marjaerwin: (Default)
from here: http://peakradfem.tumblr.com/post/30394411709/questions-for-radical-feminists-on-radical-feminism

TRIGGER WARNING: topics include sexual assault and sexual coercion, as well as institutions which enable sexual assault and sexual coercion.

1 - Which of the following would you say is the root cause of women’s oppression (that is, the most powerful and overwhelming cause from which all others are derived):

a. Gender relations
b. Class conflict
c. Legal systems


d. Hierarchy.

Shulamith Firestone argues that reproductive-sexual oppression came first, and other sex and gender oppressions, economic oppressions, and racial oppressions are rooted in the reproductive-sexual oppressions. I'm not convinced. At present the various oppressions are mutually supporting and mutually vulnerable. Racism encourages hostility towards lesbians, either by demanding that lesbians breed or by demanding that we be culled. Capitalism encourages hostility towards people with disabilities. But resistance to racism has encouraged resistance to male supremacism, resistance to hetero and cissupremacism, etc.

2 - Is society a patriarchy in which men are the primary oppressors of women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


c. Sometimes.

3 - Are there simultaneous ways in which people are oppressed that are not linked to Patriarchy?

a. Yes
b. No


a. Yes.

3a — If yes, which of the following ways are used?

a. race
b. social class
c. perceived attractiveness
d. sexual orientation
e. gender identity


f. All of the above and others besides.

4 - Do all men benefit from the oppression of all women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


e. Never.

A system of oppression, a cage of multiple axes of oppression, only ever benefits a few at the expense of the rest. Patriarchal polygynous sects, for example, lead to the rape of daughters and the casting-out of extra sons.

5 - Does the middle class nuclear family oppress women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


c. Sometimes.

6 - Does Marxism oppress women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


c. Sometimes.

A bit awkward here. Marxism has a built-in tendency to put off struggles against sexual oppression, racial oppression, sexual-orientation oppression, etc. to focus on struggles against economic oppression. Purist forms of radical feminism have the same problem, just with different priorities. Marxism also has a woefully incomplete theory of the state. It's the sort of concentration of power that tends to reinforce class divisions, or recreate them, rather than abolish them. It needs to be at least restrained and divided, and I think abolished.

7 - Does Capitalism oppress women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


a. Always.

It clearly oppresses almost all womyn. And, I think, by preventing the development of better economic forms, and better social structures, and by oppressing almost everyone, I think it hurts those at the top of the hierarchy, just not as much as it hurts everyone else. In despotism, not even the despot is free.

8. - Was the sexual revolution a victory of Men over Women?

a. Yes
b. No


b. No.

I think the initial stages definitely favored men more than womyn, and arguably at the expense of womyn. But the emergence of radical feminism and especially lesbian feminism has changed that. And the reaction against the sexual revolution has hurt womyn.

9. - Is men’s oppression of women ongoing and deliberate, with both individuals and systems responsible?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


b. Often.

10. - Is submissiveness on the part of women collaboration with their own oppression?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


d. Rarely.

11 - Is it possible to unite all women as a class to confront the oppression of the Patriarchy by confronting men as individuals?

a. Yes
b. No


b. No.

I'm not sure how this would work. It's not always obvious who is a man, who is a womon, who is being hurt by the system in what ways, and they are resisting it and could resist it, without actually knowing them as individuals.

12 - Is it individuals or systems which bear primary responsibility for oppression?

a. Systems
b. Individuals
c. Both - more system than individual
d. Both - more individual that system
e. Both - equally system and individual


c. Both - more system than individual.

13 - Should individuals be held accountable for the actions of systems?

a. Yes
b. No


c. It depends on the kind of accountability.

14 - Does marriage contribute to the oppression of women?

a. Yes
b. No


c. Not necessarily, but some forms of it do.

15 - Does family contribute to the oppression of women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


f. Not necessarily, but the classical familia does.

16 - Does prostitution contribute to the oppression of women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


c. Sometimes.

As long as the whole social structure is based on hierarchy and exploitation, that will include sexual exploitation.

17 - Does heterosexuality contribute to the oppression of women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


b. Often.

[Not inherently, but because of heteronormativity and the division of the world into fuckers and fuckees.]

18 - Is separatism a valid strategy to free women from oppression?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


b. Often.

19 - Does oppression affect women primarily through material benefits or through ego satisfaction?

a. Material Benefits
b. Ego Satisfaction


a, Material Benefits.

20 - Why do women submit to the oppression they face?

a. Out of necessity
b. Out of fear/cowardice
c. Social conditioning
d. None of the above


a. Out of necessity.

The more we are oppressed, along one axis, the harder it is to resist that oppression. "For what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?" The more we work together, the more we can do to help others. And sometimes we can do more about the kinds of oppression that don't directly affect us, as long as we listen to those they do affect. "When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall flow, there can be no power greater anyway beneath the sun."

21 - Is radical feminism “pro-sex”, “sex-negative”, both, or neither?

a. Pro-sex
b. Sex-negative
c. Both
d. Neither


c. Both.

I think there's a need to be sex positive and sex critical, to oppose both the involuntary sexualization and desexualization of our bodies, and to try to find better models for romance and relationships.

Some observations:

On Question one, the answers divide persons into Radical, Marxist, and Liberal realms depending on their answer. This is the key difference between the various versions that arose in the 1960’s an led to the current division between Radical (a), Marxist (b) and Liberal (c) feminism.

Question three is a clarifying question much like question one. Either answer is found within the divisions in radical feminism, and any or all of the various options in question 3a are found within radical feminism.

Question 8 is another clarifying question, as a core prinicple of radical feminism is that the sexual revolution was not a victory for women, but instead a fruther entrenching of the forces of patriarchy via the relations between the genders.

Question 21 is another clarifying question. Both the sex positive and sex negative modes of current feminism are derived from radical feminist ideas and theories, and both are at their core radical concepts with a difference of strategy being used.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I still consider myself a radical feminist. Also an anarchafeminist and trans feminist. I take a lot of criticism, and sometimes hate, for being trans and for having unorthodox feminist views. But this maddens me more than all of that.

Commenting on this article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/20/condom-seizures-sex-workers-hiv-aids#start-of-comments on the criminalization of carrying condoms, I noted:

"Sometimes it seems that the purpose of the law is to keep the powerful powerful and the powerless powerless. In this case, it's to punish/endanger/sometimes extort sex from prostitutes and punish marginalized demographics, not to protect prostitutes from abusive clients. Anti-prostitution sweeps target poor womyn, womyn of color, and trans womyn, and profile the targets."

And someone called me a "propagandist in favor of prostitution" who "serve[s] as the mouthpiece of sex traffickers."

*headdesk*
marjaerwin: (Default)
I have been trying to defend radical feminism, and its continuing relevance, especially to other trans womyn. I still consider myself a radical feminist. I can point to radical feminists who supported trans rights [early Andrea Dworkin], who support sex workers' rights [Avaren Ipsen], who don't adhere to a single-axis theory of men as the only oppressors and womyn as the only victims [Shulamith Firestone, although she identified as a socialist feminist, proposes what amounts to a one-and-a-half axis theory, where the other oppressions are secondary to sex-class oppression, but men are also victims; intersectionality theorists propose multiple-axis theories]. I can point out how many ideas within third-wave and fourth-wave feminism are either derived from second-wave radical feminism, or are reactions to second-wave radical feminism, or are reinventing the wheel from second-wave radical feminism.

One thing I like about the radical feminist milieu is that it tends to question so many things that other places take for granted. And in its way, trans feminists asking "why are you only attracted to [skinny] [white] non-trans womyn's bodies?" is in the same tradition as "why are you only attracted to dominant partners?" As long as it's raising the question that sort of thing is good, though when it gets to demanding conformity, it gets very bad.

But I feel increasingly alienated from other radical feminists, and not just from the anti-trans attitudes. I look at a lot of what they write, and sometimes I'm triggered, and sometimes I'm just thinking they're not being radical enough. I've found that my values, my goals, and my methods often put me at odds with other radical feminists, so it's important to say what my values are, what my goals are, and what my methods are. I am an anarchafeminist, and that says a lot about these things, while radical feminist says very little. [I hope to cover more of the specifics in upcoming posts.]

I should note that I do not believe that sex-and-gender based oppressions, such as hatred of Müllerian biology, hatred of femininity, hatred of androgyny, and hatred of atypical biology, are the only important oppressions. I believe that they are important, that they cannot be treated as the consequences of some other oppressions, and that they must not be allowed to persist until we have dealt with other 'more important' oppressions.

I keep looking at the same data with the same concerns [I've been sexually assaulted, too many of my friends have been sexually assaulted, and I'm not going to go into everything here] and mostly agree on the problems but still mostly disagree on the solutions. Structural/institutional analysis is supposed to be pretty important to any kind of radical feminism. It may be my anarchist background but I tend to approach this by asking who we are trying to empower, and who or what [usually institutions] we need to disarm [or keep from disempowering the group in question]. When it comes to gatekeepers' abuse of transitioners, to me, the obvious answer is to empower transitioners, and people considering transition, and detransitioners, and disempower gatekeepers. But the ortho-Radfem answer is to require "tighter screening" and "restricting the number of hospitals and centers where transsexual surgery could be performed," which would seem to empower gatekeepers.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Gender oppression, including the norms for masculinity and femininity, the cis male construction of female roles, and the medicalization of trans and intersex bodies, is very real.

But it seems the more narrowly activism focuses on gender oppression - to the exclusion of economic oppression and to the exclusion of authoritarianism - the less effectively it can oppose gender oppression. I think separatism had and still has its merits, but attacks on femininity are misguided at best. And increasing economic inequality makes it harder to pursue lifestylist strategies such as defeminization.

Twisty is not at her best here. http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2011/03/13/only-sub-human/

I think a blanket condemnation of femininity is going to be, at best, confusing. I think it is important to separate different aspects of femininity, and to consider the economics of it. I tend to think of femininity as including some combination of:

1. Signifiers of femaleness. A skirt, a lesbian pride necklace, etc.

2. Approved self-expression. Some people like lace; others don't. But these are encouraged for people who are female and discouraged for people who are male; and it can be hard to find clothes which signify femaleness which don't have little frills.

And more problematically, what Twisty interprets as symbols of female subservience, I think could apply to men as much as womyn, if economic inequalities outlast sexual ones:

3. Signifiers of costliness. High-maintainance styles, restrictive shoes, etc.

4. Signifiers of submissiveness. Restrictive styles, restrictive shoes, etc.

5. Styles which indicate availability to higher-status individuals and/or unavailability to lower-status ones.

So where do we go from here? I think we need to relate feminism to economic and moral foundations - socialism, and liberty, and I think only anarchism can provide these. In the meantime, some more linky goodness:

http://radgeek.com/

http://liberationforall.wordpress.com/

P.S. Rechelon has some seriously cool stuff here:

http://humaniterations.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/all-the-things/

Not sure where to begin... I hope he starts with everything!
marjaerwin: (Default)
Conventional femininity injures, mutilates, and sometimes kills.

Jill, at I Blame the Patriarchy ( http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2011/01/26/death-by-femininity-again/ ) considers who is to blame for the death of Carolin Berger, a German porn actress.

It is only too easy for defenders of the status quo to blame those who die of plastic surgery. All too many people believe the world is just. Devout believers in the American Dream believe that work will make them rich and free; that the rich have earned their wealth and the poor have squandered their opportunities. Drawing from the same world-view, they tend to believe whoever has been tortured must be guilty, whoever has been raped must have led their attackers on, and whoever has fallen ill must have neglected their health. Of course they will also believe that whoever has been injured or killed in surgery must have neglected the risks.

It is only too easy for cultural critics to blame the plastic surgery and porn industries. There is plenty of guilt among them. Surgery has its dangers. When some surgeons push extra procedures, or dismiss the risks, they betray their patients. When some practitioners use silicone injections, they mutilate, and often murder their patients. Rape culture depends on certain myths. When some porn producers imply that love doesn't matter, when they imply that consent doesn't matter, they encourage rape. When they normativize one body type and exoticize another, they encourage body-image problems, and racist and transphobic stereotypes. And the critics can do as much harm as good. When cultural critics turn aside, to mock trans people as Germaine Greer or Suzanne Moore have done, they create scapegoats while invisibilizing deeper problems.

I blame the plutocracy.

The ruling class has taken more and more wealth for itself. The other classes are faced with increasing precarity, the destruction of unions and communities, the growth of the prison-industrial complex, and the criminalization of poverty. The ruling class has taken more and more spending-power for itself, while destroying more and more of the bargaining power of the other classes. The ruling class is creating a harem economy. It is creating an economy where the best option for many lower-class individuals is to become concubines for higher-class ones. It is one of the few forms of class mobility left.

Individual tastes will vary, but the institution reinforces certain styles: ones which imply that the concubine is high-status, and still lower-status than their partner. Conspicuous consumption, expensive, and time-consuming styles can express high status; the combination of submissive-signifiers and dominant-signifiers can express unequal status between the concubine and their partner.

Foot-binding was an extreme example of both tendencies. It crippled its victims. It made it far harder for Chinese womyn to work, and the lost labor-power was conspicuously consumed. It made it far harder for Chinese womyn to assert independence, and enforced submission. Expensive surgeries, crippling footwear, fragile clothing and time-consuming cosmetics are not as extreme as foot binding, but they are status-signifiers and often submission-signifiers.

Under these circumstances, the status-signifiers, if not the submission-signifiers, of concubinage set beauty standards in other aspects of society. The plastic surgery industry cannot introduce new beauty standards. The porn industry can introduce its own beauty standards, but it will most often adopt the wider culture's beauty standards, and enforce them on its actresses and actors.
marjaerwin: (Default)
But radical queer politics is getting increasing misogynistic. I would point to Bash Back!, Pink & Black Attack, etc.

I managed to avoid the fiasco at Camp Trans, but those events, and the subsequent debates, seem to bring the crisis into stark relief. Ultimately it is about womyn's independence and womyn's spaces. Ultimately it is about whether we are to exist as ourselves, or to be morally mandated into androgyny by our supposed allies.

We are not less-than because we are womyn. We do not need men to be whole. We are womyn and we are whole as womyn. We do not need to integrate "masculine" and "feminine" aspects into ourselves or our relationships. Subversivism runs on the same premises as heterosexism when it pushes the idea that womonhood is incomplete. We are not assimilationists because we live our lives instead of playing the androgynous-chauvinist roles you assign to us. We do not want to destroy Fest. We would rather see it thrive and embrace the sisters it has excluded so long.

It's nice

Aug. 28th, 2010 11:04 pm
marjaerwin: (Default)
to be able to help introduce people to radical feminism. I attended a cool, if pretty basic, workshop, and later suggested some intro readings to an aspiring ally.

http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20100825183623642

Feminism

Aug. 24th, 2010 05:14 pm
marjaerwin: (Default)
When men consider how they should treat other men, it is moral philosophy. When womyn consider how we should treat other womyn, it is feminism. It has taken feminism to separate the were-centered moral philosophies from the human-centered ones. It will take feminism-in-practice to discover the full potential of feminism-in-theory.

What do I look for in feminism-in-practice? (besides, of course, my beloved V.?)

I honestly don't know, but I'd suggest, for starters:

Womyn's freedom-in-equality, that is a social relationship of mutual respect, mutual cooperation, self-directedness and self-realization.

Womyn's completeness, recognizing that womyn are not the matching halves of men, but are whole among ourselves.

Womyn's space, that is a community defined by womyn's needs and contributions.

Womyn's originality, that is the rediscovery of our identity and potential as womyn.

P.S. Most of these are inclusive of men as well as womyn. Womyn's equality certainly has to encompass men as well as womyn; we will fail to treat ourselves rightly if we come to treat men wrongly. Womyn's completeness is just as important. It requires a strong push-back and heterosexism and against subversivism. I think that creating gynocentric spaces can help to encourage womyn's completeness. I think that once we defeat misogyny as well as patriarchy, then we can create spaces which are for all humans at once. In any case, the perception that we are incomplete on our own encourages many of the attempts of men and of other womyn to deny us individual control of our own bodies. I would point to the recurring argument that, among hetero people, husbands should be able to deny their wives access to birth control or abortion.
marjaerwin: (Default)
A few sketchy thoughts; I still embrace anarchafeminism and a version of radical feminism, and would like to know your best ideas.

I think radical feminism has a lot of good ideas, better than liberal feminism, but it could do with a lot of rethinking.

Does patriarchy even exist any more? Men die sooner. Men get imprisoned more often. What does it say that misogyny and gender oppression are as strong as they are, if patriarchy is so much weaker?

Is privilege the best way of thinking about it? A rigid two-caste system could oppress everyone without privileging anyone.

Is everyone either cis or trans? Definitions of cis which slip between meaning anyone who is not trans and meaning someone who feels gender congruence are alienating to many non-trans feminists.

And we need to find ways of thinking and acting which respect individual choice, enable collective action, and add to both. I hate the way liberal feminists have hijacked the rhetoric of choice. There is a difference between choice and scabbing. If we don't have bargaining-power, then we don't own our own choices. I hate the way illiberal feminists have hijacked the rhetoric of cooperation. There is a difference between solidarity and whore-bashing. Count me with the whores.

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