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Prostitution, Rape and Sexual Assault

Afghan Warlords and Male Sexual Slavery: Boys Dressed as Girls as Boy Play

The following article, which came via a list I’m on from RAWA, is horrific in that it is a description of the prostituting, sexual slavery, and sexual trafficking of Afghan boys by rich and powerful male warlords.  As is true of most prostituted persons, the boys are vulnerable because they are desperately poor and fresh out of options for survival.  They deserve to be recognized as trafficked persons, victims of rape, they should be freed and their kidnappers, captors and rapists should have to pay for what they have done.  This is what is most important about this story.

There are other elements of the story, though, which are worth considering.

What the warlords and their victims say about themselves offers us interesting insights into the objectification of all women under male heterosupremacy.  The boys compete for the attentions of the warlords decked out as dancing girls, are then purchased as slaves,  dressed as girls, raped and forced into servitude. 

Why don’t these men just buy the boys and rape them as boys?  Whether it is boys or girls who are being enslaved and raped by the warlords, the warlords are violating both civil and religious law in Afghanistan.  Why do they demand that the boys be dressed as girls?  As you read what they say of what they’ve done, it seems pretty clear that the thrill of this crime derives in large part from the acts of subjugation and subordination which characterize it– everything from making “girls” out of boys, raping and otherwise using them in ways that are servile and dehumanizing to parading them around town as status symbols, like Rolex watches or expensive cars.

Are these boys, forced to dress, dance, live as girls, still boys and men?  Or are they girls and women?  Why?  Who decides?  Are they transgender?  Transvestites?  They, themselves, say that they are boys and men, as do the men who own and use them.   What makes these boys “boys” and boys in other cultures who are treated similarly transvestites or transgender or girls or women?  When these boys are viewed as transvestites or transgender or women, how does that change our perceptions of their enslavement, victimization and rape, if it does? 

What do we make of prostituted boys insisting that they are happy and that they are glad for what has happened to them?

They are known as “bacha bereesh,” boys without beards, teenage boys who dress up as girls and dance for male patrons at parties in northern Afghanistan. It’s an age old practice that has led to some of the boy dancers being turned into sex slaves by wealthy and powerful patrons, often former warlords, who dress the boys up as girls, shower them with gifts and keep them as “mistresses.”

Afghan police are battling to crackdown on the practice which has angered Islamic clerics who say those involved should be stoned for sodomy, forbidden under Islamic law. In a society where the sexes are strictly segregated, it is common for men to dance for other men at weddings in Afghanistan. But in northern Afghanistan, former warlords and mujahideen commanders have taken that a step further with competitions for their dancing boys. “Every boy tries to be the first. They are dressed in women’s clothes, have bells on their feet and have artificial breasts,” said Mohammad Yawar, a former mujahideen fighter against the Taliban and resident of the northern town of Pul-e Khumri.

The practice, called “bacha bazi” — literally “boy play” — has a long history in northern Afghanistan, but sometimes it does not stop with just dancing. “I very much enjoy hugging a boy. His smell and fragrance kills me,” said Yawar. The 38-year-old businessman said he recruited a 15-year-old boy three years ago to help him with his work. “I have had him for at least three years, since he was only 15.

He was looking for a job and I gave him somewhere to stay,” said Yawar, showing the boy’s picture. “I don’t have a wife. He is like my wife. I dress him in women’s clothes and have him sleep beside me. I enjoy him and he is my everything,” he said, kissing the photograph.

Having the best-looking boy and the best dancer is a mark of prestige. “Everyone tries to have the best, most handsome and good-looking boy,” said a former mujahideen commander, who declined to be named. “Sometimes we gather and make our boys dance and whoever wins, his boy will be the best boy.”

Former mujahideen commanders hold such parties in and around Pul-e Khumri about once a week. “Having a boy has become a custom for us. Whoever wants to show off, should have a boy,” said Enayatullah, a 42-year-old landowner in Baghlan province. “I was married to a woman 20 years ago, she left me because of my boy,” he said. “I was playing with my boy every night and was away from home, eventually my wife decided to leave me. I am happy with my decision, because I am used to sleeping and entertaining with my young boy.” The men say they lavish money and gifts on their boys.

“I was only 14-years-old when a former Uzbek commander forced me to have sex with him,” said Shir Mohammad in Sar-e Pol province. “Later, I quit my family and became his secretary. I have been with him for 10 years, I am now grown up, but he still loves me and I sleep with him.”

Ahmad Jawad, aged 17, has been with a wealthy landowner for the past two years. “I am used to it. I love my lord. I love to dance and act like a woman and play with my owner,” he said. Owners or “kaatah” meet at bacha baazi parties in large halls where the boys dance late into the night, before being sexually abused. Bacha baazi also serve as marketplaces, with good-looking boys being traded for money.   Asked what he would do when he got older, he said: “Once I grow up, I will be an owner and I will have my own boys.”

But Shir Mohammad, at 24, was already getting too old to be a dancing boy. “I am grown up now and do not have the beauty of former years. So, I proposed to marry my lord’s daughter and he has agreed to it.”

Many local residents have called for a crackdown, but are skeptical it will work as many of the men are powerful and well-armed former commanders. Jahan Shah, who lives in Pul-e Khumri, said government and security officials should take tough action against unIslamic and immoral acts. “If they don’t stop this, it will become a custom and hundreds of other boys will be involved in it,” he said.

Police and security officials in northern Afghanistan say they have been doing their best to arrest the men involved. “It is sad to state that this practice that includes making boys dance, sexual abuse and sometimes even selling boys, has been going on for years,” said General Asadollah Amarkhil, the security chief of Kunduz province. “We have taken steps to stop it to the extent that we are able,” he said.

Amarkhil said poverty, widespread in Afghanistan after nearly three decades of war, forced teenage boys into compliance. “We have taken very strict measures to save the lives of the boys and punish the men,” he said. “We are monitoring to find out where these men and boys gather, then go there and arrest them.”

Those found guilty of abuse would be jailed for at least 15 years, said Baghlan chief prosecutor Hafizullah Khaliqyar. “We have 25 cases of such immoral acts. They are being processed and we are trying our utmost to tackle the problem,” he said.

Islamic scholars recommended harsher punishment. “Those who do this are the devil,” said Mawlawi Mohammad Sadiq Sadiqyar, a scholar and prayer leader in the main northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. “Under Islamic law, those who practice this should be stoned to death.”

But some of the men say they are not interested in women. “We know it is immoral and unIslamic, but how can we quit? We do not like women, we just want boys,” said Chaman Gul, aged 35 of Takhar province.

Heart

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Discussion

122 thoughts on “Afghan Warlords and Male Sexual Slavery: Boys Dressed as Girls as Boy Play

  1. What do we make of prostituted boys insisting that they are happy and that they are glad for what has happened to them?

    That they are/were abused children who have been groomed to like the abuse. On a purely physical sense, they may have a much more comfortable (less poverty-stricken) life than they would otherwise, enough to eat, a sure place to sleep and so on. It’s still abuse.

    It’s horrific, as the abuse of any child is horrific, and I hope the practice is stopped as soon as possible. But I doubt there would be this much outrage if the ones being trafficked were girls.

    Posted by Miranda | November 21, 2007, 9:31 pm
  2. They were, and are, abused children. I don’t think the terms trangender, transexuality, whatever, enter into it.

    They’ve been groomed to enjoy the abuse, and I’m sure that on some levels, their lives are much more comfortable than they would be normally. There’s probably enough food and a comfortable place to sleep. It’s still abuse though.

    While all child abuse is horrific, and I hope this is stopped, I wonder if the boys will be beaten or killed the way female victims of abuse are. I hope not, obviously, but it will be hypocritical if not.

    Posted by Miranda | November 21, 2007, 9:36 pm
  3. Are these boys, forced to dress, dance, live as girls, still boys and men? Or are they girls and women? Why? Who decides? Are they transgender? Transvestites?

    They’re boys. Boys that are expected to act and be treated in the same way as girls are expected to act and be treated by men. Because anything that is done to boys/men, is always tried out on girls/women first.

    Feminization is a tool used by men to subjugate those they wish to lord over and dominate. The fact that the word is most associated with females speaks volumes. The very word gives us the root as to who it was done to first.

    Nevertheless, these unfortunates are still boys. Feminized boys maybe, but still boys.

    Posted by luckynkl | November 21, 2007, 10:25 pm
  4. I’ll have to think about this. There’s something new every day.

    It doesn’t *surprise* me, but I’m trying to get some idea of how it fits into the whole social environment over there.

    Certainly, males in “Christian” contexts have done the same thing. I guess that until now, I was unaware of the extent to which this occurs in the Islamic world.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 22, 2007, 1:51 am
  5. Thanks for your thoughts, women. I know I wasn’t really clear in this post– it was a musing/asking questions kind of a post. I was thinking about this issue of identity, for one thing. The difference between these boys and many transgender MTFs in the U.S. is simply what they say about themselves. What words they use to describe themselves.

    Then, I was thinking about gender as subordination. What they are doing to these boys is gendering them as women, forcing the straitjacket of gender on them: wear this, put this stuff on your face, get these surgeries, do this to your hair, dance, dance, dance like you were created for me, like you do not have an independent thought or emotion, it’s all about you performing for me. And that’s what is done to female persons, as well. We are also subject to this identical gendering, and the goal, as with these boys, is our subordination and subjugation.

    And then I was musing over how accounts like this sound different when what is done is done to female persons, male persons, transgender persons. My gut, experience, knowledge tell me that the group of persons which will receive the absolute least sympathy and concern is female persons. We are trafficked, prostituted, enslaved, raped, battered, tortured, all of the time by all sorts of men, ho hum, no big deal. But if it’s a boy or a transgender person, suddenly that raises the level of concern to a whole new level.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 22, 2007, 4:37 am
  6. A man once told me, that if you were to put sex symbol ideals for men, into order. And the men were being honest, which they usually won’t be. The majority of men would place
    boys between twelve and fourteen, as number one.
    then females between twelve and fourteen as two
    then your handsome young man or women ie Marilyn,or Brad Pitt, depending on individual tastes .

    He went on to say, that young boys were like cakes or biscuits, and they were the ones you really fancied, but a woman was like a good meal, a bit of bother to get round to, but you felt more satisfied afterwards.

    The charming creature went on to say, that the worst looking man, was better looking, than the best looking women.

    The thing that amazes me about it, is that he was married , had one Mistress, regularly visited brothels and confessed to having orgies with his best mates, at club meetings where they would watch porn together, and help each other out, or more. Then come home and tell their wives what a dull evening they had had .
    He was fifty years old at the time, and has passed on now. His wife never knew anything about this. But he swore to me that all his mates did pretty much the same, and I had that confirmed once from another source.
    Strikes me the human male, is a good deal more sexually eclectic, than the Patriarchal myth would like us to know.

    What do you women think,? how much of excepted male sexuality, is a construct designed to keep us in our place.

    I hope this won’t upset anyone, he is dead now if it’s any comfort.

    Posted by helzeph | November 22, 2007, 6:10 am
  7. Helzeph,

    how much of accepted male sexuality, is a construct designed to keep us in our place.

    Exactly.

    We’d like (or some of us would like) to believe that males are attracted to us.

    In fact, they’re attracted to their own and other guys essential maleness, and their own and other males desires for mastery.

    Other radfems have said it before me: the patriarchy is a male homo-erotic and homo-social world, created by men for men.

    Females are only there to breed males. Once they can do that without us, we’re history on this planet.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 22, 2007, 12:40 pm
  8. ***What do you women think,? how much of excepted male sexuality, is a construct designed to keep us in our place.***

    It’s almost *all* a construct designed to keep us in our place. The problematic part is why do they have to keep us in their place? Why not just enjoy their boys and leave us alone to live our own lives?

    Posted by Branjor | November 22, 2007, 1:12 pm
  9. Branjor,

    Why not just enjoy their boys and leave us alone to live our own lives?

    Because they need us to breed the next generation of boys.

    To breed the boys and the next generation of breeders.

    Left to our own devices, we might, heaven forfend, ** ignore them ** – and then where would they be?

    They need to keep us under control.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 22, 2007, 3:03 pm
  10. Heart,

    I know of men (specifically Westerners in SE Asia) who consider themselves straight, but mostly pursue MTFs in SE Asia, claiming that they are “more like real women” than biological women. In other words, biological women just aren’t submissive and sexy for these men.

    I have also heard some MTFs say the same–“I’m more of a woman than you are,” usually said to a woman who isn’t attractive in a patriarchally approved way. It is clear that some MTFs live their lives in greater accordance to the male definition of what “woman” means. They play the role of feminine role better than we do. Maybe that does make them more of a woman than I am. But then I’d have to say that that the goal of feminism in gender liberation, and that I don’t want to be more like a woman or a man, that we, as feminists, are trying to abolish stupid gender rules and roles altogether.

    Hope this is not too off-topic, but your post got me thinking about this.

    Posted by xochitl | November 22, 2007, 3:13 pm
  11. “What do we make of prostituted boys insisting that they are happy and that they are glad for what has happened to them?”

    I don’t understand this either, but this just points out that there is a huge difference between females and males or MTFs in prostitution–or at least in the way that they interpret their experience.

    BTW, statistics show that at least 90% of women in prostitution want out. Do you know what the percentage is for males of MTFs? That would be interesting.

    Posted by xochitl | November 22, 2007, 3:18 pm
  12. Thanks , Mary and Branjor for your thoughts. Yes I think the problematic part, is that they cannot leave us alone, because we would begin to selectively breed them. Picking only those with qualities that are good for the species, and we would do this with a subtlety that only women can.
    This would leave some very upset groups of the not selected. Who might then, make war on the selected males and demand to be cut in.

    I think the thousands of years old tradition, of disguised fatherhood was best. Then all men could feel included via their sisters, at the same time, as women could live free enough, to make the best choices for humanity.

    Posted by helzeph | November 22, 2007, 4:54 pm
  13. Mary and Branjor, thanks for your thoughts. I wrote a comment back, but it seems to have got lost, not sure how I managed that.

    Posted by helzeph | November 22, 2007, 8:42 pm
  14. I found both yours and poor xochitl’s comments in the spam cue. Sorry! Akismet must think it needs to tighten up a bit. But thanks for letting me know. If any of you composes a comment and then it just goes poof and you don’t get the “your comment is awaiting moderation” message, let me know and I’ll go searching in the cue. Heh heh.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 22, 2007, 9:07 pm
  15. ***spam cue***

    You mean the ether?

    Posted by Branjor | November 23, 2007, 2:37 am
  16. All of this is just sexual abuse of children, and it’s epidemic among men worldwide.

    We need to protest all of this. I do agree with above posts on the subtext of homoeroticism in male only spaces, and of course gay men still toute drag queens as acceptable entertainment, when this is just as degrading as whites in blackface.

    Be that as it may, this type of child abuse is probably more of an epidemic in gendered segregated societies like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. We’ll get more information about all of this horror, once we ally more with feminists worldwide.

    This is rampant in Sout East Asia, it was also present in highly developed countries like Japan, dating back to the samurai eras, and it takes place all the time in the American military.

    It’s why all male groups — priesthoods, military, professional sports all have this subtext. It is about the male need to objectify anyone they want to objectify.

    It’s present in the weird desire of MTF transgender females to perpetuate the strangest sex role stereotyping I have ever seen. Again, this is men who have transformed their bodies into females and that is what men think women are. Men have little or no experience with women who have no interest in that world at all. It’s often what I see when I’m in heteronormative social settings — people “performing gender” but oftentimes, I wonder when do people become their authentic selves and at what social cost?

    The more you know, the more this all fits into the partirachal agenda of making humans sex objects of all sorts.

    Maybe those Mullahs can stone those war lords. If they held men accoundable under these awful Islamic laws, maybe I’d have a little more respect for this sort of thing. What you usually hear about is women getting stoned for every transgression males put on them.

    The result is the same: the gross victimization of boys or girls by grown male monsters — like the priest down the street or the seemingly harmless neighbor on a child porn site next door.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 23, 2007, 11:23 pm
  17. Mary Sunshine: “Females are only there to breed males. Once they can do that without us, we’re history on this planet.”

    I’m shocked at you! You’ve been drinking the same kool-aid I have! :)

    But men will always enjoy abusing woman-as-sextoy, and so would keep women around to fulfill that purpose. I do believe that there are definite differences between the sexes, and that men in greater numbers enjoy abusing people far more than women enjoy abusing people. A society of only women would not be utopia by any means, but it would be better than what we have now.

    *Excuse me, I must have had second serving of kool-aid, because while even Dworkin thought men were salvagable, I don’t see the point of keeping them around if sexism is going to be a never-ending battle, and if women have other options.

    Once on Twisty’s board I asked women to pick a date in the distant future when they thought sexism would be over. I asked: when that date arrived and men were still sexist pigs, would they give up on men? Most of them grabbed what I call the “sainthood excuse”. No, they would never give up on men and would apparently forgive any and all transgressions if men would just get with the program.

    Funny how they won’t advocate infinite forgiveness for any other ongoing crime against humanity.

    **And to any SomethingAwfulIdiots, yes I know that some men are fabulous, but when ALL women are harmed by sexism, directing our attention to the fabulousness of some men is merely a distraction tactic.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 24, 2007, 10:28 pm
  18. oops I forgot to close the tag.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 24, 2007, 10:29 pm
  19. “No, they would never give up on men and would apparently forgive any and all transgressions if men would just get with the program.”

    “Funny how they won’t advocate infinite forgiveness for any other ongoing crime against humanity. ”

    m Andrea– you have hit the nail on the head!
    We could all get very discouraged if we think our efforts will change men. They really don’t change and have no incentive to do so, as long as they can con successful generations of women into going along with all of this nonsense out there.

    What I believe is powerful is for women to change. Change in everyway you can. Learn about yourself, grow and become as conscious as you can be.

    Wake up completely and then live passionately this life. Never compromise your ideals, and be direct and honest about what you think. Women have a long way to go in the direct and honest department. Conflict is very fear inducing in women, but we are in this huge conflict with male supremacy.

    I see no real systemic change in the way men actually behave in the world. They mouth platitudes now, which they didn’t do at all when I first became a feminist. But now they are more clever — mouthing equality and then secretly going home and looking at porn websites. Just a tiny example here.

    Their inner life is just as contaminated as it ever was, and this latest outrage in Afghantistan is really the private fantasies of millions of men, fueled by the pornography that creates these ugly inner worlds!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 25, 2007, 8:26 am
  20. Sutsama, I have developed a set of simple, logic proofs which I have used on many feminimist activists, during 20+ hour long conversations. They have not been able to refute them, no one has been able to, not yet. Yes, I am proud of this.

    Here is the first one.

    Sexism is inherent. It will always reside in men.

    1. The desire for sex is inherent, with the degree lying upon a continuum.

    2. The desire for power/control is inherent, with the degree lying upon a continuum.

    The intersection of these two things is sexism – the willingness (which lies upon a continuum) for someone to use whatever tools are available to control the access to sex. If I’m wrong, then will somebody please use logic to refute it, and not the idiotic emotional manipulation tactics that is always the first response.

    People always react the the same, they assume the only appropiate outcome is that women must continue to tolerate sexism, but they never seem to realize that there is another option as well — a world of only women.

    Then they further assume all kinds of violent, autrocious methods to accomplish this. I am sorry, but I am sick to freaking death of people who can’t think two steps outside the box. I am also extremely tired of the mass pile-on that ensues when I say these things in a forum, none of whom are willing to use logic, but only emo bullshi*t tactics.

    It is exhausting for me, trying to respond to these people. I lose my patience and respond sarcasticly, because a snarky quip gets my point across quickly, without wasting hours attempting to craft a reply. Then, they scream I am rude, changing the focus from how unlogical their response was, to my rudeness. They are apparently unaware that they too have a responsibility for what they say.

    But I am spent a considerable amount of time recently learning how to control my temper. I do not think it will go so well for them next time.

    *Keep in mind I have other proofs as well, all coming to the same conclusion.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 25, 2007, 5:53 pm
  21. “No, they would never give up on men and would apparently forgive any and all transgressions if men would just get with the program.”

    “Funny how they won’t advocate infinite forgiveness for any other ongoing crime against humanity. ”

    m Andrea– you have hit the nail on the head!
    We could all get very discouraged if we think our efforts will change men. They really don’t change and have no incentive to do so, as long as they can con successful generations of women into going along with all of this nonsense out there.

    I have ceased my concern for men. Trends change. It has taken men literally, literally, 6000 years to decide that women are human, and that rape jokes are a tool of oppression.

    How long do you suppose it would take modern men to learn that women are nothing but sextoys and babymakers, given minimal encouragement from the media, church, or government? Do you think it would take 6000 years? Why not?

    And yet, feminists have mounted a concentrated campaign from day 1, using every tool at their disposal, but with only slow painful progressive to show for their incredible efforts.

    It is far, far easier to change a man into a monkey, than to change a monkey into a man. Pro-porn feminists don’t like to acknowlege this, they don’t like to think about trends versus inherencies. Of course, our modern tools of psychological brainwashing are more effective than ancient ones, but my point still stands.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 25, 2007, 6:12 pm
  22. I forgot my disclaimer:

    **And to any SomethingAwfulIdiots, yes I know that some men are fabulous, but when ALL women are harmed by sexism, directing our attention to the fabulousness of some men is merely a distraction technique.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 25, 2007, 6:34 pm
  23. Now I feel like a troll, can’t even say Satsuma’s name right, and posting all over the place!

    Posted by m Andrea | November 25, 2007, 6:51 pm
  24. “Sexism is inherent. It will always reside in men.”

    Yes, in my opinion, this is completely and utterly true m Andrea.
    I have never figured out why this idea that men have changed still persists out in feministland. It sticks to women’s minds like superglue attached to a rotting fly.

    They will cling to this hope until the world blows up!

    I have always said that this effort is a complete waste of time. I don’t disparage the passage of laws hindering the sex criminals in the white collar office setting, or the date rape laws or any of these other things that women have fought for.

    That is fine with me. But I want this illusion that sexism isn’t inherent to die a fast death. I want us to end these justifications for “oh boo, but a man I know is good!” Well a dog I know can sing Jingle Bells too! Thought I’d add a little holiday color for the season here… :-)

    “Then, they scream I am rude, changing the focus from how unlogical their response was, to my rudeness.”

    Well welcome to the club m Andrea. What I do is call out women on their reluctance to fight this fight. I hate all the excuses I hear for why women aren’t more powerful. We are extremely powerful. Men are in supreme terror over radical feminism. Even when this delightful little ideology has faded into the sunset of mainstream anything these days, they still quote the radical feminists in great fear.

    Radical feminists scared the living daylights out of a lot of men; men who think they are powerful, men who believe women won’t just up and rebel some day. They live in fear that with the rise of feminism yet again, with refined and clever tactics learned over the past 40 years, that things won’t get worse for this slimy snake of an enemy known as patriarchy. You can’t use logic with an oppressor! You can only walk over their dead bodies ( a metaphor here).

    How I agree with your frustration over the diversionary tactics women use to avoid saying the obvious: men are oppressors, rapists, bores, pornographers, wife beaters, and sex mad idiots (kind of a nice name at the end). But there is always the whine, “Well my boy is different… my husband is different…” I get tired of this. How do they know for sure how different their boys really are? Do they listen to what they say in all male groups? Do they have a video camera or You Tube on them 24/7?

    I know they are bad as soon as they are out of earshot. You wouldn’t believe the number of wives of my colleagues confess their husband’s petty crimes to me. Not big stuff mind you, just 25 years of oppression. One example that I heard a year ago. It was so shocking, that it stayed with me.

    It takes me awhile to get all the relationships in my large office of 55 some people. A friendly person by nature, I always introduce myself to people I have never spoken to before. One day, at the copy machine, I said hi to a nice older woman. To my shock, she said she worked as an administrative assistant to her husband, who in my mind was a very piggish pig. I actually hated her sexist husband, but decided that I would not say anything about him.

    “Oh, I really want to teach high school, but my husband said he needed me here.” “Well what do you need to teach?” “Just a few credits.” “Well that should be pretty easy, when do you want to do this? Then you can teach and your husband could hire someone else,” I said happily. She looked at me with sadness. “Well, I only have a few credits to go, but that was over 25 years ago.” I was stunned, just stunned at her admission to me that she had put her dream on hold for 25 years, and that it was still on hold.

    I was so taken aback, and felt so foolish for thinking this was a brand new dream of hers, that I probably really bumbled around and turned red in the face. She could see the shock I couldn’t hide, and I wondered why she had confided in me.

    This is a common thing with a lot of straight women I come across here and there. Perhaps they think lesbians will be sympathetic to these stories, and I am. But I also am frustrated to hear them, because then I know that not only do I hate their sexist husbands, but they themselves must know I think this too, and tbey then tell me these things. Can they read my mind?

    It’s a long story, I am wandering a bit here. But seriously, women. We have got to wake up to the fact that the connivers and rapists and exploiters of our labor are not going to change at all. They have no intention of changing, just as the British had no intension of changing as colonizers, just as Hitler had no intention of changing, just as the Soviet Union had no intention of changing… These nations are real Male-Germany, Sovietmaleland, Britishmanempirecreature…

    We know that certain evil male countries out there aren’t going to change. Why do we think, that after thousands of years of recorded history of men fighting wars and raping women, that they ever would want to change? You know men love war, and the ones who don’t secretly watch it as entertainment, and then they become president and bomb other countries. You know men love football, and you know they still accept cheerleaders at their big games. Men should refuse to ever have women cheerlead ever! They should protest this as men. But they never will. Just an example that popped into my head here.

    Women can change, men are stuck. Perhaps women are truly mired in the muck of male supremacy, but I have seen women change in spectacular ways. I have never seen a man ever convert to the cause of women with this same passion. They learn to mouth platitudes like a pet monkey or parrot, they can dance to the feminist jig now and then when it’s played on the radio, but they have not and never will change.

    This should be shouted from the roof tops. Maybe this is just easier to see, because I see men only as they are out in the world. I don’t see them inside this tight little heterosexual family unit that is so touted day and night– I can hear those sleigh bells ringing, as patriarchy they are a bringing… got to try a song and dance routine sometime :-)

    So I want to know, why do women think men have changed, when we all know in our heart of hearts that they have not? Why do you beneighted souls still long to sing this old carol, or roast that old chestnut?
    I want proof. Women have become feminists in a blinding flash of light, because of a very painful life, because they were born that way, or because they just couldn’t take one more moment of oppression without a weapon to fight back.

    Feminism is a weapon of women. It is a tool of the enlightenment for women. It is our magna carta, and we should take it more seriously than we usually do. Well I know everyone here takes it seriously, but the world run by you know who…. well they take it more seriously than women do, and they fear it. They attack feminism and the rights of women, they water it with their tears, night and morning with their fears… Now when are we going to believe in our own sacred cause of freedom, and when are we going to say WOMEN CHANGE, as we step over the body of some slug!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 26, 2007, 8:04 am
  25. Ah la la la i hear the spam ringing, as it flows down the river of this blog… The hills are alive with the sound of spam posts…

    so I replied to m Andrea… and I asked some questions, and was a little playful. Hope you can find it oh brave heart of the spam diggers!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 26, 2007, 8:05 am
  26. Clam diggers…. :-) spam diggers :-) Oh oysters come and walk with me, a pleasant walk, a pleasant talk along the spammy beach!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 26, 2007, 8:06 am
  27. ***You wouldn’t believe the number of wives of my colleagues confess their husband’s petty crimes to me.***

    I’m also rather friendly and I’ve noticed this. One woman, a total stranger, spilled while standing in front of me on line at the bank. The women who have done this with me have had no idea I was a lesbian and usually, after I respond in a way that they construe as anti-male, they change their tune and start saying only pro male things to me. What a crock of shit it is.

    Posted by Branjor | November 26, 2007, 12:25 pm
  28. ***Branjor,

    “Why not just enjoy their boys and leave us alone to live our own lives?”

    Because they need us to breed the next generation of boys.

    To breed the boys and the next generation of breeders.

    Left to our own devices, we might, heaven forfend, ** ignore them ** – and then where would they be?***

    It’s more than that. Some women want to have children, enjoy having them, would choose to have them even if patriarchy ended, and so to that degree men would not be ignored and the next generation of boys would be bred. For some reason, men simply can’t stand, psychologically, for women to *have* lives that are enjoyable and independent from men, they’re not happy unless women are “screwed” (in their whole lives, not just in bed.)

    Posted by Branjor | November 26, 2007, 2:25 pm
  29. I should probably delete your notices to me, Satsuma, that your comments went into the spam cue, once I’ve retrieved them. But they’re funny, so they sort of stand on their own. :-p

    I think complaining about husbands/boyfriends/men is sort of a heterosexual women’s bonding ritual. It’s often not really the serious complaining women would do with someone they knew well, which is scary, given what they say sometimes, I agree, that IS very serious. I have a friend who is always musing about the way heterosexual women have to have this obligatory 10 or 15 minutes when they first get together in a group of grousing about their male partners. Her theory is that the women feel stuck, that since they are heterosexual, they don’t have any options but to be with men (whereas she does so even though she has a male partner right now, she figures any time she could ditch him and take up with women again, so why bother complaining about him)?

    In my old world complaining about husbands is strictly and totally verboten as being disrespectful and irreverant. Of course, when woman has had enough abuse and finally leaves the guy and tells about his abuse, people say she’s probably lying because why didn’t she say something before!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 26, 2007, 2:26 pm
  30. I wonder if there are two strains of opposing desire going on in the heavily misognyistic, homophobic countries in which some warlords nonetheless collect boys as sexual partners. First, in these countries the hatred and abuse of women and girls is extreme, and also quite routine. They are subjugated so universally by men and their male institutions of religion, custom, and law that their subjugation is no great feat for men with swollen egos. What is the next thrill for them, if not subjugating persons of much higher status? And any male of any age in these countries outranks any female, and accordingly domination of a male in that environment certainly is harder than that of the already crushed females.

    Second, though, is the presence of a seemingly opposite mentality, namely that sexual congress of males with males is a horrible crime which should result in dire punishment. While the patriachs claim this in the name of religion, perhaps the real motive is the underlying concern that the thrills to be attained by at least a few men being treated as horrifically as women and girls are might lead to more and more of them reaping the whirlwind of domination the society encourages in men. The suppression of the behavior quite literally represents the patriarchs watching out for their own behinds!

    What do you women who read here think about the domination-pattern men exhibit? Is it a biological remnant of less evolved times or is it a symptom of their corruption by assumed privilege? Darned if I know, but I thoroughly agree with Satsuma’s observations about the course we as women and girls need to take in view of its prevalence in the world: “Feminism is a weapon of women. It is a tool of the enlightenment for women. It is our magna carta, and we should take it more seriously than we usually do. “

    Posted by Level Best | November 26, 2007, 5:44 pm
  31. Oh Satsuma, that was beautiful! No wonder people just reprint your letters in full!

    So I want to know, why do women think men have changed, when we all know in our heart of hearts that they have not?

    Denial mechanisms are how one copes with a reality too painful to bear. So they grasp at any straw and happily confuse trends and inherencies.

    If feminists thought that sexism is inherent, then their next assumption would be that they would have to just accept men acting like sexist pigs. Since they don’t like this assumption, or it’s repercussions, then they refuse to believe that sexism is inherent.

    In reading about addictions, the point is made that addicts are not willing to admit they have a problem unless there is a way to solve their problem. This is also true for victims of domestic violence. If there is no escape from their situation, they will tell themselves, “oh it’s not that bad, he’ll change someday.”

    But you know what? Just because someone has a genentic tendency to become an alcoholic easily, if he doesn’t watch his drinking habits carefully, — that doesn’t mean that he HAS to be an alcoholic. It just means that the tendency is there, and he has to watch out for it.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 26, 2007, 7:03 pm
  32. Branjor,

    Whenever I say, “*sigh* men suck,” the response is usually a wry “yeah, what’d he do know?” But if I say, “MEN SUCK AND I HATE THEM”, the response is usually, “oh it can’t be that bad, come on”.

    The really amusing thing is this one woman who always like to play the devil’s advocate. She is always defending men whenever I start ranting about them. So lately I’ve starting opening the conversation with, “gosh men sure have improved!”

    She then responds quite sharply with, “Oh no they haven’t! They’re sexist pigs! Have you seen the way they blah blah blah…” LOL

    Posted by m Andrea | November 26, 2007, 7:14 pm
  33. Glad you enjoy my little spam queue sing alongs…

    “people say she’s probably lying because why didn’t she say something before!”

    Maybe this blog will get more and more women out of their silence, and into speech. First you speak up, and then you take action.

    The stakes are very high to keep women silent. Men are very uncomfortable when women start telling the truth and going public. They are usually the whistle blowers in organizations, for example.

    I am never sure if women are happy or not oftentimes.
    I think women have trouble just accessing anger period.

    “Of course, when woman has had enough abuse and finally leaves the guy and tells about his abuse, people say she’s probably lying because why didn’t she say something before!”

    This above quote from Heart’s previous post is very true in fundamentalist communities as they have been described to me.

    I really try to understand this point of view, because so many women are so attracted to fundamentalist churches. Women have a very hard time hearing the sickening condescention in men’s voices. My ear is very sensitive to language in general, so perhaps I can hear things differently.

    Sonia Johnson once mentioned this when a group of her feminist friends went to a congressional hearing on the ERA, and Orin Hatch spoke to her from the podium. I believe she was giving testimony in favor of the ERA, and he a Senator and Mormon elder, was talking in this awful patronizing tone of voice. The feminist supporters were shocked, and only then was she finally able to hear this patriarchal and insulting tone of voice directed at women for the first time!

    So breaking through silence is a big damn deal.

    You know, I finally had a bit of time off over the weekend, and I keep thinking how our greatest feminists, our best thinkers our heroines all seemed to come out of these dreadful patriarchal churches or traditions. Mary Daly, Sonia Johnson to name a few. Andrea Dworkin was Jewish, but I believe actually was a prostitute and an abused woman herself.

    We forget how much courage it took for these women to break free, just as it took mountains of courage for Heart to break free.

    Sometimes I think I had it easy. That feminist movement was alive and out there for me to find as a teenager. As a lesbian, I was simply apart from the world of men for most of my adult life. But women like Heart and Sonia Johnson suffered indignities that I can’t even begin to imagine.

    Out of this life comes the true words of freedom. It’s something to reflect upon now and then, when we feel down, or when we think that patriarchy is winning.

    It is not winning at all as long as women speak out. It is dying a slow death on the world scene. That’s what all this rise of fundamentalism is really all about — it is about men’s attempt to take over women’s souls yet again. But this time, we have a lot more information on the tactics of patriachy, and we do know how to combat it with style and drive.

    We know that when women speak to each other, and communicate from their lived experiences, a collective truth emerges that is so powerful, it makes male philosophies seem like children talking. It is so clear, that most men can’t even hear these truths. Men are so uncomfortable with the lives of women, that they just run from the room.

    They deeply fear women, and deeply hate women. It’s something inside themselves — a self-hatred projected onto women. They have been doing this for thousands of years.

    Can we connect the past of women to the present? Can one generation of lesbians learn from another? Can we preserve our own herstory for future generations?

    Posted by Satsuma | November 26, 2007, 7:37 pm
  34. I’m sorry I missed your comment the first time, Level Best, that was an excellent point you made. Women are already crushed in those societies into a position so low, that it is no longer a boost to the man’s ego to crush women any further.

    That is so incredibly sad. And to get to the next level of thrill-seeking and domination, they must turn their attention to boys.

    It’s like torture porn. The only way the producers can make it any worse than it is now (in order to satisfy the never-ending need for escalation) is if they start beating the girls up on camera.

    I’m not sure what you meant by your second paragraph at all, though. Would you mind rephrasing the whole paragraph? How is repressing males watching out for patriarchal interests?

    I could see how some could wonder if this subjegation of boys is like the patriarchy eating it’s own, and taken in that regard it could be a symptom of a society about to implode. Does anyone know how long this subjegation of boys has been going on?

    Posted by m Andrea | November 26, 2007, 7:52 pm
  35. ***Does anyone know how long this subjugation of boys has been going on?***

    It was going on in classical Greece. It’s a nice fantasy, but this use of boys has nothing to do with “a society about to implode.” It’s just how men are and how they’ve always been.

    Posted by Branjor | November 26, 2007, 10:30 pm
  36. Golly I’m glad my tax dollars support the power and prestige of these abusers, allowing them to go unpunished by their communities even when the men in their communities decide to do something about it.

    So, once again, the money that I have earned can be funneled into the pockets of rapists and molesters and violent high-powered criminals, leaving nothing for people who need education, health care, redress for harms done to them, help in a natural/national/personal crisis, etc.

    I want every politician who thought invading Afghanistan was fair (so, 95%+ of them) to go visit the backcountry and see how women and children (and men without power/prestige) live, and explain to me exactly who the hell my money has liberated, and how that happened.

    (repeatedly referencing my tax dollars here not because the cash itself is so important, but because it just kills me sometimes that my choices are to labor to support this unchecked insanity or be sent to jail)

    Posted by funnie | November 26, 2007, 10:50 pm
  37. “Does anyone know how long this subjugation of boys has been going on?***”

    As far as I know historically speaking, the ancient Greek men kept boys as sex slaves. Plato and Aristotle wrote glowingly about this. Gay men worship ancient Greece where an older man “initiated” a youth. Just ask those queer lit gay male instructors at your local college about this.

    That’s as far back as I can go on what was once termed “the disgusting vice of the Greeks!” Gay men often confuse people who object to pedofilia as homophobic, believe it or not.

    Allen Ginsberg advocated sex with boys at a gay and lesbian writers conference I attended in 1990 — Outwrite” He was on a panel discussion and said this — I heard him with my own ears. When a woman who was an incest survivor challenged him, the other gay men in the audience shouted her down and made fun of her. I was there for that too!

    She was brave, those men are probably all dead by now! What goes around comes around!

    This subject just boils my blood — any sex with any children anywhere. I think 90% of the sex crimes committed by catholic priests were male on boy rape. Never thought I’d say that girls shouldn’t ever be altar girls, but there you have it Branjor. Way TMI jusy way way today. I believe one reason the catholic church was fined so heavily in Los Angeles Country, was because of the incredible number of crimes committed against boys. Had only girls been involved, I’m not sure it would have rocked the world as much as it did.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 26, 2007, 11:20 pm
  38. m Andrea said above, claiming as an irrefutable proof:

    Sexism is inherent. It will always reside in men.

    1. The desire for sex is inherent, with the degree lying upon a continuum.

    2. The desire for power/control is inherent, with the degree lying upon a continuum.

    Unless you believe sexism and the hierarchical order it created and sustains must have always existed, m Andrea, your argument makes no sense to me, logically or otherwise. Even if this desire for power/control has always existed in men, their capacity to act on that desire has not, and at some point in the future, they might lose that capacity. Notwithstanding how irrational men can be, I doubt this desire for something that could not be fulfilled could universally persist. There is a huge difference between what is ingrained and what is inherent, inescapable, determined by biology. Somehow I think you have these mixed up.

    Posted by Aletha | November 27, 2007, 5:42 am
  39. Unless you believe sexism and the hierarchical order it created and sustains must have always existed, m Andrea, your argument makes no sense

    Then, let’s try again, Aletha. :) Please keep in mind that I’ve had several feminist activists ready to kill me over this one in real life, so please try not to go that route. You should see what happens when I talk about “culture”. Woot!

    Is the desire for sex inherent, or is the desire for sex not inherent?

    I have heard no one actually attempt to argue that the desire for sex is anything other than a normal part of human physiology. Are you suggesting that the desire for sex is learned, perhaps?

    Even if this desire for power/control has always existed in men, their capacity to act on that desire has not, and at some point in the future, they might lose that capacity.

    Men have always had the capacity to over-ride their natural inclinations, if they wanted. That is secondary to whether sexism is inherent, so I’m not sure why you introduced it.

    Notwithstanding how irrational men can be, I doubt this desire for something that could not be fulfilled could universally persist. There is a huge difference between what is ingrained and what is inherent, inescapable, determined by biology. Somehow I think you have these mixed up.

    Yes, Aletha, there is a difference between that which is “inherent” and that which is “ingrained” by culture.

    Can you show me how I have “mixed them up” — because you didn’t explain that.

    I’m really sorry, I really am. I know that feminists like to blame culture for everything that men do to women, in order to spare men’s feelings, but eventually we need to put the responsiblity where it rightfully belongs.

    I’ve been wondering all evening why some feminists keep trying to protect men. I see examples of it all the time, and it only lately occured to me that it’s actually a pattern.

    Also, please keep in mind that this humble little proof does not automatically equate to “all men will be sexist pigs all the time”. But it does help to explain a lot of other things, like how it’s easier to persuade a human being into behaving like a sexist pig, than it is to persuade a sexist pig into behaving like a human being.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 27, 2007, 9:28 am
  40. Unless you believe sexism and the hierarchical order it created and sustains must have always existed, m Andrea, your argument makes no sense

    Then, let’s try again, Aletha. :) Please keep in mind that I’ve had several feminist activists ready to kill me over this one in real life, so please try not to go that route. You should see what happens when I talk about “culture”. Woot!

    Is the desire for sex inherent, or is the desire for sex not inherent?

    I have heard no one actually attempt to argue that the desire for sex is anything other than a normal part of human physiology. Are you suggesting that the desire for sex is learned, perhaps?

    Even if this desire for power/control has always existed in men, their capacity to act on that desire has not, and at some point in the future, they might lose that capacity.

    Men have always had the capacity to over-ride their natural inclinations, if they wanted. That is secondary to whether sexism is inherent, so I’m not sure why you introduced it.

    Notwithstanding how irrational men can be, I doubt this desire for something that could not be fulfilled could universally persist. There is a huge difference between what is ingrained and what is inherent, inescapable, determined by biology. Somehow I think you have these mixed up.

    Yes, Aletha, there is a difference between that which is “inherent” and that which is “ingrained” by culture.

    Can you show me how I have “mixed them up” — because you didn’t explain that.

    I’m really sorry, I really am. I know that feminists like to blame culture for everything that men do to women, in order to spare men’s feelings, but eventually we need to put the responsiblity where it rightfully belongs.

    I’ve been wondering all evening why some feminists keep trying to protect men. I see examples of it all the time, and it only lately occured to me that it’s actually a pattern.

    Also, please keep in mind that this humble little proof does not automatically equate to “all men will be sexist pigs all the time”. But it does help to explain a lot of other things, like how it’s easier to persuade a human being into behaving like a sexist pig, than it is to persuade a sexist pig into behaving like a human being.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 27, 2007, 9:29 am
  41. I am not surprised that my second paragraph was hard to scan; I was having a difficult time trying to figure out how to express a gut feeling I have about the seemingly contradictory homophobia in societies that have prominent men who sexually subjugate boys. I believe the homophobia is the fear of patriarchs who might like to try sex with boys but certainly don’t want someone to take the “male” role in sex with them (the patriarchs) or with their own valued sons should the trend get “too popular.” The patriarchs certainly don’t want to end up on the receiving end of anal sex, to put it crudely; then they would feel subjugated by someone else. Their power trip does not allow this schema.

    And I believe commentators here are correct in observing: First, that all of this (sex with boys) is child rape and evil. This particular sort of child rape more noticed, as others have said, because of the higher status of males. The forcing of FGM and too-early marriages on girls doesn’t seem to interest the powers that be nearly as much; “it’s just cultural!” and Second, that even if men’s domination drive is inherent, if they have normal frontal lobes they can jolly well work on diminishing their destructive and hurtful behaviors.

    Posted by Level Best | November 27, 2007, 3:19 pm
  42. I find the analyses of all the gender role dynamics interesting. My first reaction was that they are a small subset of the male population who happen to be homosexual pedophiles. They dress the boy slaves up as women to decrease public outcry about their sex crimes. In places like that, there would be more resistance against raping boy children than women; their female drag gives the crimes an heir of legitimacy in a misogynistic society.

    But now I think the more important aspect is the symbolism of the lady-uniform, rather than escaping public shunning. Anything female-related–wearing female drag, conforming to behavior expected of cultural gender roles, or anything vaguely approximating the caricature of a female silhouette–is like a Uniform of Other; it’s the huge flashing neon sign indicating rape receptacle status. It’s the visceral reaction we have to the Uniform that allows the subjugation to occur, just as we have an automatic subconscious response to police uniforms that denote authority.

    Female-drag and the caricatured female body is the Uniform of Other, as well as the universal symbol for “target” (it’s not a red x, after all!). That’s why when performing drag queens and trans prostitutes wear it to capitalize on their desire to sexually interact with straight men, the minstrel show is an affront to all women and demeans our gender and bodies by further conditioning fetishized misogynistic responses to all women. It further promotes the female-form as inherently being a target.

    (Note: I don’t necessarily believe ALL trans persons co-opt misogyny as an identity for misguided fetishized sexual purposes, as there are some who just feel restricted by the gender binary and are trying to get by, like women-born-women are. They may not necessarily change their presentation or behaviors post-op, i.e., they’ll act totally the same as they always did and show up to work in drab, unsexy professional pantsuits that pretty much resemble their old “male” versions. Unfortunately, the existence of these fellow patriarchy victims don’t change what the overwhelming representation of what MTF is.)

    Posted by K.A. | November 27, 2007, 6:41 pm
  43. Level Best: I believe the homophobia is the fear of patriarchs who might like to try sex with boys but certainly don’t want someone to take the “male” role in sex with them (the patriarchs) or with their own valued sons should the trend get “too popular.” The patriarchs certainly don’t want to end up on the receiving end of anal sex, to put it crudely; then they would feel subjugated by someone else. Their power trip does not allow this schema.

    Ah, that makes a lot more sense (in more ways then one), thank you!

    Posted by m Andrea | November 27, 2007, 10:20 pm
  44. m Andrea, I do not know if it makes sense to have this discussion here, too far off topic, IMO. I took on this idea of inherent sexism as part of my response to Satsuma in my SILENCED! entry on my blog. I do not know how you can state social constructionist theory blames culture for everything that men do to women, in order to spare men’s feelings, or to protect men. Neither has anything to do with the meaning or intent of social constructionist theory. Men created and sustain this culture for their benefit. If one does not blame the culture, it seems to me one must blame biology, unless you are arguing men all arrive at sexism through individual choice and free will regardless of cultural influences.

    Obviously sexism is ingrained in men. I dispute the idea that men would be sexist if the culture did not revolve around sexism. Male behavior and their culture go hand in hand. To me, arguing sexism is inherent implies men would be sexist even if the culture were not. How would they learn to be pigs? Is this natural and inevitable for the human male? I think that argument lets men off the hook, implying men have no choice or free will, they cannot help but be sexist, because it inheres in their biology. I think the truth is far worse than that, they can learn and change, but do not want to, are in fact highly motivated not to, because their self-serving culture teaches them that would compromise their manhood.

    Posted by Aletha | November 28, 2007, 5:49 am
  45. That is just sick how they can treat them like that, they are still human beings. How is it that this has been going on for years and now they decide to do something about it. I hope these man that are putting these boys through this pay for all that they have put them through. I have children, I would give my life for them. Where are the parents? What do they have to say?

    Posted by Josey | November 28, 2007, 10:47 am
  46. Hi Aletha!

    After I posted that, I realized it sounded too confrontational, and I am trying to get away from that. Especially since I remembered how fabulous you are! You wrote that absolutely amazing tribute to Dworkin, which really needs a wider audience.

    But I have had the unfortunate experience at other places of mods deleting my comments, changing my comments, or allowing a pile-on from other members which consisted of only emotional bullsh*t manipulation tactics.

    So I’m not going to have this discussion anywhere other than here, perhaps we could move it to Hearrrt’s open thread, if she would permit it to continue. Or my own blog, because I haven’t posted it there yet and it needs a permanent home anyway. Might as well put all the discussion in one place, I’ll post it soon.

    What I see people objecting to are the repercussions of that little proof, not the proof itself. People are assuming consequences of it, they don’t like the assumed consequences of it and so they once again change the focus and start debating the repercussions, as you are doing now.

    My spidely sense is that you discuss things in good faith and that is great! :) I will look for the thread at your blog. I do have an open mind (perhaps too open sometimes!) and am willing to change. But I see women eager to let men off the hook, and culture makes a nice ephemeral cloud which conveniently obscures individual responsibility.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 28, 2007, 5:07 pm
  47. “as you are doing now.” I should have include, “and I’m sure you don’t mean to.”

    Posted by m Andrea | November 28, 2007, 5:15 pm
  48. Inherent, learned and encouraged behavior… nature ….nurture.

    I guess I’d like to pose this question: Does any group not affected by something awful (racism if you’re white, sexism if you’re a man) ever get really really angry at discrimination others go through?

    Do the wounded groups or exploited groups always have to be the ones to cry fire and get really mad?

    When the harmed group can’t take it anymore and starts to march, protest, and get laws changed, does only this alert the other non-affected groups to do something?

    Do people ever try to be inherently just to those they don’t know personally?

    e.g. Men often freak out at my radical lesbian feminist opinions. They feel offended and say they treat everyone equally and don’t discriminate against lesbians — the old live and let live slogan. Somehow, it never occured to straight men on their own to change, they had to be forced by threat of law.

    Have men changed because of feminism compared to women overall?

    Are men responsible for ending womanhatred and rape? Will they really reach the conclusion that sexual degredation of women is horrific and must stop?

    m Andrea has posed an interesting — inherent vs. learned and can be unlearned comparison. I was surpised when she said that feminists jumped on her for saying this. I guess I just don’t see how men have changed at all. Not substantively.
    Cosmetically, maybe. And again, any pro-woman statement I’ve ever heard out of a man’s mouth has always had the air of “placating” “buttering up” or “saying this stuff to get my dollars.” I just don’t hear them outraged in sincerity about the terrible situation of women worldwide, or the outrage against girls. I don’t hear this!

    I’ve never really met any men who are furious with other men just for the things they do. Men will claim to be feminists all the time, as long as they don’t have to change anything at all. It’s always, “well I support you in your desire for a career” It’s never about them ever being inconvenience out of principle. Gay men will go to catholic church, claim to be feminists, and then see no contradiction in supporting a woman hating institution! They see this as a “personal” spiritual choice.

    I’ve always been amused at male civil rights movements, that somehow forget women completely. Martin Luther King’s private life should shock women — the way he treated his own wife and family, the way he didn’t want Coretta to have her own job and life. She was an activist BEFORE he was, for example.

    Does a civil rights movement turn on the freedom of women, and is this freedom proclaimed by men from the rooftops or do they make it roll like water down the river of justice?

    Why do feminists still hem and haw at the attrocity of male behavior? Women protect men right and left, even though we have so much evidence of what they do that’s really really bad.

    How much evidense of attrocity do you need?

    Why should anyone ever defend male behavior? What prevents women from really rising up and not tolerating anything men do — boys will be boys, sexist jokes, vulgar language, buying prostitutes, doing nothing when women “voluntarily” change their last names in marriage…
    you name it?

    Inhernetly sexist? What examples do we have to the contrary? How do we know that there could be a contrary if we see no evidense of it at all in our entire lives?

    Posted by Satsuma | November 28, 2007, 10:18 pm
  49. Hmm. I wonder if you have me mixed up with someone else, m Andrea. I wish I had written an amazing tribute to Andrea Dworkin, but that is not ringing any bells. Where did you see this?

    Your comment is confusing to me. I am disputing your use of the word inherent, which seems to me to be the premise of your proof, not its repercussions. I would not dispute that some women are eager to let men off the hook, but I fail to see what that has to do with social constructionist theory. I imagine there are other theories out there saying sexism is all the fault of the culture, as if men have no part in perpetuating that, but are helpless pawns, so what else could we expect? Is this anywhere near what you are describing?

    Posted by Aletha | November 29, 2007, 6:31 am
  50. I don’t know where I am or how I got here to this blog. I started out reading about the absurd rape case in Saudi Arabia where the victim was to be lashed and imprisoned.
    I know that anthropologist Marvin Harris reported in “America Now” (book) that a colleague named Kelly had studied a New Guinea group in the 70s where male pedophilia with boys was the norm. Women were so theoretically foul and threatening that oral sex with boys was the only possibility (publically), but they had to procreate somehow. This society was on the cusp of emergence from matriarchy I think. Engels wrote a book in 1895 about this phenomenon “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” in which he described a proto-capitalist complex where marriage and family are tools of subjugation for everyone. Women, who previously under matriarchy were the line of descent and locus of geneological identity, were being redefined as not much more than livestock as property took on a new definition and purpose. I believe now that property is changing again under hyper-capitalism and that sexual abuse od subjugated persons is becoming a celebrated fetishized commodity. Torture with impunity is another symbol of power. As we enter a period where faschishtic monetary power is ascendant we must formulate a new paradigm of wealth-justice and equitable distribution in order to resist.

    You weemin seem to be living with an illusion of plenty and stability as a viable economy, market and environment collapses for most of humanity. If you would like to join our resistance contact me at beretco.op@gmail.com If you think I’m joking Naomi Wolf has a new book out predicting the immediate demise of American democracy. “The End of America” Listen to her at the democracy Now website (Amy Goodman). Be one with Gaia!

    Posted by Grady-Lee | November 29, 2007, 6:51 pm
  51. You weemin seem to be living with an illusion of plenty and stability.

    Not me. Not most of us here.

    What’s up with the spelling “weemin”? What does that mean?

    Posted by womensspace | November 29, 2007, 6:57 pm
  52. Note from Heart: Warning, May Trigger

    I’m a prejudiced radical who resents females who play the patriarchal game and then complain because they can’t win. I’m an outsider, a survivor, a noncompromiser. The solution is to start a new viability. Enlightened males must be recruited to accomplish an alternative. I think marriage is out of the question.

    Wives are wee by definition, weemin are whiners, not fighters. I insult those who deserve rebuke. All of us have sexuality, but do we own it, own up to our real needs, act on them.

    I have my problems in the world too, but the internet is a place
    where I can experiment and get feedback before taking action.

    Here I come among females who are talking about things like bitching about male boneheadedness in same sex groups. This sounds like old stand-up comic rehashing.
    it’s me-me-me here in my little Amerika all the time, dreaming about my all girl planet. Well, it ain’t gonna happen!

    I’ll tell you something about men and women: We are all bisexual, ambi-sexual. We even use machines for sex!
    I got into the bend-over-boyfriend thing last Christmas and have had two male partners submit subsequently. It felt good to know men liked anal sex and being penetrated. It satisfied my curiousity and gave me insight to power. It was different than when you masturbate or fellate them and feel in control. I felt like I possessed them. I began to understand the connection between sex acts and dominance. We are all made of dominance and submission.

    The problem comes when it goes beyond voluntary play and involves money, intimidation or a power trip. There is a reason so much pornography is set in opulent surroundings.
    U.S. foreign policy and racism comes home as violence agaist women and children. I really doubt the boy play in Afganistan is mostly cultural: I think they are apeing their occupiers. Nothing is more degenerate than hypercapitalism.
    It wants to forcibly ream every anus. Marguis de Sade described the merchantilist version in his books. That stuff really happened and Benjamin Franklin ( and probably Jefferson, even Adams) were participants. Such is diplomacy in the service of merciless states. De Sade went to prison for subversion more than perversion. If you worship wealth and power you are a pervert, woman or man. I celebrate that women have more insight and possibilities in our own dark time of occupied minds and commodified bodies.

    Alright, Who hates me now? I don’t molest kids but I’m curious about whether pleasures are real or just the result of socialization (advertising, propaganda). I want to know who my enemies are and discredit and whip them. They’re ruining everything! (especially sexuality)

    Posted by Grady-Lee | November 29, 2007, 8:20 pm
  53. Note from Heart: Warning, May Trigger

    Wives are wee by definition

    No they aren’t. There are a million reasons women might be married, including that they cannot find a way to safely leave their marriages, though they want out. They are not “wee.” They are in a tough spot and deserve our support.

    weemin are whiners, not fighters. I insult those who deserve rebuke. All of us have sexuality, but do we own it, own up to our real needs, act on them.

    I don’t have any clue how the above sentences fit together. I still don’t know who “weemin” are. In any event, nobody here deserves your rebuke or your insults. We don’t have any clue who you even are and you clearly don’t know who we are.

    Here I come among females who are talking about things like bitching about male boneheadedness in same sex groups. This sounds like old stand-up comic rehashing.
    it’s me-me-me here in my little Amerika all the time, dreaming about my all girl planet. Well, it ain’t gonna happen!

    It’s already happening. It will continue to happen.

    Kindly refrain from characterizing what women say as “bitching”. As to “me me me”, absolutely! You bet. It IS going to be all about me-me-me and us-us-us as women in this space.

    I’ll tell you something about men and women: We are all bisexual, ambi-sexual. We even use machines for sex!
    I got into the bend-over-boyfriend thing last Christmas and have had two male partners submit subsequently. It felt good to know men liked anal sex and being penetrated. It satisfied my curiousity and gave me insight to power. It was different than when you masturbate or fellate them and feel in control. I felt like I possessed them. I began to understand the connection between sex acts and dominance. We are all made of dominance and submission.

    Re machines for sex, speak for yourself.

    This paragraph is (1) way too much information; (2) includes zero by way of feminist critique of gendered power in sexual relationships or of power in relationships, period, or of the politics of bisexuality/”ambisexuality”; (3) Many feminists are singularly uninterested in sex with men, but of those who are interested, many would reject the acts you’ve described; (4) why do we care what kind of sex you like when we don’t even know who the hell you are? You could be a man for all we know.

    We are NOT all made of dominance and submission. That’s a straight-up lie. We grow up inside of that paradigm and as a matter of feminist principle and activism, we reject it.

    I really doubt the boy play in Afganistan is mostly cultural: I think they are apeing their occupiers.

    If you read about this stuff, it’s been going on for a very long time, with or without the presence of occupiers.

    I don’t hate you. I’ve approved your two comments because you’ve said a couple of interesting things. But if you don’t chill out and evidence some interest in feminism and feminist critique, I won’t be approving your comments in the future.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 29, 2007, 9:08 pm
  54. Satsuma, I had not seen your latest comment when I posted mine. You end with

    Inhernetly sexist? What examples do we have to the contrary? How do we know that there could be a contrary if we see no evidense of it at all in our entire lives?

    Interesting you would say that. You mentioned on my blog, “There were good male allies in all of this.” Were they good allies despite being sexist? Were their differences from average men merely cosmetic? Perhaps you should go over to the Adonis Mirror or Angry Scientist blog to give them lessons on how they are no different from average men, how sexist, insincere, placating, buttering up, playing for dollars they are! They need to be put in their place, no? What nerve they have, pretending to be profeminist! Do you see no evidence of a contrary, or is it you do not want to see the evidence?

    Posted by Aletha | November 30, 2007, 6:23 am
  55. Hi Aletha! :)

    Yes, I can see now that I have confused you with someone else.

    I’m sorry, but that little proof is really simple. That is the point. There is no room for playing games.

    Either the desire for sex is inherent or the desire for sex is not inherent.

    Pick one.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 30, 2007, 8:44 am
  56. Hi Aletha,

    Yes, believe it or not, there are dozens of pro-feminist men out there who are also up to no good.

    This was a huge problem in gay and lesbian organizations in particular. Men mouth platitudes just as women do.

    I know my words probably sounded contradictory. It’s really hard to explain this stuff.

    It’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that someone should encourage male allies, and I think straight women are sometimes better equipped to do this.

    Feminism has made inroads into mainstream culture. Even the radical religious men on the radio, when they say things like “the man is the head of the woman as Christ is the head of the church” now have to backtrack a little and acknowledge how offensive this might sound to women. Then they do their little tap dance number to show the “restrictions to this policy.”

    All men I talk to say they believe women should have equality in the work place. They indeed to do nothing to MAKE this happen, but they say they agree with it.

    The powerful aren’t going to risk their personal lives to fight on behalf of others for the most part.
    So that’s why I think men are inherently sexist. It doesn’t mean that we can’t pass laws to throw the sexists in jail for underpaying women or harrassing them with “funny” comments at work. Men usually obey rules. They’re good followers of rules, and game rules and religious rules, and they love to create new rules.

    Men are really into rules! My point is quite simple: what will it take for women to stop going of their own free will to churches that bash women from pulpits? What will it take for women to get up and walk out every time a man says something really sexist? Can’t we have some secret signal or whistle, and teach all women the art of walking out.

    Women are half the world’s population. I don’t believe men want to stop being sexist, because they have so many women out there who will not speak up. Men have terrorized women into silence, but not all of us put up with it.

    The reasons for some women’s rebellion and counterattack are complex. Even I don’t know what makes me explode with anger at men, while other women seem to not think anything very offensive actually happened.

    I even ask women directly, ‘Didn’t that make you mad?” And oftentimes, they’ll admit that they “didn’t like” the comment, but they didn’t feel angry enough to get mad. It’s this muted quality in women that is so perplexing to me. Women are still very afraid of explosive anger or yelling in polite public places.

    The fear of ostracism is very deeply engrained in a lot of women.

    Life is contradictory. Men are feminists according to some women. I just see through the wolves in sheep’s clothing more I guess, because I’ve dealt with the sociopathic feminist men who I think love to con women, and then laugh behind their backs. A lot of men believe women are dumb enough to believe anything.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 30, 2007, 8:57 pm
  57. Satsuma, I think it has much to do with denial, more than “just” a fear of confrontation, but I’m having trouble sorting it out in my head, let alone it into words.

    For a long time, pretending that men didn’t understand the harm they caused was a healthy denial mechanism, because then feminists could continue to have faith in the inherent goodness of men. Many feminists have stated this bluntly to me during discussions of this nature. They said believing in the inherent goodness of men was the only way they could continue to fight for women’s equality.

    But come on. How stupid does a man have to be, in order to keep repeating those oppressive justifications over and over in the face of a trillion gender deconstructions? Men are either completely stupid, or they don’t care about the harm they cause to women, or they actively want the sexism to continue.

    At some point in time, the sheer weight of all those gender deconstructions is going to be so great, and men’s continual resistance so obvious, that no one will be able to ignore the truth any longer. I believe we are reaching that point NOW. While it has been productive for so many centuries, the feminist’s dance of denial is fast approaching a maladaptive phase, becoming pathalogically harmful to women’s safety and autonomy.

    No offense to any feminists here, but I believe they are quickly approaching a glass wall, where plain logic and simple science is going to force them to re-evaluate many of their basic theories.

    For example, they like to say that gender is a social construct, but neuroscience delineates many differences in brain structure. Hello logical inconsistancy!!

    They need to get their shit together, because it’s starting to stink.

    Posted by m Andrea | November 30, 2007, 11:37 pm
  58. I think we all know about the plethora of fake male pro-feminists. That fakery is a notorious means of seduction. Ampersand may be the most famous example. Satsuma, you may not be familiar with him, unless you read some of the old entries here blasting him. He owned Alas, A Blog, until he sold it to pornographers. He wanted Heart to be a guest blogger there, before she started this blog. Heart and most of the readers here probably know far more about him than I do, since I was never interested in his blog. I lurked there once in awhile to see what all the fuss was about, but never commented there.

    I often wonder if men I would consider allies are so rare, they are the exceptions that prove the rule. That is one reason I rarely defend men. Usually only some argument about their inherent nature will cause me to make an exception. I do not think men fully comprehend the harm they cause, but they understand it well enough. I think most do want sexism to continue. Why would they not, since it operates to their benefit? Nevertheless, some men do not care for such benefits and rebel against their conditioning. If sexism really were inherent in males, that would not be possible.

    I do not understand your point, m Andrea, saying this:

    For example, they like to say that gender is a social construct, but neuroscience delineates many differences in brain structure. Hello logical inconsistancy!!

    Of course there are differences in brain structure, just like there are differences in body structure. So what? That proves nothing. BTW that argument is often used by transsexuals to prove they really are the sex they think they are. See, they claim they have differences in brain structure that do not match their bodies, so they need to change their bodies to match their brains! That argument also is used by men to argue that biology is destiny. No, biological differences are merely an excuse for men to subordinate women and call it the natural order. Biology has some effect on behavior, but it is far from a determining factor. Some human behavior is instinctual, but most is learned. What is learned can be unlearned.

    Posted by Aletha | December 1, 2007, 9:33 am
  59. m Andrea,

    This was one of the most thoughtful and reasoned posts I’ve read in a long time. You really have a gift for causing people to want to think.

    m Andrea says:
    “Men are either completely stupid, or they don’t care about the harm they cause to women, or they actively want the sexism to continue.”

    It’s my belief that most people don’t want to deliberately do harm. The problem is, people don’t go OUT OF THEIR way to do good. They don’t think it up on their own.

    When I’m at work, men are polite and well behaved, for the most part. But they do nothing to deal with the sexist structures within the company. For instance, we’ll have a regional meeting, and only men will be the speakers all day long. No men will protest this ever. They won’t feel that something inherently unfair is going on, and so I’ll have to confront the management. The management will get really mad at me for even bringing this up, and come up with the same tired old excuses “no qualified women available” — I then hand them a list of over 100 qualified women to speak on our highly technical subjects.

    That’s just one thing. Men even deny that sexism exists. I am convinced that they don’t see it or feel it, because it simply hits too close to home. How would you really change the structure of a home, not as easily as you would change the structure of black/white drinking fountains. How would men change in their personal behavior?

    Why do so few men call talk radio programs to protest the incredible woman hatred. Their voices are so silent out there when the stuff is blatant in your face woman hatred.

    I just don’t see the anger and outrage. I also don’t see white people often getting furious with racism the way we should day and night.

    I guess I just want women to wake up. As the majority, women have power, and we can use it more. It’s hard for me to get my head around all this, because I’m not in the average American home. People can be pretending to be one way in public, then another way in private and we’ll never know.

    As for gender deconstruction and all that, I guess people are ignoring science which is uncovering every year more evidense of the difference in female brain structure. There are people out there who think gender is a made up thing, but they just keep ignoring this brain research. I find the brain research very useful to read about, because it gives me insights into what women will actually do. It’s not the final answer, but we do need to know how the human brain works and use this information and incorporate it into political action.

    m Andrea says:
    “How stupid does a man have to be, in order to keep repeating those oppressive justifications over and over in the face of a trillion gender deconstructions? Men are either completely stupid, or they don’t care about the harm they cause to women, or they actively want the sexism to continue.”

    Well, I’m not really disputing you m Andrea here, don’t get me wrong, but I am damn frustrated as to why all the men at the regional event said nothing about an all male program. Just asking. Why were they silent? Men hold 90% of the positions in our division, women hold 10% of the positions. All the women are top producers, and many new men who get hired fail in the first year because the word requires so much diversity of skills. But that’s another story.

    It’s a rhetorical why?

    I suspect that men do indeed care, but like a lot of women, are afraid to bring up women’s rights in all male groups. They fear social rejection as much as women. I recall one guy I know, an ally, who somehow forgot to vote the day an anti-gay marriage proposal was on the ballot. He is very conservative, and ALWAYS votes, but for some reason this time he forgot. I didn’t get it, and then one day it dawned on me. He couldn’t bring himself to vote “for” gay marriage, because then when people asked him how he’d voted, his fundamentalist church pastor would have given him hell, and if I had asked him, he knew I’d give him hell for voting for the anti measure. He is not a man who lies, he is very honest, which is why I like him. We fight like hell over political issues all the time, but we always respect each other’s opinions.

    I realized that his not showing at the ballot box was his way of trying not to do harm to lesbians and gay people. It was comlex and subtle, and he was in a real bind.

    So yes, men do know that something isn’t right out there, it’s just that they are not all that motivated to really yell and scream about it.

    It’s why women really do have to push for change, and these go along guys will go along. That’s how I see it from a day in and day out level. Hope this helps.

    Denial is an interesting word m Andrea. I don’t like to think I am in it, but on the other hand, I am trying to avoid dealing with dumb men who don’t get it all the time, because you have to admit that can really wear you out as well!

    Thanks again for your post, I really really got a lot out of it, and it made me think! That’s what I need, real challenges to form my ideas with my colleagues out there!! :-)

    Posted by Satsuma | December 1, 2007, 5:44 pm
  60. Thank you Satsuma. Actually I was thinking that you are fascinating, that the way you write and explore a complete thought in one post is very helpful to me. Amy’s Brain had talked about a post which you had written, and my very first thought was, “Where is this woman? What private forum does she belong to, because I want to go there and read more!” *hint hint*

    But I didn’t want to say that earlier, because I figured you’d believe I was just trying to suck up. :)

    Many feminists like to believe, as you might, that men do not see the effect of their words, attitudes, or behavior as being “harmful” or causing a negative consequence to women.

    But Satsuma, where is the evidence? Show me the evidence which proves men really care that what they do is harmful. When it takes decades of repeated gender deconstructions to get them to see that rape jokes are harmful, is that evidence of concern?

    I’m sorry Satsuma, but it seems like something else to me.

    There is a legal term known as “willful blindness”. It is a tactic used by a person who does not want to see what is right there in front of their face, so that later they can say “I did not know it was a problem”. Because they claim to not have seen a problem, it is not legally their responsiblity to either fix it or to seek assistance in fixing it. They cannot be held accountable for what they did not know.

    Claiming “they did not know” has been a pattern of men throughout history. It continues today. You know this to be true.

    Aletha tried to point out a few nice guys as an example of men who do know and who do care. What she forgets, what all feminists like to forget, is a little something that the statisticians are very familiar with in their study of numbers. It is called an outlier.

    An outlier is something which is a very small part of the whole, a number which is so small and so outside the range of the normal majority that it is considered worthless. An outlier is not just a tiny amount of something, it is very different from the rest.

    No statistician is his right mind would attempt to classify men who are “willfully aware” as anything other than an outlier — that is why directing our attention to the “nice guy” is nothing more than a distraction technique for those who wish to remain in denial.

    Thank you very much for your kind words Satsuma, most women blow right by my posts as if the words were never spoken. Another thing, since I’m writing a novel here. People can not face a devastating truth unless there is a way out. I am here to tell you that there is such a path. I would not be telling you these things if real freedom were only a dream.

    Posted by m Andrea | December 2, 2007, 2:46 am
  61. I have enjoyed reading both Satsuma and mAndrea here in this thread.

    Men are either completely stupid, or they don’t care about the harm they cause to women, or they actively want the sexism to continue.

    Yeah, whilst radfems have been crediting males with enough intelligence to change both the system and their behaviour (despite evidence to the contrary), your “willful blindness” hypothesis strikes a chord. As males are renown for responsibility avoidance, the willful blindness fits in nicely.

    As for nature/nuture different brains, the truth lies somewhere in between. The brain develops up to about age 25 and is designed for a learning-fest up to that point. The pathways made during this time can be influenced by environment as much as inherent structure. People who have suffered physical damage to the brain can have new and unusual pathways formed. Also look to siblings brought up in the same environment, they don’t always turn out the same. My conclusion is therefore “a bit of both [nature/nuture]“.

    Satsuma, I am glad that you have modified your writing to be more inclusive of all wimmin, because this is also one of my themes — that wimmin should reach critical mass and rise up against the constant tyranny that pervades society.

    In conclusion, if males continue the willful blindness, then I’ll have to opt to calling them a pack of dumb fucks. We have treated them as intelligent beings, and have not gotten very far.

    Posted by stormy | December 2, 2007, 7:03 am
  62. Heart, Akismit hates me again :(

    Posted by stormy | December 2, 2007, 7:04 am
  63. Hi m Andrea,

    What a positive delight to read yet another one of your posts!!

    I was thinking today that there is a word that is the opposite of mysogynist, but I just can’t remember it. It is a dictionary word, but try as I might it won’t come to me.

    So I thought m Andrea is a very clever derivation of this word. Am I right?

    Ah me oh my, your words are so truthful, it is just hard to face up to all this. But I find you just challenge me to use my mind, to take it further, to get at the answers I’ve searched for for a very long time. It goes beyond the “issues” which are basically unchanging, to the heart of the matter — to discover the law of gravity, or a scientific law that is freedom or enlightenment for all women.

    You might call me a kind of independent scholar in what is beginning to look like a return to dark ages. So I have no blog or no provenance. I simply thought that there are serious women out there, who want substance, who can write in complete sentences, and who are not willing to step back and hide in willful blindness. :-) I love that legal term m Andrea, so thanks for sharing it.

    I get the distinct impression that a lot of women out there aren’t being completely honest about their lives either. Do women really want to do what it takes to gain this freedom?
    They somehow fear that men will kill them for the slightest deviation over “doctrine” but actually, men cheat at being brave as well. In World War II, only one in four soldiers actually were able to fire their guns at oncoming Germans or Japanese. 75% of the soldiers were so terrified, so struck with the horror of war, that they didn’t fire their guns at all.

    The so-called “wild west” was empty and lonely, and women by the thousands also left the east to find fortune out there. They encountered the dull and lonely emptyness, only they wrote about it honestly in their journals and letters home. The men later created western movies :-)

    Your reference to statistics is particularly useful. I find numberical analysis a great tool at getting at truths that most people will not or don’t want to face. So outlier is a very appropriate concept here, or as we used to say it the old fashioned way, statistically insignificant.

    All people will be “nice” under certain circumstances, but will they do what it takes to ensure justice to others? That is rare in human history. I don’t see clear evidense that people will do things outside tribe or social class unless something major changes all the social equations.

    So I like your complex challenges to women to really get around the fact, that unfortunate as it may seem, women really are completely responsible for their own liberation. There will be no other way. This is a very harsh thing to say, because I know classic feminism likes to take away the moral agency of women.

    If we do this, women will walk into the traps all the time, and they will claim “to not know” as well. We had a huge population of closeted lesbians in 1955, but by 1967 things started to change. Lesbians claimed their own power and created an ideological framework to combat the willful ignorance of so many people in this country.

    The willful ignorance may indicate that human beings are far more cowardly than we’d ever care to imagine. Or perhaps some of us work through the fear, and go further down the road to freedom, and then we keep trying.

    I try to pay attention to how persistent people actually are.
    I am relentlessly persistent; a human tank that will stop at no wall. This quality can be very annoying, but I won’t stop my tank until I have reached the golden city in the distance!

    You are right, I do like to work through a single thought. This format is particularly conducive to how my mind actually works on the printed page — focused, intense, and indifferent to whether I either inspire or offend people. My goal is to come to greater truths with the women who care to join me for this incredible search. There are answers, we have them, but it will take time to create a kind of critical mass to get at them.

    I think we have had enough of avoiding unpleasant truths, because this won’t get us anywhere.

    As for me as a writer, I have been concerned about these things for a very long time, but over the past 20 years or so, I’ve seen a steady decline in women’s interest in feminist anything. Out in the world, this political passion has simply disappeared. We are not even close to freedom, but I see the will for the fight just fading.

    We get caught up in the same terrible things. Perhaps women mistakenly believe that the world is safer, but it isn’t.
    Perhaps they aren’t paying attention to what is happening economically in this country, and aren’t really reading the statistics. You’ll get a lot of talk, but very little evidense.

    I don’t know what this is m Andrea, but the lack of logic, the denial, the absense of science, the lack of reliable statistics… as feminists, you’d think we’d have finally come to an understanding of numbers, odds, and the likelyhood of things occuring or not.

    Do we really believe that materially, women control enough resources to make them independent? Do we see what the odds are that women can move freely in the world with safety?
    If not, what is it that we need to be doing?

    “Willful blindness” is a tactic. I have tested this out in the world. One of my tests is to see what men no longer will say in front of my face. As my body language became more unrelentingly violent and stone faced, as the prospect of escalation was very evident to the “willfully ignorant” men out there, things did shift. I came to see them as unable to function purely as moral beings, but only as creatures that respond to the threat of severe punishment.

    Even the catholic church realized this as the law suits piled up in the sex abuse scandals that struck everywhere. They were no more moral than Enron, and they kept going until the prospect of being driven into bankruptsy finally slowed down the child rape machine, that had been in force since the late middle ages. (Source: Woman, Church and State by Matalida Joslyn Gage).

    The bottom line of freedom for women will take more effort than most women ever imagined possible. It will require a focused attention to detail, a strong commitment to economic and scientific knowledge and a desire to do continuous field research.

    If women make these commitments, and see their aggressor as less than beneign and certainly not ignorant, then change is possible. But if women keep wanting to fool themselves about the nature of half the human race and what it does out in the world, then we will be doomed.

    Let’s stop talking about exceptions to the rule, and focus on the majority. Let’s stop getting caught up in the attrocity stories and focus on the main attrocity, the one, the only and its clever smoke screen of “invisibility.”

    Maybe I’m the outlier– a person so outside the norms of daily life, that my observations are useless. I can tell women things all the time, but this outlier quality I live in, makes it very hard for them to want to hear this horrifying truth. And it is very horrifying.

    It’s complex, but we have to know that people settle for things. They cease having a great and powerful passion for anything. They are being dulled by “entertainment” they are losing the ability to focus on one thought or idea for a lengthy period of time, and they get trapped because they run out of ideas and creative drive.

    Feminism is about creativity m Andrea; it is about a vision of a world we really want to live in.

    When I was younger, I thought the ideal relationship was to a person who was my equal, who had a passion for the intellectual life, and who wanted to go as far as she could go in her chosen field. I was interested in living the life of the Oxford Don without a college campus at all. And I was not willing to settle for anything less than the full power of this mind.

    Whether this frightened women or not was imaterial to me.
    I was tired of the short attention spans, and tired of the lack of focused attention. It’s as if people, failing to be able to watch something from beginning to end, are doomed to a life of contantly changing channels, settling on nothing for more than a minute or two.

    The statistical question is simple: if you structure your life on radical feminist principles, and if you look at the enemy as he really is — with detachment, with strong evidense of the persistent crimes — then will your life be materially or spiritually better than the lives of women who choose not to use these principles for concrete daily, weekly and a lifetime of real progress?

    What are the results of the ideas tested out in the world m Andrea, and why do so many women not want to go as far as their minds will take them? Are women as willfully blind as men, and if so, why? And don’t give the usual answers, think of something new if you’re interested. Or perhaps your love of statistics and the reality of science can take me somewhere new.

    Posted by Satsuma | December 2, 2007, 8:34 am
  64. I think my comment went to spam. Oddly, I mentioned the outlier phenomenon, as the exception so rare it proves the rule, but disproves inherency. Perhaps we have different definitions.

    Posted by Aletha | December 2, 2007, 2:44 pm
  65. I retrieved everybody’s comments, including yours of Friday night, Aletha. Sorry for any confusion. Poor Aletha’s waylaid comment is up there in 58.

    I guess by now I’ve had a bajillion and one discussions around this idea that men and women are essentially this or that or the other thing. I am squarely with Aletha’s 58 that I just rescued from spam.

    I could join this discussion, I guess, but frankly, I am way weary of talking about what behaviors may or may not be inherent to men (not to insult anyone, that’s not my intention, it’s just where I’m at after so so so many of these discussions over so many years). I suppose I’m with Stormy as well as with Aletha. I am not and have never been a 100 percent social constructionist. I think there are differences between males and females. Having said that, I’m with Aletha, so what if there are? In the end, focusing on whether or not there are these differences — in my experience anyway — just gets us as women embroiled in arguments which, in the end, are kind of useless and counterproductive. If we say that men are inherently oppressive/violent, etc., then we have the very real and important problems Aletha lists. If we say that men are not inherently oppressive/violent, then we can spend too much time focusing on how enraged we are with their behaviors. In the end, this is, for me, too much focusing on the psyches of men, and I’ve had/done enough of that to last me a lifetime.

    Male actions and behaviors take place in a certain context, as do female actions and behaviors. It makes no sense (to me) to focus on how accountable or responsible individuals may be for whatever they have “chosen” in a context in which most people’s — males’ and females’ — “choices” are limited. The choices white, affluent, heterosexual men born to privilege have available to them are not remotely like the “choices” men of color born to poverty and marginalization have to them. Boys who grow up battered and abused by boys and men, who have guns put into their hands at age 10 or 12 or 16, who grow up knowing themselves to be people who are supposed to, for example, defend women and country and honor and all of that are going to make different choices and be different kinds of people than are boys who grow up in different contexts with a different set of expectations. Being battered and abused affects brain chemistry, affects bodily reactions, scars human beings, and this is certainly as much so for males as it is for females. When we talk about “nature” vs. “nurture”, even the words don’t work. Growing up battered and abused by your dad is not “nurture,” for example, it is ANTI-nurture. And I have a post I’m about to put up which has me thinking a lot about that.

    I do not need to do one wit of scientific research to know that children are not born into the world tabula rasa, a “clean slate.” Most mothers know this, but those of us with many children *really* know it. Human beings come into the world with a whole set of gifts, talents, weaknesses, limitations, proclivities which they display from their earliest moments of life, before “nurture” has had much of anything to do with anything. They are then cared for by human beings with their own sets of gifts, talents, weaknesses, etc., then they may be subjected to the warehousing and institutionalizing effects of preschools, schools, churches, neighborhood, community, etc., again surrounded by people young and old with their own gifts, talents, weaknesses, and so on. The socialization process is exquisitely complex, such that to attempt to isolate out what might be attributable to “nature” and what has to do with “nurture” (or anti-nurture), or to make sweeping proclamations about either one seems wrongheaded to me and not likely to get us anywhere very helpful or useful.

    We can look at the world and see that in the world, males have the power compared with females in virtually every arena. At the same time, men are far and away more likely to be killed (by men) than females are. In between male power and control of the earth, females and creatures, and the likelihood that males are going to be murdered by other males, are might-makes-right hierarchicalizing, patriarchal ideologies which are ancient and so deeply ingrained in human beings in by far most societies and cultures that they “look” like inherency, I believe. From our earliest moments, as girls, as boys, we experience the socializing effect of these ideologies, whatever our nature and however deep the differences between us may or may not be. So to me it’s a dead end to attempt to parse all of that out.

    When I (and others) talk about deconstructing, gender, all I am saying is, a female can be whomever she wants to be, present anyway, act anyway, and yet be a girl and woman. Same with a male. That is the basic premise. From there we move on to analyze everything that IS demanded of/expected of/forced on males and females BECAUSE they are males and females and we say it’s wrong. NOTHING should be expected of/demanded of/forced on someone because she is female or because he is male. I think this particular feminist focus — that gender must be deconstructed — has been quite effective in the world, has caused great change in my own lifetime, including amongst people who are not consciously intending to “deconstruct gender” but who can just see for themselves that the principle makes sense. Why the heck should a boy baby be dressed yay and so, and a girl baby thus and yay? Why should boys be treated this way and given this and such, and girls are somehow treated this other way and given other kinds of things? Leaving aside people in fundamentalist religions (billions of people!), these notions make good sense.

    I do not want to further send you reeling, Satsuma, but I homeschooled my kids. I have been homeschooling my kids since 1983 and my youngest two are still homeschooled. I am here to tell one and all that the socialization children experience in schools, school sports, etc., is a *huge* factor in the kind of men and women they become. If only because of my own experiences having by now raised five sons, four to adulthood (the oldest will be 36 in February), and six daughters, four to adulthood (so far) (the oldest is 32 tomorrow, happy birthday, Jeyoani! xxxooo), I do not believe males or females are “inherently” anything. I think they are made to be who they are by a million powerful sets of social and cultural interactions, processes, negotiations, and machinations which begin in their earliest moments and continue on into their 20s. I also have the experience of watching grandchildren who are being homeschooled by their parents, who were also homeschooled. When this does not take place in the context of fundamentalist communities, one can readily see the validity of social construction theories. And geez, there is SO much to say about this. I am too tired of the discussion, though, to feel up to writing yet another book in my comments section!

    If we decide that people are willfully denying certain things, well, all that gets us is irate. I mean, what if they are? From my perspective, the goal is to work hard to illuminate the realities of girls and women in the world by telling the *truth* about that reality, even when that does require hefty doses of atrocity feminism. Atrocities against women and girls are not reported NEARLY enough and that’s why when feminists do report them, it is so hard to read, to hear. Atrocities against women are routinely ignored, dismissed, called something besides atrocities, swept under the rug, excused. For that to end, as feminists, I think we have to talk about the atrocities, hard as it is. I think we have to put names and faces to women who are victims of atrocities, we have to give them lives, loves, herstories, make them real to people, not to sensationalize them but to tell the truth about them in a world that *does not* tell the truth about them. This, imo, is central to women mobilizing, organizing, rising up and it always has been, the telling of women’s stories, the describing of women’s realities. Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology is certainly atrocity feminism but it has been central to raising the consciousnesses of a generation as to the state of women in the world. Telling the truth is not *disempowering*, it is the most empowering thing of all in a world in which women’s truths are routinely silenced. I think a lot of the reason men do not act as we think they should if they were not “inherently” whatever is, they don’t hear the truth! They are not exposed to it. They don’t hear the atrocity feminism that they need to hear in order to see the lives and realities of women as they really are.

    Argh. This is the longest comment ever. I have to quit here!

    Posted by womensspace | December 2, 2007, 4:43 pm
  66. I have argued in the past about the inherency of rape in the male with Heart and Aletha, but reading their comments I think we are actually closer in our analyses of the phenomenon than we previously thought. I was arguing for inherency, but I never thought that it resided in the genes or chromosomes. Thinking more about what I was trying to get at, I would have to call my thoughts on the subject, still incomplete, as basically metaphysical but related to biology. Something along the lines of “nature hates a vacuum”. Things are sucked into a vacuum. Men’s inability to bring life into the world creates somewhat of a “vacuum” in their psychology. Since the inability is absolute, something else has to be sucked into the vacuum to fill it. That something is rape and all manner of patriarchal evil. The condition is exacerbated by human culture which thinks and philosophizes a lot about the creation of life and its meaning. Men have colonized this arena through patriarchal religion and medicine, but their success can only be indirect and fragile at best, so it leaves them forever trying to “prove” something.

    Whatever. Hope I make at least some sense.

    Posted by Branjor | December 2, 2007, 5:34 pm
  67. Back in 1999 for my publication, I wrote an article entitled For Our Children’s Sakes — A Special Report on How Children Learn. It’s a good article if I do say so myself and maybe I’ll scan the whole thing in later. Here are some excerpts which are germane to the turn this thread has taken. While we can talk about differences in brain chemistry and agree that they exist, we also have to consider, I think, that brain chemistry is affected by the experiences people have in life, abuse and battering, in particular. In other words, just evaluating differences in brain chemistry isn’t going to give us the answers we are looking for as to what may be “inherent” or essential in males or females, we have to look deeper to the possible sources of these differences.

    My article was written for homeschooling parents, of course, nevertheless, what I wrote is germane here. Because, ya know, it really is all connected!

    ***

    From For Our Children’s Sakes — a Special Report on How Children Learn, by Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff, Gentle Spirit Magazine, October 1999, pp. 22-32

    Parents pass on a number of characteristics to their children via their genes, but from the time a baby is conceived, its developing brain is offered various experiences as well, with environment shaping how genes are expressed in an interesting collaboration between “nature” and “nurture”. For some years educators and researchers have believed that intelligence and learning were more a matter of “nurture” than nature, and scientists and philosophers debated the subject for generations. Via research we have learned that genetics are at least as important as environment, with neither one as compellingly interesting as the intricate exchange and interaction which takes place between the two. Intellectual, emotional, social and physical experiences are laid upon the trillions of connections between brain cells that make learning and memory possible. Discussion and debate over the importance of nature versus nuture have been all but supplanted with scientists and researchers turning their attention to evaluating and investigating these ongoing mutiple interactions between the brain’s genetics and the environment. As one researcher said, “It’s not a competition, it’s a dance.”

    …the brain actually builds, grows, constructs, creates itself by engagement with the world around it, by means of vision, touch, hearing, smell and taste. …Children who do not receive stimulation, touch, who live in impoverished environments, who are abused or neglected, suffer developmental delays and mental retardation. We have learned that memory is a function of context and that material which is learned via rote memory is not usable unless it is connected with some association or experience. And we have found that learning does not result from being a passive recipient of information; instead it results from combinations of experiences, from social interaction, emotional responses, movements and activities which strengthen the connections between brain neurons.

    One way researchers have described the brain is in terms of what is called its “plasticity.” This means it is much less like a computer than it is like a flexible, self-adjusting, ever changing organism which is reshaped and grows in response to challenges and which withers when it is not used. … enriched environments lead to actual changes and physical growth in the cerebral cortex of the brain where higher learning occurs. When nerve cells are stimulated by many experiences they grow branches called “dendrites” which allow one nerve cell to receive input from thousands of other nerve cells, depending on the number of dendrites. As nerve cells are used or stimulated, people grow more dendrites. If they are not used, they lose dendrites. These actual changes to the structure and chemistry in the brain which are the brain’s response to the environment are called “plasticity.” Intelligence depends on these many connections among nerve cells. Enriched environments create greater intelligence than impoverished environments, although precisely what constitutes enrichment is going to vary from person to person. And people’s brains can grow and increase in numbers of dendrites into old age if they are continually being used and stimulated, presented with new challenges.

    …in the early years, experience, and particularly the experience of engaging with adults, interacts with genetics to determine how children will think and what they will learn. Some children’s brains are more genetically vulnerable to stress than others; other children’s brains are vulnerable because their mothers experienced severe stress or abused substances during pregnancy…

    Threatening environments in infancy can trigger imbalances of brain chemicals which affect genes, and early experiences then interact with these genes to lay a biochemical foundation for how a person will function socially, intellectually and emotionally throughout his lifetime.

    Stresses which are caused by abuse, neglect or sensory deprivation of various kinds can actually affect genes by switching them on and off at the “wrong” time, forcing them to build abnormal networks of connections in the brain. Over time, stressful environments can cause some kinds of genes which are necessary to survival to become overexpressed, so that people become aggressive, violent or depressed.

    A certain amount of stress always accompanies challenge and is necessary to growth and learning, and when parents comfort and encourage children during these times of normal stress, children develop the necessary apparatus to handle future stressors and to continue to take the risks of learning new things and meeting new challenges. But excessive, severe or ongoing stresses of various kinds damage early brain development in ways which are sometimes irreversible.

    The brain will ultimately organize itself in direct response to the pattern, intensity and nature of sensory and perceptual experience. During key, critical periods of development, the brain is extremely sensitive to quantity, quality, and pattern of activation of its network of neurons. When stressful events of sufficient duration, intensity or frequency occur, brain development is altered. …

    Stress triggers “fight or flight” responses in which hormones flood the brain to ready it for instantaneous reaction. All the glucose, the brain’s fuel, travels from the higher centers of the brain where reasoning and thought occur, and go to the muscles so that we can run away or fight if need be. Stress hormones stay at high levels sometimes for days after particularly distressing events and chronic stress may produce hormones which destroy neurons responsible for learning and memory.

    …When a child is repeatedly stressed, areas of the brain which affect anxiety, arousal, sleep, the startle response and cardiovascular and respiratory function are affected. Emotions are actually distinct patterns of behaviors of neurons in the brain, as opposed to “feelings” which are the words we use to describe the emotions. Fear goes beyond emotion to include an additional, specific memory of the emotion which is stored in a part of the brain known as the amygdala. …in the case of fear, two kinds of memory are in operation, the actual, explicit or conscious memory of the event, called declarative memory, and the implicit memory or procedural memory, which is unconscious. These implicit memories which are mediated by the amygdala cause the body to respond in certain ways as a result of past experiences without consciously realizing it. Anxiety, distress and fear … can diffuse into one single intrinsic or unconscious emotion of fear which is stored in the amygdala. Once fear is learned it cannot be unlearned. … Over time, children who are repeatedly stressed, anxious or fearful exhibit motor hyperactivity, sleep problems, tachycardia, hypertension and other dysfunctions. Sometimes it is as though these children walk around in a persistent state of fear. Their brain function is physiologically altered and the parts of the brain involved with the stress response are reactivated whenever the child is merely reminded of a stressful event or when he thinks about it or dreams about it.

    Peptide molecules are messengers of the emotional system. These are chains of amino acids and are commonly known as hormones and neuropeptides. These same molecules, when they are developed outside the body, are known as drugs.

    Peptides travel the brain and body via our neural networks, circulatory system and air passages and they can powerfully affect the decisions we make. Cortisol is a peptide molecule which is released by our adrenal glands when we are stressed. High levels of cortisol produced over long periods of time in response to stress can cause circulatory, digestive, and immune disorders as well as feelings of despair.

    Importantly, chronically high cortisol levels can eventually destroy the neurons in the hippocampal area of the brain which are associated with learning and memory. Even short-term stress-related elevations of cortisol in the hippocampus hinder the ability to distinguish between the important and unimportant aspects of an event. …

    When people are in danger, fear is a protector. In those moments it is a good thing to “downshift”, i.e., for reflexive responses to take over, for glucosteroids to leave the brain and head for the muscles so that people are able to protect themselves. If it turns out that there is nothing to fear, the reflective response will shortly follow and people will begin to evaluate and make a more calm assessment of the situation.

    Dowshifting, stress, fear, reflexive responses are a problem when they are too frequent, ongoing, to the degree that children and adults experience difficulty in learning, responding appropriately to challenges or new information, and interacting with other people. When people downshift they seek to protect themselves, reverting to primitive, instinctual behaviors having to do with self-preservation (yelling, crying out, getting angry, crying). They have a significantly reduced capacity to adapt to new circumstances, to recognize context cues or deal with uncertainty. If you were afraid there was an armed intruder lurking outside your door, you would likely not be very interested in anything else which was going on around you. Nothing would seem important to you except finding out whether there really was an armed intruder outside, and if so, calling for help…people who are downshifting (because of fear) find it impossible to access simple ideas and procedures which are familiar…

    Some researchers have suggested it might be helpful to imagine the brain as an ecosystem of its own, like a rich, thriving, growing jungle. The different parts of the brain, like the living, growing creatures and wildlife in the jungle, are continually affecting one another, continually growing, adapting, changing and dying back in their season. A jungle is orderly and chaotic, messy and predictable. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but each part can stand alone. A jungle is always in process and everything is layered. Thinking of the mutiple, complex structures of the brain and its adaptive mechanisms as an ecosystem helps us imagine how all of the different parts of the brain operate together to form a single extremely complex, yet unified system.

    … Barry Commoner proposes four laws which govern properly operating ecosystems and perhaps adapting these laws to brain function will offer additional insights.

    (1) Everything is connected to everything else. Our brain is a dense web of interconnected neurons. Any neuron is only a few nuerons away from any other neuron…

    (2) Everything must go somewhere. Everything that occurs within an environment, including the brain environment, leaves a trace. Just as toxic wastes will foul the subsequent life in an environment’s ecological chains, an abusive or neglectful childhood will be remembered and will affect the child’s subsequent life. ….

    (3) There’s no such thing as a free lunch. It takes effort to force a system to operate unnaturally (e.g., water flows downhill naturally, but uphill only with great effort.) Educational procedures should seek to enhance our brain’s strengths and minimize the negative effects of its weakness.

    END EXCERPTS (for now)

    This scratches the surface of the complexity of this discussion of nature and “nurture”. I think the most important thing about those excerpts, or the key idea, is that what is most significant is not the nature OR the nurture but the interplay between the two.

    Where as feminists we can effect change is, in part, in working very hard to address and challenge and illuminate all of the socializing processes which result in such high levels of ongoing fear and stress that people’s capacities to learn and to respond nondestructively to new information, challenges, conflicts and difficulties are reduced or eliminated entirely. But to do that, I think we have to get beyond reductive ideas about both nature and nurture, and in particular, of nature itself as predictive of much of anything, whether it is males or females we are talking about.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 2, 2007, 6:21 pm
  68. I am remembering Jeyoani commenting to me recently about how sweet she thought it was when her brother, my youngest son, who is 12 and always homeschooled, and his nephew (ha! big families), my grandson, who is 11 and also always homeschooled, insisted on holding her hands when my son was down in L.A. visiting and they were out and about together. Do any of you here know very many 11, 12-year old boys who want to walk around out in public holding their sister’s/aunt’s hands as they walk around, go shopping, etc? Being tough guys and macho dudes is not, I do not believe, something that is essential to males. It’s something they learn.

    Posted by womensspace | December 2, 2007, 7:02 pm
  69. Of course I rarely say this kind of thing because it sounds too not-my-Nigelish! And I don’t do not-my-Nigel. But homeschooling feminist mothers are engaged in a very grand experiment and it doesn’t really make sense not to offer reports once in a while on what that experience is revealing.

    Posted by womensspace | December 2, 2007, 7:03 pm
  70. I would have to call my thoughts on the subject, still incomplete, as basically metaphysical but related to biology. Something along the lines of “nature hates a vacuum”. Things are sucked into a vacuum. Men’s inability to bring life into the world creates somewhat of a “vacuum” in their psychology. Since the inability is absolute, something else has to be sucked into the vacuum to fill it. That something is rape and all manner of patriarchal evil. The condition is exacerbated by human culture which thinks and philosophizes a lot about the creation of life and its meaning. Men have colonized this arena through patriarchal religion and medicine, but their success can only be indirect and fragile at best, so it leaves them forever trying to “prove” something.

    Yes! I think this is really good and insightful.

    Posted by womensspace | December 2, 2007, 7:04 pm
  71. I think feminist home schooling is a good option! Nice to hear it exists, because all we out in the big cities hear about is big bad fundamentalist whacko religions teaching their children that evolution is fake.

    There is always an alternative.

    I have always thought that women and girls are capable of everything and anything, and that society puts so much pressure on girls to conform, that the HIGH pressure tactics are suspect in and of themselves. If everything is so natural, then why is there all the social pressure to begin with?

    Where did the idea of a hell come from? Just a means to scare the peasants into obeying the lords.

    Someone mentioned the vaccum and men needing to fill a vacuum. They do indeed, both for good and evil. Think of the childless DaVinci and the childless Michaelangelo, for example.
    However, I believe there is a huge contingent of women and girls who were bored to death at the thought of children, and we too really wanted to go out into the world and do big things. We were not the stay at home types.

    There’s a huge difference in the life journey of a lesbian who sets sail for a distant land at the age of 22, and a woman who has a child at 22, for example.

    Feminism to me, held out the dream that I would never have to be stuck doing anything that women have been forced to do for thousands of years! I was ecstatically happy over this possibility, and I came on board to feminism the minute I knew it was out there, or perhaps I was already a feminist and along came a movement to give me more passion.

    We need to have massive freedom available, and a complete lack of “social” coersion for girls, so that they really do have honest choices. If the social environment is hostile to girls (junior highs and high schools being hellish places for girl intellectual passion), then homeschooling is a possibility.

    Do the schools ruin both boys and girls? In most big cities, public schools are just warehouses.

    But homeschooling now is a massive social experiement that right wing groups fund and support, so that they can essentially indoctrinate children and keep them hidden away in cults. Millions of kids are being subjected to this nonsense.
    We have to be a little weary here.

    Change we want to see comes in all forms. Those who want to create the change environments for young boys are welcome to do so. Those who feel they want to create a new world for children are also welcome to do their best in this department. Just make sure that childbearing and women aren’t the worshipped way of life, and that militant anti-child lesbian intellectualism gets its due, and I’ll be happy :-)

    There Heart, we both get what we want la la la! :-)

    Posted by Satsuma | December 2, 2007, 9:25 pm
  72. Hearrrt, I love you, but you’re arguing that we shouldn’t argue about inherency. :) Which is exactly what happens every time I point out that little proof — which nobody has refuted yet, by the way.

    If sexism isn’t inherent, then no one should have any trouble refuting it, right? :) oooh, I am so wicked!

    Posted by m Andrea | December 2, 2007, 10:44 pm
  73. I’m assuming you want to close this particular discussion down here Hearrrt, and that’s ok.

    But if anyone else wants to continue the discussion somewhere else, I’m willing. I wrote a long reply to you Aletha! I appreciate that you are willing to help me see things from your point of view.

    Posted by m Andrea | December 2, 2007, 10:54 pm
  74. Nah, I think you can argue it. I just get tired of arguing about it. But whoever else wants to should feel free and I hope you don’t feel ignored if I decline. :)

    Honestly, I’m not really following your line of reasoning, m Andrea. I think people can refute anything– true stuff, lies, inherent stuff, noninherent stuff, imaginary stuff, concrete stuff, you name it, it can be refuted.

    If sexism is not inherent, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It just isn’t necessarily something that accompanies maleness.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 2, 2007, 10:56 pm
  75. I’m not really trying to close the discussion down (although it’s kind of far afield of the African warlords discussion).

    Re your proof, I guess I don’t agree with your two premises:

    The desire for sex is inherent, with the degree lying upon a continuum.

    I don’t think that the desire for sex is inherent. I think there are asexual people, both males and females (although they are few).

    The desire for power/control is inherent, with the degree lying upon a continuum.

    I completely disagree with this premise. I do not agree that the desire for power/control is inherent or essential or biological or genetic or anything else. I think it is learned.

    It’s a difficult argument, because there is no way to prove either of your premises either way. All we have is theory and conjecture and what we each believe to be true, based on our own study, knowledge, etc.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 2, 2007, 11:00 pm
  76. “(although it’s kind of far afield of the African warlords discussion). ”

    This last little post of yours Heart just caused me to burst out laughing all over!! I myself thought, “How the heck did Afghan warlords turn into this?” But now your ‘African warlords” accidental mispelling just brought down the house LOL — Laugh Out Loud!

    Anyway, I think there are a wide variety of human responses and solutions to all these things. The “prove” or “disprove” sometimes is not conclusive.

    My proofs are simply my life — what works for me, what doesn’t, and the trick is to get out of the mythology and into reality. When you go to other countries, they have constructed completely different myths as to why men get to run everything. HMMM

    m Andrea and “inherency” is an interesting question. I guess I want women to be awake and to get what they want. I want women to be able to do what they want too. My tank like nature just goes through a town, so this solid single-minded determination is a very good tactic for a radical lesbian feminist. It might not be as workable for other women.

    We are joyful or horrified depending on where we stand in the larger world. People will believe their own myths because they want to, but what annoys me is they don’t admit that their lives are constructed on mythology.

    With me, I simply had to invent a mythology where I get to win, and straight people don’t own and control everything. I looked to lesbians of history as my mentors, and just wrote off heterosexual culture as a somewhat tiresome obstacle to my inner life. This works.

    But other women have to deal with the world in their ways as well. It’s why there is conflict, because we all don’t really know what keeps the patriarchal fires burning worldwide, we don’t really know what it would take to derail this system.

    We have seen men derail monarchy, theocracy, Czarist Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Aztec civilization and the gods and goddesses of Egypt — but we don’t know what it would take for male rule to be completely derailed in at least one major country or continent. It hasn’t happened yet, so obviously we have to think long and hard about why this is.

    It could be that men just have a far greater interest in BIG history and the WORLD than women do. They may be far more bored with child care and child rearing than women are, so they have more incentive to set sail for Paris while Mom and kids are back in the colonies. I suspect this, but again, it is a mere fanciful guess.

    How far we on the road to freedom women? My life seems a million times easier, but again, a tank that doesn’t run out of gas on a fine day will plough through the town, and nothing will stop it. I’m not so sure most women even want to be a tank. It’s just a metaphor that I enjoy thinking about.

    Posted by Satsuma | December 3, 2007, 3:39 am
  77. P.S. Thanks Aletha for comment #58. A lot of what you say makes sense to me.

    I think people do the convenient thing, but they have trouble dreaming of alternatives. It’s what great thinking is all about.

    The truth is, women do need to gather and converse on these subjects. We need significant time in our own groups to form ideas for governing and human behavior that are in the honest best interests of women.

    Men have had plenty of time for their symposiums with Plato and their male constitutional conventions, of which they cling to thinking 18th century men in America spoke to the entire human condition 200 years later.

    They had their churches and cathedrals and councils of trent.

    We know what happens when women develop their own style of writing, which happened during the Heian Era in Japan — a separate alphabet was created by women, because they were banned from learning the complex 5,000 some set of Chinese characters only boys were allowed to learn.

    They invented a simple script called hiragana, and as a result, Lady Mirasaki used it to write the very first modern novel Genji Monogatari– The Tale of Genji.

    This is just an example of how women’s genius comes to fore when women are in charge of creating writing itself. They act differently.

    Women are in a creative process worldwide now –it’s global feminism and the rise of women’s agency all over the world.

    I think women know that men’s rule has put us on the brink of excstinction. I think lesbians are rising because the world is being over populated. I think a lot of things are changing, and I think men who don’t adapt and get rid of their sexism, might find themselves extinct someday.

    Posted by Satsuma | December 3, 2007, 3:52 am
  78. Well Hearrrt, whenever the blog hostess rushes in to defend the men, that’s usually the signal that the party’s over. ;)

    I wrote a really long reply to Aletha, but just the disclaimer is clocking in at a ridiculous amount of words. LOL

    I don’t think that the desire for sex is inherent. I think there are asexual people, both males and females (although they are few).

    All due respect, but I don’t know of a single reputable medical doctor who would agree with you. The sexual drive is biological in nature, driven by hormones. Asexual people simply occupy a different space upon the continuum, but it’s still on the continuum.

    Fetishes are learned though, and culture teaches us through repetition what particular kinds of things we should find arousing.

    The desire for power/control is inherent, with the degree lying upon a continuum.

    I completely disagree with this premise. I do not agree that the desire for power/control is inherent or essential or biological or genetic or anything else. I think it is learned.

    Again, with all due respect, I doubt if you would find a reputable medical doctor willing to agree. Yes both of my answers are appeals to authority, and yes it is possible that someday medical science will decide that both of those drives are learned, but for now they are firmly in the camp belonging to biological in origin. Frankly, every new thing coming down the pike just piles more agreement on top of the old pile, which is already pretty large.

    It really does prove that sexism is inherent. Nobody can really argue with it. That’s why I love that little proof so much, and why everyone tries so hard to dismiss it out of hand.

    The only thing they can do is try bargaining with it, as Satsuma as done a little. I’m really sorry, but culture is not an excuse for sexism. At some point in time, people have to take responsiblity for their individual choices for their own behavior.

    There’s this thing called diffusion of responsiblity. You could also call it a shotgun. Basically, it means that the more people who are in the room when the gun goes off, the less likely any one person is likely to be hit. The more people who are standing around the christmas tree when it falls over, the less likely anyone is to think that they are the one who knocked it over.

    “I wouldn’t have moved my elbow just so, if Johnny hadn’t pushed me, it’s HIS fault!” And in what’shisname’s mind, it wasn’t his fault. He just let himself off the hook.

    There are 3.5 billion men standing around the christmas tree when suddenly it falls over. Obviously, “no one” knocked it over. I know, let’s blame the air! The movement of air currents knocked it over. Yea, that’s it. No one person caused that massive air current, so no one is at fault.

    It’s a way to re-assign blame and responsibility, so that no one has to feel guilty, or take responsibility in fixing it.

    It’s a difficult argument, because there is no way to prove either of your premises either way. All we have is theory and conjecture and what we each believe to be true, based on our own study, knowledge, etc.

    It’s a beautiful argument, because it puts the responsibility right back where it should be — on every single individual man. If a guy is quietly standing aside while his buddy makes rape jokes, then he too is part of the problem.

    It’s a tool. Use it. The next time some guy tells you it’s not his problem, or that he never does sexist crap so it’s not his problem, or that he has a feminist girlfriend so he doesn’t have to read one of those flakey feminist books, kindly explain to him that he is full of shit. And tell him about the shotgun or the christmas tree — diffusion of responsibility.
    :) Feminazi would be proud! LOL

    Posted by m Andrea | December 3, 2007, 5:53 am
  79. Hey, mAndrea. :)

    I think medical doctors take all sorts of positions which shore up male heterosupremacy. They are not an authority I recognize so far as gender issues especially. They say that gender- nonconforming men who believe themselves to be women should transition, take hormones and have surgeries which will then make them women, for example, and that gender nonconforming women who believe themselves to be men should transition, take hormones and have surgeries which make them men, often with the reasoning that these procedures and surgeries are treatments for deviance of various kinds, instead of remedies for the problems that gender nonconforming people cause to the sensibilities of sexists. They say if a woman in labor pushes for two hours and the baby doesn’t present, the woman needs a c-section. They say baby boys should be circumcized. They say the Ashley treatment was a good thing. They prescribe buttloads of toxic pharmaceuticals, including to children, like it was candy. At various times, they have believed that lesbians were deviants who needed clitoridectomies to be “cured,” and that hysterectomies and clitoridectomies were an appropriate treatment for “nymphomania.” While I am interested in science and medicine and pay attention to these, I am always considering that patriarchal medicine rarely has taken positions which were in the best interests of women.

    So far as asexual people, I just believe what people say about themselves, women especially. M.D.s have long considered women who were uninterested in having intercourse with men as deviants, mentally ill, frigid, etc., and needing various treatments. In fact, the women were simply uninterested in having intercourse with men. Not so long ago, lesbians were considered by M.D.s to be mentally ill because they were lesbians. Some women and some men really do not want to engage sexually with other people. If this is what they say about themselves, I see no reason to insist otherwise because doctors do?

    I know of no doctors who would say that the impulse to dominate is essential or innate. If they do say that, I can only respond, that’s their theory, I’m not buying it. There have been historically and continue to be cultures, matrilineal, matriarchal, in particular, which are peaceable and which are not characterized by violence, aggression, or dominance behaviors. Patriarchal anthropologists/historians dispute this of course, but feminist anthropologists/historians are challenging the male domination of those disciplines and how has affected research, study, academia, etc.

    I don’t think believing that gender is constructed equals an “excuse” for sexism. I think it’s the opposite, really, that to suggest that violence/rape are innate/inherent/essential to males, gives men an excuse, i.e., that because of their biology/hormones/whatever, they can’t help themselves, they are compelled to batter, rape, etc. I think that investigating sexism as a matter of socialization removes everyone’s excuse for sexist behaviors, in that whatever behaviors are not innate can, should, and must be changed. Nothing is stopping anyone but their desire to continue to be sexists. Their biology/hormones/XY chromosomes have nothing to do with their raping or battering or whatever. I think women’s deference behaviors, fears, etc., are also a result of the way females are socialized. That is not an “excuse” for the poor choices women make sometimes, it is an aid to understanding the dynamics and machinations of male heterosupremacy.

    Satsuma, argh, re African instead of Afghan warriors. It’s been a long week!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 3, 2007, 8:18 am
  80. This argument is splendid as I have wondered about it myself–inherency and all that.

    For example, I wonder if when we talk sex drive (and domination therein)=innate if we mean intercourse or something else?
    Does it require penile penetration/vaginal surrounding?
    Is it just genital stimulation?
    How do we interpret one stimulator as the dominant over the other if it is just genital stimulation?
    How does gay male sex play out in this scenario?
    Is it genetic and/or hormonal? Hormone levels vary–so what’s the cut off? What gene?

    And if it is the innate drive for stimulation and/or intercoursing of another then shouldn’t we be calling it a biological drive towards rape?
    At least, the way I see it, if your desire to stimulate another occurs before your knowledge of whether the other is interested then you are participating in rape tendencies. However, if it is stimulation of any kind (not requiring another) then is it really a drive towards sex? Sex, as I have come to understand it, requires another person.

    *Not trying to thread hijack! Honestly curious. I don’t expect anyone to have all/any of those answers but if you could take a stab my brain might get to scratch an itch!

    Posted by pisaquari | December 3, 2007, 1:05 pm
  81. Council of Trent, the 16th century – that’s the one in which they decided that women don’t have souls.

    Posted by Branjor | December 3, 2007, 1:27 pm
  82. The Council of Trent was mainly a reaction to the Protestant reformation– and met off and on between 1545 and 1563.

    Aristotle brilliantly concluded that women didn’t have souls, so they’ve been at this a very long time! The defining character of all the historical groups I mentioned is that women never took part in them. So we are stuck with a “tradition” of laws, religion and social customs that women had no hand in shaping.

    I can well understand Heart’s perceptive observation that all of medical science has done women harm, and that science has had the craziest ideas of who women are as human beings.

    Since I know so little about science, it’s really hard for me to know for sure what is going on out there. I’m not excusing my ignorance here, but it is a difficult subject.

    Since sexism is so amazingly worldwide, you do wonder about how it manages to thrive like weeds everywhere.

    On the other hand, I am not a big believer in the biological “sex drive” of humans. Leave it to men to name a function after vehicals that they also like to “drive.”

    I tend to be quite suspicious of people who talk about “raging hormones” of teenagers, since I was not in this category. I had no interest in sex whatsoever in high school, I was a very intellectually driven person. I watched the ridiculous culture of teenage sexuality around me in high school and found it offensive. Girls acting dumb that sort of thing.

    Intellectual achievement of girls was severly attacked by boys in high school in the 70s, so unlike the other girls, I decided to escalate the conflict. Girls are supposed to be non-violent, not me. I hate all that talk about women the peacemakers etc., etc. I’m a lesbian warrior and rejoice in the death of enemies! I have no compassion for the men in power, and you don’t want to get me going on this, because I just have a brutal attitude toward oppression.

    Although I’m not particulary convinced about the “drives” men so love to celebrate, I do believe that there are forces that cause so many societies to be so alike in the male superior woman inferior social structure. I find it odd that more women worldwide don’t rebel or overthrow these men, and don’t somehow arrange to kill them all in their beds while they are sleeping. Even Judith did this in the bible, so there is some record of a woman warrior who slew a general.

    The Christmas tree example and shot gun example are very well argued. I’ve never met a man who ever owned up to being sexist. They’ve never said, ‘Gee, that comment was sexist, I’m sorry,” for example.

    It’s why I strongly support the idea of women deciding what they want and being blunt about getting it. It’s not about wasting time trying to get men to change. It’s a matter of getting laws passed, getting women organized, and this massive movement for change known as feminism is what will push the enemies over the cliff. When men have nowhere to hide, no marriage partners to be found, no control over everything… well we might see them change.

    Men are trying everything in the book to control women in advertising, pornography and pop culture. Ever wonder why there was almost nothing about Doris Lessing winning the Nobel Prize for literature on any of the main T.V. news shows? Ever wonder why Ana Nicole Smith was on night and day? Well men make these programming choices, and they try to get women to believe that that’s the way the world is.

    Just come on over to this blog, and you’ll see a completely different social reality. Hundreds of women commenting here on the cause of freedom for women worldwide, the documentation of crimes against women, and the arguments we use to fight for freedom. Men reading this must be astonished. They probably think, “Gee the women in my office don’t talk like this, no one on CNN has s show like this…” That’s because they are unaccustomed to entering women’s space where women run the presses and control the information.

    It’s a power position we have claimed for ourselves, and I say women everywhere need to be making contributions to these groups, and sharing ideas, so that we find out how to overthrow patriarchy, and lay waste to the oppressor’s ideologies of inequality once and for all.

    I notice every now and then that a fundamentalist woman will wander in here. This is the land of freedom women!

    Posted by Satsuma | December 3, 2007, 8:18 pm
  83. I think this thread has been hijacked a long time ago!

    Branjor, you are really a very thoughtful and kind person, I wish you would post more here. If I have ever done anything to offend you or make you feel uncomfortable, I apologize.

    Pisaquari, Thornhill and Palmer wrote A Natural History of Rape, which might be what you’re looking for, if you want to wade through that book. I found it tedious for some reason, probably because of all the disclaimers, and still haven’t made it past chapter three. It was skewered as a “just so” story, but I found several interesting threads about it by googling the title.

    From some of the excerpts in those threads, I remember wondering if it wasn’t a little bit like Darwin’s book initially — people automatically hated the premise and so that was enough to turn everybody off for a long time. I did think the book went too far in it’s assumptions a few times, but it also made some good points.

    Satsuma! You are fabulous. Get a blog before Hearrrt kills us all! :) And tell me where else you’re posting besides here, quit holding out!

    About the little proof: You said a lot about patriarchal doctors, as a way to discredit the theory by indirect character association, but nothing which refutes the theory itself.

    I know of no doctors who would say that the impulse to dominate is essential or innate. If they do say that, I can only respond, that’s their theory, I’m not buying it.

    The doctors don’t say that, AFAIK. They say that drives are biological, and get all prissy over nuances depending how precisely the questions are asked. I’m guessing that if I said that to them, then I would get an hour long lecture on the differences between domination and control, which is why I never used the word “dominate”. :)

    The word “control” means “to exercise restraining or directing influence over” or “to have power over “. Dominate is a slightly/much stronger version of that and would weight the continuum further than necessary.

    Folks like to throw out those ‘five tribes of 150 people each who are matrilineal’ as a refutation, but it doesn’t work. Out of 7 billion people on the planet, those little tribes are merely an outlier.

    I don’t think believing that gender is constructed equals an “excuse” for sexism. I think it’s the opposite, really, that to suggest that violence/rape are innate/inherent/essential to males, gives men an excuse, i.e., that because of their biology/hormones/whatever, they can’t help themselves, they are compelled to batter, rape, etc.

    I think you aren’t giving men enough credit first of all, and somewhat ignoring the psychology involved. The comparision to animals is patently offensive, and so the usual response to that accusation is immediate blanket dismissal and prompt examples which counterdict the accusation.

    The blowback to Thornhill and Palmer has been enormous. In threads where someone attempted the “rape is natural” argument, he was immediately denounced by even the borderline misogynists as an insult to all men and humankind everywhere. The borderline misogynists shocked me by then going on to discuss rights, consent, etc., of women in a very positive light. So you’re assuming that argument would be used to justify domination of women, when we already have evidence of the exact opposite happening.

    Nothing is stopping anyone but their desire to continue to be sexists.

    That is exactly the point. How is saying, “it’s okay honey, I know you didn’t mean to, don’t worry about it, the culture made you do it, just don’t do it again” — how is that anything other than re-asigning blaming and avoiding responsibilty? It seem the kind of thing one would say to a child, not an adult.

    I especially don’t see how women can assume that the culture made the guy say the rape joke — when he’s been told about the joke’s harmful effects a thousand times, when he does have a brain, when he does has empathy, when he cares about the woman in front of him at least a fraction as much as he cares about himself. I really, really don’t understand this. How does this attitude indicate anything other than a willful denial of men’s profound tendency for sexism, selfishness, and stupidity?

    I think women’s deference behaviors, fears, etc., are also a result of the way females are socialized. That is not an “excuse” for the poor choices women make sometimes, it is an aid to understanding the dynamics and machinations of male heterosupremacy.

    So the dynamic is that men do shit to women, and women make excuses for it. And I’m supposed to excuse women for excusing men because women don’t have a freaking brain in their g_ddamned head to figure out that they’re making excuses. This is a WTF moment.

    *I think I need to go away again.* :) Because I don’t have enough love and compassion in my heart to look at that idea head on and come to any other thought than the one which says: eventually, some women – not you – but some women have earned the right to be called… in denial.

    Woot! It has a name. Thank you very much for helping me to think about these things!

    Posted by m Andrea | December 4, 2007, 12:17 am
  84. LOL I just realized I was arguing with Hearrrt! How many blog hostesses would let that slide?

    One, that’s how many!

    Hearrrt, YOU ARE AWESOME!! ♥♥♥

    Posted by m Andrea | December 4, 2007, 12:53 am
  85. “Folks like to throw out those ‘five tribes of 150 people each who are matrilineal’ as a refutation, but it doesn’t work. Out of 7 billion people on the planet, those little tribes are merely an outlier.”

    m Andrea– point by point, line by line, you’re the logic machine that never stops!!! Or should I use Lady Lovelace’s term in the 1890s “the analytical engine” (precursor to the computer).

    You are a delight to read! I think you have become my absolute favorite poster/provoker here!

    And the line about the five tribes of 150 people each had me howling with laughter — goddess how I hate these petty little mythic tribes that only prove the otlier not the rule! Where is Margaret Mead when you need here? :-) And has any woman who loves to point out “Oh but what about the HuGu tribe outside of Lima?” I always wonder, how come I’ve never ever met a woman who has personally lived with such a tribe to begin with. You can visit places, but if you yourself don’t know the language, then even your observation is a bit flawed.

    “Folks like to throw out those ‘five tribes of 150 people each who are matrilineal’ as a refutation, but it doesn’t work. Out of 7 billion people on the planet, those little tribes are merely an outlier.”

    “So the dynamic is that men do s— to women, and women make excuses for it. And I’m supposed to excuse women for excusing men because women don’t have a freaking brain in their g_ddamned head to figure out that they’re making excuses. This is a WTF moment. ”

    Oh how I think this all the time, and get so bloody damn frustrated with the women out there who keep doing this and doing this and doing this… Will women be signing up as guests on Don Imus revisited do you think?

    Somewhere down the line, women are going to have to get out of this denial about who it is they are really making excuses for all the time. Something is going to break, or I’m going to have to reach the conclusion that women are stuck in this forever.

    I often thought that if the world really were threatened with extinction, and some child would be killed as a result of the mad scientist with the finger on the bomb, the mother would save the world and overthrow the men, just so little Johnny
    wouldn’t be killed. We wouldn’t have women who would rise up to save their own lives, slaughter the oppressors and then celebrate each other with a big feast, it would be the “what about the children” nonsense that is the excuse women use to not be out there, not be out front fighting for their own rights. Fighting to get rid of these mastadons who still run everything.

    Well I’m ranting here, but just the thought of m Andrea the great inspires me to such passion!

    We really should wonder about the evidense of women’s massive and never ending denial. You have to pile on the books, and pile on the lawsuits, and pile on the rape statistics and pile on the “jokes” men tell TO WOMEN’S FACES– and still women live in this candy coated reality that just floors me!

    Finally, someone is saying that there is a powerful force that continues to cause men to do all these things, and there must be an equal counterforce that causes women to look the other way. There is a grand collusion here, because men can’t get away with this all by themselves. The only thing I can imagine is that men behave very differently when they are in their own little oppressive castles than they do in the office.

    Since I don’t live with the pigs and monsters, I would have no idea what they say behind their suburban closed doors.

    Posted by Satsuma | December 4, 2007, 5:41 am
  86. P.S. Yes, I agree with you m Andrea, Branjor is a brilliant writer who need to contribute more here! I’ve always enjoyed her incredible little quips.

    The quippers must have a special quip gene, while the long winded’s like me missed out on this genetic advantage :-)

    Posted by Satsuma | December 4, 2007, 5:45 am
  87. Oh, I get it, m Andrea. When anyone refutes this proof of yours, you simply deny your proof has been refuted!

    Your definition of control is equivalent to domination, as I see it, regardless of how that might make doctors squirm, attempting to elude the sexist assumptions underlying some innate drive for power over. The distinction you are drawing is splitting hairs so finely it is hard to comprehend what else you may be talking about.

    Nobody here is making excuses for men. Your insinuation that anyone who thinks your proof is invalid is making excuses for men, or in denial, is either evidence of your lack of comprehension, or just plain insulting. I do not know what kinds of arguments you have encountered elsewhere, but I think you have projected those onto what you are encountering here.

    Feminist anthropology is relevant, as I see it, because it posits that matrilineal/matriarchal societies were not outliers, but the rule, before men destroyed almost all of them. I still do not understand how you define inherent to allow for any exception at all. Inherency, as I understand it, is an absolute term that allows for no exceptions. It is not the same as tendency, no matter how strong that tendency may be, and tendencies created by cultural conditioning can be extremely compelling.

    Now I will have to try to find your long response. If you meant a response your posted on my blog, it must have gone to spam.

    Posted by Aletha | December 4, 2007, 6:28 am
  88. mAndrea, nobody here, least of all me, is making excuses for men, although it’s kind of interesting to me to be accused of that! I am not asking you or anyone else to make excuses for anyone, male or female, nor am I making excuses for anyone. Placing behaviors, dynamics, relationships within the context of male heterosupremacy is not “making excuses”, it is feminism. I keep wondering what it gets us, as feminists, as women, for that matter, if we decide men are essentially/inherently rapists and violent and are in denial? What might that achieve for us so far as feminism goes? Our belief that this is so isn’t going to stop a single rapist, a single act of violence, a single rape joke. All it’s going to do is add fuel to the fire of all of the mostly males out there who write stupid books like “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” yada. I am interested in working to raise human awareness of the atrocities against women, not in persuading anyone that men are hardwired for atrocities or that women or men are in willful denial about it, and especially, I see no value at all in copping an attitude towards women who are believed to be IN denial. That is a very, very serious subject about which I have blogged carefully and repeatedly, all of the reasons women believe and do what they do. It is reductive, dismissive and not helpful to reduce complicated dynamics and complex oppressions to women “choosing” to be in “denial.” Whoever may or may not be in denial about whatever, I am not in denial about anything and am going to continue to write about what is real and true in the world so far as men and women. I have not stopped and I will not stop.

    This:

    (quoting me)Nothing is stopping anyone but their desire to continue to be sexists.

    That is exactly the point. How is saying, “it’s okay honey, I know you didn’t mean to, don’t worry about it, the culture made you do it, just don’t do it again” — how is that anything other than re-asigning blaming and avoiding responsibilty? It seem the kind of thing one would say to a child, not an adult.

    has nothing to do with anything I have said, written, or for that matter thought. I’m wondering if you’re reading this in from other blog wars/debates elsewhere. Who here would ever say to any man or boy “it’s okay honey,” etc? Who would advocate for that, here? I would not, I have not, I will not, and one reason I am reluctant to get into this kind of discussion is this reason, this reducing of feminist knowledge made of women’s realities, energies, struggles, lives, being reduced in this particular way, and I could see that coming quite a few comments back.

    Re matriarchal/matrilineal societies as outliers: I think your (and others’ here, looks like) view so far as this reflects that you have accepted mainstream/patriarchal anthropology/science/ again as the last word, as I think you’ve done with medicine. I think there is a lot to know which fine feminist scientists are uncovering and discovering and it is not going to do to simply agree that what patriarchal science/history/anthropology/academentia says is true, is the last word. I do not believe matriarchal/matrilineal societies were outliers. And that’s a whole nother post for another day.

    Posted by womensspace | December 4, 2007, 1:49 pm
  89. I mean honestly, thinking about it.

    Why are the results of many, many years and generations of very fine feminist science, anthropology, history, theorizing, knowledge-making being dismissed in the way it is? Why are phenomena, history women have made, discovered, illuminated, brought into the spotlight, often at great professional and personal risk to themselves, being waved away in the way it is? Matriarchal and matrilineal societies were not at one time “outliers,” although that’s what male science/history/anthropology is vested in everyone believing.

    Which is another thing. Who benefits — think about it — who benefits by this view that violence/domination/coercion/the will to power are “hardwired” into human beings. I think it’s the warmakers, the atrocity-makers, far and away, *males* who benefit from insisting on these things.

    And that’s another reason I am loathe to get into this stuff. To me this is basic, basic, BASIC feminism. Violence is NOT hardwired into anybody. Force/coercion/power over are NOT hardwired. People can CHANGE. If I did not believe this, I would be a hermit here on my beautiful, isolated acreage, indulging myself in all the ways I can think of. I would view feminism as a hopeless endeavor — as tilting at windmills, if you will.

    I sure would not commit myself to change I believe to be impossible.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 4, 2007, 2:25 pm
  90. Satsuma; And the line about the five tribes of 150 people each had me howling with laughter — goddess how I hate these petty little mythic tribes that only prove the otlier not the rule!

    I’d prefer to laugh at the men who lied their asses off about some five tribes of some 150 people making them to be “outliers”, except that for feminists, it isn’t a laughing matter. This is about men destroying women’s history. This is about men, defacing women’s art. This is about men, burning and destroying women’s work, women’s artifacts, endeavors of creativity, science, art, literature for which, in some instances, women gave their lives. This is about men denying generations of women access to publishing houses, universities, schools, literacy, the marketplace. This is about women, enslaved as servants to men and unable to protect the very fine scholarship they had created. This is about the Burning Times and similar women’s holocausts, and women’s knowledge which the patriarchs were determined would end with those women, those generations.

    I do not think women as a class benefit when these penultimately important facts are elided or forgotten, not to mention how depressing and disturbing it is to see feminist women joining with patriarchal men in “laughing” at these particular silencings, catastrophes and holocausts against women.

    I don’t want that kind of thing here. Here, we will respect the scholarship, the work, and the sacrifices of feminist academics, writers, scientists, anthropologists and historians.

    Posted by womensspace | December 4, 2007, 2:34 pm
  91. Wow! I had thought this thread had ended but checked the number of comments on it and discovered it had grown since I last visited it. What a wealth of information here from Heart, m Andrea, Satsuma, and all thre rest of you. Thank you for your thoughts, insights, and information, everyone. I think I will give all the comments that I’ve read here for the first time a SECOND read to try to absorb the ideas better and gather my own thoughts.

    This blog is vitally important, Heart. Of all the blogs I’ve found under the tags of “feminist” or “radically feminist” so far it is the least culturally polluted and the most woman-supportive. It’s become my starting place every morning. Commenters on this blog really do try to go to the root of our reality–“root” being what “radical” means, NOT bomb-throwing or adherence to a man-made political theory. It is hard, hard work to make it through the thick haze of disinformation and imposed ignorance to see what is truly our reality as women in this world and to recognize that so much of what is our “lot” is unjust and forced upon us and should be resisted and changed. Women and girls and the earth itself deserve better, so much better.

    Regardless of what may be true about the inherency or cultural origins of sexism and violence in men, we know THIS to be true: there are wrongs (many classifiable as atrocities) constantly being perpetuated against girls and women every day. Many are institutional; some are random, selfish, sadistic acts of individual men. Women have expressed how they have just “ended up” here and stayed on to read. This and other feminist blogs can be conduits of information and inspiration. Here there is no neutral phrasing that underplays the fact that so much of the suffering in the world is that of females and that the origin of the suffering is at the hands and the agency of males. Knowledge IS power; that’s why it was illegal to teach slaves to read. Once we know something, we don’t unknow it. We can ponder it and decide to act. It is vitally important that we work against unjust laws, doctrines, and behaviors and that we help and support one another. Each of us has something, small or large, that we can contribute.

    Posted by Level Best | December 4, 2007, 2:37 pm
  92. I think a long comment of mine went into spam (it doesn’t appear on screen with a note that it’s in moderation as usually happens), but I hope this short one makes it onto the thread: YES, Heart, on your comment 90! Women DO have history and culture that has been denied, “re-assigned” as being of male origin, stomped on, and largely erased. It is a womanly wonder that after all these holocausts that you dare to name as such that ANY girl or woman can see through to the truth. Let’s NEVER blame women for all this horror and dreariness that’s been imposed upon us. Let’s wake them from the male-imposed dream, inform them, and nurture them.

    Posted by Level Best | December 4, 2007, 2:50 pm
  93. Heart: “Here, we will respect the scholarship, the work, and the sacrifices of feminist academics, writers, scientists, anthropologists and historians.”

    And with that, may I recommend:

    “Representations of Gender from Prehistory to the Present” edited by Moira Donald and Linda Hurcome. This book looked at archaeology from a feminist perspective. It addressed many artifacts, currently seen as proof of male dominance, and demonstrated how fluid the interpretations could be by removing our very Western, gender-biased/sexist lens.

    “the gendered Atom” by Theodore Roszak. Uniquely unravels the *maleness* in Big Science.

    Posted by pisaquaririse | December 4, 2007, 5:23 pm
  94. Hey, Level Best, thanks for all that much-appreciated encouragement. I am glad you’re here.

    Thanks for the references, Pisaquaririse!

    Most of what I know about the erasure of matrilineal/matriarchal/women’s cultures comes, interestingly, from having read feminist Christian academics/historians/anthropologists/theoreticians. I don’t blame most of the women here for not having read these women’s fine work, because I know there can be great resistance to reading the work of any woman connected with Christianity. But that’s unfortunate because there are what would be described as “liberal” or “progressive” feminist Christian academics who have done some really fine, scholarly work in this area, not with the goal of proving the existence of matriarchal/matrilineal cultures but to document the intentional erasure of women and women’s contributions to Christianity and the forcing of women out of the public sphere, where they led, were visible, active, highly educated, and back into the traditional family. In the course of doing that, these women also offer some amazing insights into pre-Christian woman-centered societies and culture.

    Posted by womensspace | December 4, 2007, 6:56 pm
  95. Sexism is inherent. It will always reside in men.

    1. The desire for sex is inherent, with the degree lying upon a continuum.

    2. The desire for power/control is inherent, with the degree lying upon a continuum.

    Well if this is true, then it would also be true that women are by nature passive, submissive, and masochistic. Oh, and don’t forget that it would also mean women are by nature, het, and lesbians are nothing more than 2 headed goats. IOWs, a freak of nature.

    So what are we doing here if this all is just stamped on our XX and XY chromosomes and feminism goes against our natures? Shouldn’t we all just quit wasting our time and breath and pack up our feminist bags and go home to our big, strong, dominating he-men and get with the program? After all, there’s nothing we can do about It’s inherent and in our natures.

    Sorry, but I’m not into patriarchy. And make no mistake about it, the above quote parrots what the patriarchy has been chanting since it first crawled out from under it’s rock. That men just can’t help themselves. They’re just runaway freight trains without any brakes. How convenient for them. Sure beats having to change their ways and giving up all that privilege and benefit. And justifies murder, rape and torture. Oops. Can’t help it. Men are just born this way.

    Transgenderism fits neatly into this way of thinking as well. Not into murder and mayhem? Oooo, that must mean your mother must’ve gotten your sex all wrong. You were really meant to be a woman. Because it’s inherent in women’s nature to be passive, not a man’s. Time to snip, snip and correct mamma’s mistake. After all, father knows best. Hmmm… did someone forget to tell Jesus he was really meant to be a woman? You’d’ve thunk the Big Boss would’ve gotten that right?

    Speaking of which, last time I looked, there were 3 billion Christians and 2 billion Muslims. Now how can that be? There’s only 6 billion people on the planet. Oh! I know! Silly me. Going along with this thinking, it’s inherent in humans to come out of the womb as little Christians or Muslims. Hmmm… wonder why we need to go to Sunday school and church? Shouldn’t we all have just come out boxed and gift wrapped as little Christians and Muslims? After all, it’s in our nature.

    Good gawd! I must really be a freak of nature. I’m an assertive, outspoken, atheist lesbian that sometimes behaves like a runaway freight train without any brakes. Oh no! I’m really, really good at math too! And sports! And I don’t like the color pink! Since it’s against my nature to be like this, it must mean I was really meant to be a man. Or at the very least, suffer from penis envy. But then again, maybe not. Cuz I’m not into murder and mayhem. I’m not into s/m. On a scale of 1 to 10, sex rates about 100 on my list of things to do. Not only am I not driven by sex, I don’t even think about it most of the time. Sure, I like sex. I like spaghetti with clam sauce too. But I’m not driven by my need for sex any more than I’m driven by my need to eat spaghetti with clam sauce.

    I also think we should deal in baseball cards instead of money because I’m really tired of looking at old dead guys drawn on the bark of trees in berry juice which are symbolic of, valued as, and based on shiny little rocks. I fail to see the connection between the two or what’s so earth shattering about shiny little rocks, but then I wasn’t born male, so it must not be in my nature to see the connection or be impressed with rocks. But if I have to deal with money, I vote we use baseball cards! The pictures on baseball cards are much prettier and more colorful. Plus I’m really, really good at playing “pitchies” and would have all of y’all’s baseball cards in no time. And as we all know, whoever has the most baseball cards, wins!

    In short, I have 2 words for all of this. Bah humbug.

    Like I said, I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in god, money, gender, pre-disposition to aggression. rape and dominance, inherent sexism or any other cults or religions the boys fantasize about and worship and wish were so. Personally I think the boys have waaay too much time on their hands to think all this stupid shit up. I’ll back my statement up and end my tangent with this to think about:

    Men who are stranded on desert islands for any length of time do not dream, fantasize or think about women or about sex. They do not dream, fantasize or think about money. They do not dream, fantasize or think about power, control or domination. What they dream, fantasize and think about is simply this. Food. That’s what they think about night and day. Food. Food. Glorious, wonderful, food.

    P.S. Less you get the wrong idea, I’m not interested in saving men. Personally, I’d rather save the whales. But that still doesn’t deter my thinking. I don’t think sexism or much of anything is inherent in men. But I do think this ancient cult / religion is so deeply ingrained into men and our societal structure on such a global scale that men have reached the point of no return. So pure and simple, the boys have got to go. It’s been 6,000 years. I think we’ve been patient and tolerant beyond all reason. I think we’ve given men enough time and chances. They’re obviously not interested in changing their ways. So at what point do we say, “Time’s up, boys!” ?? At what point do we say, “Enough!” ?? At what point do we say, “We are not going to sacrifice another girl or woman to any man?” I don’t give a hoot why he does it. The point is he does. So as far I’m concerned, men have over stayed their welcome and it’s time to show them to the door. Exit, stage left.

    Posted by luckynkl | December 4, 2007, 7:06 pm
  96. Ah, I love it when I hear lesbians shout it to the rooftops!

    Amen to showing the boys the exit, stage right (special door to boot out the right wing men)!

    Posted by Satsuma | December 4, 2007, 7:56 pm
  97. Hi, I’m addicted to this thread (and Heart’s whole site). I love this blog and I realize that this conversation isn’t even possible in 99% of feminist space and I am grateful for this space. I don’t usually feel the need to say anything, but in this case I do.

    I, for one, can find no actual fault with m Andrea’s proof and I am dismayed that such a radical position (which I’ve encountered before in some lesbian separatist writing) is being called patriarchal. I guess its the ultimate feminist taboo to admit that we might not think its possible to reform males. Arguing that there might be something inherent about the oppressive ways males behave does NOT in any way support the idea that there is anything inherent about female submission. To argue that something inherent in maleness automatically means the opposite inherent trait is unnecessary to say the least. I don’t even know where what exactly I personally think about this issue, but I do know that it bothers me to have radical lesbian views about maleness equated with patriarchal fundamentalisms. If a feminist takes the view that maleness is aggressive and violent, it is probably because all material experience in this world has led her to this view. I have hope that egalitarian and matriarchal cultures have existed, but I have also been very sternly called out by nonwhite and nonwestern feminists for engaging in the romanticization of Others and in constructing histories around cultures and times not my own. In my feminist anthropology course I offered that matriarchal cultures have existed and have been erased by history and I was given readings about the “myth of matriarchy” and told that I was fantasizing. I still know that gender and dominance have not always functioned as they do today, but I have yet to read or hear about a culture/time when rape was non-existent.

    For something to exist in “nature” or be inherent does not make it necessarily good. A lot of things naturally exist that I think are harmful or dangerous. Death and disease, for instance. Even eating meat. It very well might be natural, but I’d rather not kill animals and eat them. We don’t have like male violence just because we suspect there could be something biological about it. I don’t need to be okay with all things biological. On the contrary, this view is radical because because it makes us think deeply about strategies that could end male domination and violence, instead of always thinking within this cultural box of gender. The inherent argument asks us to stop joking or dreaming about a world without men and make it happen. I used to think that the world without men could happen through doing away with gender and males could cease to be men. I am not so sure anymore that this is a feasible feminist goal in this world and I am so desperately serious about ending male violence and the constant rape of girls and women that I am open to other strategies. I am not talking about violence. I have some ideas about science and other “masters’ tools.”

    I’m not totally sold on the inherent argument, but I do think its highly useful in a way that the reform/cultural argument is not. I wonder if those who are certain that maleness is inherently neutral or benign have other explanations for how patriarchy/rape/violence/dominance is SO ingrained across cultures. I get the feeling that this isn’t something that’s safe to talk about for many feminists. We are often forced into the cultural arguments because of the drastic consequences of thinking otherwise. What will liberal feminists say about us? What will the mainstream, men’s rights activists, etc. say about us? I don’t think its even safe for us to openly promote non-cultural positions as feminists and I think this lack of safety should be considered when we think about why we hold the positions we hold.

    Posted by mleig | December 5, 2007, 12:02 am
  98. Aletha! :)

    I really am trying to understand your point of view, and I really do appreciate your explainations of how you arrive at conclusions. I went to your bloggy and found that SILENCE! article which you had mentioned, but couldn’t figure out how it had anything to do with what we are talking about here.

    Feminist anthropology is relevant, as I see it, because it posits that matrilineal/matriarchal societies were not outliers, but the rule, before men destroyed almost all of them. I still do not understand how you define inherent to allow for any exception at all.

    All do respect, you do not know what an outlier is. I’m sorry to be so blunt. Three point five billion all going in one direction, and a measly five hundred going in the completely opposite direction. That is not just a good example of an outlier, it is a perfect example of an outlier.

    I’m sorry, Aletha. I don’t enjoy upsetting people, or stirring up trouble, or turning anybody’s worldview up-side-down. If this proof is true, then it still won’t make a bit of difference to hardly anybody. Some men will go right on acting like jerks, and some won’t. Feminists will go right on fighting the jerks and loving the rest. But a few men will be changed for the better, a few men who haven’t responded to anything else, and those few will be a few more on the side of equality.

    Hearrrt wrote: I see no value at all in copping an attitude towards women who are believed to be IN denial. That is a very, very serious subject about which I have blogged carefully and repeatedly, all of the reasons women believe and do what they do. It is reductive, dismissive and not helpful to reduce complicated dynamics and complex oppressions to women “choosing” to be in “denial.”

    Okay. I see your point, I think. You’re concerned that I’m being dismissive when I lump everyone who doesn’t agree with me into the catagory which I named “in denial”.

    Fair enough. But it also seems as though the only way I can avoid your lableing me as “dismissive” or “copping an attitude” is if I don’t use the term “in denial” or denigrate women in any way.

    I hope you can see that this doesn’t work very well, if the point is to find some mutual understanding or to get all the truth. All we’re doing is calling each other names without any comprehension of what those words actually mean. Or more accurately, talking past each other.

    I do understand that you’ve worked extremely hard to improve the lives of all women and men, and that you are particularly protective of women, especially whenever anyone expresses the slightest hint of negativity toward women. I have no problem with any of that, and in fact those are your greatest strengths and why I love you so much.

    But getting at the truth involves a willingness to consider the merits of an idea regardless of how painful that idea is, or how much discomfort it causes us. Pretending that we have a cancer and so we need chemotherapy does not heal us if our ailment is really a broken ankle.

    I already explained why that little proof isn’t going to make things worse for women. Men are too far gone onto the side of commom sense for that proof to justify more cruelty. Although you obviously need more convincing, so here ya go! :)

    Man says: I great ape! All apes rape! So it ok I rape you!

    Woman says: Hey dude, you might be a monkey, but I’m not. You want to be inferior to me, fine.

    Man says: Uh, maybe not. I no want be inferior. I want be a man.

    Woman says: Ok, then stop monkeying around.

    It’s an ultimatum, a logic puzzle which forces men to make a choice between being a human or being an animal. Even the worst misogynist in the world is insulted by the accusation that he is nothing more than a beast. He might admit that humans are technically animals, but he sure will balk at the suggestion that’s there’s nothing more.

    Who here would ever say to any man or boy “it’s okay honey,” etc?

    Thank you, what you wrote helps a little. Please keep in mind I’m going to do a terrible job of explaining how I came to write that. First, you’re right. You never said that or implied that, and you’re correct in assuming it’s something that I’ve taken as a general gist of feminist discourse from elsewhere.

    It’s the attitude. It bugs me, it’s entirely my problem, and I have no wish to convince anyone that their own attitude is wrong. It’s this attitude that we should be grateful when men finally give us the rights and the status and the respect which they stole from us in the first place. I am seeing a great deal of it in non-rad-fem circles, and it is driving me insane.

    In other places, women are saying exactly what I wrote earlier. They are saying, “it’s okay honey”. They also say worse things like, “I know you didn’t intend to hurt me for these last eight years by talking about women as if we are all just sextoys and body parts”.

    Really? That’s exactly what the guy did do, and now you’re willing to assume he didn’t mean exactly what he did say?” That’s partly why I wrote the doormat post.

    People can CHANGE. If I did not believe this, I would be a hermit here on my beautiful, isolated acreage, indulging myself in all the ways I can think of. I would view feminism as a hopeless endeavor — as tilting at windmills, if you will.

    Ouch, Hearrrt. Why do feminists have to believe in the inherent goodness of all men — if the goal is fighting for women?

    Level Best: Declaring that women are exempt from any and all criticism, that our attitudes and beliefs are never to be examined, not even with a thoughtful or compassionate eye – well, that just sounds odd. That is not exactly what you said, of course, but that appears to be your point.

    I think I hit too close to home, for your comfort level. I am sorry.

    Posted by m Andrea | December 5, 2007, 1:11 am
  99. “Why do feminists have to believe in the inherent goodness of all men — if the goal is fighting for women? ”

    m Andrea, I know this was in response to Heart but I would like to at least offer my perspective.
    I, for one, do not think goodness is akin to not raping or, for that matter, not dominating. Violation of any kind is a subhuman activity, as I see it.
    Oppression and discrimination piss me off–that is at the core of my coming to feminism. Males do not chose to be as such anymore than I choose to be female and anyone who assigns anyone else value based on an involuntary feature is exercising hate in my book. My fight isn’t about women, solely, it is about oppression. Plain and simple. If women are the target I will fight for them. Same goes for race, age, class, size, etc…
    I also don’t believe fighting for women is an either/or cause with regards to males. They can and have been included.

    Posted by pisaquaririse | December 5, 2007, 3:56 am
  100. Hi, mleig, and welcome.

    I am going to respond where I think there are big disconnects between what I (and others) are saying and what you, mAndrea and mleig, are “hearing.” I normally really don’t like to do this sentence by sentence responding and I try to avoid it, but the misunderestandings here are substantial and I can’t think of any way to solve that problem besides responding individually to the disconnects (as I see them). I’m saying this because I know I won’t have time to do this again, beyond this comment, and probably won’t have the inclination either, but I’m doing it this once.

    mleig: I guess its the ultimate feminist taboo to admit that we might not think its possible to reform males.

    Nobody in this thread, or who regularly comments to this blog has suggested it is possible or desirable for us, as women, as feminists, to reform males.

    This has not been stated. This has not been suggested. This has not been advised. In my case, at least, this has not been considered.

    I have said, and will say again, I believe that males and females can change, and that they can *change themselves*. People can *change themselves*. At no time have I suggested that women should change men, feminists should change males, etc.

    It is possible for males to reform themselves, I think. I actually don’t think it’s possible for any human beings to reform other human beings besides themselves and I definitely would not suggest that women waste their energy trying. Raising consciousness as to the state of women is not the same thing as trying to change others, men or women. Change is always up to them.

    I do know that it bothers me to have radical lesbian views about maleness equated with patriarchal fundamentalisms.

    Yeah, I agree, I don’t like this either. I wouldn’t equate radical feminist views about maleness with patriarchal fundamentalism. I do think it’s important to note the problems with essentialism, but I think we can do that without invoking fundamentalism. (I am not sure that anyone has invoked fundamentalism here in that way, I know Lucky mentioned it, but I didn’t get it that she was comparing radfem views of males with fundamentalism.)

    I have hope that egalitarian and matriarchal cultures have existed, but I have also been very sternly called out by nonwhite and nonwestern feminists for engaging in the romanticization of Others and in constructing histories around cultures and times not my own.

    I understand, and I’m not urging anyone to co-opt anyone else’s culture, to romanticize Others or to construct histories around cultures and times not their own.

    I am saying it’s important to investigate women’s history, women’s contributions in all disciplines, the erasure of women in all the ways it has happened, and to become familiar with the work of feminist historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, scientists, and to recognize that what we know as “science” and “archaeology” and “anthropology” and most disciplines in the West is overwhelmingly the creation of people who were and are white and male. What we have is all of these disciplines as white men have interpreted/established/understood them. I know because I have feminist archaeologist/anthropologist friends that these field are horrifically sexist and antagonistic towards the contributions of women unless they tow a strict, suck-up, patriarchal party line. These guys can be counted upon to move quickly to silence feminist women’s dissent because they are sexists.

    In my feminist anthropology course I offered that matriarchal cultures have existed and have been erased by history and I was given readings about the “myth of matriarchy” and told that I was fantasizing.

    Yes, you were silenced, in other words, by sexists. Including some who undoubtedly considered themselves feminists and progressive! Which sucks!

    mAndrea: I already explained why that little proof isn’t going to make things worse for women.

    That’s not the problem I had with the proof, i.e., that it would make things worse for women (although I don’t think your assumptions benefit women, I think they are more likely to benefit men, and I’ve already explained why). I don’t agree with your proof because I don’t agree with the assumptions upon which it’s based, i.e., that the desire for sex is inherent/essential in all people and that the desire to dominate is inherent/essential in all people. I don’t think there is any evidence for either assumption. These are your theories, I understand. I just don’t find them persuasive. That being so, the proof fails (for me) because it rests on assumptions which fail (so far as I am concerned.)

    It’s an ultimatum, a logic puzzle which forces men to make a choice between being a human or being an animal. Even the worst misogynist in the world is insulted by the accusation that he is nothing more than a beast.

    I think that in general, most men believe that their urges, including to rape, are biological and are shared with animals and most don’t really have a problem with that and take a sort of manly, “boys will be boys” attitude towards it. They take it as an a priori that men are dogs, all male animals want to have sex with female animals, that’s just the way things are. Progressive/enlightened/evolved men would argue this, of course, but just the guy out on the street? Nah. The idea that his urges have some biological/genetic component is a comfort to him. This is a glue that bonds males with all other males, in general, men are all about this particular type of male bonding over the bodies of women.

    Ouch, Hearrrt. Why do feminists have to believe in the inherent goodness of all men — if the goal is fighting for women?

    Where have I or has any woman here said anything about the “inherent goodness of all men” though? I have said men can change. They can change themselves. That doesn’t mean I think men are inherently “good.” It just means I think men are capable of *changing themselves*. Whether or not they do change themselves is, of course, their deal. I can’t change anyone and it would be futile for me to try.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 5, 2007, 6:04 am
  101. m Andrea, if you really are trying to understand my point of view, which I find very hard to believe, it might help if you would define inherent. It has become obvious to me that your definition does not match mine, so it might be that we are arguing apples and oranges. Disputing inherent sexism is not equivalent to believing in the inherent goodness of men, whatever that means, but I do believe absent the pernicious cultural influence, men would be substantially different.

    You really think I do not know what outlier means? You dismissed my statement as well as the long explanation Heart gave about ancient herstory. Neither of us was talking about present day remnants of matrilineal/matriarchal societies, but you persist in arguing as if we were. Why? Have you read anything about feminist anthropology? I liked The Chalice and the Blade, by Riane Eisler, which also theorizes how the male-dominant culture came to be. I have a few ideas of my own about how it all began. All bunk, fantasy, denial, is it? Is that not just what men want us to believe?

    I was not referring to my post Silenced! as such, but part of my response to Satsuma. I am not sure if it can make much sense out of its context, but anyway, this is the part I considered relevant to this discussion:

    Men get off the hook too easily if it is assumed they cannot change. The truth is closer to, men can change, but it is difficult and demanding and most cannot be bothered, think the suggestion offensive or worse, some variation along those lines. I think it is much worse than laziness, it is deliberate and malicious for men in this day and age to believe they are superior to women in any way beyond literal individual physical distinctions, like size or upper body strength, usually more developed in men than women, though that, like all men have created, is subject to change. I do not expect men to take the initiative to make the effort to change on their own. Women are revolting against all that, so will get around to changing everything. Male fear of this is their problem. Let them demonstrate if they are so upset at freedom of speech. Not every man on this planet has that problem. Men, you are not stupid. Think about what I am saying! Why do you resist, hold on so hard to your ideas and beliefs? How can you believe you deserve any better than women? Is it religion, or something deeper? Whatever it may be for any given man, I am sure it will block most men from thinking twice about why women might feel like revolting.

    Now, tell me how I am making excuses for men.

    Posted by Aletha | December 5, 2007, 6:48 am
  102. I think women agree here that men are the problem. Some women actually believe these creatures capable of change. I don’t waste my time on this idea. I don’t care if they change or not, but I do care if women wake up and get a clue as to what’s going on here.

    It is the slow learners out there who still believe men will change. They’ll waste a good portion of their lives on this fictional idea.

    So I’m saying here — don’t waste 20-25 years of your life trying to learn the obvious. You’d think we’d all know this by now!

    Posted by Satsuma | December 5, 2007, 6:49 am
  103. ***Branjor, you are really a very thoughtful and kind person, I wish you would post more here. If I have ever done anything to offend you or make you feel uncomfortable, I apologize.***

    Andrea, just saw this, thank you. No, you have not offended me or made me uncomfortable in any way.

    Posted by Branjor | December 5, 2007, 1:08 pm
  104. m Andrea, I do not believe “that women are exempt from any and all criticism, [and] that our attitudes and beliefs are never to be examined, not even with a thoughtful or compassionate eye. . .” and I didn’t say this and never would. My comment was not in response to anything you’ve written, in fact, but to Heart’s very passionate comment #90 in which she spoke about the male destruction of women’s culture and history and denial to them of literacy and access to the marketplace. In response to this paragraph I wrote “YES, Heart, on your comment 90! Women DO have history and culture that has been denied, ‘re-assigned’ as being of male origin, stomped on, and largely erased. It is a womanly wonder that after all these holocausts that you dare to name as such that ANY girl or woman can see through to the truth. Let’s NEVER blame women for all this horror and dreariness that’s been imposed upon us.” I think what I wrote was clear.

    I am in my mid-50’s and was brought up when blaming and limitation of women was the cultural norm. I also was brought up in the most fundamentalist Christian part of Appalachia where the inferiority and sin-inclined fecklessness of females was given the stamp of God’s approval by that culture. Like Satsuma, I was ALWAYS aware girls and women got a raw deal and resented it, although I didn’t have her chutzpah to openly rebel. (And I won’t blame myself for that! There were good reasons for my circumspect outward behavior until I reached legal adulthood.)

    Once I grew up I endlessly read the second wave feminists (continuing this education through reading today’s feminist blogs), and I didn’t blame myself and other women nearly as much as our sexist overloads would like. Haven’t we had enough of this? Just the other day I was on a progressive blog discussing the teacher who nearly was flogged over letting her students name a teddy bear after the Prophet, and I was incensed when it didn’t take even a half dozen comments for someone to start blaming the woman for being “naive,” “foolish,” and incautious. I called the poster on that!

    I know that sometimes there are environments in which sisterhood can seem more negligible than powerful, but if I choose to praise women when I can, ask them to help each other, and minimize my blaming of them, well, that’s just me!
    Call me counter-cultural…

    Posted by Level Best | December 5, 2007, 5:10 pm
  105. mAndrea: Man says: I great ape! All apes rape! So it ok I rape you!

    Woman says: Hey dude, you might be a monkey, but I’m not. You want to be inferior to me, fine.

    Man says: Uh, maybe not. I no want be inferior. I want be a man.

    Woman says: Ok, then stop monkeying around.

    It’s an ultimatum, a logic puzzle which forces men to make a choice between being a human or being an animal. Even the worst misogynist in the world is insulted by the accusation that he is nothing more than a beast. He might admit that humans are technically animals, but he sure will balk at the suggestion that’s there’s nothing more.

    Here is another reason I’m having a problem with this tactic.

    This tactic of women, including feminist women, suggesting men are beasts, etc. is way too close to the way patriarchy insists that women are and should be a sort of civilizing influence on men, men’s moral compass, their chaste Madonna calling them onward and upward to greater and greater heights of non-beast-dom!

    When, in fact, I am no one’s moral compass, I am no one’s civilizing influence, I have no desire to be that, that is called “the pedestal”, and it is part of what feminism has always intended would severely end. Women are NOT inherently or innately more moral than men. We are NOT inherently or innately less sexual/more sexual/less promiscuous/less “visual”/less hormone-driven, whatever it is, such that we can or should call men to rise above their base natures. Not only because we just aren’t that, as women, but also because in fact, that does precisely what you are arguing, mAndrea, women should not do, it gives women a sort of responsibility to call men to account for their beastliness. It’s a kind of “don’t let go of the rope,” deal, the man hanging over the cliff by a rope, in danger of falling into the abyss of his predations, lusts, and urges to rape, with the good women so-called standing on the cliff’s edge holding on for dear life so the guy doesn’t fall. And so if she gets tired and lets go, he falls into the abyss, I guess, rapes, molests, sexually assaults and blames it on her for letting go of the rope.

    Nah. Men are not beasts, any more than women are. They are fully in control of their bodies, their drives, their actions. They are not inherently or innately or essentially driven to rape, dominate or do violence, it’s just that they can do this stuff and get away with it because they’ve built a world which allows for that. Which is a world feminism aims to change. It’s not up to me as a woman to be more moral, less animal-like, or anything else, than men are or to chide them for their beastliness or to shame them into not being rapists anymore. It’s up to men to decide to end rape, I think.

    Posted by womensspace | December 5, 2007, 5:13 pm
  106. To be very clear:

    * I do not believe in the inherent “goodness” of men or women.

    * I do not believe women have any responsibility to change men.

    * I do not believe males are essentially, innately or inherently sexist, violent, inclined in the direction of dominance, inclined to rape.

    * I believe all people can change.

    * I believe men can stop raping, can stop being violent, can stop dominance and coercion behaviors, can stop being sexists.

    * Women are not responsible to “get” men to do any of the above. Men have to change themselves.

    * Feminism is about raising the level of awareness, societally, of violence against women and of women’s second class status. It is about challenging injustices in sexist institutions, organizations and society at large. It is about insisting that women will have full civil and human rights. It is about creating a world that is friendly for women, and ultimately, for all people, and for animals and the earth as well.

    And of course, these are my views only, speaking just for myself. Good radical feminists disagree about these things and that’s all good, we are not a monolith, we do not march in lockstep, we dance, freestyle. :)

    mAndrea has blogged about her proof and those who want to can continue the discussion there:

    http://feminazi.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/sexism-is-inherent-the-proof

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 5, 2007, 5:39 pm
  107. Just a note to say I added the words “inherently or innately” in the sentences from my comment at 104:

    Women are NOT inherently or innately more moral than men. We are NOT inherently or innately less sexual/more sexual/less promiscuous/less “visual”/less hormone-driven, whatever it is, such that we can or should call men to rise above their base natures.

    I actually do think that in general, women are more moral than men, but not because of biology or genetics or anything like that.

    Posted by Heart | December 5, 2007, 8:54 pm
  108. Heart said: “I actually do think that in general, women are more moral than men, but not because of biology or genetics or anything like that.”

    Is it perhaps, at least partly, because we are oppressed and are sensitive to it, live with it, are more often able to recognise or empathise when we see it around us and would seek to change that for ourselves and others, that we might seem to be more moral, or ethical? Heightened awareness, in other words.

    Posted by starfish | December 6, 2007, 3:31 am
  109. It appears Akismet grabbed another of my comments, cross-posted with comment 100 by Heart.

    I looked up inherent in the dictionary mAndrea linked on her blog.

    involved in the constitution or essential character of something : belonging by nature or habit

    In my waylaid comment I noted mAndrea and I must be using different definitions of inherent, and asked her to define it. If she means, sexism is a habit of men, I would have to agree. That is not how I would ordinarily interpret inherent, however. Habits are learned behavior, so I think this is not what she meant either.

    Posted by Aletha | December 6, 2007, 4:53 am
  110. Aletha, I found your waylaid comment on page 4 of my spam. It is comment 101.

    Argh. Sorry!

    Posted by womensspace | December 6, 2007, 5:42 am
  111. Heart (my emphasis):
    Nah. Men are not beasts, any more than women are. They are fully in control of their bodies, their drives, their actions. They are not inherently or innately or essentially driven to rape, dominate or do violence, it’s just that they can do this stuff and get away with it because they’ve built a world which allows for that. Which is a world feminism aims to change. It’s not up to me as a woman to be more moral, less animal-like, or anything else, than men are or to chide them for their beastliness or to shame them into not being rapists anymore. It’s up to men to decide to end rape, I think.

    I am in general agreement here (enjoying all points of view, because I tend to flip-flop around a bit on this issue!). Perhaps it is an empty vessel theory, that we can all actually choose to fill ourselves with either goodness or selfishness?

    At the end of the day though, I am more in line with Satsuma with
    I don’t care if they [men] change or not, but I do care if women wake up and get a clue as to what’s going on here.

    I think we are still at the point whereby most feminists (in general, usually het), still believe in at least some ‘inherent goodness’ in males, still hold out and ‘ask nicely’ for menz to change. I am more for demanding the change, and look out buddy if you don’t! (don’t look now, but my militancy is showing!)

    [/flipperty flop] :D

    Posted by stormy | December 6, 2007, 11:13 am
  112. Heart, I got spammied again. :(
    What the hell did I do to Akismet?

    Posted by stormy | December 6, 2007, 11:14 am
  113. M Andrea,

    Claiming something as an irrefutable proof is just asking for it ;). I like what you have to say. Particularly because when Feminists say men will never stop being sexist, for instance, that men will never stop raping, and pornography will never stop, we are argued. However, it is often their argument that Pornography will never go away. There will always be a market for prostitution and men will always be sexist. When Feminists actually discuss changing men, this is what they say. They say that men will never change. When we agree with what they’ve been saying to us this whole time, that men will never change, and that we intend to change our strategy because of it, that’s when all of a sudden men can change!! They really can! We just have to give them a chance!

    Posted by kiuku | December 6, 2007, 8:56 pm
  114. I don’t know if men are going to change or not. I don’t think I have a responsibility to change them.

    What I do think is, insisting that men are inherently whatever-it-is gets them off the hook. *They* — i.e. men — insist that’s just the “way men are” and that they can’t help themselves.

    No, that’s not just the way men are. Men can change. That’s not my issue though– that’s men’s issue.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 6, 2007, 9:44 pm
  115. Since “goodness” is so loaded, I’ll say this: I think it’s the inherent humanity in humans that *causes* dehumanization.

    Put another way: (aside from a few easily-identifiable “sociopath” types) people need to find a way to consider a certain class of people as something less than human before they’re able to stomach oppressing them. Abusing them. Raping them. Killing them.

    The military recognizes this; it recognizes that humans – even male ones – must be trained, tightly controlled, and carefully socialized into doing what “needs to” be done, and must be prevented at all costs from catching glimpses of the other side as rights-entitled equal beings.

    Recognizing the ‘nurture’ aspect of oppression – recognizing how much work it takes to convince someone that being an abuser is acceptable – it doesn’t excuse any perpetrators of any war crimes against women, and it doesn’t make rehabilitation into the job of any victim.

    It’s simply a way of looking at the depth and breadth of the system whereby humans are trained to dehumanize – and it’s based on at least a tacit recognition that if oppression were intrinsic all that dehumanization would be unnecessary, inefficient work (that would quickly have fallen by the wayside were it in truth so unnecessary and inefficient).

    Regarding matriarchal societies – for me, they work best in the realm of metaphor and poetry. I can’t say they have never existed, only that I’ve never experienced one. And that (sort of like I feel about “God”) I can see the lessons and the thought-exercises and the utility they have for other people, but for me, personally – the analogies may be useful or encouraging, but in the end I (again, personally) just don’t really care about the “actual” existence or truth of such a thing. My personal morality – my belief in the humanity of women – exists independent of all of that. If it turned out somehow that nothing but patriarchy had ever existed anywhere on the face of the planet, it wouldn’t make us less worthy, less human, less able to dismantle patriarchy, less able to create a world without that kind of dominance.

    Posted by funnie | December 6, 2007, 9:49 pm
  116. Great comment, funnie. I think that’s a really good point how much effort needs to be expended in order to convince men (and women) that women are less than human.

    If it turned out somehow that nothing but patriarchy had ever existed anywhere on the face of the planet, it wouldn’t make us less worthy, less human, less able to dismantle patriarchy, less able to create a world without that kind of dominance.

    See, this is where feminists disagree. The theory is — or the theory of some is — that since males are essentially/inherently violent/inclined to rape/inclined to dominance, (as evidenced mostly by the fact that these have existed across cultures and throughout history) the only hope is a community/society/world without males. Anything else is futile. Any other situation leaves us dependent on men’s magnanimity, because no matter what, men will always be around, ready to dominate/rape/etc. at any time and there is nothing anybody can do about it, including them, that’s just how they’re strung together (this is not my view, just to be clear).

    I like the idea of women’s land for its own sake, without regard to who or what men are or aren’t essentially/inherently/innately, kind of in the same spirit as what you’ve written about matriarchal societies. I like the idea not because I want to get away from men or because I think the only hope is a world without men or because I think elimination of men is the only good feminist strategy for dismantling patriarchy, but because I like and want to be with women. I think those are two very different motivators. But when those of us inclined towards separatism come together, eventually the differences in our motivations/ideas about men become evident.

    Posted by womensspace | December 6, 2007, 10:11 pm
  117. I got this e-mail but won’t name the author because I didn’t get permission, but it seems to fit and add some interesting angles to this discussion:

    Phyllis Chesler… writes an interesting chapter in one of her books related to your recent blog about Afghan men and their boys. She describes how homosexuality, or rather, men “making girls” out of young boys and keeping them as sex things, is rampant in Afghanistan (and, of course, totally denied by everyone there). She thinks it’s b/c females are degraded to an extent men there can’t even relate to women on a sexual level. They are too “other”, w/the double whammy of being a totally degraded “other”.

    Anyway I saw a very interesting video a year ago I wish I could find again — actually I think it was on PBS. And it had interview w/a group of Afghan men of various ages. It really struck me how free the men were w/telling their sexual abuse at the hands of American soldiers. What struck me was the fact the men didn’t **seem**? ashamed– it made me feel like THIS is what rape survivors should be like. Angry that they had BEEN HURT — not ashamed. But of course these were male sex abuse survivors– I don’t know though it was very odd to me!

    Posted by womensspace | December 6, 2007, 10:16 pm
  118. that male survivors are less ashamed, if at all, and obviously do not have expectations of shamefullness from society regarding their assaults does make me very angry.

    I agree that dehumanization of women may lead men to seek relationships with other men. This is not the case with all homosexuality. Honestly I don’t see this assault on boys as a sexual thing. I see it as an initiation..a DOMINATION thing, and a humiliation thing of treating boys (who will be men but are boys) as girls. It shows how women are viewed by men in that society, as something humiliating to be. The sex is just an act to prove that the boys are really girls, and not men.

    Posted by kiuku | December 7, 2007, 2:31 am
  119. Heart,

    I agree with you that gender essentialism is B.S. It must be deconstructed at all times. I just think it is rather interesting that gender essentialism has been the anti-feminist “argument” for quite some time, and remains a part of societies understanding of how things are, and how they are likely to remain. If a Feminist agrees with them, all of a sudden the Feminist is wrong.

    Posted by kiuku | December 7, 2007, 2:37 am
  120. I think essentialism is one of those words people in women’s studies departments throw around to discredit a pending discussion of feminist issues.

    Rather than deal with what women are saying or honestly critiquing, you can throw out a term like “essentialism.”

    It is often very hard to determine nature and nurture, so I think the best thing is to always use Bella Abzug’s rule: “When women schlemeels get promoted at the same rate as male schlemeels, then we’ll have real equality.”

    Or better yet, when women have power how do they act compared to when they don’t have power? The same goes for men as well.

    Posted by Satsuma | December 8, 2007, 5:57 am
  121. Satsuma,

    Gender essentialism is an argument wielded against Feminism, not usually a critique of Feminism. It is near impossible to determine between nature and nuture -in humans- and the motivation of any studies geared toward gender essentialist “proofs” must be questioned.

    We won’t have real equality until we are operating under a system that is equal to begin with.

    Posted by kiuku | December 8, 2007, 10:21 am
  122. Shame. These people are mentally sick. Having wife children and sleeping with boys? even animal don’t do this. There are many reasons for that, the main one is the cultural restriction contacting women unless marriage is determined. May Allah correct them.

    Posted by Paki | July 13, 2008, 9:51 am

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