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Pre-2008 Posts

Good Reading, and Some Thoughts on Fighting for Female Persons

Before I blog more about the Feminist Hullaballoo I wanted to urge everyone to take a moment to read two blog posts which are so worth reading:

Allecto on Prostitution

I am against prostitution. I have been against prostitution my entire life. I will continue to be against prostitution for the rest of my life. I consider almost all prostitution to be the sexual slavery of women. By the same token, I consider marriage to be an institution of female sexual slavery.

I am not against prostituted women or women in prostitution. I have never been against women in prostitution. I will never be against women in prostitution.

I hold this position not solely because of the reading I have done (this includes reading by feminists who have been in prostitution) but also because of personal experiences with men I knew who believed it to be within their right to purchase women for sex. I also watched an incredibly heartbreaking documentary last year called Born into Brothels. It made me cry for weeks.

My grandfather was an avid abuser of coerced and forced sex from women in prostitution. My grandmother was poor and black and had seven children. My grandfather used to steal what little money my grandmother had to keep herself and her family alive (money which she earned through sewing, knitting and crocheting) and he would spend it on alcohol and prostituted women. Once my mother was old enough to have a job my grandfather would go to her workplace and ask my mother’s boss for her pay. It being a men’s club back then, of course, my grandfather would get my mother’s pay and spend it on alcohol and prostituted women.

My purpose in telling this story is not to show the woman in prostitution as being an evil woman who steals from the mouths of hungry children. But more to show that all of the women in the picture are in the same boat in relation to men.

Allecto on Pornography

Increasingly, I am thinking of porn as a political act of hatred against the subject people of women. And the act of masturbating to porn as a political act of terrorism against an oppressed and subjugated people: women.

Yawning Lion on Her One-Time Partner “Transitioning”

We fell in love.

We broke up and got back together. We moved in together. We loved each other. We fought with each other. We had long talks about the beauty of women in love, and how amazing it was that we could both be strong and we could both be vulnerable. …

She was in town, and she’d like to get together for breakfast. How about the diner we had always gone to? I said yes. I was nervous. So much had changed. I was now a radical Lesbian feminist. I was in a crummy relationship that I was trying to salvage. I missed her, and I was still a tiny bit angry that she had left me.

We ate our old favorites – hers, the Hungry Woman’s Meal (really, the Hungry Man’s meal, but she’d always say “Hungry Woman” and change a couple things which always annoyed our favorite waitress); mine, the pumpkin pancakes with creamy maple sauce for which they refused to surrender the recipe. We laughed and chatted and reminisced. Just before the bill came, I asked her why. I said something like, “it’s good to see you again, but it’s been a long time and I doubt you just wanted to catch up all of a sudden. Why did you call?”

I don’t know what I expected. With my leonine ego, I might have been expecting declarations of love and regret for having thrown away the best thing that ever happened to her, but when she quietly said, “I’m transitioning, and I thought you had a right to know, as an ex-girlfriend, you know.”

She said more. I listened. I think I looked less surprised than I felt. I got home and cried.

I am struggling a little with writing about the Feminist Hullaballoo.  One reason is, in writing about the Hullaballoo, I am writing about women who have dedicated their lives to the survival and good of the world’s female persons.   What these women say, write, the way they live and have lived their lives, sets them apart from, by far, most who identify in this day and age as “feminist” and “progressive,” and certainly as “liberal,” never mind conservative.

More and more I am understanding and seeing that it isn’t what people are against which makes them for women.  Being against pornography and prostitution or the straitjackets of compulsory femininity don’t make anyone for women, or feminist.  Being against racism, classism, ableism, colonialism, neocolonialism, liberalism, neoliberalism, the Religious Right, fundamentalism, conservatism, the Left, doesn’t make us for women, or feminist.  Being lesbian doesn’t make us for women, or feminist, any more than being heterosexual does.   People can  “blame the patriarchy” all day long, for all sorts of atrocities and aggravations, and yet not be feminists, not be for women, first and foremost.  People can be against all the right things, and not even really like women, much less be willing to fight for women, dedicate their lives to female persons.

Edited to add (although apparently deliberately distorting what I say pisses me off, I shouldn’t have to add this):  When I say being “against racism, classism, ableism, colonialism, neocolonialism, liberalism, neoliberalism, the Religious Right, fundamentalism, conservatism, the Left, doesn’t make us for women, or feminist,” that’s just what I mean.  I did not say we should not BE any of these things.  I think people can be all of these things, and can be steadily “blaming the patriarchy,” as well, without really caring about women.  More importantly:  if we really are woman-centered, and we really DO care about women, then we will automatically be concerned with racism, classism, ableism, colonialism, neocolonialism, liberalism, neoliberalism, the Religious Right, fundamentalism, conservatism, the Left, because women are affected by all of the above and hence, all of the above are WOMEN’S ISSUES and  hence they are FEMINIST issues.  — Heart

What sets the Hullaballoo women apart, and Allecto apart, and Yawning Lion apart, and me, and most of the women who comment here, and radical feminists, in the herstoric (there ya go, Ms Jared!) definition apart, is, they, we, are *for women* — first and foremost, before we are “against” all of these other things.   We may be against many things, but that is not what is central.  What is central is loving women, caring about women, living one’s life in such a way that what pertains to, and concerns, female persons is pre-eminent, takes center stage. 

What we have to say is vigorously opposed, denounced, and despised for one reason:  because the lives and concerns of female persons are likewise, throughout the world, everywhere, openly and quietly,  vigorously opposed, denounced and despised.  What we have to say is mocked and denigrated and held up to ridicule for one reason:  because it is a reminder that there are some persons in the world — us, the women right here, and women like us, and a few males, too — who will not stop until we see female persons living their lives as free, proud, and independent human beings.  This is why we are hated and opposed.  There is no other reason.

More about the Hullaballoo to come.

Heart

Discussion

18 thoughts on “Good Reading, and Some Thoughts on Fighting for Female Persons

  1. Heart,

    That’s it exactly.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | June 28, 2007, 2:55 pm
  2. I edited my paragraphs above up there but I am going to also post them in this comment. I really dislike it when what I write is distorted and someone goes off on a tear over something I have never even thought, much less said or written.
    Here is my edit:

    Edited to add (although apparently deliberately distorting what I say pisses me off, and I shouldn’t have to add this):

    When I say being “against racism, classism, ableism, colonialism, neocolonialism, liberalism, neoliberalism, the Religious Right, fundamentalism, conservatism, the Left, doesn’t make us “for women”, or feminist,” that’s just what I mean. I did not say we should not BE any of these things. I think people can be all of these things, and can be steadily “blaming the patriarchy,” as well, without really caring about women. That was my point.

    More importantly: if we really are woman-centered, and we really DO care about women, then we will automatically be concerned with racism, classism, ableism, colonialism, neocolonialism, liberalism, neoliberalism, the Religious Right, fundamentalism, conservatism, the Left, because women are affected by all of the above and hence, all of the above are WOMEN’S ISSUES and hence they are FEMINIST issues.

    I really do not like what appears to me to be deliberate misreadings, and especially when they are accompanied with all of this concern about the men, males, and especially when it is also accompanied by lesbian-bashing. The heck.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 28, 2007, 8:01 pm
  3. Which, by the way, is what it means to be “woman-centered.” As Gerda Lerner wrote in her books, the Creation of Patriarchy and the Creation of Feminist Consciousness as feminists we put women back into the equation, back into the center, back into the space left by women having been forced into the margins.

    Feminism will not ultimately succeed unless we are woman-centered, because it’s only from a position of woman-centeredness that our politics can be revolutionary as opposed to reform-oriented. So long as males remain in the center, as they are and have been for millennia, all we can do is make the margins a little more tolerable for women. To make real and lasting change, the men are going to have to MOVE, bub. For a while, men must be DE-centered.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 28, 2007, 8:17 pm
  4. And I think it’s the progressive/leftist/feminist refusal to MAKE women central which has resulted in, as Sonia Johnson has said, feminism being reduced to the ladies’ auxiliary, not only of the Democratic party but of EVERY movement for revolution or reform. At some point women said, okay, we won’t make women central. And here we are, after years now of watching all we’ve won either lost or threatened.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 28, 2007, 8:29 pm
  5. Hi Heart,

    That’s how I read you the first time.
    🙂

    All that shit they fling at you is the same shit that they flung at us 30 and 40 years ago, that succeeded in killing the Women’s Movement.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | June 28, 2007, 10:20 pm
  6. So true, Mary Sunshine! And thanks.

    Posted by Heart | June 28, 2007, 10:25 pm
  7. “What we have to say is mocked and denigrated and held up to ridicule for one reason: because it is a reminder that there are some persons in the world — us, the women right here, and women like us, and a few males, too – who will not stop until we see female persons living their lives as free, proud, and independent human beings. This is why we are hated and opposed. There is no other reason.”

    Yep! Truly! Unarguably! Absolutely!

    Thanks for saying this better than anyone else, IMHO, Heart.

    Love~ VeggieFem

    Posted by VeggieFem | June 28, 2007, 11:42 pm
  8. Sorry, Heart. I typed in the wrong email addy. It’s:

    Veggie.Feminist@yahoo.ca

    Posted by VeggieFem | June 28, 2007, 11:49 pm
  9. I don’t think that shit succeeded in killing the Women’s Movement nor that it ever could. I think what killed it (temporarily) was what Sonia Johnson said in one of her books – When Roe vs. Wade was passed by the Supreme Court, women, who had been busily leaving patriarchy behind via the Women’s Health Movement, said “Is that a victory? It’s a VICTORY!” and turned around and walked right back into patriarchy again.

    Posted by Branjor | June 29, 2007, 12:19 am
  10. Oh Heart, that’s so well written. I feel EXACTLY that way. Thanks. Pippa x

    Posted by Pippa | June 29, 2007, 9:16 am
  11. That’s the way I read your post the first time, too, Heart–no question.

    Posted by secondwaver | June 29, 2007, 11:25 am
  12. That’s how I read you the first time, too.🙂

    With so many knowing what you meant the first time without need of clarification, I suspect that there was no misunderstanding. Someone just wants to split hairs.

    Before my recent indoctrination😉 into radical feminism, I’d heard feminists accuse others of playing word games with them. Back then, with the malestream media my only source of information and therefore my hearing and reading only one side to every story, I thought, “Yeah, lady. Just say what you mean the first time and you won’t have this problem anymore.” Now I see the difficulties that feminist speakers and writers face and how hard you must work in an attempt to eliminate any possibilities of your words being twisted and taken out of context. It’s almost impossible, isn’t it? My heart goes out to you and knowing all of this, I appreciate the work that you do even more.

    Posted by CoolAunt | June 29, 2007, 2:43 pm
  13. There seems to be an *enhanced* Murphy’s law being applied to radical feminists – Anything that can be twisted, distorted or taken out of context will be, and to a greater level than the words of most other persons.

    Posted by Branjor | June 29, 2007, 3:30 pm
  14. Thanks, you women! So true, the way we have to be so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o careful to choose each word we use. Even when we are careful, people lie their asses off about what we’ve said because it really isn’t about what we’ve said. It’s about shutting us up because we get in the way of somebody’s pornography, somebody’s lap dances, sm “play parties,” someone’s abuse of women, someone’s insistence that every issue but women’s issues come first.

    Gah.

    Thanks again, though, you women. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | June 29, 2007, 5:07 pm
  15. I felt so bad writing that post on prostitution. I always feel as though I have no right to my opinions and as soon as someone attacks me I just want to run away and hide in a corner and never come out again. I constantly fight the urge to delete my journal whenever I write something that someone attacks me for. That is exactly how I felt about writing this post. I always feel like I must have written something wrong. That I don’t know enough, or try enough, or express things well enough to make other women understand what it is that I am trying to say. It is so frustrating because I never want to write anything about what I most passionately believe in because I am afraid of being misinterpreted or misunderstood. Some really serious shit is going down in Australia at the moment in regards to indigenous rights and I can’t write about it because I’m scared of not getting it right.

    Thanks for supporting me and my voice.

    Posted by allecto | July 2, 2007, 10:49 am
  16. Allecto, in my view, you have an incredibly important voice and SO much to say! Don’t listen to those voices! That’s where it’s an advantage to get old, something to look forward to. You start to be able to easily vanquish the voices in your head that tell you what you have to say isn’t adequate, or isn’t correct or is wrong, mostly because you’ve seen over and over again how often you were spot on and yet people told you you were wrong.

    Speak out! I love what you write and can only wish more and more young women would write as you do!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | July 2, 2007, 1:00 pm
  17. Hey, Allecto, try to keep in mind that language is an imperfect medium, but it is the only tool we have to communicate online. It is deceptively easy to convince yourself you do not get it right, because there is no perfect way to express anything of significance. Anyone who wants to misinterpret your writing will do so regardless of how well you express yourself, and even those who might want to understand what you are saying might not understand what you are really saying, because such are the limitations of language. I think Heart, for instance, is a fantastic writer, but she gets misunderstood all the time, sometimes even by her friends. This is a matter of degrees, not absolutes.

    All that is to say, you have important things to say that perhaps only you could say, so regardless of how imperfect your writing may seem to you, remember we are all in that same boat, having to try our best to communicate with only imperfect means at our disposal. Despite knowing this, I have to fight the perfectionism bug too. It is one thing to let that motivate you to try to improve your writing skills. All the fears you mentioned are understandable, but do not let them discourage you.

    Posted by Aletha | July 4, 2007, 5:55 am
  18. Thanks Heart and Aletha.

    Heart: I wish more young women were as angry and radical as I am. It is difficult being the only young feminist I know (in real life) that wants to continue the movement of women of the 70’s and 80’s. Who believes that the texts that were written then are just as relevent, perhaps even moreso, today. I’ve even had discussions with older lesbian feminists who were active in the women’s movement who believe that radicalism and radical action is no longer necessary. I would feel very alone if it wasn’t for the internet.

    Aletha: I know that language isn’t a perfect medium. Especially because we a forced to talk in our father’s tongue. I find that I’m am discovering my own language: women’s language, through reading women’s blogs and texts like Mary Daly’s Wickedary. It is much easier to say what I mean when I use reinvented words.

    Posted by allecto | July 6, 2007, 4:38 am

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