October 1, 2007
Welcome to the sixth carnival of radical feminists, sorry for the lateness. Pull up a chair, bean bag or seat of your choice. I’d like to begin by saying a few words about what radical feminism is to me.
I have always appreciated the description of radical feminism as ‘feminism, unmodified’. It is not beholden to any other social theory, it does not put any other group or any other interests before those of women. It does not have to please, it does not seek to pacify those who are not really on our side (which is a feature I have found in some works of liberal feminism- the eagerness to keep liberal males happy), it recognises the conditions under which women live, and it will sacrifice no woman, or group of women. Radical feminism helps us all place those uneasy feelings we had as women, those aches telling us that there was something wrong with the world, the queasiness we were told was prudery or intolerance, the anger we felt at being whistled at or shouted at, the fear when walking alone. We know these feelings are the truth filtering through, and feminism teaches us that we are not alone in feeling uneasy in the world, that the feelings are real, as real as anything one can touch and that they are a reasonable response to injustice in the world. Radical feminism is the courage to question the received wisdom of the patriarchy, the courage to look at the function of things, of acts, of attitudes, of laws, of words, and to see what they do the vulnerable and powerless. It is in the refusal to accept ‘I didn’t intend that’ as an excuse for cruel words or acts, it is the demand that those who have privilege stop enforcing the silence of others with their good intentions and so-called ‘free speech’.
The posts below are not ordered, or not very much, because I found it difficult to place each post in categories. I hope the way I have presented them is accesible. Happy reading!
Radical feminism takes the disconnect between females and their bodies very seriously as a function of patriarchy, and so Holly Ord at Menstrual Poetry considers the alienation of women from their bodies during menstruation. She notes how this problem is worsened by unhealthy and downright poisonous sanpro products which are produced to make profit, not to make women comfortable. Holly advocates the use of washable Lunapads, which are comfortable and ecofriendly. For those of us in the UK, washable pads can be obtained here, at Moonrabbits, and for women who feel unable to wash out pads or who require tampons, you can get 98% biodegradable sanpro from So Organic.
Feminist Fire reveals the exploitation inherent in certain deals offering cut-price IVF treatment in exchange for women’s eggs.
At the wonderful Feminist Law Professors blog, Ann Bartow discusses liberal blindness to, and involvement in, pornstitution, highlighting in particular Debbie Nathan’s recent irresponsible article on the sex industry, and Melissa Farley’s excellent response to it.
Marcella at Abyss2Hope discusses the disparity between governmental reactions to non-sexual coercion and sexual coercion, noting that the same strategies employed by date rapists are used by those financially exploiting the elderly. She points out the inhumanity inherent in the attitude towards rape survivors, by those who see them as somehow deserving their torture. I once wrote about Perpetrator Mentality, which seems particularly relevant here, as it defines the attitude of those who believe in ‘victim mentality’, and who are convinced that some people are deserving of cruelty at the hands of others. Marcella also writes brilliantly about the misunderstanding of gender in sexual violence. Responding to a banal comment left on her site proclaiming that women take part in sexual violence too, she points out that the vast majority of sexual violence is committed by men against women and children, and that to pretend that women are equally involved works to obscure the overwelming epidemic in male violence. This reminds me of the phrase ‘Domestic Violence’, which works similarly to mask the fact that by far the most violence in relationships is committed by men against their female partners. Marcella is particularly poignant here:
When it comes to injustice within the criminal justice system, that too is gendered. Imagine if there were 1 book detailing each rape case which made the news and in which a female rape victim didn’t get the justice she deserved after months, or more than a year, of turmoil or where she is called the real criminal. There wouldn’t be enough bookshelves to hold them all.
Violet Socks, the Reclusive Leftist, notes that in the case of a video of a husband verbally and physically abusing his wife, if only the woman had been naked while he was beating her it would have made a cracking good porn film. She expresses her shock at the violence in modern pornography, and records Sam Berg’s comment that the language and brutality used in this video are the same as that used in pornography. Violet asks the desperate question:
How can people look at videos of women being abused and insulted and humiliated and not see something wrong? When did this become acceptable? When did this become “sexy”? Did the water change from cold to hot so slowly that you just couldn’t see what was happening?
Do you still not see what’s happening?
On the subject of (possible) pornstitution reform in the UK, Witchy Woo and Julie Bindel discuss the Swedish model of criminalising the purchase of sex, while decriminalising the sale of sex, which has been implented with much success in Sweden. Such a policy punishes the johns for their actions and gives out the message that it is not acceptable to purchase human flesh, while protecting prostitutes and providing them with services to help them escape.
Tracee Sioux draws our attention to an APA report documenting the devastating effects of sexualisation on young girls, and noting that our daughters are being inundated with images and innuendos in all facets of culture that sexualize them. She presents us with a helpful definition of what sexualisation is, and what it means for the underage victims of it. David Cohen, of Feminist Law Professors, discusses the use of the term ‘woman president’, pointing out that it is based on the assumption that ‘president’ means ‘man’. On the same blog, Bridget Crawford discusses the other side of the coin, the use of feminising nouns as insults in the workplace; where ‘man’ is default, ‘woman’ is an insult. Aletha of the Freesoil Party Blog talks honestly about the effects of the recent internet attacks on radical feminists, and describes the ‘raep’ attacks thus:
I call these attacks terrorizing, intimidation, low blows, unfair competition, dishonorable bullying, misappropriation of public resources for malicious purposes. This Anonymous group of hoodlums claiming responsibility says it is all done for laughs, pleading apolitical humor. A sense of humor entertained by silencing and terrorizing women is all about politics as usual. They piled onto the attacks on women bloggers by male rights activists who have been hounding women bloggers for years.
From her elegant Ivory Tower Block, bookblob draws our attention to the incredible number of misogynistic comments left on the Guardian’s Comment is Free- a supposedly progressive space. She notes the advantages men have in pointing out sexism to other men:
the good thing about being a man and standing up for women’s rights is that none of the following is likely to happen to you:
*being called a bitch or a cunt
*being told that you deserve to be raped
*being humiliated in front of rooms of people
*being physically threatened or attacked
*having any form of help refused to you, down to being offered a cup of tea, because feminists “don’t need men”
*knowing that you will have to back down and then play nice for ages after.
Maggie from Maoist Orange Cake writes beautifully of her mother’s life, and her own as a ‘third generation lesbian’. This is a stunning piece, an absolute must-read. In two other great posts, Maggie discusses Epigenetics and Cultural Reinvention, and the Illusion of Home as a Sanctuary for Children. I would also like to add that ‘Maoist Orange Cake’ is possibly the best name for a blog ever. Just my twopence.
Everyone who hasn’t already, should go to the lair of the dinosaur who ‘understands the importance of laughing [one’s] oppressor in the face’, Phemisaurus Terribilis. There’s not a an antifeminist in existence who can survive one of her maulings.