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:
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.
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.
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.