Take a few minutes to scroll through the "feminist" areas of various social media and you're bound to find posts on "empowerment" that have a lot to do with validating the execution of gender roles and sex stereotypes and the performance of femininity and, to a lesser extent, positive encouragement of females by females. But … Continue reading Confidence is not empowerment, so why do libfems believe it is?
“I know I’m a woman because it was my body. It was 15-year-old me who had to abort the child of a man who pretended to be my friend, then drugged and raped me.”
“I know I’m a woman, because I am not allowed to be angry, only crazy. When I say I’m a woman, no one is impressed. When he says he is a woman, everyone thinks he’s amazing and wants to be his friend. And when he hits me I’m supposed to be loyal (silent) and when he dresses in my daughter’s underwear and masturbates, he is brave, not creepy. And when he dresses in my clothes and wants have lesbian sex with me, it’s transphobic of me to feel uncomfortable, even though this was not my choice or my sexual orientation or identity.”
So powerful. Everyone should read this.
De Beauvoir wrote on becoming a woman. She’s right in the sense that none of us are born with a sense of being male or female, we are born human beings.
I was born an infant female of the sexually dimorphic species we like to call humans. Gender wasn’t a big thing in my life. Though I had two older brothers, it didn’t cross my mind at that age that there might be any expectations of my biology. I didn’t know because no one told me, and nobody seemed all that bothered at first. I was raised around a child who was gender nonconforming to a degree that these days would certainly get him marched straight down to the gender clinic, but us kids thought little of it and certainly never questioned, belittled or made fun of his preferences. He was our friend and playmate and the adults never turned a…
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I agree wholeheartedly with some of the women in the comments talking about how “sex-positive” is misleading, a gross misnomer and red herring meant to silence women talking about how dangerous porn is — or even generally on the topic of male violence. Jezebel pretends to be feminist and it’s glaringly not. Porn is violence against women and girls: how can it not be when it films violent acts against females and then encourages those acts to be performed IRL? We know that porn is directly linked to sex trafficking, it encourages pedophilia, and the stories of women and girls who have survived the “sex industry” (another misnomer) are harrowing. Very few women go into sex work willingly and come out unscathed, yet those are the loudest voices we seem to hear. This is not only because women of this category tend to be privileged and celebritized (if you will) enough to have a large platform from which to talk glowingly about it, but also because women and girls who have significantly different narratives to share are lambasted into silence. Additionally, the women who rally around them in support are then no-platformed as “SWERFs,” which is dreadfully ironic as many feminists caring about the liberation of women from male violence (including from the “sex industry”) are often former sex workers themselves.
In short, Jezebel’s conclusion that “the primary turn-on about facials for men isn’t the desire to degrade women” is false. The primary turn-on in every pornographic act for men is absolutely the desire to degrade women. The degradation becomes acceptable through desensitization and the encouragement of men by female participants to continue the acts. Girls and women are groomed to enjoy degrading and abusive acts through patriarchal socialization, a positive feedback loop hinging on male validation. As the degradation becomes “normal,” we start offering alternative explanations for it, like “but she likes it!” which makes it a problem not of male violence but of female prudishness.
Jezebel has an interesting article on whether facials are degrading (it’s here – but be warned, it’s probably NSFW. Unless your workplace is a lot more interesting than mine.)
I suspect there’s no person- and context-independent answer to the question of whether something like a facial is degrading. But I thought a particularly problematic part of the article was this:
A lot more straight porn features women happily accepting facials than reacting with disgust and evident humiliation. That acceptance may be feigned, but it suggests that the primary turn-on about facials for men isn’t the desire to degrade women.
Porn routinely features women ultimately enjoying all sorts of things – including rape. That doesn’t mean that such depictions aren’t misogynistic.
It seems to me that the main reason why people tend to stay in the ambivalent grey area of "vegetarian" or "plant-based" is that they're afraid of the social implications of being "vegan." It's sad, but it makes sense. We're social creatures and we want social acceptance. We avoid stigmatized words and behaviors like the … Continue reading On “vegan,” why people are so uncomfortable about it, and why you shouldn’t care
This was an excellent read about why it might be better for radfems to give up on the title of “feminist” and opt for “women’s liberationist” instead. While compelling and rife with many great points, I felt torn. A commenter named Dmh said a lot of what I was feeling and more. I wanted to reblog this to bring up what I feel is the root of this contemporary naming problem.
I agree with both Dmh and Мурка on several points. I believe that “feminism” has indeed been muddied by those who lay claim to the title of “feminist” yet are distinctly anti-feminist. We see this, as Мурка said, with anarchism, communism, socialism and, I add now, even veganism. As two examples close to my heart from that list, anarchism is inherently pacifistic, yet we have ~Antifa~ (/eyeroll), and veganism, as a lifestyle of compassion predicated on a code of ethics that aims to reduce the greatest amount of suffering for the greatest amount of animal and environmental life possible, is being claimed by people who still eat flesh!
I think social media has a lot to do with this errant co-optation.
In an increasingly connected yet isolated society, our loneliness paired with consumerism and capitalistic grooming spurs the need to advertise ourselves more brightly and eye-catchingly than the next person in hopes that we feel less lonely by way of attracting more followers. Counterculturalism versus conformity has, historically, been the most eye-catching methodology, and when kids learned that they don’t have to actually *be* counterculture in order to *seem* counterculture, edginess was born. When someone claimed to be a counterculturist, it used to be pretty safe to assume that the person knew what they were talking about–at least, probably more than you knew about it. Now, someone flies inflammatory flags of various countercultures and it’s more likely that the claimant knows jack shit. (People like this used to have a name. Do you remember it? It was “poser.”)
We’ve also seen what appears to be a greater amount of arrogance in all people online but especially in those who claim to be counterculturists. This is certainly due to a myriad of factors beyond my current scope, but I suspect a few. Two would be the aforementioned isolation combined with a decrease in education on and public acceptance of discourse and debate, which is, simply, how to discuss ideas with each other without it becoming a flamewar catalyzed by perceived personal attacks. Another is the anonymity of the internet encouraging simultaneously a greater perceived immunity and vulnerability: slinging shit from behind a screen feels like it comes with no consequences, yet being on the receiving end hurts oftentimes worse than in-person conflicts do. This might be because confrontations in person are often not as intense as those online. (How likely are you to tell someone to their face what you would be quick to say to them on one of their posts?) These behavioral aspects, I speculate, come together to give the average-to-severe social media user lofty delusions of grandeur, or at the very least a hefty dose of baseless self-righteousness.
So, the normal, natural and necessary need for human contact and bonding and the resulting loneliness from not meeting that need combined with social-media-era socialization makes the perfect recipe for mass co-optation of various movements.
But, like Dmh said in her comments, I think it’s important to always remember that our foremothers coined “feminism,” a term for the movement created by so many of their foremothers who had been written out of history. To give up on the use of the term “feminist” for ourselves—the women’s liberationists, the radical feminists, the real feminists—would not only symbolize our cession to misogynists attempting to claim feminism for themselves, but it would also skew our too-often-silenced history even further. I think we should hold fast to “feminism” for the sake of our story’s integrity: to historians and cultural anthropologists of the future, when looking back on women’s history, who would be the “real” feminists? Of course, this is hotly debated even now. But if we give up on it because it’s been commodified and sexualized, we give up on all the women who came before us who codified feminism on the grounds of protest against women’s bodies being commodified and sexualized.
In a way, this co-optation of feminism was to be expected, but if we can persevere and be diligent, patient, and willing to agitate in our education of our sisters and ourselves, we can show girls and women who claim to be feminists what feminism is really about: women’s liberation.
I think abandoning the title of “feminist” for the sake of there being a lot of people using the term incorrectly is a lot like abandoning your ship when it’s not sinking simply because a lot of people are sailing ships with your pennant. Although I suppose what Мурка is advocating is not the abandoning of one’s ship but a change of one’s pennant because it has been appropriated by other ships that are then blowing up other ships and doing ship-things your ship would never do. By simply changing one’s pennant when it no longer, to everyone who sees it, means what it originally meant, Мурка argues that it will help attract potential sailors who were originally meant to be served by what is symbolized by the flag: in this case, girls and women to feminism in attempt to reach critical mass and achieve women’s liberation. But the problem is that feminism came to be incorrectly seen as being about “equality” because the majority didn’t understand what feminism is and ran with it anyway; so wouldn’t changing one’s pennant simply set one up for that pennant being co-opted later on, too?
While “women’s liberation” seems to be a very simple term representing only a small range of meanings and thus appears to be impervious to antithetical interpretation, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a great many feminists from several generations ago who believed “feminism” couldn’t possibly be misunderstood, either. Language evolves more quickly than we do, and it would be no large shock if soon, for example, TRAs started appropriating “women’s liberation” to serve their own misogynistic interests.
Though it’s difficult to get the other ships to change their pennants while everyone is at sea, and even negotiating with others about it while on land may show discouragingly small improvements, those who read the ship’s logs will understand that those who flew the pennant without sailing under its code were the imposters. Eventually, I think, misogyny in its current liberal incarnation, neoliberal fauxminism and TRA BS, will die and be reborn as something else. It will probably continue to use “feminism” in its name, but it’s also likely that it will use whatever it is that the real feminists have started to use to set themselves apart from the crowd. For the sake of our history and our future as a movement, I think continuing to use “feminism” and “feminist” as our titles is for the best, and explaining that, by it, we mean “women’s liberation.” Eventually, I think, they will become synonymous again.
Мурка, I absolutely loved what you said about “woman-hating, feminist-identifying leftists” “itching to take the name of ‘radical feminist’ for themselves, as a prized notch on their micro-identity belt” and how they would “descend upon it like vultures, scrambling to scrub it clean from years of their own acronymic smearing, so they can wear it as a flashy, useless accessory that will soon be out of fashion.” I also was tickled by your use of “testerical” in your description of male youtubers—brilliant! And your description of libfems was amazing. I feel a lot of the same disdain and discouragement as you seem to feel in the wake of so much gross misuse of the term “feminism” by blatant anti-feminists, and I do agree that it so often misguides vulnerable girls and women away from feminism’s real message. But I think that if those girls and women feel the need to find freedom and that feeling took them as far as the neoliberal gatekeepers, it will take them further again; remember, most of us started out as libfems too.
Thank you for writing such a great and provocative thinkpiece! I look forward to reading more of your work.
What’s in a name? Depends on the name. The word “feminism” has evoked different emotions of varying intensities in groups of people. Men have historically been the first to readily show vitriolic contempt for feminism, and women who feared men also feared the word “feminism”. But as feminism has become an increasingly mainstream word, as well as a mainstream movement, passions have been dulled, and everyone involved is in an cacophonous but uneasy stagnation. Does anyone really have a clear definition of what feminism is about anymore? Do feminists?
Beautiful in it’s simplicity, right? So simple in fact, that you can easily convince any porn-watching, slur-spewing, woman-hater off the street that he’s a feminist simply because he believes in a vague, nebulous idea of “equality”. And just as easily, that disenchanting definition of lukewarm goals has driven and continues to drive spirited, purposeful women away from a movement that is…
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On Valentine's Day 2018, I made a teaser announcement on Instagram for this post, and it's taken me almost six months to finish writing and publish this. Marriage and love are complicated areas for me, and I've been continually working through various cognitive dissonances and revised modes of thought and perspectives over the course of … Continue reading On Our Ungagement: A Long-Overdue Explanation
Women are manipulated into believing that in order to nourish their bodies they must first work for it. This is evidenced by the presence of the word "guilt" in conversations about food. In our skinny-crazed culture, one can "cheat" by eating a food that exceeds one's pre-planned calorie and macro limits. These "limits" are imposed … Continue reading Some Low Fat Food for Thought: 500 Words on the Misogyny of Diet Culture
Around 46 million individuals have died this year for Thanksgiving. That's the population of Spain. Slightly lower than the entire death toll of World War II, about 10 million more than World War I, and significantly higher than the War on Terror's 2016 count of around ten thousand. If it were reported that everyone in … Continue reading Gobbling Death: A Plea for the Poults
Have you heard about this? Do you know who Ajit Pai is? Were you one of the people (like me) who went to gofccyourself.com to spam the shit out of the FCC like we did in 2014 when our loss of internet freedoms were initially at stake? Well, here's what's going on if you're not … Continue reading Net neutrality…neutralized?
I’ve come a long way in this past year. I'm glad to say that I feel I've done so every year, but this one feels particularly filled with progress. Like all my years before, I’ve done a lot of growing, learning, failing, and succeeding. I’ve felt a lot of fear, pain, and happiness. I’ve transformed … Continue reading exposu[re]covery: On Failure and Development