resources and we have no other choice but to get them from the hands of men. This is where the state of mind is important because we will choose to give as little energy and mindspace to men as possible, and to try to bond with the women whenever possible.

Finally, one thing I’ve noticed is that to continue sparking other women and reaching women requires to a certain extent working on the boundaries of male institutions (whatever these may be, whether blogs or other platforms that we can bear staying in for a certain amount of time) because there is simply no chance of interacting with women if we live recluded or hidden (although this choice is perfectly understandable). Mary Daly talks about this living in the boundaries in “Outercourse” and Janice Raymond talks about it in “A Passion for Friends”. It takes a very, very long time to bring women to radical feminism and for women to be in a safe enough position to be able to think about it; If we want to find women, we can mostly only find them in places controlled by men, because the vast majority of women in western countries are too afraid of separatism. Separatism therefore also means to me creating a pocket of freedom or an open door within this place from which to move on to and transcend, create true women-only identification and place.

I think this boundary-living must be done with extreme caution however because such experiences can be very abusive and getting the measure of how far we should go or which institutions we should be in the boundary of or when it’s time to leave before things get too nasty, is very hard. I’ve been thinking about the reclusive / vs boundary-living separatism for a long time and I know Mary Daly and Janice Raymond have criticised reclusion, as opposed to Sonia Johnson who embarked on this route fully with her partner Jade DeForest, and documented it in her books – they decided that they wouldn’t even interact with other women any more because it was too endangering to their integrity.

When I first became radical feminist and separatist, not only I couldn’t stand being with men but it was physically impossible for me and endangering for my sanity to be around women who were even slightly colonised. I couldn’t deal with the dissonance, radical feminism was too fresh, I had barely discovered myself, I had much less confidence in my perceptions then and my greatest fear was too lose my mind again. I had a visceral need to expel everything male from my life. Now, with several years of experience in radical feminist journey behind me, I don’t feel that my world will crumble down so easily when my reality as an oppressed woman is denied, because I have much more confidence in my own perceptions than I used to. I have also bonded to a network of radical feminist lesbian friends, learnt not to beat myself up any more when women turn against me out of misogyny or because they can’t follow me farther in my bus ride. I feel my feet and my soul are much more anchored into the ground and it’s less easy to topple me. I’m better at protecting myself, at creating situations that are safe for myself and women and avoiding those who aren’t. It is only with this background that I know feel slightly more confident about finding other women and understand better how it works. I know that the most important thing is to talk with women and create spaces where this is possible, without interference. Three or two years ago this wouldn’t have been possible the same way.

Most importantly, I love being around with women too much. I love feeling the electricity and spark of when we share and create insights together, I love witnessing women unpeeling the mindbindings and freeing themselves from the bonds of a man. I love the stars in our eyes when we See each other and our reality, when we become visible to ourselves. I love our laughter. Being with women-identified women and making this woman-identification possible is like dancing around a fire of joy, you can feel the fire inside you becoming bigger. I would never be able to become a reclusive separatist.

***

Here are the comments I wrote on Skulldrix’s post which spurred me into writing this post. I’ve rephrased the first one and put it here for clarity.

it’s great to see such a nice article on separatism. I relate to your perceptions on separatism, on many levels, and have followed a very similar path. Separatism started for me in a crossroads of circumstances. It started in part when I decided that I wouldn’t date any men because dating with them had been so painful and traumatising and I wanted to protect myself from that. I was already feminist, had almost perceived that PIV was inherently violent and a way to humiliate women, and that all men wanted was to use us as receptacles for their dicks. So I first thought that if I wanted to date a man, a way to prevent being used by them as their dick-socket to be thrown away the minute after, I’d have to choose one I knew for a long time and could trust he wouldn’t abuse me, had already built an equal, friendly, respectful relationship with him which stood the test of time, and especially, they would have to understand feminism and i should be able to be feminist with them without feeling uncomfortable about it.

Well I very quickly realised that this standard was totally impossible! Once I held this standard for interacting with men, they all disappeared out of my life very quickly. It became obvious that men didn’t want to interact with me or with women in general on an equal level, and that what “attracted” them in women was subordination to them – as soon as we wanted to be their “equals” they were repelled by it, lost interest or tried to thwart the feminist drive in me some way or another. This was a major eye-opener. I’ve said this before in various comments but I found this experience really amazing – just setting the bar high for men made them disappear out of my life.

Also once I saw how everything men do is always directly or subliminally a rape threat and reminds us of our penetrable caste, I couldn’t bear being exposed to anything male, either in physical presence or in mediated ways (religion, ideology, media, art, etc, etc,). It re-triggers unconscious or conscious defence mechanisms to rape, PIV and sexualised invasion. It’s stressful and traumatising.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like these insightful and humorous quotes from Flo Kennedy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Intersectionality, continued: part III, reintroducing the start

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cutting through the throes of intersectionality: part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lie number #1: Women may oppress men.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I made another drawing!

male class system2

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

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

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

 

Taking notes on male activism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On writing and comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


past musings

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