Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Because I'm a bloglemming, and because I can't seem to comment at The Den:

Pursuant to the whole "wearing your feminist cred on your sleeve/feet/legs/lips" issue, I thought I'd recycle a bit from a post I made sometime last week:

I was so relieved when I finally ditched the whole "pretty" lifestyle. At my peak of conformity I always felt like a fraud, like I was wearing a cheap and poorly-made woman costume. I felt like a female impersonator, like I was in drag. I hated it, not because men looked at me, but because it didn't feel authentic. I felt like a caricature of femininity. My whole body felt fragile and breakable, my hands were totally useless with the long fake nails on, those damn shoes drove me crazy and I wanted to claw my face off just to get rid of all that makeup sludge.

I guess I'm not really qualified to judge what feels or doesn't feel authentic to the individual. I guess one woman's caricature is another woman's heroic realism. That's cool with me.

but how come I get the sense that the charity and forbearance extended to leg-shavers and high-heel wearers and short-skirt choosers and cosmetics-users does not extend to those who rock such gear for the purposes of sexual arousal (of themselves or anyone else), and not in spite of it.

It's a mixed mixed mixed mixed message I'm hearing:

Wear your short skirt, as long as it isn't made of leather or latex or PVC, but don't talk about any sort of sensual, pleasurable experience you might be having as a result of wearing it.

Whatever you do, don't take a picture of yourself wearing it.

And if you do take a picture of yourself wearing it, for the love of all that's holy don't show it to anyone else.

And if you like having your picture taken while wearing it, and showing people that picture gives you further pleasure - well, nobody cares what you do in your private life, but that sort of exhibitionism is probably not so feminist and certainly not radical and hey, what do you know - here we are again...

it seems inconsistent to be pro-short skirt and still find a way to look down one's nose at one's (ahem) more twisted sisters.

The wisest thing I've ever heard regarding disagreements:

"A strong condemnation of DDT is not a ringing endorsement of the malaria mosquito."

I am sorry that I can't attribute that quote to its originator - I don't know who said it. but I'm awfully glad she did.

Friday, May 26, 2006

More ruminations on the Unholy Alliance, if one does exist:

I can't speak for the entire universe of non-anti-porn feminists, but there is a particular aspect of antiporn theory that does deeply trouble me, and immediately calls to mind (for me) certain aims of the Christian Right.

That, specifically, is the idea that one can deliberately alter one's personal sexual fantasies and purge them of any pornographic or woman-hurting content or overtones.

This reminds me of the aim of many ex-gay ministries, which is to turn gay people straight by deliberately altering their sexual fantasies until they are purged of any same-sex content or overtones.

I see an invasive and orwellian attack on personal freedom of thought in both cases. I just can't get over this aspect of antiporn theory. It really bothers me. I need to know how it's different, and how any illusion of similarity is due to my own delusions brought on by an obsession with my own sick selfish orgasm, because I can't tell the difference myself.

Here is where I see radical feminism and right wing christianity meet in action, if not in ideology. And it scares me. I fear deprogramming by anybody, good guys or bad guys.

Anyone want to help me not be scared? Go for it.

It seems like the pornography issue is the Maginot Line of feminism - none can cross it without getting slaughtered, and nobody ultimately can declare victory as long as one more person attempts to cross it.

It divides us like nothing else does.

yes, US. I'm still in with the US and I'm not going away. I may not agree with some of y'all on this issue, but I concur fully on many others, and I respect each and every one of you.

It disturbs me that even attempting to discuss it civilly and rationally descends almost immediately into chaos, with all sides forgetting that real people are on the back end of these blogs in every case, with real experiences and real feelings.

"but there are real women being hurt by pornography EVERY DAY!" you may well point out. True. Even I, obtuse as I am, cannot overlook the fact that there is an ever-increasing body of media documenting extremely non-consensual sexual activity.

But some real women hurting each other, in the process of discussing the plight of other real women, does not help anybody. It may make you look big in front of your friends, it may feel good to express your righteous indignation, sure, but those women whom we're all so concerned about are still suffering.

There's got to be a way to hammer this out without pounding on each other.

This may not be what the average antiporn feminist is actually saying to me, the average consensually-kinky feminist, but this is what I hear:

"but if YOU PEOPLE would just get over this selfish obsession with your stupid little orgasms and REALIZE the REALITY of PORNOGRAPHY (which is not free speech anyway) and how it HURTS WOMEN, then you could get on board and everything would be fine."

Trust me, antiporn feminist, you don't want someone on your side who has been bullied and belittled into agreeing with you. People who are beaten into submission don't make good supporters over the long term. They make good echo chambers, good receptacles of your vitriol, good amen corners; but not because of their deep abiding love for women, simply because they don't want to be seen as selfish and obsessed. You don't want someone on your side just because they don't want to piss you off and risk humiliation.

Consider that if that kind of badgering and humiliating worked, we wouldn't still be hammering this out twenty five years on.


Ok - I can't prove to you, antiporn feminist, that I'm not a man. I can't stop you from thinking I'm at best a sick selfish non-feminist fraudulent male-apologist recapitulator of the patriarchy. If that's how you really feel, nothing I can say or do will convince you otherwise.

I can, however, work to stop sex trafficking. I can acknowledge the damage done by exploitive conditions and work to stop it. I can do that without sacrificing my own sick selfish orgasm, without compromising my committment to the ideas of personal consent and free expression.

how will I do that? I don't know yet. if you, antiporn feminist, have some ideas that you'd like to share without making me feel like a monster, that would be great. if you can't do it without the heapin' helpin' of shame, well, so be it. I guess I can't stop you.

I can do that, and you, antiporn feminist, don't have to change your opinion of me at all.

Just know you're not going to make me go away.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Well, I'll go to the foot of my stairs...

if by this: nectarine voiced her concerns about the sexually negative connotations in language used by pro-pornstitution 'feminists' in that post she made at the weekend and, hey, guess what, she's been labelled as aligning with the right wing religious fundies! Of course! (Well, it's got to be either that, or she's a prude...)

you mean that someone here labeled her as such, I believe you are mistaken. actually, what was said in the comments was

No, nectarine, I recognize you as *not* being a supporter of the religious right.

What I am saying is: the fact that the religious right has made and *is* making a crusade against such things as porn and "alternative" forms of sexuality (including, but not limited to, BDSM) might ought to give one some pause before jumping on the anti-porn bandwagon, flags a-waving and guns a-blazing. Particularly if one is going to paint in huge, broad strokes about what "porn" is; and even more particularly before one decides how one is going to go about one's attempt to rid the world of it.

I don't recall anyone saying anything dismissive, insulting or slanderous about nectarine or her position on pornography and/or prostitution. But the comments are pretty dense. if someone can point out where I may have missed something, please feel free to call it to my attention and I'll try to make it right.

Further, it may be worth restating the first couple paragraphs of my post as inspired by nectarine:

Though I am not a hardline anti-porner, I do respect the position anti-porn feminists take, and I realize it comes from a place of love and empathy for women.

Further, I understand that being anti-porn does not necessarily indicate a distaste for sexual activity.

what part of that calls her a prude? what part of that is disrespectful of her position?

On such an emotionally-charged subject as this, it's easy to get carried away and let good points get crushed under the weight of perceived insults and personal attacks. I hate to see that happen, so I feel that I should point out where I feel people are mistaken.

Mistaken - not juvenile, idiotic, or unfeminist. just mistaken.

More to the point, as regards the christian right/radfem unholy alliance, such as may be, here's what I wrote in one of the comments sections:

The christian right position seems to be that porn is bad because women are involved in it and women are shameful and sinful vessels of evil and anything that women do/see/touch is stained and corrupted by womanhood its very self. Therefore we should work hard to rid the world of pornography.

On the other hand, many (though not all) radical feminists seem to be saying, in essence, that porn is bad because men are involved in it and men are never to be trusted because they are representatives of the most contemptible Patriarchy and anything men do/see/touch is stained and corrupted by manhood its very self. Therefore we should work very hard to rid the world of pornography.

So that's how I feel about that.

is anyone going to get around to answering any of the three questions I asked? I'll ask them again:

Is it possible to be kinky (engage in BDSM) and anti-porn?

Is it possible to be kinky (engage in BDSM) and feminist, if you are also anti-porn?

Do you think that if the BDSM community as a whole worked to end the international female sex slave trade (however that may be accomplished), radical feminism would still be anti-BDSM (if indeed radical feminism is anti-BDSM)?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

UPDATE - I probably shouldn't post angry. I know that. I know (all too well) that there are real live people behind each and every letter on each and every blog, real live people with real live feelings, flesh and blood human beings. I realize I may have hurt Manxome's feelings by posting what I did, without first substantiating that she did delete me. That was not very smart of me, and if that is the case, Manxome I am sorry. (at the very least, if I am in error, I look very silly even if I did not hurt your feelings. but I probably deserve it.)

Inspired by Manxome's comments re misogyny and music and a few of her favorite things:

Climacteric Clambake: The Antidote

for your reading pleasure, in their entirety - the lyrics to the great Peter Gabriel's


Jump in the water
Sweet little princess
Let me introduce his frogness
You alone can get him singing
He's all puffed up, wanna be your king
Oh you can do it
C'mon [x6]
Lady kiss that frog
Splash, dash heard your call
Bring you back your golden ball
He's gonna dive down in the deep end
He's gonna be just like your best friend
So what's one little kiss
One tiny little touch
Aaah, he's wanting it so much
I swear that this is royal blood
Running through my skin
Oh can you see the state I'm in
Kiss it better, Kiss it better(Kiss that frog)
Get it into your royal head
He's living with you, he sleeps in your bed
Can't you hear beyond the croaking
Don't you know that I'm not joking
Aaah, you think you won't
I think you will
Don't you know that this tongue can kill
C'mon [x6]
Lady kiss that frog
Let him sit beside you
Eat right off your plate
You don't have to be afraid
There's nothing here to hate
Ah, princess you might like it
If you lower your defence
Kiss that frog, and you will
Get your prince [x2]
(Huh!)Jump in the water
c'mon baby jump in with me
Jump in the water, c'mon baby get wet with me
Jump in the water, c'mon baby jump in with me
Jump in the water, c'mon baby get wet (get wet, get wet)
Kiss that frog, lady kiss that frog [x4]
Jump in the water, c'mon baby jump in with me [x3]
Jump in the water, c'mon baby get wet(get wet, get wet) [x6]

A note for the irony- or metaphorically-challenged: by "frog" the songwriter means "penis", and by "kiss" he means "fellate". just so we're all on the same page.

Now, I mentioned this instance of an otherwise (assumedly) unimpeachable recording artist singing about something rather less than wholesome on my fellow blogger's comments section. I know good and well I commented. I simply mentioned it, sans any related commentary, in a single judgment-free sentence. And when I went to check back on the discussion, it appeared that my fellow blogger deleted my comment.


I feel so...silenced.

I mean, damn. I didn't want to cause trouble. I wanted to talk about the fact that it's hard to find a perfectly pure body of work created by perfectly pure artists. I wanted to discuss how to deal with it when one of one's favorite artists creates something disappointing. I wanted to engage in a dialogue about art and music and all that good stuff. Now I don't have much of a chance to discuss anything or learn anything, being all deleted and stuff, like a common ordinary everyday troll.

I say again - ouch!

I know it's her blog and her rules. Certainly I don't begrudge her that. But I can't help but get the creepy feeling that this act of deleting might be evidence of some kind of wider-ranging anti-Antiprincess sentiment...I'm already modded out of existence at the Den, nobody acknowledges my presence at a couple other blogs, and only a precious few commenters ever bother to comment here...Does the intarweb somehow know I smell funny or something? What is up?

I think I'm being snubbed, like Alison Assiter at Sheila Jeffrey's birthday party. And I'm having a hard time seeing how that's fair or sisterly or done in the spirit of love for all women.

yep, I am hypersensitive. Absolutely guilty as charged. It's personal. I dont' really expect anyone to drown me in sympathy or anything. But for all that it pushes my own personal little buttons, remember this:

100% of dictators agree - Censorship works!

I should be careful, or people will say I'm being a little hard on The Beaver...

from Dubhe's post today (5/24/06) on misogyny in rock (as distinguished from misogyny in rap/hip-hop) http://bitingbeaver.blogspot.com/ :

"But most people who DO listen to classic rock don't know that AC/DC wrote a graphic song about running a woman over with a freight train and pushing another woman out of an airplane. It's called "What's Next to the Moon" and was on their 1978 album "Powerage". Did you know? I sure didn't. "

I'm no musicologist but I feel the need to point out that such subject matter is nowhere near novel. Murder ballads (more graphic and lurid even than "What's Next to the Moon") have been around since the earliest notes of Western musical tradition. "Tom Dooley", "Pretty Polly" and many many more!...The history of Western music is piled high and deep with dead bodies of both genders. (See this wikipedia entry for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_ballad) Murder ballads are (dare I say) fun and compelling and popular because they're dramatic and emotionally charged and chilling, resulting in a musical catharsis, one could say. Anyway, they're everywhere, these creepy little tunes. Purge them and a HUGE segment of very relevant music history would be lost.

It's not like AC/DC were innovators in the field of lurid lyrics, is all I'm saying. Might as well string up the Kingston Trio, Steeleye Span, and Peter, Paul and Mary with the same rope.

Peter, Paul and Mary. Those unapologetic woman-haters. Shame on them.

And while we're at it, the entire point of AC/DC was to sing (loudly) dirty little songs stuffed to the last sixteenth-note with double entendre. It seems a little silly to call attention to their tasteless antics, especially since tasteless antics was their raison d'etre. It's like saying "gee, has anyone noticed the overt lesbian content of Cris Williamson's work?" well, duh, y'all.

Just in case my comment gets modded out at the Den:

Special to Elaina, who seemed fretful (she's a bassist - get it? fretful?) that her passion for four-on-the-floor cock rock would place her feminist cred in peril - my comment, slightly modified:

Honey - crank it to eleven and fuck 'em.

you already knew the general bent of AC/DC lyrics - of course you did; if you're a fan you sing along. That's what lyrics are there for. Don't be embarrassed just because someone caught you doing hairbrush karaoke. Seriously, it's okay. They're songs, not manifestos.

I'd also advise against the "two-sighted" strategy advocated by Amy at Feminist Reprise. That's a good way to damage one's mental health, in my opinion.

Remember, Australia's Finest also gave us "Whole Lotta Rosie". how many other songs out there are even remotely fat-positive? (for the record, I've counted four. always looking for more.)

For what it's worth, I spent my adolescence listening nearly-exclusively to so-called "women's music" and folk music. Lots of Cris Williamson, the complete oeuvre of Ferron, Margie Adam, Holly Near, etc.

and look how I turned out...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Inspired by Nectarine and others:


Though I am not a hardline anti-porner, I do respect the position anti-porn feminists take, and I realize it comes from a place of love and empathy for women.

Further, I understand that being anti-porn does not necessarily indicate a distaste for sexual activity.

However, though I understand this, I still have a couple questions that maybe some of the clearer thinkers out there can help me answer -

Is it possible to be kinky (engage in BDSM) and anti-porn?

Is it possible to be kinky (engage in BDSM) and feminist, if you are also anti-porn?

"Like your porn and your BDSM, but don't call it feminism," says Lost Clown (and many others). But I wonder why porn and BDSM are inextricably associated. Do they really go hand in hand at all times in all situations? Is it possible to envision a world where they don't go hand in hand at all times in all situations?

"I'm not talking about what two people do in their bedroom," anti-porn people often say, when I mention that it seems to run counter to feminist thought to say that I and my partner should not express myself sexually the way I and my partner like to express ourselves. Is it okay to do it, but not okay to talk about it, write about it, take pictures of it, share experiences with others?

Do you think that if the BDSM community as a whole worked to end the international female sex slave trade (however that may be accomplished), radical feminism would still be anti-BDSM (if indeed radical feminism is anti-BDSM)?

Friday, May 19, 2006

In praise of invisibility


Once again I'm inspired by the always insightful and thought-provoking Biting Beaver and her remarks on "fuckability".

I was pretty for about five minutes in the late 90s. At 5 feet tall, 100 rock-solid pounds, long curly reddish hair, good skin - I was "cursed with being 'culturally beautiful' ", so to speak.

It didn't last, thank goodness. I got old, paunchy, frizzy, wrinkled - FINALLY. aaaaaaaaaaah. Now I'm totally invisible.

It beats the alternative.

I have to say I did not like the whole "pretty" lifestyle. It was way too much effort, frankly. And the shoes pinched. And for what? I got zero personal satisfaction out of it. It's not like anyone gave me an extra cookie as compensation for the curse of being culturally beautiful (though I hear that happens from time to time).

As for the drooling morons assumedly dumbstruck by my glorious hawttness (such as it was), they didn't bother me so much. At some point the poor witless bastards were told that pretty girls existed to be looked at and drooled on, so that's what they did. But I found that with some persistence and effort on my part, men could learn to look past my glorious hawttness and discover the truly loathsome beast beneath. Picking my nose was remarkably effective in forcing men to avert their eyes. So was scratching any odd itch, wherever I might find one. Diligently scratching, like it was a job, digging and scraping with total abandon. Belching was quite effective. Of course, if being gross was not an appropriate strategy there were other things I could do. Asking a pointed, preposterous, ridiculous question, phrased in the most overblown and long-winded faux-intellectual style, while making direct eye contact, also worked, as did acting batshit insane. Anything I could do to forcibly rip off the veil of "pretty", I did. Pretty, maybe - but not fuckable. how could a belching, scratching, nose-picking beast be fuckable?

Nah - the male gaze I could handle. the male gaze did not bother me nearly so much as the weird double-edged sword wielded by other women.

"Oh my god you're so thin and pretty I hate you."

Huh. Does this mean you don't want to have lunch with me? Or if I were a corpulent frightwigged hideous toad you'd love me? If my being so-phrased "thin and pretty" makes you hate me, why are you covering your face with a thin slurry of wax and water and torturing your hair to make it look like everyone else's and eating nothing but shredded lettuce so that some other woman can look you straight in the eye and say "Oh my god you're so thin and pretty I hate you"?

These days, as a corpulent frightwigged hideous toad, people hate me for different reasons. "Oh my god your political analysis makes no sense to me I hate you." "Oh my god you're a screaming hypocrite I hate you." "Oh my god you're lazy, ugly and disrespectful I hate you."

Still nobody has lunch with me. But I'm okay with that. At least it makes sense.

So, men have finally left off leering at me, for all the good it might have done them in the past. Women hate me for different reasons, real reasons, so that's definitely progress there.

I was so relieved when I finally ditched the whole "pretty" lifestyle. At my peak of conformity I always felt like a fraud, like I was wearing a cheap and poorly-made woman costume. I felt like a female impersonator, like I was in drag. I hated it, not because men looked at me, but because it didn't feel authentic. I felt like a caricature of femininity. My whole body felt fragile and breakable, my hands were totally useless with the long fake nails on, those damn shoes drove me crazy and I wanted to claw my face off just to get rid of all that makeup sludge.

If I have to be invisible just to feel human, I'll take it and not complain.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

from the truly groovy and very venerable feminist reprise (http://www.feminist-reprise.blogspot.com/):

"I was reading a blog the other day that waxed long and lyrical about how the truly radical solution to pornstitution, and to male supremacy, I imagine, is for women, with great kindness and understanding, to help men to understand that they don’t need to degrade women. Now, I’m all for the deconstruction and rejection of masculinity, and any man who believes himself a feminist ought to be working all out on that project. But is women treating men with kindness and understanding, to help them understand how they oppress us, the truly radical solution? Erm, that kind of sounds like the last 5000 years to me, where they rape us, beat us, kill us, lock us up, force us to have sex, force us not to have sex, force us to have children, force us to abort, take away our children, take away our ability to have children, force us to work, force us not to work, take away our money, and we say, “Stop, you’re hurting me!” and they do it all some more. Opining that male supremacy is based on a misunderstanding is hardly a radical departure from the status quo; it is a way of proving how groovy you are while not pissing anybody off."

I guess that's one for the "dumbest idea in the history of ideas" camp. You're absolutely entitled and make a good case. (you may be interested to know that my husband agrees with you wholeheartedly. he said the posting was weak-kneed and spent waaaaaaaay too many words to say "can't we all just get along?")

I assure you if I was trying to prove how groovy I am without pissing people off, I failed spectacularly. I'm not groovy by any means (I'm sure you'll agree) and I did manage to piss off several.

In the last 5,000 years women have been frequently told to experience men as superior and occasionally told to experience men as inferior (for example, consider the idea popular in the mid 19th century that women were more "morally pure" than men), but I maintain that only rarely have we been encouraged to see men as co-human, neither better nor worse nor more worthy of exhaltation nor more worthy of contempt.

yes, I think that AT THE ROOT of misogyny is a big misunderstanding. I can't get more radical than that. I thought about it and thought about it and questioned what I thought I knew and examined what I was being told by men and women alike on all points in the sociopolitical circle. And that's what I came up with.

There are a few more comments on the f/f rape thing, if anyone's interested.

the one comment from Stating the Obvious did touch a nerve, I admit.

no, I'm not precisely "over" it. it's still a sore spot, obviously. but Millie M. did not make me kinky. I was kinky before I even met her. To assume that because I had this experience I am somehow permanently damaged and doomed to eternally replay an endless loop of abuse, or otherwise never be "over it", is incorrect in my opinion.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Way more personal than political

I posted this on my LJ as well, so if you ran across it there for whatever reason, I apologize for my repetitive redundancy (haha). My main motivation is to get as much input on the idea as is humanly possible, from as many sources as possible, in order to make the best possible choice.

A friend of ours, let's call him Darkwing (everyone else does), is knee-deep in a two-year Criminal Justice program at a local community college, which apparently funnels directly into any pre-law program in the whole entire state of Connecticut -which is nothing to brag about, until you remember that Yale is in Connecticut...Anyway, we were talking last night about his experiences at school, and it occurred to me...law school? me? shit, if he can do it...

As is my wont, I immediately came up with a hundred reasons why I can't do it/shouldn't do it/would fail catastrophically. here are a few key reasons why even thinking about law school is stupid and doomed to failure -

1) It has not been a childhood dream of mine, even for a second, to be a lawyer. In fact, I've never for a minute bought into the whole lawyer mystique. It's not all "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury" and fast cars and nice shoes. it's phone calls and paperwork and photocopies and waiting and waiting and waiting...there's nothing glamorous or "LA Law" about it. It's not like being a lawyer would immediately catapult me into a life of lushly appointed tuscan villas and such. and even if it did, so the fuck what? I'm not motivated by money and glamour. it's all an illusion anyway.

2) As much as I'm not motivated by money and glamour, neither am I motivated by any sort of missionary zeal or altruistic energy or passion for justice or any desire at all to Do the Right Thing or champion the civil rights of The People or even to wave the flag in favor of Mom and Apple Pie. I'm not really crazy about the idea of public office or child advocacy or anything - not that there's anything wrong with such motives; there's a lot right with such motives and I wish I had some of those motives. but I don't. there are plenty of folks out there who are smarter than me who have way more energy to fight the good fight than I have.

3) I'm old. and broke. did I mention old?

4) My main motivation may simply be to settle an old score with my parents. That can't be a good thing.

On the other hand, the idea is not dead yet. a few key points keep it on idea-life-support:

1) revenge is a powerful motivator. what better way to tell my parents to take a flying fuck at a rolling O than to say "haHA! I have a law degree! Underachieve THIS!"

2) though I might not ever rake in the big bucks, my family (such as it is) will never starve. surely with a law degree I can get a job that isn't predicated solely upon my ability to chirp cheerfully into the telephone for eight hours. I mean, nobody can say "no" to a law degree, right?

3) it's a lot of school. and I love school. I really need validation from an outside source to feel worthwhile and intelligent. I need constant reassurance that I'm a big fat smartypants or life is just not worth living for me. (sad but true.) so the process of law school itself is as intriguing to me as the result.

4) did I mention my gloriously lurid revenge fantasies? "no, parents, I can't come to your house for dinner, I am far too busy LAWYERING with my LAW DEGREE...oh, did I miss your funeral because I was out LAWYERING? what a shame..."

so - please add arguments pro or con so I can figure this out. I fear that this idea will just add itself to the heap of half-assed ideas gathering dust in my head - maybe confronting it and exposing it to ruthless public opinion will help it die a relatively painless death so I can stop obsessing and move on.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

and here I thought it was caused by cooties...

Fetch me my axe: Speculation on (another) possible root cause of misogyny:

Quoth Belledame:

But there's a particular twist to the man's expectation in this patriarchally normative set-up, in that the *other* dictates he's received are: You don't have emotional needs. You don't turn to other men for tenderness, and women (except, *maybe*, for That Special Someone, assuming you ever find her), are there primarily for service/combat. So essentially, you're putting an awful lot of expectations on one woman; and very likely you don't even know that you *have* those expectations. They get reified into concrete "shoulds" like "laugh at my jokes" and "have sex __ number of times per __" and so forth. (And of course it could also be that woman in this equation is going off her own reified expectations of what "caring" looks like from a "traditional," sexist perspective...which may include such things as buying presents and spending money, yes. Bottom line: no one's able to ask for what they actually need. cue bitterness all around). (emphasis mine)

go read what she wrote - she's smarter than me.

but this dovetails perfectly with a conversation I had last night with Our Friend. Friend brought to my attention the collected oeuvre of one David DeAngelo of "doubleyourdating.com". Apparently Mr. DeAngelo markets his surefire dating strategies (based on something he calls "C&F", or "Cocky and Funny" flirtation and teasing) to intelligent but assumedly nebbishy men who are unsuccessful at tagging those elusive hot chix everyone is assumed to desire. He espouses a sort of cheerful, feckless aloofness, all entirely based on an inauthentic caricature of masculinity, in order to attract (not to keep, just to attract) an inauthentic caricature of femininity. but, as Belledame so keenly observes, nobody asks for what they really need.

It's safe to assume that one of the hallmarks of intelligence is being able to see through the veils of obfuscation surrounding an idea and get at its true nature. So an intelligent man, in the world of dating, would be able to penetrate the inauthentic caricatures and get to asking for what he really needs - but it seems that in so doing, he's opening himself up for evisceration by women and men alike.

If I were a man, I'd be pissed too.

Thus spake Mr. DeAngelo: "I saw guys tease beautiful women and make jokesabout them to their faces... and then watchedthose women become "little girls" in response...unable to maintain their composure and thereforeunable to maintain their manipulative power..."
this makes me wonder about a few things:
why would an intelligent man want a little girl? Why would a fellow want to date someone who was so devilishly manipulative in the first place?
More from Mr. DeAngelo: "if you start talking to awoman and you say, "OK, so tell me something...Why is it that all women say that they want sweet,nice guys... but they all date sexy, selfish, badboys?" (and then make fun of any answer she gives)Now you're having an EMOTIONAL conversation."
don't women see through this kind of garbage? and why do the het or het-interested women among us put up with it? why not insist upon authenticity, and pay for our own dinner, rather than tolerate the endless dating "strategies" and countermanipulation?

I don't think that Mr. DeAngelo is precisely a misogynist - I don't think he's thought it through all the way to woman-hating. I think he's stuck on woman-using, in the way that Belledame points out - for service/combat.

but to ask everyone's favorite question - who benefits from this sort of celebration-of-the-fake? What would happen if we all at once said "I'm lonely. I'm human. I need some love to protect me from the existential angst that preys on my soul every minute. " Would the patriarchy come tumbling down without the artificial scaffolding of "romance"? (and Belledame - would that kill eros?)

Friday, May 12, 2006

I am not at all what you'd call knowledgeable about the interweb, but I know a steaming pile of shit when I see it. It seems that AOL is experimenting with a concept known as "Certified Email", in which an individual or a corporation could pay a teensy bit extra per email to make sure it gets delivered...cuz god knows where it might end up - maybe someone's spam folder, maybe...well who knows? This "email tax" would create a two-tiered Internet in which affluent mass emailers could pay AOL a fee for every email sent, happily bypassing spam filters as long as the emailer paid the fee. No fee? well, AOL would not be responsible for where your sorry-ass low-rent love note or exquisite poor-man's fisking or pictures of your grandkids might end up. do you think that you should have to pay extra to convince AOL it's worth it to send your mail LIKE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO, so that you can make sure your shit doesn't get "lost" while the spam gets delivered? then don't go here: http://www2.dearaol.com/letter

don't have AOL? me neither, but if AOL gets to do this, it's reasonable to assume that Yahoo and others will follow. greedy corporate fucks. stop it now before it starts.

and another thing - I'm not about to tell y'all what to think, but if you're into blogging you might want to take a look at this issue of "net neutrality" and why it's important to keep it: http://www.savetheinternet.com/
check out what AT&T and Bellsouth think you're stupid enough to assume is a grassroots independent website created by concerned private citizens:


Capitalist, pleeeze!

So I thought about it a little last night, inspired by http://bitingbeaver.blogspot.com/ and her most recent post on pornography and healthy male sexuality, and I started to wonder if simply being anti-porn was enough. Because if it's enough to bring about the profound social change necessary for a better world, I should probably consider revising my opinion about it.

It's not hard to do, right - just don't buy or use, or associate with anyone who buys or uses, any photographs, printed matter, motion picture, illustrated hypertext, or any other so-termed creative work product, or idea derived from such work product, depicting women in an exploitive, humiliating, degrading manner - i.e., pornography.

Piece of cake. So easy to do, and with the promise of instant sure-fire liberation and happiness for all humanity, how could I resist?

It's hard to remain pro-porn when I consider that some people are hurt by it. I don't want to hurt people. what am I, some kind of monster? I don't want people to suffer.

But I am not sure that being opposed to any and all naked pictures in any and all contexts really gets to the root of the problem. And being all radical and stuff (haha) I like to get to the root of problems.

First, there is an incredible diversity of material that may fall under the rubric of "porn." I guess the reasoning goes that if it looks humiliating and degrading, it is humiliating and degrading. And even if it doesn't look humiliating and degrading, it's humiliating and degrading because visual media is by its very nature deceptive. All sorts of tricks can be used to make the horrendously awful appear delightfully enjoyable. However, would that not also mean that similar tricks can be used to make the delightful appear awful? I watch enough Law & Order - I know that television can make an otherwise-living actor appear absolutely and convincingly dead, and that the convincing illusion of murder does not mean that murder took place.

So although I can accept that some pornography hurts some women, I cannot say that all pornography hurts all women all the time in equal measure. (I sometimes wonder if some porn is like professional wrestling, in that it gives a more-or-less convincing illusion of a sex/power dynamic that does not necessarily exist between the parties making it. To borrow from Andrea Dworkin, it's real, but not true.)

And I started to wonder further - where did this idea come from that women are humiliate-able? degrade-able? where does that kind of porn come from? what mindset creates it? is it hatred of women, pure and simple, the reason lost to the mists of history? Judeo-Christian concepts of sin and shame? is it just the Patriarchy's way of keeping Womankind in its place?

Or does it come from men who are just fearful and desperate to prove their worth in the world of men? If a man's power and worth were measured in something other than penis size, wallet size, harem size, muscle size - would there be this seemingly-overwhelming drive to prove one's worth to other men by amassing ever more evidence in the form of sexual conquests and the documented evidence of those conquests?

I think that the scariest and most gut-chilling pornography comes from men who feel frightened and (yes) oppressed. Porn can say to the man who feels small and inferior, "find a woman and perform this act and you will feel better and you will gain respect in the world of men." maybe it's not the humiliating of the woman herself that is really the key act, but the humiliating of other men by proving one's own superior strength and dominance and ability.

consider that a schoolyard bully is a lot more effective in his/her bullying behavior when there is an audience to his or her act of humiliation - and it doesn't really matter who the victim is, as long as it's someone easy to pick on.

So finally I came to the conclusion that hating on dirty pictures, or the makers of the dirty pictures, or the lookers at or tolerators of dirty pictures, is not truly the radical solution. eliminate all the dirty pictures in the world and you will STILL have men judged by other men, men looking for validation from other men, men looking for proof of their worth in relation to other men. Eliminating all the dirty pictures in the world will not stop one single woman from being humiliated to make a man look more like a man.

I think the radical solution is to work towards releasing men from the tyrrany of their own delusion, that things like penis size and wallet size and muscle size and harem size really matter. I think the radical solution is to gently - GENTLY - and with unfailing lovingkindness towards our fellow human beings, wear away at the idea that men should dominate and control and humiliate other men to prove their worth to the world.

If you want to eliminate humiliation from the world, eliminate humiliation from your world. Maybe the best thing to do is just demonstrate behavior that does not engage in punking others, over anything, at any time. even dirty pictures. Maybe we should say to men "You have worth and merit as a human being just the way you are. You do not need to constantly prove your superiority over anything. You don't need money or a big dick or a big car or thousands of hot chicks to be useful and necessary in the world. You are not a walking pile of wrong - you're okay. you're human. you belong here." But I think women should say that, gently and consistently and incessantly, and mean it.

I'm pretty sure that the zero-tolerance policy on anything that could possibly be construed as pornography, or a near occasion of pornography, will not really do anything helpful over the long term except engender endless hairsplitting over what counts as porn.

In the end, we might still have depictions of people engaging in sexual behavior in any number of ways. But they might lack that humiliation aspect that many people feel is so damaging because the root cause of humiliation has been addressed.

The solution, as paraphrased from The Last Temptation of Christ, may not be the axe, but love.

Of course, that would mean taking on men's issues as our own.

That's either the dumbest idea in the history of ideas, or I'm really on to something...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

number nine, number nine, number nine...

all this noise about revolution (the act of going around in circles?) that can be found here -Fetch me my axe: The Revolution Will Not Be Satirized - and plenty other places 'round the radfemblogosphere reminds me of nothing so much as the episode of South Park with the underpants gnomes; remember, the one where Tweak's underpants keep getting swiped by the underpants gnomes and finally the boys follow the underpants gnomes and ask them why they're stealing underpants and the gnomes say:

step one: collect underpants.
step two: we don't know.
step three: PROFIT!

Count me among those who say that before I jump on board the revolution train, I really need a step two, a clear vision, some kind of plan or map or SOMETHING.

I realize now that I have said this that I should probably work hard to participate in the development of this step two, whatever it may be. but I'm not sure I'd be real helpful to the revolution at this particular moment, at six minutes to one in the AM and fading fast. right this minute I'd probably shoot my mouth off even more embarrasingly than normal and do more harm than good.

but have at it, if you feel the need.

let's come up with something better than "step two - we don't know."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

St. Anger

So Burrow has an interesting post at her blog, a most moving tribute:

Angry for a Reason: Dear Andrea,

Although I should make clear it's probably nothing personal and she didn't call me out by name, I believe it's nonetheless safe to assume that as a kinky woman, I am one of those whom she thinks is "actively championing those who hate us", and therefore one of those whom she feels guilty about hating.

Burrow - just go ahead and hate me, and all the rest of the women in the world like me. The world will not come to an end. I won't curl up and die just because you may wish I would. Seriously, it's all right. Just get it out and stop wasting everyone's time feeling guilty. St. Andrea wouldn't want you to feel guilty, would she?

I wonder if expressing guilt over strong negative feelings is supposed to serve as a softening of the strong negativity. See now, I think St. Germaine would object to that sort of feminine (in the pejorative sense) behavior, that head-angling, sweet-shark-smiling, voice-rising "ok?" implied after every sentence, even those that go "I hate what you do/how you feel/what you think/how you look/what you want."

when saints cancel themselves out, what are we mere mortals to do? (and totally off the point - who would win in a Germaine-vs-Andrea no-holds-barred cage match?)

Do what you gotta do. Hate what you gotta hate. just be honest about it and don't think you're doing me any favors by crucifying yourself over it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

from http://aradfem.blogspot.com/

" lost clown has broken the ultimate taboo and named her abusers.

in doing so she is taking back her power. she is clearing a path for us all to do the same. how many of us dont tell, ever? how many of us keep these men's secrets? how many of still feel dirty and shamed and silenced by the violence they committed against us?naming the abusers gives us power back. we put the blame and the shame and the guilt back in their hands, where it damn well belongs.i love lost clown for doing this, it is an amazing step forward. i hope i can follow her."

well, here - I'll get in line too. I will name my abusers, at least one of them. I'm not sure how much of my power I'll get back, or how much I even had in the first place. but let's see what happens.

My first sexual experience was a lot like life in the middle ages - nasty, brutish and short (well, not that short). It was also painful, violent and nonconsensual. I was seventeen.

I and my abuser were counselors at a summer camp in 1986. God I can't believe it was twenty years ago already. My abuser was a well-known bully around the camp, shunned by the "cool" counselors and not especially well liked by the campers. Although I found this person intimidating in general, I really had nothing to base my fear upon but reputation. I had nothing against anyone at camp. For me, camp was a paradise, a place where I felt safe and valued and useful, a place entirely unlike home.

It was late in the evening and I and my abuser were "on taps", as we called it, watching the unit as the campers slept. My abuser was not from my unit, but had switched with another counselor to give her the night off.

"Rub my back," my abuser said. I complied. It was just a back rub, after all. That was allowed. We all did back rubs.

I'm not sure how I wound up on my back, staring at the canvas tent roof, with teeth biting and mouth sucking and hips grinding and fingers poking. I said "hey, stop!" but this was before any of us had ever even heard of the Antioch Rules. I protested. I winced. I squirmed. "Not so loud!" said my abuser. "You want to wake up the whole unit? And anyway, if you say anything I'll tell the camp director you're gay. Now do me," she said.

That was not a typo.

Camp? a Girl Scout camp in Massachusetts. My abuser? A young woman named Millie M.

After she had finished with me she bounced over to the next cot and said "I'm not a lesbian. I have a lot of boyfriends at home. There's this one guy, who's a senior, and he took me to his prom but I don't let him touch me - but this other guy, my best friend's cousin, he...," chirping on into the night like a sadistic cricket.

Finally our unit leader returned and relieved us of our night watch duty. Giggling conspiratorially, Millie went back to her own unit. I was left to my own perplexed devices.

Was it a rape, I wondered as I made my way to the bath house for the usual sit-under-the-shower-until-the-water-goes-cold-but-the-shame-just-won't-scrub-off post-sexual-assault ritual. I mean, everyone already knows I'm queer, I thought. Why would the threat of telling the camp director make me do something so stupid as to put up with her bullshit? And anyway, I'm supposed to want sex with women...Rubyfruit Jungle did not cover this at all, I mused, running a finger over the bruises and bitemarks. Rita Mae, you let me down, I thought bitterly.

So there you have it. but what was "it", exactly? Did she somehow pick up on signals of desire I didn't even know I was broadcasting? Was it even rape, considering the absence of penis? Was it not sex but power? Just what the hell happened that night in the tent?

I googled her name before I posted this, and discovered that Millie M. went on to do great things. She's a Very Important Sister of Color and president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and recipient of many awards from Girl Scouts and other organizations.

I went on to drift away out of my own life, to let others make my decisions for me, to wind up again and again in situations where people did not particularly care about my opinion.

I'd ask her for an apology but I doubt she'd even remember me.

I hesitate to call myself a "victim" of sexual assault, because that would imply that the bruises and bitemarks never healed, and damaged me irreparably. Such is obviously not the case. I feel like identifying as "victim" insults people who really are victims of savage and crippling brutality. but then I hesitate to call myself a "survivor", but jeez - sexual assault feels so commonplace these days, you might just as well call yourself an allergy "survivor" or a sprained ankle "survivor".

and yet I get a little hot under the collar when the blogosphere discussion turns to rape, and rape statistics, and people say "well, women could rape, I guess, but statistically they don't and men who rape are the real problem and why do we have to even discuss f/f rape anyway? what are you, some kind of MRA?"

because it happened to me, this statistical hiccup people say never happens.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I take mine grey, with creamium

hey, how about a little white liberal guilt with your morning coffee?

Assuming you have a nine year old son (or thereabouts), what did Junior do this morning? have some breakfast (assuming there's enough food for breakfast at your house), collect his homework (assuming he goes to an offsite educational facility), tease his sister/brother, that sort of thing...what did you ask him this morning over his orange juice and froot loops (assuming you are fortunate enough to serve breakfast at your house)? "Did you change your underwear? Did you finish your math? will you stop pulling your sister's hair? Did you remember your shin guards? "

I think it's safe to assume (if nothing else is safe to assume) that if you live in the US, you probably did not ask your dear little boy "do you have enough ammunition for your AK-47?"

Nine-year-olds with machine guns. http://hotzone.yahoo.com/b/hotzone/blogs1093;_ylt=Aq2z_Xc9AVdesHD9OZZturG7u8wF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjM3FjYjBzBHNlYwNibG9nLXN1bQ--

Think for a moment. I'm sure you've seen this story before. I know I have. but take a second and really think about it. Child soldiers.

One shudders to think, and should.

My pestilential exhusband, for all his faults (and they are extensive), said a few interesting and educational things over the seven years we were together. One of the things he said was "the heaviest knapsack is the one on your own back."

Although I would be justified in discrediting every thing he ever said or did based simply on the fact that he hit me, and is a depraved monster incapable of practical empathy, self-control or even basic human kindness, I have to admit this is a pretty pithy little statement.

However, I would argue that no matter how heavy our own knapsacks are, brimming over as they are with all this egregious oppression and persecution and patriarchy and porn and blah blah blah, we here in the US (and in Europe, I guess) have NO IDEA what real oppression is, compared to children used as weaponized human flesh.

they win. child soldiers are more oppressed than us. They're more oppressed than me, than you, than just about everyone I know and everyone you know, unless you know some child soldiers yourself. They're not really children. they're not even adults. they occupy some no-man's land of depravity and ignorance of human dignity, and it's not their fault.

What causes this? Pornography? I venture to guess that these boys have witnessed and experienced and maybe even perpetrated rape in ways too painful and soul-searing for our virgin minds to even imagine, but I'd be surprised if any one of them have ever encountered a Playboy magazine or Vivid Video. I'd be surprised if any one of them would blame a nekkid picture, or lookers at nekkid pictures, for their plight.

What causes this? The Patriarchy? Colonialism? Rampant capitalism? Or just a handful of men out for revenge against other men (for any reason, or no reason, in service to the Patriarchy or maybe just on account of because), who look to the cheapest and easiest source of cannon fodder to get over on their enemies?

just something I was ruminating on. share and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

(no apologies to the Black Eyed Peas)

my hunch, my hunch, my lovely lady...um... lunch (?)

ok - remember when I said this (all of three or four days ago):

"See, I just don't get the sense that this world, this culture, this neverending Waterloo of gender was really what they had in mind, the Florynce Kennedys and Shulamith Firestones and Ti-grace Atkinsons and Roxanne Dunbars of the world."

Imagine my delighted surprise when I read this at the great and way brainy BitchLab :


Says Carol Hanisch: "I wish we could have anticipated all the ways that “The Personal Is Political” and “The Pro- Woman Line” would be revised and misused. Like most of the theory created by the Pro-Woman Line radical feminists, these ideas have been revised or ripped off or even stood on their head and used against their original, radical intent. While it’s necessary that theories take their knocks in the real world, like everything else, many of us have learned that once they leave our hands, they need to be defended against revisionism and misuse."

So, what we have today is not exactly what the radical feminist thinkers of the 60s (the giants on whose shoulders we all stand) had in mind?

holy shit, y'all - I think I just heard someone put on their hockey skates in hell - I'm right about something.

not that I think I myself have the "correct" interpretation - far from it. I'm sure plenty of evidence can be presented that my own personal head is wedged irretrievably up my own personal ass. no argument there. it's just comforting to know that my hunch, that the world of radical feminism occasionally tips dangerously off its original axis, is a hunch shared not only by someone else, but by someone else who was really there.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A note on pedigree -

It occurs to me that some in the radfemblogosphere may think that I'm a newcomer to radical feminist theory, and unclear on many key concepts. Though I would not be surprised to discover I'm unclear on many key concepts (of radical feminism among other things), I must disabuse the internets of the notion that I have only recently fallen off the turnip truck of sisterhood.

I have never taken a women's studies class, nor did I develop a feminist sensibility as a result of particular ill-use at the hands of a man. No, I became a radical feminist for love.

I was about 24 when I met L. That would have been about 14 years ago, somewhere around 1992. I was already married and divorced. She was...well - she just blew my mind with the brilliant flame of her intellect, her wide-ranging knowledge, and her inexhaustible passion for women's rights. L. was younger than I, considerably better educated, far more enlightened and progressive than I was at the time (or even now) - I'm not ashamed to say I worshipped her.

Fortunately for me, she dug being worshipped, and we soon fell stupidly, recklessly, wildly in love, but if I wanted to hang with her, I had to do a lot of homework. so I did. every book she recommended, I devoured. every issue she presented, I dug into. Amazon Odyssey, SIP, tons of others - I wish I had taken notes and kept good records on what I read, now mostly lost to the mists of my failing memory. But the important thing is this: I really wanted to make her proud so that she would love me and respect me with the same devotion and ardor I had for her.

L. was part of the group that helped author the Antioch Rules, and during her time at that college she conceived and coalesced a group known as "BARF" - Bisexual and Radical Feminist. * As part of her life, I was part of that group. We did our chanting, banner-waving, flyer-...um...flying, marching and protesting best for two solid years.

However, things were obviously not perfect. L. had an energetic temper and a rather assertive attitude towards sexuality, and I was bad at setting boundaries. As part of the leather dyke community at that time, we both had run-ins with feminists who identified as anti-porn, who could not respect our contributions because of the way we related to each other sexually. I thought that BARFs actions (though personally satisfying) were wastes of energy not leading to profound social change, and she thought I was an unenlightened moron who lacked committment to the revolution.

Eventually the wheels came off our little lavender wagon and we broke up.

For the record, the breakup was my fault. I shouldn't have done what I did. No, really, I shouldn't have.

I should never have gotten involved with a man who I knew was violent, not to please my parents, not for any reason. But I did, even though it went against everything I had read and learned and fought for in the two years I was with L.

But it was only after I had been with this abusive man for seven years, and emerged from that relationship, that I really truly felt that radical feminist thought was relevant and useful as a pattern for human liberation. Before it was interesting, and certainly liberating on an intellectual level, but for whatever reason I had to lose it all in order to really appreciate it.

so here I am. I am running back to old dusty texts and shaking off old dusty brain cells and getting reacquainted with stuff I had to force myself to forget.

But even back then there were issues upon which the radical feminist world and I disagreed, and those issues persist today. I'm not willing to take the bitter with the sweet here, just for the sake of avoiding conflict. If the emperor has no clothes, someone should (and will, no matter how unpleasant it is and how unpopular it may make her) speak up.

*nowadays, www.barf.org will take you to that group, though it has quite a different aim, its acronym now standing for Biblical America Resistance Front - same brilliant, passionate warrior woman of singleminded devotion, slightly different mission.

Monday, May 01, 2006

My blog, my rules; retroactive:

1) no punking, no pwning, no serving, no taunting, no humiliating. I mean it.

2) no ganging up (as if there ever could be enough commenters where that could be a danger...)

3) no "scare quotes" - just say what you mean.

4) stupid questions are more than welcome - I'm sure I'll have a stupid answer (and/or tell you where to find the real answer).

if you have something to say to me, you can say it here, as long as you're civil. If you want to totally lose your shit at me, that's fine, as long as you're civil. There are plenty of ways to disagree and yet keep the discourse at respectful levels. it's not always easy or pleasant, but it's possible, and indeed necessary if any real learning is to take place.

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