So, yes, allowing one’s body to be penetrated for money, even if it causes a pleasurable physical sensation, is a greater acquiescence to exploitation than agreeing to make $5 Footlongs for $7 an hour, even though it pays more. Participating in the making of anti-woman propaganda requires far greater emotional, physical, and political compromises on women’s part than any job men do for equivalent pay. The relatively high (for women) wage porn work and prostitution command does not represent our society’s great love for the female form, it signifies the fact that we are willing to pay somewhat dearly to uphold and jack off to misogyny.
Of those men who come here and make the simplistic and dishonest argument that porn isn’t rape because all work requires us to consent to things we wouldn’t do for free, I would like to ask how much your boss would have to pay you to let him fuck you in the ass while you blow his assistant before he, his assistant, and the janitorial staff ejaculate all over your face. Video of the event would, of course, be posted on the internet and would be available to anyone with basic internet search skills until the day you die. I am truly interested in hearing the figures, which are surely more than $1000.
It’s my hope that the public will start seeing us trafficking and prostitution survivors as people society has wronged . I hope they’ll understand we’ve been changed by the pain and harshness we’ve experienced. Public denial of the violence we experience and prostitute-blaming forces many of us into hiding. If this stopped, we survivors would be empowered to bring something new and beautiful into being.
Dear Sisters -
I write this from a place of love, and a desire for the prostituted to fully seen and known by radical feminism. This is not so for now.
Let me say loud and clear, the vast majority of radical feminists either through experience or from their hearts are completely behind abolition of prostitution, and fully back the Nordic Approach.
That is fabulous, and I deeply proud to be with and by you.
What saddened me, is that are words and language is used sometimes with no credit, or even in the worse scenarios – our language is re-claimed or stolen. and made that out it all thought of by non-prostituted women.
We are mined for our experiences and ways of seeing the wider picture – but rarely are we allowed leadership roles in the battle against the sex trade.
This keeps us as sub-humans – we are used as examples, we are made pets, we are kept as “victims” who must be spoken over.
This is hard to say – for like most exited women I am a radical feminist, it was the only real route to finding freedom for most of us.
But daily, there are small parts of radical feminism that betrayed the prostituted class.
Read the entire post here at Rebecca’s place. Just excellent. Rock on, sister, deep respect.
“No wonder that women that in the middle of girlfriend experience and or escorting must believe they are empowered, that it must be safer than other forms of prostitution – and that in many ways it is not prostitution.
“To see it as prostitution, is to see your own terror, to know that punters have pre-planned to hurt you bad, to understand that there is always some manager/businessman/pimp profiteering from your hell.
“That is too much for most prostituted women to bear – of course they make themselves dead to their own reality, of course they will speak of it as empowering and their free choice, of course they must believe without any real evidence that they are manipulating the men.
“To know the cold and death-loving reality of escorting and or girlfriend experience is so terrible is can destroy the essence of the prostituted woman.”
One in 3 women and girls may be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime. Shocking, isn’t it?
But what’s equally upsetting is that most women don’t denounce their abusers because they are afraid of further violence and of being stigmatized. Help us speak out for these women. Add your name to this rapidly growing book of names so it becomes a powerful lever to advocate for change. Be counted and let survivors of violence know that they can count on you.
The Third Carnival Against Pornography and Prostitution is UP over at Debs’ place! There is some very fine reading there, check it out!
In light of recent news that Governor of New York Eliott Spitzer has been laying down thousands of bucks to prostitute women with some regularity, there has been a flurry of e-mails, press releases, and a comment or two to my blog criticizing New York anti-prostitution laws which may result in Spitzer facing criminal charges both for prostituting women and for trafficking in women. The pro-prostitution side, for some reason, thinks it is persuasive to argue (1) that prosecuting a governor for buying sex is somehow wrong or misguided; (2) that prostituting women should be defended; (3) that we should be focusing narrowly on what usually amounts to arbitrary and red-herring distinctions between trafficking and the prostituting of women.
I disagree. I think Spitzer is certainly a disappointment (though not a surprise, really) to those who worked with him, including anti-prostitution feminists, in the enacting of good anti-prostitution legislation which might potentially end the prostituting of women (and boys) in New York, or which might at the very least be likely to hasten that day more than laws anywhere in the United States. I think he is Exhibit A of the capacity of men who lack consciousness as to sexism to sequester, ignore and deny — even to themselves — evidences of their own misogyny. I think he has been hoist on his own petard. But I think the laws he supported and pushed through were good laws and that one evidence of that is the focus on charging Spitzer and not the woman he prostituted. If a governor can be prosecuted, any man can be.
Following is a good article sent to me by Jeyoani about the success of the model for the New York anti-prostitution laws, the “Swedish Model.”
World Takes Notice of the Swedish Model
By Karl Ritter in Stockholm
Monday, 17 March 2008Selling sex is not illegal in Sweden, but buying it is – a radical approach to prostitution that faced ridicule when it was introduced nine years ago.Now, while Americans are preoccupied with the downfall of the New York Governor Eliot Spitzer in a prostitution scandal, some countries are considering emulating the Swedish model, which prosecutes the client but views the prostitute as an exploited victim. Officials say the changed approach has reduced the demand for prostitutes and reshaped attitudes toward the sex trade.”We don’t have a problem with prostitutes. We have a problem with men who buy sex,” said Kajsa Wahlberg, of the human trafficking unit at Sweden’s national police board. She said foreign law enforcement officials and politicians are coming to Sweden in droves to learn about its 1999 law.
On Friday, Ms Wahlberg was meeting police officials from the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal but where authorities have closed some brothels in a crackdown on organised crime in Amsterdam’s red light district.
In January, a high-level British delegation came to study the Swedish approach as Britain reviews its own prostitution laws, which prohibit soliciting and loitering for sex, but not buying sex. Norway’s government plans to propose a Swedish-style prostitution law after Easter.
Under Sweden’s so-called “sex purchase law,” paying for sex is punished by fines or up to six months in prison, plus the humiliation of public exposure. Pimps and brothel-keepers are also prosecuted. A handful of Swedish judges have been caught up in prostitution scandals.
While the authorities judge the new system a success, critics question whether it has really reduced prostitution or merely pushed it in to more isolated and dangerous surroundings.
Ms Wahlberg concedes that accurate statistics are hard to obtain, but estimates the number of prostitutes dropped 40 per cent from 2,500 in 1998 to 1,500 in 2003. She says police know from eavesdropping on human trafficking rings that Sweden is considered bad business because of its tough stance. “They are calculating profits, costs and marketing and the risk of getting caught,” Ms Wahlberg said. “We’re trying to create a bad market for these activities.”
Conscious of the international interest, Sweden’s government is planning a thorough review of the effects of the law, expected to be ready next year.
Petra Ostergren, a writer who has studied prostitution for a decade, does not think it has worked well.
“Sex purchases have not decreased. Many young women sell sex temporarily over the internet to fund university studies,” she said.
A 46-year-old escort who is a vocal opponent of the law said it had left prostitutes more vulnerable to violence. “If a sex worker seeks to establish contact with a client on the street, and police are waiting around the corner, she’s going to jump into the car without making a security assessment,” she said.
Most European countries prohibit pimping and running brothels, but tolerate prostitution and penalise neither prostitutes nor clients. Brothels are legal in Holland and Germany.
Marianne Eriksson, a former MEP, said she was ridiculed when she first proposed the change in the European Parliament in 1997.
“Many of them roared with laughter,” recalled Ms Eriksson, who now chairs the Stockholm branch of the opposition Left Party.
She says there has been “a very strong response” to the Swedish model in other European countries, even if many of them ultimately decide against adopting it.
The view of prostitution as a legacy of a societal order that subordinates women to men is universally accepted among major political parties in gender-conscious Sweden.
Stop Porn Culture will be offering our third training for our slideshow this July. The training will be twice as long, more in-depth, and can also be taken for college credit.Please post this information anywhere you can!Media Madness: The Impact of Sex, Violence and Commercial Culture on Adults, Children and Society A summer Institute for Educators, Students, Human Service Professionals, Activists and Parents
July 8-11, 2008, Wheelock College, Boston.
For the 14th consecutive year, Wheelock College is offering a very popular summer institute on the role that the media (television, magazines, advertising, pornography, video games and music videos) plays in shaping our gender identity, our intimate relationships, our children’s lives, and ultimately our culture. The institute is taught by Dr Gail Dines, author of Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality, and Dr. Diane Levin, author of the forthcoming So Sexy So Soon
Participants in both tracks will learn:
- How media violence affects behavior and contributes to violence in society
- How media images perpetuate and legitimize sexism, racism,
consumerism and economic inequality
- How political and economic forces shape the media
- How media affects children’s ideas about sexual behavior and
relationships with others
- How to critically deconstruct media images and develop media literacy skills
- How to become active in advocacy, community building and grass roots
As a way to accommodate the needs of the participants, this year two days of the institute will be split into the following tracks:
1. Fighting the porn culture: how to think about and organize against the increasing pornification of our society. Lead by Dr. Gail Dines with guest lectures by Dr. Rebecca Whisnant, Lierre Keith and Matt Ezell, founding members of Stop Porn Culture.
2. Combating the hazards of media culture with children, families and the community. Lead by Dr. Diane Levin, author of the forthcoming book, So Sexy so Soon
The institute is available as a 3 credit graduate course or a non-credit course. Scholarships are available. Housing is available on the Wheelock campus.
For more information, please contact Gail Dines at email@example.com (write July Institute in the subject line)
Thanks to Lierre Kieth for sending this to me.
by Robin Morgan (and thanks to the Women’s Media Center)
“Goodbye To All That” was my (in)famous 1970 essay breaking free from a politics of accommodation especially affecting women (online version is here.) During my decades in civil-rights, anti-war, and contemporary women’s movements, I’ve avoided writing another specific “Goodbye . . .”. But not since the suffrage struggle have two communities — the joint conscience-keepers of this country– been so set in competition, as the contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) and Barack Obama (BO) unfurls. So.
Goodbye to the double standard . . .
Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .
Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs.
If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously outraged — and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.
Goodbye to the most intimately violent T-shirts in election history, including one with the murderous slogan “If Only Hillary had married O.J. Instead!” Shame.
Goodbye to Comedy Central’s “Southpark” featuring a storyline in which terrorists secrete a bomb in HRC’s vagina.
I refuse to wrench my brain down into the gutter far enough to find a race-based comparison. For shame.
Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny.
This is not “Clinton hating,” not “Hillary hating.” This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans? Continue reading
One night, I stay behind in the club, waiting to go home with the DJ. I wanted him. He had a reputation of hating women. I knew that he was the sort of man that I deserved.I thought I know how he would treat me. Oh, I was so naïve.
I can see it now. Now I see a teenager attempting to make sense of her world. She tries so hard.
I see her whenever I see “street-wise” kids out looking defiant. I can see their fear. I can feel their emptiness. As I see them now, now I can cry.
Then, I could not allow myself to think. I could not feel. All I knew to do was to keep moving.
I allowed him to take me to his flat. He never looked at me. After all, I was a whore. So far, so normal.
In his room, I was fascinated by all his posters. Pictures of women crawling to the camera on their hands and knees. Some were dragged along with chains, some in cages. I thought that I understood.
When he fucked me, it was so hard, so quick. I could hear somewhere that I was screaming. Only, I never made any noise. I could never show that much fear.
But he was hitting me, telling to stop screaming. He threw out of his flat. I had no time to think if I was in pain.
Only, I found that I could not stop bleeding. I just ignored it.
The bleeding went on for days. The pain would not fade. I could hardly walk. I fainted going down the stairs.
Staceyann Chinn had us on our feet, fists raised, crying and hollering on opening night of last year’s festival. If you can, see her in person. You will never forget her.
China has banned movie depictions of hardcore sexual activity and rape. Film studios producing hardcore sex movies risk losing permission to shoot films at all. In addition, erotic movie producers, directors and actors will be ineligible to compete for film awards or for taking part in any film awards. Also restricted are vulgar language and song lyrics and sound effects with sexual connotations.
i wanted to leave a comment for this website
i was a stripper for 10 years
and in that time i was sucked into the money, the cars and the “look at me on stage” life
i was the star of the show as the lights danced on me and every mans eye was on me
and i took the money, left the impression
i cared about them and left them penniless
i danced because i used to be in a relationship of abuse by my husband and when i left him i was hurt and angry. it felt good to use “them ”
just make them feel they had a chance with me and
i went away with thousands of dollars .
but i went away alone
and empty and every night my body would ache from standing on 7” platform dance shoes in a g string, no top and
slide down that pole with precision.
it was a lie, and it almost cost me getting arrested for prostitution . Strippers may seem to work the floor with stipulations, but there will always be a “regular” customer that will offer you more money if you do other things with them.
i dont care how innocent i may look, the approaches for sex will be asked by the person you are dancing for, especially if you are on their lap 2” away from their groin area!
i danced for 10 long years
until at the age of 37 i looked in that mirror one day as i was getting ready to go on stage
and i seen an old, strung out, drunk girl that was
headed to destruction.
as i got older all the young girls took my money
you know they want the “fresh meat” 18-21
year olds, and you’re stuck waving a rose in the back seats for the attention unless you turn a trick.
i no longer dance but now my daughter is doing it!
talk about your sin seeking you out!
and i regret that i ever did it now
it took my dignity away
and even my identity
no wonder they give you a stage name
to all those girls that are no longer stripping
God Bless you
and if you are stripping, i know what you went through, i know how you feel
i was once there myself. all i can say is my prayers are with you, and hope someday you will find the strength to walk away
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.
Call for papers: Sex Trafficking Conference
April 2 – 4, 2008, South Texas College, McAllen, TX
Following the success of our 2007 conference on Human Trafficking, the Women’s Studies committee of South Texas College is organizing our second annual conference on the topic of Human Trafficking, with a focus on the demand for the physical and sexual labor of trafficked persons.
Our keynote and featured speakers are Mimi Chakarova, photojournalist from U.C. Berkeley; Victor Malarek, Canadian TV journalist and author of The Natashas; Robert Jensen, Associate Professor at the University of Texas, Austin and author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity; Melissa Farley, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Prostitution Research and Education; and Norma Hotaling, Executive Director of the SAGE Project and founder of the first “John School.”
We invite researchers, faculty, graduate students, journalists and practitioners to present findings and observations on a wide range of issues related to sex trafficking, focusing on the demand side. Topics may include:
- The nature of and causes behind the growing demand for services performed by persons who are trafficked
- The causes and effects of sex and labor trafficking
- Organized sex tourism
- Enslaved prostitution
- Strategies for reducing the global practice of sex and labor trafficking
The conference will include presentations by guest speakers and art exhibits on both sides of the Texas/Mexico border. Proposals for papers, panels and roundtables will be accepted through February 20, 2008, and may be sent via e-mail to Jenny B. Clark, Chair of the Women’s Studies Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mark Burton at email@example.com. Please include the term “Sex Trafficking Conference” in the subject line.
Pass on to your colleagues as appropriate.
We shall make prompt responses of acceptance.
Thanks to H.A. Chew for forwarding this along.
Blonde whore forced to suck c*** then f***ed!!
This is the first of a series of posts I plan to do illustrating the intentions of, and reasons for, pornography. I get thousands and thousands of spam comments day in, day out, almost all of them advertisements for porn. Right now there are something like 4,000-plus ”comments” — links to pornography, primarily – in my spam queue. Most of it is as vile as can be imagined.
I’m tired of talking to pro-pornography, pro-prostitution people, male or female, about pornography. I think I’m done with doing that. Discussions with those who are vested in this stuff — who make a living by way of it, who use it all the time, who sell it, who perform in it — remind me of discussions I used to have in my old world with religious fundamentalists who could not be separated from their ideological fixations, obsessions and dogmas by love, money, cogent debate, force, or any combination of the above. They stood ready to defend their beliefs — and that’s about it. They were pretty much incapable of even considering the possibility that they might have missed something, might not be seeing something, let alone that they might be wrong. I always find it perplexing, the way the pro-porn side invokes the spectre of fundamentalism in its arguments or diatribes or propaganda. My experience is, if there are fundamentalists in this debate, they are on the pro-porn side.
The 11 words at the top of the page tell us what pornography is about. It is about men forcing their bodies inside of and onto the bodies of women. It is about men forcing women to do things they do not want to do. Especially, the words communicate the interest men have in watching women being raped. We all know a woman is depicted in the film those 11 words advertise, but she is a dehumanized woman. She has no name; she is a generic “blonde,” a generic “whore.” The understanding and agreement between the maker and advertiser and the consumer of pornography is that nobody cares about the names, identities or lives of “blondes” or “whores” or any other woman being raped by men in pornography and nobody wants to know any of that. The agreement is that the porn consumer should be free to order up a constellation of body parts and the pornographer should stand ready to provide them. The agreement is the pornographer will provide images of rape and violence which humiliate and degrade already-dehumanized women whose names we do not know. The agreement, especially, is that this will be sexually titillating and exciting to the consumer. This is what real men want to see: “blondes” and “whores” being raped. Available for cash, at the click of a link.
Comments, as always will be moderated. Men and women may comment, so long as they are anti-pornography. At some point, as anti-pornography activists, we are going to have to work to provide some sort of public counterbalance to the weight of the pornographic garbage passing for “discussion” and “debate” which we, and millions of others, find suffocating and deadly.
(This is an edited version of a post that came to me via one of my several feminist listservs. I asked JB if I could post it here on my blog because I think it’s great and worth sharing and she gave me her permission. Many thanks, JB! — Heart)
Freedomist: Freedom from believing man-made lies; freedom from invasion by “popular” music piped into stores; freedom from putting men’s lives, issues and interests ahead of my own; freedom from the current economy to the best of my ability (recycling, budgeting, finding “free” items to use wherever possible); freedom to want a world nothing like the “man’s world” currently dominating; freedom to dream and envision a world of magic and creative evolution in which cruelty and submission has no place.
I work at a women’s shelter, a healing place for moms who come here with their children, or women who arrive alone.
The funding trend is away from direct money for services (to raped and otherwise battered women) and toward “prevention” directed toward “families,” aka men, particularly “men of faith” in faith communities where the God is a Him.
Some of the women employed here have what I call non-profit privilege, in that they come from noblesse oblige family lines which sponsor whole tables at fundraisers designed to separate the guilty rich from a little bit of their money. When the women of non-profit privilege are working nearby, I swim in a vat of incompetence.
Some of the women employed here believe in “well-meaning” men. Men, men, men, always deferring to men. These women practice the art of deference, and hope for men to be our protectors from, well, other men.
And so, I’m glad I have only a daughter, because all of the mothers of sons I know have had their sons turn on them, emotionally if not physically, in puberty or later. I wish there were no predators, because I know the truth of numbers that do not lie. Sheri Tepper writes novels more hopeful for the healing of boys than I would be from my experience; hopeful moms of sons might find her books useful, especially The Gate to Women’s Country.
Reality, not fiction: The daughters across every cultural divide are at risk of rape, maiming and death, emotional assault and religious guilt-tripping (“downfall of man”) from the predatory sons of men. Even the Buddha’s Pali Canon analogized womankind to blight on rice, after Buddhist men with violence tore down the temples to the Goddess in Tibet. No “oneness” for me with that misogyny masquerading as spirituality. Instead: Let Us Be.
Let men take care of the men and the boys, if they will. Womankind has the work of the ages to do, if we are to repair men’s harm to us, and evolve forward in our conscious connections to the earth and the cosmos.
In any event, despite the challenges, at least for today, I’m willing to work at the shelter for the littlest girls, and their sisters.
And for every woman who comes in here without money (because he controlled it), without dignity (because he robbed her of it), without a sense of self (because identity has been pounded out of her by him), at least for today, I was here, another day.
It took me many decades to see clearly enough to put the cause of women first. Now, on a daily basis, I appreciate that it is a war. Every bruise, every broken bone, every torn orifice proves the battleground: womankind.
Andrea Dworkin (much vilified online by those who also hate Mary Daly and Marija Gimbutas) said it best, if I may paraphrase her: Choose. Choose again. You might just choose to read Dworkin’s Scapegoat. Or Letters from a War Zone. Sometimes the most powerful women get tagged as the most strident. Sometimes the best women writers who have the most to say infuriate their (women) readers, because giving up fantasies about men is what millennia of breeding and conditioning has predisposed us never to do.
If you want to know about the war, find your local women’s shelter, call the volunteer coordinator, and tell her you’d like to be on their Sexual Assault Response Team as a supporter for the forensic examinations of “fresh” rape victims. You won’t see many choir boys. Not that anybody deserves to be raped. Just that it is generally a man raping a girl under the age of 18.
Rant over. Do with it what you will.
Blessed be, to see, that you might be free,
JB Sproull Copyright 2007; free use with author attribution granted to free blogs and/or free websites
A while back I blogged about Jack McLellan, the guy who published photos of little girls on a website he created for the purpose of discussing his sexual obsessions with them. He also used this website to keep other predators up to speed as to events and venues where little girls could be ogled, objectified and similarly photographed (without their or their caregivers’ permission). McLellan is in his 40s, has lived with his parents most of his life, and does not work. He receives Social Security because, says he, he is disabled by ”depression, anxiety disorders, and paranoia.” He says he has never “broken the law” or sexually assaulted a little girl. However, since he regularly writes about the ways he finds to touch little girls, there is no reason to believe him. Touching a girl or a woman without permission is sexual assault.
When parents and others became concerned and angry and his Washington website was closed down, he moved to Southern California where he started up his website afresh. Parents again were outraged, he was served with restraining orders requiring him to stay away from little girls, he violated the restraining orders and was arrested twice, and his site was again closed down. Now he’s moved to Portland. Since he’s never been charged with a crime so far, he is free to move anywhere, live anywhere, and presumably, to continue to start new websites, take and post photos of little girls, and share information with other sexual predators until the level of public outrage results in his sites being closed down again.
I came across an article about McLellan in the Seattle Weekly last week. It was written by Judy McGuire, who usually writes a sex and relationship advice column, “Date Girl.” McGuire wrote about having received many letters from McLellan several years ago, before he outed himself as a man who sexually preys on little girls. At the time McLellan was writing to McGuire, his “habit” was not stalking and preying on little girls but on prostituted women. McGuire writes about one letter which particularly disturbed her:
His letters were super-creepy, and the intense, psychotic loathing he professed for the sex workers he regularly hired was so palpable, I wondered if he was a serial killer. But this particular letter was different. This time he told me he’d given up on banging pros and, instead, found himself increasingly drawn to little girls.
He wrote, “I don’t watch much adult TV anymore because I’m checking out the girls on Nick, Disney, etc. I don’t consider myself a pedophile and believe that forcing my man-size penis into a girl-size vagina is an abusive and violent act. However, I see nothing wrong with loving, nurturing touch, like cuddling, kissing, massages, and stroking hair.”
…In his letter to me, it seemed like he wanted help. He wrote, “The problem is that I’m afraid it might eventually progress beyond that—into Jacko-style sleepovers, showers, full-nude body contact, cunnilingus, etc. I’m aware of how harsh the laws are regarding adults fooling around with girls this young, but the power of the attraction is difficult for me to resist.”
McGuire consulted with Weekly editors and published McClellan’s letter, resulting in calls from police officers and others. She describes having been deeply disturbed but wondering whether mostly, McClellan just wanted media attention. She mentioned that McClellan had had another letter to the editor published in the Weekly. I looked it up. It is in the May 19, 2004 issue and reads as follows:
I was appalled to see Knute Berger condemning the abuse at Abu Ghraib and ex–Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt having consensual sex with a teenage girl under the banner “Evil Gone Wild” [Mossback, May 12]. Does he really think the two events are remotely comparable? Berger says: “Goldschmidt . . . admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl back in 1975. Only he didn’t call it that.” Well, neither does Canada—where the age of consent is 14. Is Canada “evil” in Berger’s estimation? Anyone who is old enough to reproduce is old enough to accept some responsibility for whom they have sex with.
The girls McCLellan stalks — who are 7, 8, 9 – would occasionally be ”old enough to reproduce.” Here is a guy who defends, in writing, having sex with girls to whom he is sexually attracted, so long as he figures they can “reproduce.”
It is deeply disturbing that articles about this clearly dangerous man invariably focus on the fact that he hasn’t been charged with crimes, that he isn’t doing anything illegal, or speculate that he is just doing it for the “attention.” He’s moving all over the country, creating, and re-creating his little-girl-stalking websites because he “wants attention”? He documents and publishes lists of where to find little girls to photograph, touch and exploit, over years, because he “wants attention”? He violates restraining orders and goes to jail because he “wants attention”?
As to his activities being “legal,” I think his prostituting of women should have been illegal. He is said to have loathed them, who knows how many of them he hurt, beat, raped? I think his sponging off of his parents through age 40-something while creating websites about the girls he stalked should have been illegal.
And in particular, I think his using his Social Security income — funds he receives every month courtesy of all of us who are taxpayers — to prostitute women and to create these websites which stalk little girls, for the sake of aall that is holy, ought to be illegal!
Why doesn’t anybody say this? Why doesn’t anybody think about it? Bigots and misanthropes of all stripes gleefully document, for example, the candy they once saw in the shopping cart of the single mom on food stamps. They grouse stupidly on about the use of “taxpayer dollars” to treat and support people who abuse alcohol and substances, or, for that matter, single mothers trying to care for their children, and yet here is this guy living on the public dole, using it to prostitute, stalk and assault women and girls and all anybody seems to have to say about it is, “He hasn’t done anything illegal.”
It’s because of men like Jack McClellan that little girls like Zina Linnek, Jessica Lunsford, Shasta Groene, the Tamas sisters, and countless, countless other girls and women have suffered. As women we know that McClellan’s behaviors are not illegal because in our culture, hurting women and girls, stalking them, exploiting and objectifying them, prostituting them, touching them against their will — for the most part, these are not illegal.
I am a peace-loving person, wholly committed to nonviolence. I oppose capital punishment and have since I was old enough to understand what it was. I think the racism, classism and injustices in the criminal justice and prison system in this country are atrocious and inexcusable. I believe in, and advocate for, transformative justice. Having said all of that, it is mind-boggling to me that what this guy does is “legal” and that he may freely do what he does on my dime. If I’m going to support him, I vote to throw his sorry ass in jail for the duration, without access to computers, telephones, or any photographs or visual representations of girls and women. I think I, and all women, since we are footing the bill for his sorry existence, ought to be the people to determine what happens to a guy like Jack McClellan.
Image from our sisters at Friends of the Lolas
The world breaks open. Underneath the layers, transcending the past, making the present.
I have seen it written. In the hour of our forced surrender. The world will diminish as the time draws near.
Aching with the lost and ancient tidings, her beginning has come. Rekindling our magic. Lusty, wild and untamed. Recalling to us a time when freedom was a word that had meaning.
Do we have her power? This one that calls to us. Cries out long forgotten secrets. Screams our true names. Falling silent as the moon wanes. She is the one that tells us of the future.
She comes in before the dawn, when our power awakens from the stealthy sleep of those who can ill afford dreams. When half of our world is drowning beneath the man-made weather, whether, weather. When half our world is starving. Sacred ground as dry as dust.
Speak to me of your power. Speak to me in riddles, in a woman’s tongue. This day is coming into being and I need no translation. I can feel you breathing, sisters. The calm static before this long-awaited storm.
We have been without our rain and thunder for far too long…
I smell the tumult of our revolution, rising from the east…
Come to me then, in fury and in rage and with warmth. I will not let the cold decay of this bleaching rancour. I will not let this mindless, bloody, relentless torment hold me any longer. I am breaching the walls of this prison. My love, my heart, myself within my sisters. My sisters in me.
Even death cannot strip us of our elemental power. We sisters do not fear the earth.
Listen to the seasons. Listen to the earth beneath your feet. Breathe with the beauty of her. Sing it out. Sing our tempest into being. And as the storm of us gathers on the horizon, know this. We will not slumber until every woman wakes.
Let the rains come in with the tide. Beat out a rhythm in women’s time. And let us soar.
Allecto, whose beautiful writings I’ve published here before on Women’s Space, wrote the poem above to and for me. It meant so much to me, inspired, comforted and encouraged me. Thank you, Allecto! I offer it to you as the perfect beginning for:
The Fifth Carnival of Radical Feminists!
Women Deserve Better
Holly Ord has posted a rousing, passionate call to action entitled What We Deserve which may help us to begin to move beyond feelings of hopelessness or disgust, the consequences of our ongoing engagement with those vested in our subordination.
Women do deserve better, and what is better is within our reach. It’s to be expected that to the degree we threaten the “rule of the fathers,” to that degree threats, intimidation, and attempts to silence us will increase. It’s also to be expected that to the degree that we threaten the rule of the fathers, hope remains that we will in the end be able to save our own lives and all life on the planet.
Sexualized Violence as Silencing
In all of the sturm and drang over recent internet attacks on me, on Biting Beaver, on Laurelin, and on other radical feminist bloggers, Marcella Chester — way back on August 6 when the attacks were just beginning — wrote as intelligent and prophetic an analysis of the dynamics of ongoing attacks on radical feminist women online and in real life as I have seen so far. We aren’t “exclusive.” We do not “discriminate” against anyone. We are under attack and we have been under attack for a long, long time.
When people are being attacked from all sides … outsiders who declare “I come in peace, let me in” aren’t likely to be trusted or allowed in. This isn’t about discriminating against those outsiders, it’s about the natural consequences of non-stop attacks. When the attacks cease then inclusiveness will become a possibility. This is why those doing the attacking will try to repackage themselves as the group under assault — often while deriding others for playing the victim… The position that some people hold that they are only responsible for their own words online and therefore can blithely say and do nothing as those around them attack others, including on the blogs or forums they run, is a pro-attack position.
I guess the bottom line is this: Do you have a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of sexualized violence including the making of direct or backhanded threats of violence?
If you answer with something that begins with, “No, but …” then “No” is your final answer.
“Our Silence Is Our Dissent”
In a post entitled Dominator Tentacles posted at VeraCity, Vera notes that those involved in the recent attacks don’t target the sources of cultural and societal domination which affect and oppress all of us who are marginalized, oppressed or poor — big business, big government, Wal-Mart, the Pentagon. In fact, they are in league with these powers, with The Man; they do his bidding and dirty work, willingly and free of charge. In this, they are as conservative, or right-wing, or liberal, or left-wing — but above all as sexist — as the powers are.
As a result of the recent attack, there are fewer radical voices on the web. A few radical feminists have taken down their blogs; some will not be reopened. Others have made their Flickr photostreams private. At least one blog and one forum are now private; a muting of voices if not an outright silencing. Going private, having to hide: the parts of the radfem community that are still intact are no longer fully open, and no longer fully a part of the human conversation on the web. …
I don’t like it that radical voices, however unpopular, are being expelled from the human conversation by online thugs. I like it even less that it’s happening with hardly any notice, and without comment by more mainstream writers.
Vera’s statement above reminds me of something Andrea Dworkin wrote in an essay entitled “Against the Male Flood: Censorship, Pornography and Equality,” in Letters from a War Zone” (and this is especially for you, BB):
…writers are … people who by writing do something socially real and significant…writing is never peripheral or beside the point. It is serious and easily seditious. …Censorship is deeply misunderstood in the United States because the fairly spoiled, privileged, frivolous people who are the literate citizens of this country think that censorship is some foggy effort to suppress ideas…not something in itself– an act of police power with discernible consequences to hunted people…
Subordination can be so deep that those who are hurt by it are utterly silent. Subordination can create a silence quieter than death. …The Three Marias of Portugal went to jail for writing this: “Let no one tell me that silence gives consent, because whoever is silent dissents.”…The silence [of the women] is a silence over centuries: an exile into speechlessness. One is shut up by…abuse. One is shut up by the threat and the injury. …If what we want to say is not hurt me, we have the real social power only to use silence as eloquent dissent. Silence is what women have instead of speech. Silence is our dissent during rape … Silence is our moving, persuasive dissent during battery…Silence is a fine dissent during incest and for all the long years after.
Silence is not speech. We have silence, not speech. We fight rape, battery, incest, and prostitution with it.. But someday someone will notice: that people called women were buried in a long silence that meant dissent.
Women’s Art as Resistance
Postcards by Margaret of Margaret’s Wanderings
Close up of part of a quilt The Quilter created for a quilt exhibition she participates in to raise money for domestic violence victims.
Tears(top) and Bedouin(bottom) by Palestinian artist Salwa Arnous whose work, displayed in an art gallery in Texas, was recently condemned in the San Antonio Times as “anti-semitic.” She invites us to see for ourselves by watching the video below (allow a couple minutes for the video to load– it is well worth the wait).
Visions of Palestine by Salwa Arnous
Radical feminist poet and blogger Lynn Sweeting writes:
Shelter the young Saffron,
And save the garden,
Shelter the battered woman
And save the world.
For the young tree,
A circle of stones,
For the young woman,
A tribe of sisters
Staceyann Chin is the second to perform in the above video. She is one revolutionary woman; I have watched her perform the past two years on night stage at Michfest. This year she inspired all of us to new heights on opening night; she just gets better. It was an amazing thing to look across a sea of women’s raised fists as we all, across the boundaries of race, ethnicity, age, physical ability, heard our own stories, our own realities, in Chin’s words.
In Call for Action: Dua Khalil, Whedon, Nothing but Red, writing evolution discusses an upcoming anthology inspired by the recent stoning of Du’a Khalil and Joss Whedon’s blogging of his reaction to her death. (Whedon is the creator of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series.) The anthology seeks to promote awareness regarding women’s issues, and particularly violence against women. The stoning of Khalil has inspired regular readers of Whedonesque to create their own memorial and feminist blogs, one of which is entitled I am Dua Khalil.
The Crisis Facing Iraqi Women — Honor Killings, Suicides and Misogynist Passport Rules is the title of a post at Feminist Peace Network which says:
The Taipei Times reports on the mind-boggling number of honor killings and suicides in Kurdish Iraq. According to one of their sources, Aso Kamal, there have been 12,500 women murdered for reasons of honor or who have committed suicide in three Kurdish provinces since 1991. There were 350 such deaths so far this year.
The Women’s Union of Kurdistan in Sulaimaniyah has recorded 83 cases of women burning themselves in the first six months of last year and 95 in the first half of this year.
Feminist Peace Network blogs tirelessly about the effect of the war in Iraq on women. In recent posts she describes the huge rise in maternal and infant mortality deaths and in the large numbers of girls and women being driven into prostitution as a result of the war and the deaths of so many of the women’s husbands and sons. In this post she blogs about the stoning of 11-year-old Sarah Jaffar Nimat, a fifth grader, and reports that 40 women and girls have been stoned since the stoning of Du’a Khalil. In this post Feminist Peace Network describes an e-mail exchange with Yanar Mohammed about the disappearances of Iraqi women and laments:
Yanar closed her email with this line–”Thank you for still standing with us.” I wish I felt that we were doing that in some sort of adequate way. Every day our media is filled with reports of soldiers being killed, insurgents, terrorists doing this that or the other act of violence. Our politicians blather on about whether to continue the war while they keep on funding it and make pious assertions that the Iraqis have to take responsibility for fixing the mess we made and the truth is that we totally ignore the plight of these women who are experiencing what women always experience in the aftermath of war.
Afghan women in camp of displaced people, July 2007, posted at Frida’ Notebook
Frida of Frida’s Notebook is an attorney documenting civil rights abuses and trauma in Afghanistan. In Tell your story she describes her struggle to find ways to honor the women she interviews as they tell her their stories:
Where is the time to simply listen? To listen to the story as the teller wishes to tell it. To let it be, perhaps, for today, explaining that I would like to document this story as a human rights case but that in order to do that I will need to ask more detailed questions. To ask if I could return to do that another day, once the storyteller has had time to think about what he or she wants to get out of telling the story to me. Where is the time to do that?
Some people might tell me to concentrate on my work as a lawyer and human rights monitor and not to stray to far from what I know into the complex territory of psychological responses to trauma. But I can’t see that boundary very clearly. More accurately perhaps, I see the boundary but the reality of work doesn’t not respect it. Stories are not always about facts and events, they are often about feelings and responses to those events. The remedies people seek are not always about justice, they are also about the acknowledged need for reconciliation in order to build a peaceful tomorrow. In Afghanistan our human rights work is always going to cross into the territoriy of ‘transitional justice’ and all the questions that come with that.
Poverty and Other Obscenities of American Capitalism
Barbara Ehrenreich has a fantastic post up, Smashing Capitalism, about the effects of Bush’s and the Republicans’ economic policies on poor and working class people, casting the impending record-high numbers of home foreclosures and accompanying economic difficulties as poor people’s “plot” to smash capitalism:
First they stopped paying their mortgages, a move in which they were joined by many financially stretched middle class folks, though the poor definitely led the way. All right, these were trick mortgages, many of them designed to be unaffordable within two years of signing the contract. There were “NINJA” loans, for example, awarded to people with “no income, no job or assets.” Conservative columnist Niall Fergusen laments the low levels of “economic literacy” that allowed people to be exploited by sub-prime loans. Why didn’t these low-income folks get lawyers to go over the fine print? And don’t they have personal financial advisors anyway?
Then, in a diabolically clever move, the poor – a category which now roughly coincides with the working class – stopped shopping. Both Wal-Mart and Home Depot announced disappointing second quarter performances, plunging the market into another Arctic-style meltdown. H. Lee Scott, CEO of the low-wage Wal-Mart empire, admitted with admirable sensitivity, that “it’s no secret that many customers are running out of money at the end of the month. “
When, for example, the largest private employer in America, which is Wal-Mart, starts experiencing a shortage of customers, it needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror. About a century ago, Henry Ford realized that his company would only prosper if his own workers earned enough to buy Fords. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, never seemed to figure out that its cruelly low wages would eventually curtail its own growth, even at the company’s famously discounted prices.
The sad truth is that people earning Wal-Mart-level wages tend to favor the fashions available at the Salvation Army. Nor do they have much use for Wal-Mart’s other departments, such as Electronics, Lawn and Garden, and Pharmacy.
In this post, Lo at Braless Living LA mocks — in satisfying fashion! — rich, white anti-war activists who think they are “conscious” with a heart felt letter from a downtown Los Angeles war activist (to a soldier in Iraq):
Thank you for being willing to die, so that I may continue to drive my car. I live in downtown LA. I recycle. I have a Porsche, but I only drive it on the weekends (it was a gift from my parents). I usually drive my Prius. I don’t own conflict diamonds. I am a good person. I hate Bush. I hate him so very, very much. I have a picture of him on a dart board. When I invite my friends over to have a pretend drive-in movie theatre on our roof top (most recently we had a screening of Inconvenient Truth, it was so educational) we play a drinking game before the movie and throw darts at Bush. I hope that doesn’t offend you, but you’re dying for nothing. I don’t even like driving. Traffic is so bad out here. The 405 was murder this afternoon.
All the poor people that I have every known, including my own family when I was young, do not routinely take vacations. Vacations are expensive even on the cheap. Most of the time poor people take vacations when it correlates with another task that involves something to do with their poor circumstances. For example, if someone has an extra clunker (or can no longer afford to maintain that clunker) and a family member needs it to survive, the errand becomes the vacation for the one driving the car to that person. Bus, train and plane tickets are expensive even when planned in advanced; however, most impromptu type vacations are not typically efficiently planned. In addition, having efficient means is a privilege in itself, having some money to save after the necessities are covered and having available credit for emergencies, etc.
“Large numbers of US local economies are predicated on a prison industry that pays rural whites to incarcerate urban blacks. But the bottom line is, the US makes policy choices that set the crime and incarceration rates — and makes them higher than any other industrialized country in the world.”
Woman Centered Birthing and Women’s Reproductive Rights
La Doctorita at unconventional beauty writes about the newly-released statistics about the alarming rise in US maternal mortality because of unnecessary c-sections in death from childbirth: it’s not just for “little house on the prairie” anymore.
Midwife: Sage Femme, Hebamme, Comadrona, Partera reviews Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, a book about women’s loss of agency and autonomy in hospital births, the large number of unnecessary c-sections performed which is causing rising maternal and infant mortality in the U.S. , and about the importance of women advocating for themselves and insisting that their birthing plans be respected. Some midwives accompany birthing moms during hospital births and act as doulas or advocates while doctors attend the births. Sage Femme disagrees with this practice, not only because of the double binds inherent in working both for patriarchal medical establishments and birthing mothers, but also because of the value she places on women advocating for themselves:
“a reader was surprised (negatively, is how I read it), that I just couldn’t do hospital births any longer as a doula. she says that this is [when] women need support the most. well, when you stand by and watch abuse happen, it feels like you are condoning it. again, it goes back to the idea that somehow a doula can protect a woman or prevent all this from happening. we cannot. they cannot. sometimes we can influence a woman’s choices and decisions – but even then we have to be careful not to create a bias, which is really, really hard. I think the more professional doulas weave themselves delicately through an almost impossible web of medicalized birth. for me, I was no good to anyone at a hospital birth if the things done stirred up feelings of disgust, victimization or even plain abuse and rape of women. believe me, it is much better that a doula move away when she feels like this.
…empowerment, like advocacy, MUST come from within. we cannot empower anyone. usually when women advocate for themselves and use their own voice, they are empowered. sometimes empowerment for women comes more from what we don’t do rather than what we do.”
The patriarchists never tire of finding ways to limit women’s reproductive rights, however. Feminist Law Professors writes that a Proposed Ohio Law Would Require Man’s Permission For Abortion. In response, in Support Law To Create Consensual Sex Registry at abyss2hope: A rape survivor’s zigzag journey into the open, Marcella Chester writes a tongue-in-cheek counter proposal.
In Abortion is the New Satanism. Activist Mommy writes about reproductive choices and the women she has known and comforted in their seeking and having of abortions, even though she herself is anti-abortion.
When I honour mothering in other women, it is not just an act of sisterhood. It is about honouring myself as a mother; and it is about honouring my own mother. It is about celebrating what mothers do. When I recognise and confront the darker, painful aspects of motherhood, it is not just an act of confession or truth-speaking. It is about sisterhood with all mothers, including my own, about acknowledging what it is like, how hard it is, and the sheer bloody strength of mind and will and body that it takes to keep soldiering on. And when someone obliterates the mother, erases her importance or her experience, silences her voice – it is as though it is myself that is obliterated, erased and silenced.
Making Feminist Knowledge
I see feminist diplomacy bringing an end to all that, an end to any desire to dominate, from the world to another being, human or otherwise. That is the road to more disaster, the sudden end of ability of this planet to sustain human life, perhaps all life. Men have to listen to reason, talk truce, or stand aside as women negotiate peace plans for wars around the world, end the war on terror, put forth ideas to stop the vicious cycle of retaliation. Men have gotten it wrong, more or less distorted or reversed, on just about everything, what they think they know notwithstanding. Most of that is based not on reality, but male theory, structured hierarchically on every level, which in practice glorifies violence, making it seem normal, casual, the expected way to solve an escalated conflict. Violence is only justifiable in self-defense or to aid self-defense, to stop or capture a violent criminal. Aggressive violence is never the only way or best way to resolve a conflict.
So, I went into the comments of the post and said something to the effect that, while I usually love all your pictures, I do not love this one. It’s racist. And his reaction was to change the picture immediately and then to comment on why he had used it, and what he was trying to accomplish, but that he definitely could make the same point with a different picture. Or something like that, this was a while ago. In making the decision to not just shake my head and move on, or to stay silent and probably seethe or to roll my eyes and think “oh well, par for the course” but deciding instead to bring this to his attention, come what may, and to believe (or at least hope) there would be no blowback from it… I was giving him the benefit of the doubt.
… one huge problem I have with current lesbian culture is that constant pressure to dichotomise, to decide whether you identify with “butch” or “femme” and to stick within the look and behaviours prescribed for that label.
Julie Bindel, in a post entitled My Trans Mission, begins an interesting post with the statement, “Sex-change surgery is the modern equivalent of aversion therapy for homosexuals.”
In the new radfem blog Sister Medusa’s Radical Lesbian Underground, Sister Medusa writes about the way words like “transphobe” are used to silence lesbian and radical feminists and the way this silencing prevents dialog and healing.
The recent controversy around Catherine Crouch’s film, The Gendercator, and the banning of Bitch from the Boston Dyke March are two prominent examples of a phenomenon that is taking place all over the country, and not just in August as a small group of people attempt to silence and take away the rights of Females to gather in private in the woods of Michigan. The word “transphobia” does not have any meaning to me because this far, no one who has thrown it out – to me, to Bitch, to MWMF, to Catherine, has been able to articulate what they mean by it, and why and how we, as Lesbians, have any power over transpeople.
Radical feminists acknowledge that for women (and men) to be who they truly are patriarchial capitalism has to cease to exist because it is oppressive in the extreme. One of the minor bastions of patriarchal capitalism is ‘feminine’ beauty standards.
Then move on to read There Is Nothing Rebellious Or Countercultural About Being “Pro-Porn” posted at Feminist Law Professors. So true! One question I have never heard answered persuasively or convincingly is this: Just what is alternative, progressive, countercultural, rebellious, and above all non-mainstream, let alone feminist, about being pro-pornography? There are men who identify as allies to feminists whose activism consists almost solely of advocating for the pornography industry. This is feminism precisely how?
Speaking of being pro-pornography, Packaging Girlhood has an interesting post up about the new Bratz movie (Bratz dolls, targeted for elementary-school-age girls, are pictured above, nod to Gingermiss):
No matter how they clean up the movie girlz to mimic every other perky wanna be a teen girl flick, it’s important for parents to see the sexualization that defines the overall Bratz package.
Gingermiss has a post up about the movie as well entitled Why Bratz Dolls Are Evil Incarnate and the questions she asks are right on:
Why can’t girls be assertive rather than ‘bratty’? Why can’t they have dolls that reflect something of what their lives are actually like? And, if they actually live lives like those of Bratz dolls, why would we encourage anyone to celebrate or idolize that mentality?
Ariadne by Monica Sjoo
I don’t often discuss or talk about my spiritual leanings on my blogs because for the most part, I think people make too much of it. I don’t care much for people who shove their spiritual or religious bent in my face and so I don’t do it to others. Even in passing. I am past the years where I need to wear my beliefs on my sleeve and past the time in my life where I feel the need to explain, justify or even label what my spirituality is. When I think of God or a Higher Power, I think of something feminine, distinctly womanly. Sometimes it is nature, sometimes it is life, sometimes it is a specific goddess, almost always referred to as the “Goddess”. It is, for me, what it is. And it is not static. It is fluid and evolves as I evolve. However, many years ago, when I was searching for a power greater than myself, I was not so sure. It was then when I found the Goddess. … At this time in my life, I explored women’s spirituality. I identified for years as a witch. I cast spells, maintained several altars in my home and studied all manner of pagan religion, trying each on, I suppose, to see how they fit. It was during this time that I discovered a new book called Ariadne’s Thread written by Shekhinah Mountainwater….I learned about the phases of a woman’s life and it was here that I first read about cronehood. Ariadne’s Thread helped to change my world and shape my spirituality.
Various and Sundry
I want to end this carnival in an inspiring and uplifting way. I believe we are living in a time of rapid change, standing in the center of a paradigm shift. It is a time of shaking and realignment, and we are feeling the strength and power in the changes.
I leave you with these images which remind us that as women, we are in the process of Re-Membering our Archaic Future, even though we may be aware of this only occasionally and dimly.
In Love and Sisterhood,
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As some of you know, I went to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival a couple of weeks ago courtesy of Women’s Space/Margins women’s generosity. My nine-year-old daughter accompanied me. I didn’t know until a few days before I left that I would actually be able to go. When I realized it was going to be possible, the scramble was on to find an affordable way to the land and back, a journey of nearly 3,000 miles each way.
I found a great new travel agency run by a young woman, a recent college graduate with a new baby, and her sister. The agency specializes in finding the cheapest possible way to get from here to there, and the friendly women there did a great job finding airline tickets for me for the trip to Michigan– $215 per ticket one way for Maggie and I, meaning $430 for both of us. These were decent tickets, too; there was one brief layover, but we would be able to arrive before 4:00 p.m. at Grand Rapids, in time to make the shuttle to womyn’s land. This was actually an amazing price, given that I was buying tickets only four days ahead! On my own, obsessively checking Cheaptickets, Cheapfares, Orbitz, individual airlines, economy airlines, Jet Blue, Southwest, Skybus (very interesting new concept in air travel), the absolute cheapest fare I had been able to find was a round- trip fare of $590 per person.
In my searching for the cheapest way there and back, I found that Greyhound was offering one of its specials– $99.00 to go anywhere in the U.S., from anywhere in the U.S., with a seven-day advance purchase and traveling Monday-Thursday. If I booked reservations home with Greyhound, the total cost for travel for Maggie and I round-trip, excluding shuttles to the land, would be $615 — just $25 more than the cost of the cheapest roundtrip airfare I could find for just one of us! This seemed to be an unbelievably great deal.
I hadn’t traveled via Greyhound since my high school/college days in the late ’60s, early ’70s, and then I traveled only between the UW in Seattle and my parents’ home, then in Tacoma, about 50 miles away. I remembered how uncomfortable it was to travel this way, and I doubted things had improved much, but the price was certainly right, it seems socially conscious and energy-efficient to travel by bus as opposed to an individual car (not to mention the price of gas) and this would give Maggie and I a three-day segue between the Festival and the real world, a time to process, talk, unwind, and sleep, however uncomfortably.
Weary of Airport Security
Then, I have come to despise flying, for many reasons, one of which is that I am invariably subjected to the most extreme of security procedures for reasons unknown. I mean, what; 55-year-old white grandmothers are some kind of security risk now? On every trip I have taken by air in recent years I have had to step aside after going through the security gates, even when no alarms have gone off, and I have then had my carry-on luggage extensively searched, including being wiped down with pads used to detect substances, I guess, and then I have had to take off most of my clothes and be patted down. On my trip to the land this year, my stowed luggage was also opened and searched. I am sick of being treated as though I am some kind of security risk. I have no criminal record. I have never even been arrested for demonstrating or protesting. I have wondered whether traveling alone was possibly viewed as some sort of red flag, but this time I was traveling with my daughter. I knew I would not have to go through all of this rigamarole and all of these hoops if I traveled by bus. I am sometimes emotionally vulnerable when I am on my way home from Fest and so I thought it might be good to minimize my exposure to invasive, intrusive people like airport security officials.
Traveling While Poor
The experience of riding Greyhound coaches from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Seattle, Washington, as it turned out, was nothing short of hair-raising. It was absurdly degrading, humiliating, demeaning and very scary. Miserable doesn’t begin to adequately describe it. The only redeeming value in traveling that way was — of course — the money saved and the fantastic writing and blogging material the trip provides to me. Since my return I have searched the internet for news stories about the abomination that is playing out in Greyhound stations across the country. So far I have found exactly one article:
Travelers Get Stranded at Greyhound Station
Dozens of people were stranded at Cleveland’s Greyhound station Monday morning. Passengers said they were stuck there for more than six hours. “When we pulled in at 2 o’clock this morning, they said they had no drivers,” siad Bruce Morgan of St. Petersburg, Fla. “All the buses were pulled around back ready to go but no drivers. And they lost my luggage in Atlanta. I saw them put it on the bus and it never arrived with me.”
Leslie Esters, of New York City, said that when one bus pulled in she was afraid there was going to be a mob scene.
A Greyhound spokesman said they had an unexpected large number of passengers at the Chester Avenue Depot.
That’s it; that’s the entire article.
Supporting Michigan Womyn
The reason I was so determined to save money on air- and busfare was that I wanted to spend the money on, for, and on behalf of women instead, especially in view of the fact that women had sent me to Michfest and I went to represent. We have an opportunity at Michfest to directly support women who are craftspersons, publishers, musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, in a manner we don’t have any other place or time in the same way. Congregated there on women’s land are the most talented, creative, gifted, brilliant women I have ever encountered, and by far most of them are progressives. I want to support them. Why spend hundreds of dollars extra on airline tickets or gas or expensive travel arrangements when I could use that money, and any other money I could manage to save, to buy women’s music, CDs, films, books, magazines, handmade clothing, soaps, lotions, jewelry, amazon wear, raffle tickets to support Fest, items at the Cuntree Store and Saints, Festie wear, with all the proceeds going to Michfest itself or to progressive, alternative women, most of them lesbians, who often find few outlets for their amazing work? Going to Michfest is more than a trip to womyn’s land, it is an opportunity to spend money in ways which serve the interests of female persons, directly and indirectly. It is an opportunity for the best and most effective forms of political networking and activism.
Leaving the Land
My daughter and I left the land via “shuttle,” a big bus chartered to bring women from the land to the Grand Rapids Airport, about a two-hour drive. The shuttle tickets were $50 — a fourth of what it was going to cost Maggie and I to travel 3,000 miles! But the company was, of course, wonderful. On the way to the airport we watched a video of a lesbian comedian and laughed ourselves silly, which helped us to momentarily forget that we were driving away from women’s land.
I met another woman waiting for the shuttle who was going home by Greyhound, although she wasn’t planning to board until the following morning. She and I split the cabfare to get from the airport to the Greyhound terminal. That kind of thing always happens at Fest– there is always a woman willing to split the difference with you in some way, for some good reason. Fest is magic like that.
Maggie and I arrived at the Grand Rapids Greyhound terminal four hours early. We encountered yet another Festie waiting for a bus – Festies have Festie-dar and it rarely fails us – and we spent some time talking about Fest. It was her first Festival. She had had a Christian fundamentalist upbringing and had grown up in Texas, the daughter of a pastor. We shared experiences of our lives in our old worlds. I know this wasn’t a mistake. Every year I have this kind of encounter at Fest with women with whom it seems I am appointed to meet for all sorts of different reasons.
She had had quite the journey to Fest; she had traveled by Greyhound approximately 1,500 miles. Greyhound had lost her luggage and she arrived to a rainy Monday in the line with nothing but her carry-on bags, no tent, no sleeping bag. She slept the first two nights, until her luggage was found, in a place on the land where there are beds for those who are not feeling well. She wasn’t an experienced camper, and she had brought only a very small pup tent, no ground cloth, no rain fly, no tarps and no air mattress or ground pad! When the thunderstorm came she and all of her belongings were soaked.
She told me about navigating the buses and said the most important thing was to get your place in line as early as possible and to keep your luggage with you. Greyhound holds passengers responsible for their luggage, including to move it between buses during transfers. Passengers are supposed to stand with their luggage to ensure that baggage handlers put it on the right bus. She had trusted her baggage to the handlers and didn’t watch what they did once she turned her bags over to them. The result was the loss of her baggage, which she was told was her fault because she didn’t “stand with” her baggage and make sure it went where it was supposed to go.
By the time she had explained all of this to me I was feeling fairly daunted. I was exhausted, and I had a huge blister on one of my toes. This was something of an improvement over past festivals; I have come home from past fests with many bad blisters on both feet, and last year I returned with an injury to one foot which did not heal fully until the following December. But there were other problems this year. It was very hot at Fest on several days, and despite the adequate precautions I believed I’d taken, I became dehydrated — a very scary experience which I have never, to my knowledge, had before. I took care of myself and got better, but even before boarding the first bus home, my feet were badly swollen, especially the foot with the blister. This was also new to me– to my knowledge my feet have never swollen this way before. I’m not a swollen-feet-and-ankles kind of a person, just in general.
I was tired, Maggie was tired, and we had a lot of luggage to be schlepping around and no cart, no luggage with wheels. We had three jumbo-sized duffel bags which carried our camping gear, sleeping bag and blankets, a folding chair, and three smaller bags carrying clothes and other items. I couldn’t move everything at once by myself and Maggie was too small to move anything but the small bags. I was going to have to find a way to make a place in line for us across the country while keeping track of a huge stack of heavy bags, which would require two-three trips to move each time, with swollen, blistered feet and my daughter in tow.