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Rape and Sexual Assault

Men, Boys, Sons — Something I Wrote to Someone I Love

This is an edited version of an excerpt of something I wrote to someone close to me about some of the events of the past couple of weeks. I thought there might be some value in posting it here. — Heart

Dear Person I Love,

My philosophy is to allow radical feminist women to comment pretty much as they choose, even when I personally do not agree with what they might have to say.  Radical feminism is grass roots and always has  been.  It is understood ahead of time that one woman never speaks for all, but that each woman’s voice is important.  When I see something I find really objectionable, I sometimes might speak up and voice my objections; that is, again, consistent with radical feminist practice.   Everybody has and expresses her own opinion. 

But the fact that one feminist, or radical feminist, writes something, should never in my view be understood to mean anything more than that that is her view.  And one woman writing something, no matter what it is, never obligates anyone to respond, whether she agrees or disagrees.

One reason I would support a woman’s right to say she wished she had not brought a son into the world if it meant he would grow to oppress women is, it brings certain things into focus, things like gynocide.  Every single day, hundreds, thousands, of female fetuses  are aborted in India and China, specifically, for one reason:  because they are female.  That’s the only reason.  Their mothers and fathers don’t say they wish they’d aborted their girl children, they simply and unapologetically abort their girl children. The end.  What this means is that in 20, 30 years, the populations of India and China will be predominantly male, far more adult men than adult women will be alive, with potentially dire results, because whenever this has happened, historically, wars happen, and lots of people die.

When a woman says, “If I knew I’d raise a son who would use pornography, I’d never have given birth to him,” and people react negatively to that, it gives us an opportunity to talk about the millions of female fetuses aborted every year because they are girls and to ask, “Where is the outrage? Where is the grief?  Who even knows about this?”  It gives us an opportunity to talk about such ongoing acts of femicide as “honor killings” which occur every day in every culture throughout the world in which parents do not only express remorse over having given birth to their daughters, they openly and unapologetically murder their daughters, or sisters, or  mothers, or woman partners.   And again, this is 
considered barely worth discussing.  Yet let a mother say she regrets having born her son and she has crossed that line no woman may cross in which she has assumed, not only full responsibility for her life, her body, her offspring, but in which she claims her power over life and death, a power viewed as the prerogative of men and forbidden to women by men until very recently.

You see, for me, this is in part about discourse. It is about creating public conversations which illuminate and challenge a sexist and misogynist status quo which exists throughout the world and which goes, largely, unchallenged.

I do not propose a man tax because men are incarcerated in larger numbers than women.  I propose a man tax because 95 percent of the violence in the world is committed by men, and yet women must pay, financially and in all sorts of ways, for the consequences of this violence anyway.  Are all men violent?  Heck no!  And thank god for that.  But men are, in fact, far more violent than women are.  Then, what would the man tax be used for?  Many things, among them, to  address the problem of male violence, beginning, for example, with identifying boys in their toddler and elementary years who are at risk for violent behavior, and supporting them, getting help that they need so that they do not turn into violent men, so that they do not enter the revolving door of juvenile detention, foster care, and adult prison. A hundred dollars per year, per man, is not that much money. but it could begin to address the way boys are raised to be violent.

Proceeds of the “man tax” could also be used to reform the prison system, to explore transformative/restorative justice models, to confront and challenge militarism and violence in all forms.  Since by and large it is men who fight and kill in war, men who kill men and women, men who are violent, it makes sense that men bear the burden of the paradigm shift which needs to take place so that violence might come to an end.

I will not mince words here:  I hate pornography.  I believe it is hate speech against women.  And especially pornography as it exists today.  Do I fault little boys or girls who see it and are affected by it?  No, it’s happened to all of us.  Do I fault those who make and traffic in it? Yes I do.  This is deadly, deadly, hateful stuff that destroys the lives of girls, women, boys and men.  Do I understand why a woman might say that if she had known her son would use pornography, she might have thought twice before going through with her pregnancy?  Yes, I do.   Because pornography hurts women, and as women, we are under no obligation to participate in any way in what harms us and other women.  This particular discussion is a discussion we sorely need to have if the world is ever to change.

I have also been devastated, over and over and over in my life, by the violence of men– sexual violence, physical brutality, spiritual, emotional, verbal violence, violence of all kinds which have often made my and other women’s lives a living hell.   I want the world to pay attention to the violence that harms us all– not only little girls, but little boys, not only women, but men.  This is violence we are so accustomed to, so inured to, so used to, that it doesn’t even fly across our radar as violence– the violence of pornography, the violence of female infanticide, of “honor killings,”  the violence and pandemic-ness of domestic violence and rape.  To get the world’s attention, those of us who have been devastated by this violence must have a voice and our voices must be heard, however raw or unforgiving or raging or angry or bitter or not-motherly, not nurturing, fearsome, and yes, powerful and unapologetically so. Women who comment to my boards and blog, all them, have their own stories to tell. All have lived through indescribable horror at the hands of men.   It does not set well, it’s true, for mothers to wish their sons not born.  Mothers, of all people, are expected to be endlessly loving and nurturing, even when it costs us our very lives, everything we have, are or could be.  But this is wrong and it must end.  And in increasing numbers, women have to be brave enough to say this is wrong.  What is expected of mothers is wrong. What is expected of women — that we act in ways which harm us — is wrong.

My experience is that men do  indeed attack strong women.  Men do work very hard to silence women who speak up and don’t back down and won’t back down.  This is my reality, my lived experience, for all of my life.  Does that mean that I think ALL men do whatever it is?  Heck no. Anymore than when I say “white people,” I mean that every last white person does whatever it might be.  If it doesn’t apply to a given white person, or a given man, then it isn’t for that person, or for that man, you know?  To say that men in large numbers are violent against women, rape women, hurt women, use sexist or misogynist pornography. is to speak the truth.  We all know that this is not true of ALL men and we are grateful for that!

There are some good men writers whose work I think you’d find interesting, even if you didn’t agree with it all. Among these men are John Stoltenberg (husband of the late Andrea Dworkin), Robert Jensen (who is an anti-pornography writer, speaker and activist), and Jackson Katz, a writer who produces films and materials for domestic violence shelters and groups and who works with men who batter and abuse.  There are others, but if you read these guys, you will, I think, get a sense of where I am coming from and radical feminists are coming from.  In fact of all feminists, we, as radical feminists, are the most pro-male, because we believe men don’t have to be violent, boys don’t have to be violent, they are not “born” that way, violence is learned and it can be unlearned.  It is men like this whom I’d appoint to head up commissions to study and address problems of violence in young boys, for example.

Sociopaths and psychopaths like Hitler and Mussolini and David Duke, haters in general, believe that certain groups of people are naturally bad, wrong, biologically or genetically predetermined to certain behaviors or to inferiority.  No radical feminist I know believes this about any group, including men.  The most hardcore radical feminists, Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, Sonia Johnson, agree that there is nothing genetically or biologically predetermined such that men/boys are certain or destined to behave in ways that are destructive.  That’s the reason for the urgency, you know?  If it doesn’t have to be this way, then why is it?  How can we make the world a better place, given that we know change is ours to make?

Realize that I have been thinking for years about all I have gone through in my life as a woman, and because I am a woman — being nearly beaten to death, being raped, being brutalized by male partners for so many years, being brutalized by patriarchal religion and organizations — and at this point in my life, I can’t do anything but whatever I can to make what I have gone through mean something, to redeem it, to make knowledge out of it, to make theory out of it, in the hopes that it isn’t wasted.  This is part of saving my own life, not only for my sake, but for my children’s and grandchildren’s sakes, and for the sake of all whose lives I have touched and influenced, and especially, for the sake of women, in the hopes that one day the world will be a better place. Bottom line that’s what feminism is about — women, saving our own lives, saving women’s lives.

Love,
Heart

Discussion

376 thoughts on “Men, Boys, Sons — Something I Wrote to Someone I Love

  1. So happy to see you home again.🙂

    Posted by goldfish | August 17, 2007, 1:41 am
  2. I’m glad you are back, and strong, because your strength is contagious.

    I wish I could make everyone in the world read and really *get* this post. I do not hate men, contrary to all the allegations hurled at me. I hate what our patriarchal society does to men, and boys. The prevailing notion of “being a man” is tied to the ability to dominate others through violence. This is not being a man. This is being a monster.

    I hope to conceive a child next year, and my biggest fear is that I will have a son who will grow to oppress women. Not because he consciously hates women, or hates me, but because nearly everything in our society tells him that oppressing women is just part of being a man. If this happened, I know I would wish I hadn’t contributed to his existence.

    The thought of this breaks my heart.

    Posted by sbravo | August 17, 2007, 1:59 am
  3. Hey, goldfish! So great to meet you at Fest! Sbravo, a hearty and resounding “yes” to this:

    Not because he consciously hates women, or hates me, but because nearly everything in our society tells him that oppressing women is just part of being a man.

    Yes.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 17, 2007, 2:45 am
  4. Thought provoking, and eye opening.

    It’s a long, hard road ahead before we reach a point where the majority of men are so enlightened… and where the majority of women will accept that enlightenment as “manly” and not yearn for the “real men” of yesterday.

    Posted by wheresroxy | August 17, 2007, 2:46 am
  5. Every time a woman feminist takes a little time to voice her faith in the possibility of men making a contribution to the feminist movement, it motivates me to try harder to be one of those men.

    Thank you.

    Posted by Erik | August 17, 2007, 2:47 am
  6. This is a great post. I’ve been looking forward to it.❤ Welcome back. ^______^;;;

    Posted by Pramiti | August 17, 2007, 3:50 am
  7. Ah, thanks, Pramiti. I’m getting you to Fest somehow if it’s the last thing I do. You will LOVE.

    xxxooo

    Posted by womensspace | August 17, 2007, 4:25 am
  8. Very beautiful. Something I will keep.

    Sis
    VP Social
    Society for the Protection & Care of Beavers
    (West Auk Chapter)

    Posted by Sis | August 17, 2007, 4:39 am
  9. Misogynist rape and death threatening males take down feminist websites and women respond the only way women are *allowed* to respond to their hate – with a love letter to males.

    It’s enough to make a hippopotamus sick.

    Posted by Branjor | August 17, 2007, 11:56 am
  10. Greetings Heart, I’m glad you’re back and writing truth. Even though this truth may be hard to hear, you’ve written well and clarify the painful ugliness. I look forward to tales of Mich Fest.

    Posted by stillwater | August 17, 2007, 12:18 pm
  11. This is great. Excellent!!!! A Womanifesto for sure. SOOOO glad you are back!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Artemis | August 17, 2007, 12:43 pm
  12. Which spirit, Kitty Glendower? I’ll help if I can?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 17, 2007, 5:40 pm
  13. Branjor could you elaborate. If I’m reading you right, you wanted something else.

    Posted by Sis | August 17, 2007, 5:55 pm
  14. Thank you, Heart. As you know, I was not in the Forums at the time BB posted, but I would have supported her. It is hard enough for me to see my brother refuse to take a stand on porn and laugh at misogynist jokes without feeling I could have done something during his childhood years to “enlighten” him.

    I look forward to reading your blogs about fest–this is the one of two blogs I read!🙂

    Posted by Laur | August 17, 2007, 6:00 pm
  15. Sorry, I think I misread the letter.

    Posted by Branjor | August 17, 2007, 6:08 pm
  16. Is BB still posting? It says “invitation only.” Don’t know how to contact her to ask for an invite.

    Posted by goldfish | August 17, 2007, 7:18 pm
  17. So much we leave unsaid, which we would fee safe and welcome to say to each other if… .

    Perhaps we will be able to again, somewhere. Soon I hope.

    Posted by Sis | August 17, 2007, 7:34 pm
  18. Sis, you need to email Heart.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | August 17, 2007, 7:56 pm
  19. “Is BB still posting? It says “invitation only.” Don’t know how to contact her to ask for an invite.”

    I was wondering the same thing. Anyone know?

    Anyways, excellent post Heart. You speak the truth.

    Posted by Caitlin | August 17, 2007, 8:09 pm
  20. Pas capable

    Posted by Sis | August 17, 2007, 8:10 pm
  21. What happened to my comment? The same thing happened about two weeks ago at Laurelin in the Rain. My comment appears then disappears.

    Posted by Kitty Glendower | August 17, 2007, 9:20 pm
  22. Which comment disappeared, Kitty? I’ll have a look for it. I certainly didn’t do it deliberately, so sorry about that!

    Heart- amazing post, I had tears in my eyes. Thank you so much. Thank you.

    Posted by Laurelin | August 17, 2007, 10:15 pm
  23. Great post heart, I’m glad your back – would love to hear your stories of Michfest too
    *hugs* -Rain

    Posted by Rain | August 17, 2007, 10:25 pm
  24. Welcome back, Heart.

    Posted by Violet | August 17, 2007, 11:50 pm
  25. Mais non. Pas capable.

    Posted by Sis | August 17, 2007, 11:52 pm
  26. I just emailed you, Heart. xxx

    Posted by Laurelin | August 18, 2007, 12:21 am
  27. You say it well Heart – I was able to read the comment people were fussing about and I just couldn’t see how anyone got so much negative stuff from it. But you express the issues better than I could have.

    As mothers (I’m not a mother, just a daughter and have associated with many) there is much left unsaid – too much. It’s not right that a world should be built on the lives of women the way it is. Women issues are shut down everywhere – I had a fairly mild conversation with a friend about breasts at one stage, and her husband was sitting listening and he said he’d never heard anyone speak about these things, and yet he was the father of four breast-fed children, uncle of dozens and his mother-in-law was a lactational consultant. More recently I was with a group and when one of the girls started talking about bras the men all looked disgusted and left.
    When such a simple issue is a big deal to discuss, it’s no wonder motherhood itself is impossible to approach and analyse.

    Posted by Sophie | August 18, 2007, 2:09 am
  28. In fact of all feminists, we, as radical feminists, are the most pro-male, because we believe men don’t have to be violent, boys don’t have to be violent, they are not “born” that way, violence is learned and it can be unlearned.”

    Great point!

    It’s very nice to find you’ve returned to the intertubes, Heart.

    Posted by Gayle | August 18, 2007, 2:23 am
  29. On the question of that mother who apparently said she regretted having had her son – I don’t think it is so horrible a thought. I mean, actually saying things like that to your kids is abusive, but I have heard people voice the sentiment or wonder about it in bad situations. I’m not saying it’s great, I’m just saying that as a sentiment it isn’t necessarily all that weird. And I wouldn’t jump on them for saying it / confiding that they’ve thought it … it’s much more an expression of horror/pain than it is a plan to kill someone.

    Posted by profacero | August 18, 2007, 3:32 am
  30. Are you kidding? Do you know how many times mothers, ALL MOTHERS, have heard; “I wish you were dead”. or “I wish you weren’t my mother”. or “I hate you I hate you I hate you” over something like they aren’t allowed out later than 9 p.m. on school nights.

    Gimme a break. And tell me; until recently when so many years of birth control have made fertility without the aid of technology and several gynecologists a rarity–how many women actually planned a pregnancy?

    The fuck. We just made the best of it.

    Posted by Sis | August 18, 2007, 4:10 am
  31. hi. i have been reading this space for a long time already but it’s just now that i had the courage to write. i’m a teacher from the philippines. and my comment here is not related to the entry. (s0 sorry for that). i just need insights on something that has bothered me.

    one of my students wrote a paper citing camile paglia’s anti-feminist statements from vamps and tramps. i find it dangerous for students who don’t have a clear understanding yet of what feminism is all about to be reading paglia. but i guess she got it from the net. i wonder if paglia has ever gone to the developing countries such as ours and see women’s experiences here for her to quickly go against this concept of women as victims. and for her to say that “cockteasing is a universal reality” is something i’m very worried about judging from the way my female student readily gobbled that idea.

    sorry for the long post. i need your inputs or reactions if you don’t mind. i’ve talked to some feminist friends here in my part of the world. and they haven;t read paglia. i have friends who have copies of paglia’s works.

    Posted by claire the cat | August 18, 2007, 4:37 am
  32. Jackson Katz, a writer who produces films and materials for domestic violence shelters and groups and who works with men who batter and abuse

    Yes! I’ve seen one of Jackson Katz’s videos – Tough Guise – and I was so impressed with it.

    Posted by gingermiss | August 18, 2007, 4:44 am
  33. I’m so glad you’re back and writing again Heart

    Posted by Jenny | August 18, 2007, 5:17 pm
  34. Claire,
    I think this site will help you and your students understand the difference between feminists and antifeminists.
    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/

    Although a simple rule of thumb would be that if the corporate media publishes them, they are antifeminists, not feminists.

    Posted by thebewilderness | August 18, 2007, 8:51 pm
  35. “…find it dangerous for students who don’t have a clear understanding yet of what feminism is all about to be reading paglia. […] i wonder if paglia has ever gone to the developing countries such as ours and see women’s experiences here for her to quickly go against this concept of women as victims. and for her to say that “cockteasing is a universal reality” is something i’m very worried about judging from the way my female student readily gobbled that idea.”

    Correct. I do not consider Paglia feminist. Alternate classics: _This Bridge Called My Back_, I Rigoberta Menchu, and Let Me Speak! by Domitila Barrios de Chungara … and of course much else.

    Posted by profacero | August 19, 2007, 5:27 am
  36. If anonymous is reading this right now I’d like to let them know they are a bunch of poop eaters. Heh Heh Heh.

    Posted by Kiuku | August 19, 2007, 5:36 am
  37. Wow Heart this is really really good. Hurray for the man tax!

    Posted by Kiuku | August 19, 2007, 5:38 am
  38. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 19, 2007, 7:01 am
  39. A man tax I would not support. Any tax based simply on gender is sexist. It would be like charging a black person for being black.

    I would, however, support a criminal tax. This would target mostly men, but it would target the men who commit the crimes.

    It would also have the benefit of taxing the women who also commit crime. It would shift the concept from “men are bad” to “being mean is bad”.

    Most Women would never be taxed. Nor would good Men.

    Cheers.

    ~Jeb

    Posted by Male | August 19, 2007, 2:20 pm
  40. A “criminal” tax would not work because the worst criminals of all — say, people like George Bush and Karl Rove and the CEOs of Enron, Worldcom, the FBI, etc. — are generally white, affluent and male, able to hire cadres of attorneys and to buy people off, they have power and influence, and so they are never arrested, tried or convicted. And by the same token, huge numbers of men it is in these (rich white) guys’ best interests to subordinate *are* arrested, tried and convicted, are subjected to routine police brutality and harrassment, even when they do not engage in criminal behaviors.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 19, 2007, 2:44 pm
  41. Male,
    I cannot imagine where you could live and not know that black people are charged extra for being black.

    Posted by thebewilderness | August 20, 2007, 4:24 am
  42. Oh gee, what a surprise. A male does not support a man tax. **chuckle**

    Men are responsible for 97% of the world’s violence. 80% of the casualties of this violence are women and children. Females are targeted for no other reason other than they’re female. But oh no, no, no, men should not be held accountable for it. Because it’s sexist? WTF? Does this boy even hear himself speak?

    Of course, it was pretty obvious from the get-go that Male has no understanding of the words “sexism” or “racism.” He’s confusing these words with the word “prejudice.” Anyone can be prejudiced. But not everyone has the power to oppress others with that prejudice. And that’s what sexism and racism are about. Oppression. Not just prejudice.

    I know it sounds good that we should not discriminate on the basis of sex. (Which is the correct word you should be using here, not “gender.” If you concentrate hard enough, I’m sure you’ll be able to see the word “sex” in the word “sexism.” Go ahead. Give it a try).

    Not discriminating on the basis of sex implies that we’re all equal now and playing on the same level playing field. Which just ain’t so. Just think of a scale. What happens when you apply equal weight to a lopsided scale? It stays lopsided, now don’t it? So what happens when you apply equality to unequals? Well, under patriarchy, the scales not only stay lopsided, but the gap between the two increases. So the powerful become even more powerful and those that have been deprived of power are granted even less power. Slick, huh? Little wonder some of you boys are so interested in “equality.”

    In short, spare me that nonsense about how we shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of sex. We’re not all equal now, Mr. Male.

    Truth be told, I’m not interested in equality with males. Why would I want equality in a system based on male values meant only to benefit males? So we both can work to benefit you? LOL. Yeah, ok. Right. Whatever. I guess some women might be interested in buying into some of that swampland of yours. I, however, am not one of them. I’m not interested in equality with men. What I want is liberation from men. There’s a world of difference between the two.

    Posted by Luckynkl | August 20, 2007, 4:56 am
  43. There should, by rights, also be a global white tax to reverse the effects of colonialism, imperialism and racism.

    Of course this will never happen.

    Posted by Mikika | August 20, 2007, 5:53 am
  44. Mikika, I think this is a *great* idea. I’d like to explore this idea and add this to my platform, advocate for it at least in the United States. I have long believed in reparations for black Americans. I also believe in reparations for all women, given that the whole of society and culture have been built on our disenfranchised backs and could not have been built without millennia of the unpaid laber of women. If all white people paid a white persons’ tax in the U.S., even a smallish one, imagine how much anti-racism work could be done! This work would, of course, benefit all of us, including white people, just as the man tax would benefit all human beings, including the men paying the tax.

    So thanks for this great idea which I don’t think I’ve heard before.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 20, 2007, 6:07 am
  45. Hiya Heart,

    This is OT but – I am writing to let you and anyone else reading know – my blog, Amananta, has been suspended for “a violation of terms of service.” As I have not updated in some time, this came as quite a surprise to me. I received no notice from wordpress about the suspension so I have no idea when it occurred.

    The only thing I can think of that could possibly be a reason for the suspension is because of the fake porn links I put up. I have had an email account suspended for being attached to a non-wordpress page in which I did the same thing. Although I did this months ago, perhaps it just took this long for people to complain.

    If indeed I am correct, I would just like to point out one final time – it is BULLSHIT that pornographers are the ones being denied free speech. An email account, a blog, a website all summarily deleted without notice and no right to appeal simply because I am feminist and posted links that suggested they went to porn and took users to distinctly non-pornographic, legal images instead.

    Meanwhile, the porn and woman-hating sites proliferate like maggots in rotting meat under the hot sun. With barely any effort I can find rape porn, underage porn, sadistic porn, illegal porn, but because a few boys might have had their hard-ons wilted by seeing a picture of a wet cat instead of a “tortured pussy” as my link promised, they got me shut down. When I wasn’t even writing any more.

    Whose free speech is being denied, again? WHOSE?

    Posted by Amananta | August 20, 2007, 3:03 pm
  46. In reading this… and some of the comments… I can’t help but bring this to the table, too:

    North American culture is a sick culture, one where everything is commodified. Everything is available on the open market, one way or another.

    This distaste and ridicule of women is something that’s been socially acceptable in such a culture as long as I can remember.

    If I’d chosen to have children, I don’t think I could have raised them here. The lack of respect for women seems to come from a lack of respect for nearly everything ~ and as long as women are used to sell products, it will continue.

    In the cultural view, we are service objects… not just in the bedroom but everywhere.

    So my question (if you choose to tackle it one day) is how to ingrain respect for other human beings into children who are surrounded by the exact opposite in the socialization process for market culture?

    Peace,

    ~Chani
    http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

    Posted by thailandchani | August 20, 2007, 3:48 pm
  47. Amananta, did you write to WordPress and ask what happened? That sounds so not right! Everything else you say is right on, of course. I recently had a go round with someone which some of you have followed. Notice how this guy — a 40 year old white male pornhound who fancies himself an “expert” as to “Asian lesbian porn” — insists that his attacks on me over months are about his “free speech,” just as his “expertise” in “Asian lesbian porn” is about his “free speech” as a white, heterosexual, privileged American male, just as his “free speech” is about colluding in death and rape threats against feminist activists, and how dare we call that out. I refuse to give this any of my emotional energy, right now, other than to call it like it is, and say I am so sorry, and urge you to write to WordPress support, there are good people there.

    Thailandchani, RIGHT ON. American culture is absolutely sick, and how incredibly disturbing it is that there really is no respect for anything. Most young Americans, especially, are wallowing in a nihilism that will take its toll ultimately, will make them really sick. Meanwhile, it’s making the whole earth, the whole world, all of its people, sick.

    So far as ingraining respect in children for other human beings, I think we are going to have to begin with refusing to warehouse our children, institutionalize them, whatever that warehousing or institutionalizing looks like, replacing warehousing with supportive communities, collectives, cooperatives whose central values include love, support, compassion, and a dedication to making the world a better place. So long as most parents have to be obsessed with basic needs for food and shelter, this won’t happen. I keep harping on communities, creating them, joining them, people supporting one another in every way, including in the nurturing and raising of children.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 20, 2007, 4:24 pm
  48. Thanks for the great post! You articulate so well much of what I’ve been thinking throughout this anonymous mess. The man tax thing is an intriguing concept. Do you have any thoughts on how it should be structured? Its intersting to note that in some places this sort of thing exists. I worked in Israel for a while and they had a really complex scaled tax system. Single men were taxed the most, whereas single women were taxed less, and single mothers were taxed the least. What do you think of like that? (Though I would propose higher taxes on men than what Israel has. The amount of inequality between the sexes there is still far too high.)
    Also, thank you for the post especially as it pertains to BB. What she said was harsh, but its a voice that needs to be heard. I miss her writing so much. I’ve been lurking at the den for ages. I was so thrilled when she came back. I tried to sign up for her forum around the time anonymous came, so I guess thats why my membership request never got a response. Its terrifying to really see how much (most) men really do hate women. I can’t imagine what it must be like on the receiving end at one of the blogs, which is why I’ve always been a lurker. I second the questions about getting an invite (though I’d understand why a lurker of unknown origins might be turned away.)
    Either way I’m glad to be here. Its nice to see so many familiar names.

    Posted by Rebecca | August 20, 2007, 6:33 pm
  49. The pornhound you mention is a case in point in male entitlement, and his anti-feminism and anti-woman attitudes come through in every single discussion of porn that he is involved in. Of course he supports porn, it benefits him. His male privilege is so invisible to him that he actually believes that he is not colluding with the abusive hackers. Whether he means to or not is irrelevant, that is precisely what he is doing. Look at the function, the results, not the intention. his actions and words are repugnant, and why on earth he doesn’t get called on his vile womanblaming is beyond me.

    Thailandchani- agreed. And (just so my countrypeople don’t feel left out!) British culture is going that way too. It’s diseased. It’s soul destroying.

    Posted by Laurelin | August 20, 2007, 7:03 pm
  50. Amananta, I’ve missed you. Please let us know when and where your bloggingz reappear.🙂

    Posted by goldfish | August 20, 2007, 7:54 pm
  51. a whitey here chiming in that I would *totally* support a white tax (as well as a male tax). And re the sickness of our society, one of my favourite quotes comes from Krishnamurti (who may have been a patriarch [more so than the minimum that always occurs to males in a patriarchy] or not, I don’t know):

    “It is no measure of health to find oneself well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

    Yeah, everything is commodified, everything is for sale. Remember that movie Little Big Man? Despite problems it may have had (sexism and a bit of that noble savage thing, tho it was vastly vastly better at representing Aboriginal people than previous films), there were a few lines about white culture, about Euro-American culture that I always thought were spot on. At one point, the character played by Chief Dan George says that white men think everything is dead: the plants, the animals, even other people. And that is completely true. Everything is dead, everything is for sale, everything must be controlled and commodified.

    blech

    Posted by Cinder | August 20, 2007, 7:55 pm
  52. Great suggestion, Cinder. And here’s another white woman who’d support the institution of a white tax (same reason we need a man tax). In other words, *reparations* are owed, by all whites, to all people of color.

    Posted by secondwaver | August 20, 2007, 9:40 pm
  53. Hey, secondwaver! It was so great to meet you at Fest in our Radfem meetup. 🙂

    Rebecca, I like that idea of taxing single men the most and single women the east. Huh, I’m going to have to think about that. One weakness in the man tax idea, pointed out to me by one of my adult sons, is that because most men are married to women, the man tax would end up affecting women partnered with men as well. Otoh, we’ve talked about a man tax as in part being used to pay child support to single moms when their fathers don’t, can’t, won’t pay.

    I don’t know that I would want to penalize people for remaining single. But it’s a really interesting idea!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 20, 2007, 9:50 pm
  54. I think the single-tax would just confuse things. Married men generally make more money (when was the last time we had a single president?) and have more perks all around; for instance, it’s pretty hard to get gaybashed when you have “the missus” to show off.

    I’m all for the man tax and white taxes though.

    Something that crossed my mind though: whenever someone who really believes in a trans-gene pipes up (usually about how only good spirited male folk would dare crash Michfest because otherwise it would be contrary to their identity or somesuch nonsense), I’m reminded of one study I read about how the number of SRS surgeries goes up in many Asian countries during times of economic depression. When it’s harder to be a real man, I guess it’s easier to go another route.

    I’d imagine the man tax would have males declaring transhood all over the place, just out of spite. (I mean, think about the guys who quit their jobs and deliberately through their life in the toilet over child support.) Of course, those same dudes would send cash to the Kaweah tribe in order to avoid paying the white tax, too.

    Posted by Rich | August 20, 2007, 10:32 pm
  55. ***At one point, the character played by Chief Dan George says that white men think everything is dead: the plants, the animals, even other people.***

    Yes, exactly. I never heard it put so well. It dovetails with something I also thought. Thinking of some men whose attitudes are that women just exist to serve them, it is as though they think that nature/the universe/god (fill in the blank with whatever works for you) didn’t give us life at all, it just gave them servants. So we are effectively “dead” in an ontological sense in their “minds”.

    I’m all right with a white tax too.

    Posted by Branjor | August 20, 2007, 10:57 pm
  56. If marriage is a patriarchal institution, I don’t think it would make any sense to penalize people for remaining single.

    Posted by Branjor | August 20, 2007, 11:25 pm
  57. Thanks Rich. Thanks…!

    Posted by Sis | August 21, 2007, 12:54 am
  58. But of course the males being taxed would see things differently. They would pay the tax and then feel entitled to to engage in even more sexist privilege. After all, they “paid for it”. Ten dollars would get the point across and yet it would be such a small amount there’s no way they could justify acting like a jerk for that little.

    Yes, L, that’s why I started calling it “sexism” again — because it’s all about sex.

    Hearrrt, you brought up a very serious point. Men say sexist crap every day anywhere they want and think nothing of it. But let a woman say something IN A PRIVATE FORUM TO OTHER WOMEN and all hell breaks loose. We are not allowed to speak as freely as a man can speak anywhere, even amongst ourselves privately.

    Posted by m Andrea | August 21, 2007, 3:18 am
  59. I would not support a white tax. A white tax would affect white women. It would also cause people to declare a race whether they wanted to or not, to identify with a race, hence, perpetuate racial stratospheres. In other words, the one-drop rule will be resurrected. A white tax and/or reparations would also create a perception that “they are paid (getting paid) now, so what is the problem?” mentality.

    Men (all men) should pay for the woes in society, they cause most of them.

    Posted by E. K. "Kitty" Glendower | August 21, 2007, 5:12 am
  60. Heart, I was thinking of pointing out the same thing your son did, but was hesitant due to the conflict of interest. I am wondering if the man tax could be implemented as a tax credit for women, so all women would benefit. Male violence is an extremely costly luxury with a great variety of forms and consequences. I think women deserve some kind of break for being relatively nonviolent. BTW it is not hard to find a way to dispute the fairness of any form of taxation, though the current system is so riddled with loopholes and shelters for the rich, its claim to fairness is nothing but a sick joke on the rest of us.

    Posted by Aletha | August 21, 2007, 6:38 am
  61. “If marriage is a patriarchal institution, I don’t think it would make any sense to penalize people for remaining single.”
    Point well made Branjor. I actually misspoke here. Its men who have no dependents who would be taxed the most. Single women would be taxed less, and single women with children who would be taxed the least. In the case of men I was erroneously using single to designate “without dependents.”
    I’m also in agreement with a white tax. I don’t think it would be too harsh on white women if the taxes were also scaled to be heavier for men. I think I SHOULD get a bigger break for my “disadvantages” than a white man. I also think, however, that black women are more maligned by society than I am, and should therefor get a bigger hand.

    Posted by Rebecca | August 21, 2007, 1:43 pm
  62. I still don’t get what your point is. People already, as in right now, it’s on the books, get tax breaks for having dependants. So I don’t understand what’s so new or groundbreaking about your proposal, save for the tone with which you’re delivering it: it’s as if you want to punish some swinging bachelor who has too much money to splash around because he’s smart enough to use condoms. Well, ok. I’m not sure how that fits into the arguments that others have been making here.

    Posted by Rich | August 21, 2007, 5:47 pm
  63. Scaling a tax system based on ethnicity or sex is ridiculous. That’s equvilant to saying “people from the Middle East/people of a Middle Eastern background should be taxed because they were responsible for 9/11”. Remember, there’s a difference between a normal person and an extremist. Punish people for their own actions, not the actions cause by someone of the same background- that just leads to biggotry, discrimination and hate.

    And I’m laying myself out here. I’m parting from the group to debate this idea, and I’d much appreciate it if you’d let me question this. I rely heavily on the Socratic method that truth can only be reached by questioning and debate. So, I ask you to question and debate with me, Heart(And others that are willing to join in). Let’s see if we can learn more about eachother and maybe come to an understanding.

    Posted by Michael | August 21, 2007, 6:02 pm
  64. I think a great way to implement a man tax would be to expand child support as it is now. That is, even if a couple is married, the man’s paycheck would be garnished and the government would pass that money directly to the mother of his children.

    That way, she’d always be assured of having something for the children since men can’t usually be trusted to see beyond themselves. And if he abuses her or abandons the family, she already has some resources in place.

    Posted by Trish W | August 21, 2007, 7:55 pm
  65. This is an amazing post. I can only speak for myself, here… I am a young woman who has been incredibly fortunate to mostly escape the vicious brutality man is capable of so far in my twenty-three years on earth (though people incredibly close to me–both male and female–have been victims of violent male crime, and there have been some extremely close calls). I have three wonderful brothers who were taught respect for women, compassion and gentleness from a wonderful and brilliant mother and a good father who sadly lost his battle with lung cancer far too early. I have no doubt that the horrible experiences that you and many people who post on this forum have gone through are something that though I try to understand, I can never actually completely do so.

    My experiences are my own, my experiences are not anyone else’s–nor are theirs mine. I’ve been a feminist since before I knew the word, largely in thanks to my mother who was instrumental in passing on her beliefs to her daughter and sons… I can’t consider myself a “radical” feminist, to be honest, because I’m hesitant to use that label before I decide what it means for myself. I know that there are ideas proposed by you, Heart, and the women in this forum that I don’t agree with (including the ‘Man Tax’ mentioned in the post) but so much else of what is said strikes me deeply.

    The post you write strikes me as a woman, as a feminist, and as a human being… and I would really show it and recommend it to anybody–male, female, liberal or conservative–as a wonderful example and pseudo-summary of the feminist mindset. I wish I could be as eloquent as this wonderful post deserves, but words have never been my strong point!

    Thank you, Heart, for writing that. I may not agree with the concept of the ‘Man Tax,’ but so much of that article touched me on a personal level. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, and the other things you’ve done for this community that I am sadly only now discovering (online, anyway).

    Posted by Rose | August 21, 2007, 8:56 pm
  66. Scaling a tax system based on ethnicity or sex is ridiculous. That’s equvilant to saying “people from the Middle East/people of a Middle Eastern background should be taxed because they were responsible for 9/11″

    No Mike, you are mistaken. You may think one act of violence is equivalent to hundreds of years of oppression, and millions of acts of violence every year. That simply reflects a flaw in your thinking.
    They are simply considering a “sin tax”, similar to what is in effect all over the country.

    Posted by thebewilderness | August 22, 2007, 6:57 am
  67. “And I’m laying myself out here.”

    I’m sure you’re just terrified. Because feminist women will track you down at your home address and try to scare you at work or bugger your kids, just like men do. Oh wait, you don’t have anything to be afraid of so ash-can the theatrics.

    Posted by Rich | August 22, 2007, 1:15 pm
  68. And that act of violence was caused by territorial and religious wars dating before Christ, as well as religious persecution hundreds of years ago and today. Women were opressed, it’s obvious. There is more that can be done, this I’ll agree. But there’s no place for a “Man Tax”. You failed to acknowledge how it only fuels feelings of segregation; thus causing hate and disposition.

    And I believe the point of a “Sin tax” is that one participates in the sin when they’re taxed. Don’t sugar-coat what you’re proposing. It’s blatant discrimination.

    A criminal tax would make more sense, in my opinion. There are flaws, but it sounds like a more constructive idea than a tax aimed at people that have a Y chromosome.

    Posted by Michael | August 22, 2007, 3:09 pm
  69. Mike- men have economic, social, political and sexual power over women in this world as a class. That is discrimination against women on an epic scale. You don’t live in fear of rape. You’re far less likely to experience poverty. You, and all men, whether you like it or not, whether you intend it or not, benefit from the oppression of women. Women earn less money- because you earn more. Women are scared of male violence (justifiably)- so you get your way more. Women wear uncomfortable clothing which cripples them- so that you can jerk off and be pleased that you are not one of us. Women are scared of rape and violence- you then find it easier to get sexual favours from women. (You = generic male, here).

    Don’t give us this bullshit about how a man tax is discriminatory. Men are not discriminated against because they are men, and nor do your precious feelings matter at all in this debate. What matters is that you (yes, I’m talking to you) and all men take responsibility for the benefits you receive from patriarchy. One of the ways you could do that is by paying an extra tax which recognises all the advantages that you get in the world for simply owning a pair of bollucks.

    If you gave a flying fuck about what women have to deal with every day, about what women are going through as I’m typing this, as you’re reading this and scowling at me for being ‘discriminatory’ or ‘man-hating’ or whatever stupid label you’ve got this week, you’d be asking how you can help us, not crying at the very idea (and it is no more than that, as you well know) of having five pounds a month of the extra income you earn because of your dick given to help save women from sexual violence, poverty and death.

    I have another example, to illustrate what I have just said. As I’m writing this I am gripped with fear. fear of what? It doesn’t make sense, what am I scared of? what I am always scared of, what women are always scared of- men. I’ve just written an aggressive post in response to your patronising drivel, and I’m afraid because I feel I shouldn’t be aggressive, I shouldn’t be angry, I shouldn’t be upset- because I’m female. There’s no avoiding it anywhere.

    Because of the benefits you

    Posted by Laurelin | August 22, 2007, 4:03 pm
  70. I’m sure you’re just terrified. Because feminist women will track you down at your home address and try to scare you at work or bugger your kids, just like men do. Oh wait, you don’t have anything to be afraid of so ash-can the theatrics.

    This is relevant to this debate, how?

    I’d appreciate it if you don’t comment on me unless you have something relevant to add; as what you’re doing is a useless personal attack that proves nothing.

    Posted by Michael | August 22, 2007, 4:25 pm
  71. (Excuse the unfinished last line of my comment. I have no idea what that was meant to say!)

    Posted by Laurelin | August 22, 2007, 4:26 pm
  72. Mike- men have economic, social, political and sexual power over women in this world as a class.

    I’ve already acknowledged this. That’s actually what I was referring to that “More can be done”.

    That is discrimination against women on an epic scale. You don’t live in fear of rape. You’re far less likely to experience poverty.

    Show me your source for this information. I’d much appreciate it.

    You, and all men, whether you like it or not, whether you intend it or not, benefit from the oppression of women. Women earn less money- because you earn more. Women are scared of male violence (justifiably)- so you get your way more.

    I don’t live in fear of rape, but I sure as hell don’t make more money than women. I agree that there’s an income difference(And it’s fucking wrong), but education is the deciding factor in how much a person makes. I’d also like to point out that you’re not paying any attention to the individual. In my opinion, the individual is more important than the group. Anybody has the ability to succeed- And don’t tell me they don’t, because you’re just lying to yourself then.

    Women wear uncomfortable clothing which cripples them- so that you can jerk off and be pleased that you are not one of us.

    Wait, wait, what? That’s their choice. Again, you’re not even looking at the individual. I actually happen to be gay, so I still don’t see how I’m benefitting.

    Women are scared of rape and violence- you then find it easier to get sexual favours from women. (You = generic male, here).

    I find it easier to gain sexual favors out of women when they’re scared? Even if I were straight, I’d think the last thing I want is fear to be on my lover’s mind. I know you THINK it adds to your argument, but I’d appreciate leaving out personal attacks.

    Don’t give us this bullshit about how a man tax is discriminatory.

    Tell me how it isn’t!
    Discrimination: to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit.

    Men are not discriminated against because they are men, and nor do your precious feelings matter at all in this debate. What matters is that you (yes, I’m talking to you) and all men take responsibility for the benefits you receive from patriarchy.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. You don’t pay enough attention to the individual. You’re so obsessed with vague generalizations that you’re leaving individual merit out.

    One of the ways you could do that is by paying an extra tax which recognises all the advantages that you get in the world for simply owning a pair of bollucks.

    You talk so much about how you wish there were equality, but you’re so stuck on supremacy that you won’t even look at how to make things equal. There are different ways to go about creating equality. Women today need to feel more empowerment than anything else, but blaming problems on a patriarchy does nothing but add to victimization. Education and insight are key, not playing the victim every chance one gets.

    If you gave a flying fuck about what women have to deal with every day, about what women are going through as I’m typing this, as you’re reading this and scowling at me for being ‘discriminatory’ or ‘man-hating’ or whatever stupid label you’ve got this week, you’d be asking how you can help us, not crying at the very idea (and it is no more than that, as you well know) of having five pounds a month of the extra income you earn because of your dick given to help save women from sexual violence, poverty and death.

    Oh, geez. I’m not crying at the idea, I’m questioning it. I like how you question my motives, it makes me question too. Asking questions is a beautiful and difficult thing sometimes, you just have to know where and when to direct your questions. Right now, I’m looking at things from a female perspective. I can see why you’d be angry, but I don’t see why you want to shove EVERY idea that contradicts yours out. Well, at this point, you’re not debating, you’re arguing. So, I’ll leave it at that.

    I have another example, to illustrate what I have just said. As I’m writing this I am gripped with fear. fear of what? It doesn’t make sense, what am I scared of? what I am always scared of, what women are always scared of- men. I’ve just written an aggressive post in response to your patronising drivel, and I’m afraid because I feel I shouldn’t be aggressive, I shouldn’t be angry, I shouldn’t be upset- because I’m female. There’s no avoiding it anywhere.

    Because of the benefits you

    NOBODY should feel that way about voicing their opinion. And quite honestly, I can’t see why you would. It doesn’t matter if you’re female or not- You’re text on a screen to me right now. I’d be saying the same thing if you were male.

    You blame so much on me. What have I done to you? Me, personally- I. Not men, not whites- Me. Tell me what I’ve done to strike such fear in you.

    Laurelin: Haha, understandable. I’d like you to know that I do respect your opinion. I just have a habbit of questioning to gain understanding, and people often see me as attacking them. I hope you don’t feel that way.

    Heart: Disregard my previous post- I fail at HTML.

    Posted by Michael | August 22, 2007, 5:12 pm
  73. This isn’t about individuals. This is about class. This is about men as a class and women as a class.

    I’m not accusing you personally of anything (hence I put ‘you = generic male’), I thought that was perfectly clear. How could I- I don’t know you. But I am accusing men as a class of things, and its men as a class who have to act. You personally don’t make me afraid- men as a group make me afraid. I’ve deliberately left out considerations of the individual because frankly the individual isn’t relevent here, except insofar as he [sic] is aware of his personal responsibility to relinquish the privileges that he has been given and that he (says) he doesn’t want.

    The United Nations is a good place to go for statistics on women and poverty worldwide. I seem to remember that the last estimate was that 3/4 of those living in poverty worldwide are women and children. Refuge, Womensaid, the British National Crime survey all have info on male violence against women.

    if you want the evidence, there are plenty of places to find it.

    Posted by Laurelin | August 22, 2007, 5:33 pm
  74. Amnesty’s stop violence against women campaign has a good over view of the position of women as a class.

    “Throughout the world, women face violence every day. From the battlefield to the bedroom, women are at risk from violence in all areas of life. Violence against women is an abuse that is not confined to any political or economic system. It is prevalent in every society in the world. It cuts across boundaries of wealth, race and culture. It affects the young and the old. Wherever we live, women are suffering violence.

    Violence against women persists because society allows it to. Virtually every culture in the world contains forms of violence against women that are often invisible because they are seen as normal or acceptable”

    http://web.amnesty.org/actforwomen/annualreport_feature-230507-eng

    Posted by sparklematrix | August 22, 2007, 6:07 pm
  75. I am all for the man tax, but against the white tax. Here’s why:

    First, race is nothing more than an artificial construct of the patriarchy. As feminists, it’s our job to deconstruct them. Even if our intentions are honorable, (such as righting an ancient wrong) it is more important to build a new world than pay for the mistakes of the old one.

    Second, it is not *our* mistake to pay for. Men created slavery. Wymyn had nothing to do with it. Slavery is not our sin to atone for. Furthermore, in our new world, all people will be equal. *That* is our repayment.

    Finally, what about bi(or multi)racial people? Do they pay the white tax, or receive benefits? Logistically, it’s a bad idea too.

    Other than that, Heart, I love your ideas!

    Posted by Hecate | August 22, 2007, 6:36 pm
  76. So, because it’s about class, you’ll willingly segregate?

    At this point, it’s obvious discrimination exists, but it’s become so much less of what it used to be that an individual woman can make a difference in her own life.

    I’m sorry, the ‘you=generic male’ seemed like it was more of a passive-aggressive insult. But I have this to ask: If I personally haven’t done anything, why should I be taxed? It makes no sense. Convince me why I should be discriminated against, I can’t find any reason in it.

    Thank you for the resources. I appreciate it.

    Also: Tell me how I sould go about relinquishing my male privileges, given that I can do it on a personal level.

    Posted by Michael | August 22, 2007, 6:37 pm
  77. Yeah, Hecate, and Egarooo up there, great points.

    Let me posit something.

    What if we allowed people to direct where their income taxes would go, within certain limits? In other words, what if we made a white tax voluntary? That would eliminate the valid issues around who created race hierarchies to begin with (men), who benefits primarily from them (men), and issues around one-drop rules and wanting to deconstruct race as a social category.

    Maybe we could also make the man tax voluntary.

    I’ve been thinking about this whole idea of taxpayer-directed federal income taxes.

    And thanks, Hecate!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 22, 2007, 7:01 pm
  78. See, if we made a white tax voluntary, it’s *still* a white tax, even if all white people didn’t pay it, and it’s more than we have now, for sure! Same with a man tax. If we made a man tax voluntary, even if men opted out, it’s still more than we have now. Those who really could get behind the idea and run with it might accomplish results impressive enough that others would get on board.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 22, 2007, 7:03 pm
  79. Why do I think that if both the white tax and the man tax were voluntary, a lot more would be paying the white tax than the man tax?

    Posted by Branjor | August 22, 2007, 7:06 pm
  80. Cuz you’re smart? :p

    Having said all that, the white tax would directly benefit women and girls as well as men and boys.

    The real problem comes in as the discussion ensues as to how the funds collected get administered.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 22, 2007, 7:15 pm
  81. Michael

    “This is relevant to this debate, how?

    I’d appreciate it if you don’t comment on me unless you have something relevant to add; as what you’re doing is a useless personal attack that proves nothing.”

    Hello Michael, reality check here.
    On feminist blogs, the usual response to an authoritarian asshat who strolls in and tells someone to STFU, is to tell said asshat to GTFO. This may be one of a tiny few places in your life where you do not get to decide who talks, what they talk about, or what is important.
    Since you are clearly unable to check your asshattery at the door, I would like to respectfully request that Heart give you the boot.

    Posted by thebewilderness | August 22, 2007, 7:40 pm
  82. Now I can see your reasoning… but you really get it all wrong, completely, absolutely wrong.

    * ABOUT FEMALE FOETICIDE IN CHINA

    In China, indeed, male children are more cherished than females. But this sexism is a minor part of their female foeticide. People there are punished by the government if they have more than one baby. The infamous “one child policy” forces them to be unnaturally selective; this wouldn’t happen if the country wasn’t a communist dictatorship. (Aren’t most radical feminists very left-leaning? Oh the irony.)

    * ABOUT GENDER-BASED TAX

    You justify your idea by saying men are the most common culprits of violence. Debatable, but let’s accept this argument for now.

    However, criminals are a tiny fraction of the population. Innocent men they are also victims of crime, just as much as innocent women. Reducing violence is fine and dandy, but if half the victims are to pay extra for crime prevention, while the other half is not, where’s the justice in that?

    How about this: what if someone proposed that black people have to pay an extra tax, because most criminals are black? Your idea is not really much different. What you are proposing is a gender-based dhimmitude.

    * ABOUT BITING BEAVER

    Now, about Biting Beaver. Let’s imagine a “bizarro Beaver”, the opposite but equivalent to her.

    Imagine a seriously misoginistic man who said: “women are all treacherous and conniving. My daughter is bound to be like that someday. I’m sure that someday she will cheat on her husband. I wish she had never been born.” Everyone would see this man as a paranoid loon, rightfully. He would be widely scorned.

    Do you know what the main problem is? In this reverse-but-equivalent world, there would still be a bunch of woman-hating nutjobs supporting his insanity. Guess what: that would be you.

    Posted by Stormwatch | August 22, 2007, 8:10 pm
  83. What if we expanded the man tax idea such that men could pay into the man tax instead of paying child support? In other words, proceeds from the man tax would be used both for children whose fathers couldn’t or wouldn’t pay child support and for children whose fathers didn’t want to pay child support and didn’t want any responsibility for their children?

    I’ve long believed that where women want full custody and men want to walk and the only issue is money, it’s better to find the money somewhere besides in the pocket of the guy who wants to walk. But women often can’t earn enough to support their kids alone and shouldn’t be expected to, given that a man had to have fathered their children. A man tax would acknowledge that many fathers don’t want to be fathers to their kids, that mothers continue to want to be mothers, and that the kids need to be taken care of, and it isn’t fair that mothers bear sole responsibility. Child support via man tax would, I think, begin to end the disastrous situation we have now in dissolutions in which the main issue is child support. It would end huge sums of money expended in ongoing arbitrations before and after dissolution. It would work the other way too, would allow for men to raise children on their own, with the mother’s agreement, and to receive proceeds of the man tax to help raise their kids. We would begin to move in the direction of recognizing the importance of caring for children first and foremost and of recognizing that conceiving a child isn’t what makes a person a parent.

    I’m just brainstorming. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 22, 2007, 8:53 pm
  84. Okay, I approved, then unapproved, then approved Stormwatch because his comment offers opportunity to address some wrong ideas and misconceptions. But given that he comments under “Stormwatch,” a word that might be associated with Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, I am not sure I’d approve further comments.

    You miss the point, SF, re femicide in China. It’s true there’s a one-child rule. But why do you think parents are choosing to abort girls rather than boys? How does China’s rule change the fact that this is willful, conscious, deliberate, femicide?

    Radical feminists align neither with the Right, nor the Left. Both the Right and the Left are misogynist, each in its own way.

    I’ve already responded to your questions re criminals up thread. Do your homework. Men *are* in fact responsible for most of the violence in the world. Black men are not jailed because they are more likely to be criminal, they are jailed as an ongoing pattern of genocide against them.

    Men say they wish their daughters hadn’t been born all the time. Then, quite often, they or other male family members kill their daughters, when their daughters are teenaged to adult. These are called “honor killings” in some cultures, but they occur in virtually all patriarchal cultures in some form. Many people don’t bat an eye over this. They dismiss it as “cultural.” Or they say the girls or women deserved it because they committed adultery or were unfaithful or prostituted themselves or whatever.

    What bb says stings you because suddenly the shoe is on the other foot, and it hurts like hell, doesn’t it. That’s the point.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 22, 2007, 9:37 pm
  85. SW

    “In China, indeed, male children are more cherished than females. But this sexism is a minor part of their female foeticide. People there are punished by the government if they have more than one baby. The infamous “one child policy” forces them to be unnaturally selective; this wouldn’t happen if the country wasn’t a communist dictatorship”

    And this is NOT sexist?

    “male children are more cherished” and they are “forced” to be“unnaturally selective” in the sex of the baby that is disposable. This is not sexist?

    What is it if it is not sexism?

    Posted by sparklematrix | August 22, 2007, 9:54 pm
  86. Why is it so hard for these guys to grasp the fact that men are the primary perpetrators of violence in the world? They know it’s true, but won’t admit if poor little they suddenly are expected to do something about it…

    bb challenged what Andrea Dworkin called the supreme male ‘I am’. she noted that male anti-abortionists often use the argument of ‘I might have been aborted’, as if they have the right to exist regardless of any other considerations, for example, their mother’s own will. They must exist, always will exist, can’t not exist because they are male. I’ve never heard a woman use that argument. Women anti-abortionists tend to be thinking of foetuses as people, but not identifying them with themselves.

    all those poor porny boys have had their feelings hurt, their right to override the will of women challenged by bb’s comments. How dare women ever not want to be mothers? The fact that men evade parental responsibilities all the time doesn’t cause this outrage. One expression of pain, of fear for the world of women from a mother is too much for these selfish little shits. Even some calling themselves feminists have joined in the mudslinging- it’s called ‘collaboration’, my dears. You’re profitting from this abuse. It’s repulsive.

    Posted by Laurelin | August 22, 2007, 10:04 pm
  87. Hello Michael, reality check here.
    On feminist blogs, the usual response to an authoritarian asshat who strolls in and tells someone to STFU, is to tell said asshat to GTFO. This may be one of a tiny few places in your life where you do not get to decide who talks, what they talk about, or what is important.
    Since you are clearly unable to check your asshattery at the door, I would like to respectfully request that Heart give you the boot.

    LOLWUT I didn’t tell you to STFU. I just asked you to refrain from personal attacks and add something constructive. We’re adults, so there’s no need to resort to petty name-calling.

    Heart: I actually think the voluntary tax is actually a good idea. It’s non-descriminating and will end up helping those in need. It just needs a new name: Charity tax? And remember, there are also women that walk out on relationships as well. Should a woman pull the same thing and walk out, they should also have the same option. I’m just brainstorming as well- Trying to make it all equal as possible, but a charity tax is an idea that is very constructive. I like it.

    You were talking about the end distribution earlier… How about distributing it where it’s needed when it’s mostly needed? Education, help with child support, and other things that would benefit society as a whole. Again, just throwing out ideas here.

    Posted by Michael | August 22, 2007, 10:05 pm
  88. Just a few facts would have changed that Stormcrow post dramatically.

    Female children are frequestly aborted or killed after birth in several misogynist cultures where there is no one child rule.

    In the US the majority of crimes are committed by white males. 95% of crimes are committed by males.

    Black people already pay extra for being black.

    Women also pay extra in this society.

    What part of 95% is debatable? This person has a computer, so could easily do his own research.
    Unless he is one of BillO’s boys who think there are roving gangs of lesbians with pink guns, getting away with crime sprees in every city in the world. They don’t do research.

    Posted by thebewilderness | August 22, 2007, 11:20 pm
  89. Stormwatch>

    well said. In fact, I had posted earlier about the concept of a black tax being implemented and compared the “man tax” to it and my post was censored. so i guess i’ll post it again:

    Every South African black man over the age of 18 must pay a “head tax” of £1 ($2.80) per year. Since even a black industrial worker’s average yearly wage is only $369, more than 150,000 blacks are jailed every year for failure to pay. Last week South Africa’s House of Assembly passed a bill that will nearly double the head tax on blacks this year.

    It is disheartening that the immoral, hateful society of apartheid-torn south africa is seen by some as something to replicate.

    Posted by Michele Michele | August 23, 2007, 1:23 am
  90. Michele, the tax you’re describing is racist, classist and oppressive, and it doesn’t surprise me given it’s South Africa you’re talking about. I am proposing, or throwing out for discussion, at the moment, of the idea of a voluntary man tax and a voluntary white tax. Please read all the comments before adding yours. If I didn’t approve your comment (addressing other commenters now) it may be because you wanted to argue with ideas or points that aren’t on the table or that we have adequately addressed, and we’ve moved on now. Again, please read everything before adding your own thoughts.

    Re man tax for child support, as I said in an earlier post, I’ve been thinking for quite some time — and have lived the reality too — that forcing men to pay child support when they don’t want to be fathers might be the wrong thing to do, but that possibly they and other men could take corporate responsibility for caring for children growing up with single moms via this tax. The same could happen for kids growing up with their dads only, the man tax could support them as well. So many hatreds and horrible conflicts would end if the people who really wanted to take care of the kids could take care of them, could be assured of child support, and the support did not come straight out of the pocket of an unwilling parent.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | August 23, 2007, 3:33 am
  91. Michele Michele, you’re replicating the tuskegee experiment by using the english language to write that post. Well, that’s the same “logic” that you’re employing there, so no kidding you weren’t allowed to post. Indeed, apartheid never could have ended if it were up to people like you concerned only about yourself, even if you try to disguise it as charity.

    Posted by Rich | August 23, 2007, 3:35 am
  92. That news item Michele quotes if from 1958.

    Posted by thebewilderness | August 23, 2007, 3:38 am
  93. I didn’t get a chance to read BB’s blogpost, so all I know about it is what I’ve read about it here and in a couple of other feminist places. Unless my favorite radfems are leaving out something horrible in their writings about it, I don’t get what the big f’ing deal is. Maybe I’ve surrounded myself with cruel, heartless people or maybe I’m cruel and heartless, myself, because hearing that a parent had, while feeling pain, disappointment and fear for the child’s future due to something the child had done, wished out loud that that child had never been born.

    What’s-his-name a few posts up suggested that if a man had said something similar about his daughter that everyone, men and women alike, would be in an uproar over it. I say, “Bullshit,” to that because it’s not that uncommon for men to literally say such things about their daughters AND SONS, as I stated above.

    More, it’s downright common for men to say such things without using words but by use of their actions, instead. What does denying paternity of an unborn child say? It’s said twice as loud when the child has been born and he’s still denying. Three times as loud when the child has been long born and even looks like him, yet he still has to be forced by the court into DNA testing. Four times as loud when the DNA-proven father disappears to get out of paying child support.

    What is a man saying when he ceases to visit his children after divorcing their mother? He says it double-time when he ceases to support them financially, too.

    I think the men (and those few anti-woman women) who are up in arms over BB’s post were stretching, just craning their smug necks, trying to find with their self-righteous eyes some fault in something – anything – that BB might post. I think they targeted her because she didn’t do with her body as they would have her do: she terminated a pregnancy by abortion after not being able to obtain morning-after prevention (yes, it’s still prevention the next day as the zygote has not yet had time to plant itself to the wall of the uterus). Then, to top off her refusal to submit to her role as fetus incubator, she went a step further to rue one the three times that incubated a boy-child. How dare she!? (yes, that was sarcasm. bb’s body and what she does with it is her business.)

    They’ve created a big stink over nothing, if you ask me. They did it over nothing because they couldn’t come up with something to earn this big stink they created. Something or nothing, they were to have their big stink. And they had it.

    This is an example of why Twisty says, “Men hate you.”

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 23, 2007, 3:41 am
  94. The reason I mention the date on the article is that I remember very well what the conditions were right here in the good old USA in 1958.

    Posted by thebewilderness | August 23, 2007, 3:42 am
  95. Ack! I didn’t complete a sentence. I hate when I do that.

    Maybe I’ve surrounded myself with cruel, heartless people or maybe I’m cruel and heartless, myself, because hearing that a parent had, while feeling pain, disappointment and fear for the child’s future due to something the child had done, wished out loud that that child had never been born…

    …isn’t a big deal to me. I’ve heard parents say that before.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 23, 2007, 3:46 am
  96. The “man tax” idea is interesting and I believe was actually proposed by the Feminist Initiative party in Sweden last year. I’ve got one or two reservations as it would equally penalise both men who are part of the patriarchal system and the few who fight against it. But that said all men are born into a position of privilege and I would personally be happy to pay into any fund which aimed to correct all the historical (and present) injustices which men have been responsible for.

    I’d like to say how much I like your blog and how moving it is to read this and other posts by women who are actively fighting back against the patriarchal system and have devoted so much of their time to the feminist movement. It makes me think about my own contribution to the struggle against misogyny and how little I feel I’ve done or am able to do in a world where everyone’s lives

    Posted by Stuart | August 23, 2007, 3:55 am
  97. (sorry posted too soon, I’ll continue) … seem mapped out in terms of their gender and its socially constructed roles.

    Posted by Stuart | August 23, 2007, 3:57 am
  98. Someone tries to argue with the man tax by digging up a story nearly fifty years old to make a tortuously stretched analogy? Was that meant to be a serious argument, or a joke? Does Michele think men are oppressed like blacks were under apartheid? Anyway, thanks thebewilderness for saving me the trouble of trying to source that bit of irrelevancy!

    Posted by Aletha | August 23, 2007, 6:35 am
  99. Rich- I’m not sure what the point of your reading recommendation was. Are you trying to mock me or educate me? I said in post 63 that single was in fact a poor word usage on my part. In my first post I was using “single” to mean both: without children, and without a partner. I just needed to speak more carefully. I think single WOMEN (without partners) with children should be taxed the least. You can debate whether single men or married men should be taxed more. I realize married men make more money, but I’m still concerned about the welfare of his dependents. I’m well familiar with the “plight of singledom” by the way. I’ve been single for years. I’m 25, and in the “prime of my life.” My parents are worried. Unfortunately I have standards as well as a life, even more unfortunately, I am straight.

    By the way Heart, this “Michael” is a perfect example of what you were talking about in the other thread- how the lgbt community is not an allay when they work against you.

    By the way Michael, your refusal to acknowledge the great institutional disadvantages of being female/of colour screams of privilege. You should read the book: “Racism without Racists.” It might help you understand why ideas like yours, and your refusal to support things which might level the playing field (in this case man tax), by turning it into a personal issue, IS discrimination.

    Hecate, even sex is an artificial construct of patriarchy. There ARE such people as androgen insensitive XYs and chimeras. However, an androgen insensitive xy would still have grown up being disadvantaged as a woman. Yes, there are mixed races. No, there is no perfect answer. What we can’t do, however, is pretend that racial discrimination doesn’t exist, and “moving on” is effectively doing just that.

    Laurelin, yes! Exactly! I never comment on blogs (except this one apparently) because I’m always terrified of being too aggressive and “getting in trouble.”

    Posted by Rebecca | August 23, 2007, 7:45 am
  100. (do these get ‘screened’ before they’re posted? this is more just a comment to those that have kept this sort of site going, but i guess up to you if you share it with your fellow bloggers)

    Not sure how i stumbled on your website… but i’m male, and though i may not be as disillusioned with the world as you and your subscribers are because i don’t have the perspectives/experiences of a female, i’m about as close to sharing your sentiments as a male probably could be? i have a mother, sister, aunties, female friends. i live in Australia. (so from that aspect, maybe i can relate to your cause, Australia being ‘paternalized’ by your current worldly-compassionate government. oh, just trying to lighten it up, not diverging to politics!).
    Seriously though, i mentioned australia, because i’m thinking about indigenous peoples in oz and the pacific area, and it could be applicable across many ‘old’ [sic] cultures (but not all, i acknowledge there are some with inequal customs), that despite there being some flaws, many of them fostered (and successfully at that) a much better mutual respect between sexes than some of our modern societies… where and why were those things lost?
    respect, understanding, communication. killed by greed – that saw the rise of those that hungered for power/resources the most – males? yeah, i see it too, the steps of breaking communication, ends up breeding this ‘unknown’ and in this void, can be created all the more disrespect and misdirection of instinct/curiosity/call-it-what-you-will.
    Ah, i’m probably out of line even sending/writing this, being male and all – but I’m glad to see there’s still people out there not willing to put up with the shit this world dishes out. Granted, some people’s ideas might seem off the mark to other people, but at least it’s being communicated.
    Wish I could give some constructive input/answers – but there’s just one of me, and how much poverty/racicm/health/war/etc problems in the world, as well as your good cause…!
    Keep up your efforts.

    Posted by shane | August 23, 2007, 10:36 am
  101. Heart–the comments on pornography in your original post (and that I’ve seen echoed in many others by many other women)… well, I was thinking.

    Note and disclaimer–please don’t interpret anything I’m saying as even remotely in support of the pornography industry as it exists today; I agree that it is vile and hateful towards women.

    Still… I can’t help but wonder… is pornography in itself innately wrong? There’s no question that the porn industry we have to day is disgusting and vile–“XXX hot teens” or “Asian cuties tied up” churns my stomach and disgusts me. It’s about the subjugation and objectivization (is that a word? I don’t think it is…) of women. “Haw haw, we are men and you are women, suck me off bitch and we tape it and sell it to sickos who get off on it.” That’s wrong, that’s horrible, and it should be eliminated for good.

    However… is it ever possible for there to be ‘good’ pornography?

    I think first one needs to look back at what pornography is. It’s something that’s hard to define (the name of the woman who said this is slipping my mind at the moment, but during the congressional hearings, wasn’t it “I know it when I see it”?) What’s porn to one person might not be to another.

    Obviously, there’s a threshold at which porn is porn to EVERYBODY. But… okay, for example, I’m an artist. Say I draw a female character because, uh, I like to draw. I draw attractive women most of the time as I draw attractive men most of the time–I don’t intend it to be pornographic in the slightest, whether in pose, context, or outfit. But say for some reason, some weirdo finds my drawing incredibly arousing and uses it to masturbate. Does that make my art pornography? To that one person, maybe.

    Porn as it exists today–in the industry that regurgitates it onto film and the Internet–is disgusting because it objectivizes (that’s still not a word. What’s the word I’m looking for?) and subjugates women. Sometimes men, too, I’d imagine but those cases are rare and far apart.

    However, I don’t believe (and I’m fairly sure most others here would agree) that sex itself is inherently wrong. On the contrary; sex when done correctly is wonderful–it feels great, with the right person it’s a huge emotional rush, and it’s arguably one of the primary reasons for us to exist. Whether it’s a man and a women, two women, or two men, loving and consensual sex is beautiful and an amazing experience.

    But is it possible to convey that in ‘porn’? What if you took real-life couples of whatever gender and (with their complete consent and awareness) used their real, genuine lovemaking to create a video or two? Would that be ‘good’ pornography? Is that even possible to make?

    Of course; it’s a moot point given that I doubt there’s a single soul in the existent pornography industry with the conscience and humanity to do something like that.

    Just some random wonderings of mine.

    Posted by Rose | August 23, 2007, 8:23 pm
  102. Rose,
    Pornography is the fetishization of dominance and submission.

    Simply because men will wank off to or on a picture does not make the picture porn. They wank to baby pictures and children in school uniforms too. They pornify everything so they can get off on the illusion of dominance.

    Posted by thebewilderness | August 26, 2007, 6:14 am
  103. Rose,

    Sex is inherently wrong. Sex is about the dominance of one over the other because sex must necessarily involve one or more men. In the gay community they call it the “top” and the “bottom.” The top dominates the bottom.

    Wymyn don’t have sex. They make love. That sounds trite, but as I use it, “Making love” is the coming together of two as equals into one, physically, emotionally and spiritually in a way that men simply are not capable of. Sex is about power, control, dominance and subjugation. As feminists, we know word for that:

    Rape.

    Posted by Hecate | August 26, 2007, 7:28 am
  104. Rose,

    Whenever someone mentions sex and it’s goodness or wrongness or whateverness in discussions about porn, it’s indicative that, like most people, she’s unaware that sex and porn are not the same. That porn is sex, or even the graphical representation of sex, is a lie told by pornographers and porn users. The purpose of the lie is to confuse us into thinking that to be against porn is to be against sex. Those who believe the lie then believe that anyone who speaks out against porn is speaking out against sex, and is therefore discredited as being a “prude” and having “sexual hangups.” The lie discredits and silences the victims of porn (women!) to keep them (us!) from speaking out against porn.

    “…consensual sex is beautiful and an amazing experience. It’s also the distinction between sex and porn. You can not experience a graphic nor can pornographers produce and sell an experience, amazing or otherwise. One could try to film or photographic consensual sex that is amazing and beautiful to experience and maybe even find a market for it. But it’s too late in the game to redefine pornography, now because the excitement felt by men as they watch the sexual degradation of women, the excitement of porn as they know it and love it, would be lacking and missed in the graphics of consensual sex and soon replaced by porn as it exists now.

    Porn is not sex. Sex is not porn.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 26, 2007, 8:43 am
  105. Hecate, I disagree with this statement:

    “Wymyn don’t have sex. They make love. That sounds trite…

    That’s one of the patriarchy’s very old lies, old enough that it’s now accepted as fact. It’s all part of the virgin/whore, good girl/bad girl double bind that the patriarchy has placed each and every woman in. If a woman has sex and enjoys it simply for the physical pleasure, she’s a whore. Good girls, on the other hand, appear to be chaste to the outside world. They appear to be sexually inactive, like virgins do. Sex isn’t something good girls do because it feels good to them. Good girls only allow men who they love to have sex with them. Love means that they owe their bodies to their men and it’s their responsibility as women to keep their men sexually satisfied.

    “…but as I use it, “Making love” is the coming together of two as equals into one, physically, emotionally and spiritually in a way that men simply are not capable of.”

    Men are capable of making love as you’ve defined it but for centuries they’ve been conditioned not to believe that and definitely never to feel it. Feminists believe in the potential of men to be better people – to be more possessing of good qualities, such as empathy and compassion – than probably any non-feminist, individually or as a group, believes men capable. If we didn’t, we’d not insist that they behave as better people than they do now or insist that they treat women as humans. Instead, we’d sequester ourselves from them.

    ” Sex is about power, control, dominance and subjugation. As feminists, we know word for that:

    Rape.”

    I disagree that sex is always about power, control, dominance and subjugation. I do, however, agree that WHEN sex is about power, control, dominance and subjugation, it is rape and feminists know it to be rape. But sex isn’t always about power, control, dominance and subjugation and sex isn’t always rape. Granted, many women accept the rapes committed against them by the men they love to be sex and don’t even wonder that it might be rape. But sex is not, by definition, rape.

    FYI: To the MRAs reading this, Dworkin never said that all sex is rape. That she supposedly said that is another very old lie perpetuated by the patriarchy.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 26, 2007, 6:10 pm
  106. CoolAunt,

    I know Dworkin never said all sex is rape. But I am. Theoretically, if a man was capable of engaging with a womyn as an equal and allowing her to initiate as an equal and the two of them could have sex without the man humiliating, controlling or degrading her, then it would not be rape.

    Unfortunately, in this patriarchal culture, this does not happen. Ergo, sex = rape.

    Posted by Hecate | August 27, 2007, 7:54 am
  107. “Unfortunately, in this patriarchal culture, this does not happen. Ergo, sex = rape.”

    Our society doesn’t even consider it sex unless penile penetration has occurred. I often hear it said that lesbians don’t have “real” sex.

    Why is penetration and the violation of women’s physical boundaries the ultimate goal of sex? Why must women surrender, submit to and sacrifice their bodily integrity and allow their physical beings and boundaries to be violated in order to prove love? What is this if not rape? Men have orifices. But it’s literally considered a crime if theirs are violated. Now there’s a really big clue.

    Posted by Luckynkl | August 27, 2007, 2:10 pm
  108. CoolAunt – Thank you very much for the response, I tremendously appreciate you taking the time to write it!

    I agree that at this point in the proverbial game, the porn industry is far beyond any hope at redemption and becoming more than peddlers of filthy and disgusting hatred towards women. But that was never what I was arguing; I was wondering if the entire concept of pornography itself was wrong… and you addressed that, I feel.

    You say that sex is not porn, and porn is not sex–and on some level, I agree with you. I think, then, it comes back to what the definition of pornography is–is it the mere depiction of sexual acts? Is it the presentation of these acts to an audience who uses it as a tool for arousal?

    For example… let’s say that me and my hypothetical boyfriend (or girlfriend, if you prefer) decide to film ourselves after a session of lovemaking… for whatever reason people who film themselves decide to do so. If the video is just for myself and my partner, is it then porn? What if it finds its way onto the Internet where people can watch and download it? (For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that my partner and I were totally fine with it being online and watched by people; otherwise that raises huge moral problems of its own) The content hasn’t changed–but is it now porn because of the audience? What if we decide to start charging money for people to download…?

    I agree that it’s almost a moot point and that the industry is beyond any hope of redemption; but it was something I was idly wondering about nonetheless. Because in the porn industry, you can’t really make that distinction between content and context, because it’s the content itself that’s vile.

    Hecate – I… have to disagree, I’m sorry. I’ve been lucky thus far to have had mostly good experiences with sex and men in my life, and I think it is a wonderful thing when done right. I can’t argue with your other point given that I’ve never slept with another woman, though I’m sure that given the right women (as with the right men!) it would be a wonderful experience. I agree with CoolAunt’s response that it’s not something men are incapable of; rather it’s something that most men are conditioned not to do–and thank whatever gods and goddesses you believe in that there ARE men like that.

    I also don’t entirely agree with making that distinction between ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ (interestingly enough, in Japanese I believe the corresponding terms ‘seme’ and ‘uke’ are taken from Judo terms meaning ‘to attack’ and ‘to receive,’ which opens up an entirely new can of worms regarding violence and penetration as dominance, but that’s veering off onto sexual philosophy that I’m not entirely sure I agree with!)

    Anyway, thanks for your time, and I appreciate the answers from everybody🙂 Just something I was wondering and decided to ramble on about.

    Posted by Rose | August 27, 2007, 2:24 pm
  109. “You say that sex is not porn, and porn is not sex–and on some level, I agree with you.”

    Rose, on what level(s) do you disagree? I’m asking seriously, with absolutely no sarcasm or condescension. Although you’re not alone in thinking they’re the same, I don’t understand how or why anyone wouldn’t see that porn and sex are not the same thing.

    Whenever someone asks, “What is porn?” I’m reminded of something that Julia Sugarbaker (played by Dixie Carter) on Designing Women said, “If you want to know the difference between art and porn, ask a porn shop owner. He knows what his customers want and you won’t find any van Gogh’s or Renoir’s on his shelves.” She was right. Funny, but also right. Unless you’re a defense attorney for a pornographer, the line between porn and not-porn doesn’t matter. That’s especially true from a feminist point of view because women as sex objects is rampant throughout our culture. Women as the sex class is misogynistic, whether it’s porn or Disney’s Cinderella (Cinderella was babe-a-liscious, you know. She was way hawter than her ugly step-sisters, which is why the prince chose her over them.)

    Seriously, Rose, it’s not almost moot. It is moot. Porn without the degradation of women (or someone, anyone, in those rare porn pieces in which the degraded isn’t a woman) would fall short of what the porn market wants. I think that your hypothetical porn film on the Internet would get a good number of hits upon its initial release. Then some or many of those who viewed it would write you very hurtful and hateful reviews, calling you ugly names, telling you that your sex was boring and that your boyfriend should rough you up next time to make it more exciting. In a short time, the film would no longer be getting any hits and the downloads would stop.

    Now, here’s something that I’ve pondered for a while. Yours isn’t anywhere near the first time that question’s been asked in the radfem blogosphere. Reading so many women ask about which porn, if any, isn’t misogynist, what non-misogynistic porn would look like or what porn will be like when sexism is dead has me wondering: Do women have a hard time imagining a world without porn? If so, why? Are women that vested in pornography that they think it should be redefined? And that redefining porn, rather than obliterating it, would be worth the risk of the (imaginary) new and improved, woman-friendly porn morphing back to the same, old, tired, misogynistic porn that we know today?

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 28, 2007, 3:08 am
  110. Hecate and Luckynkl, I understand your thoughts on penetrative sex how it’s used by men to degrade and humiliate women. I’ve been unfortunate enough to have had sex with a couple of different men that made the experience exactly as you’ve described, or at least I felt that that’s what I experienced, which I suppose makes it so. I’ve also had sex with men that, to me, felt mutual and equal and not at all degrading or humiliating. Was I humiliated and degraded by having been penetrated but wasn’t aware of the degradation and humiliation? Or was in denial of the degradation and humiliation? I guess that could be so. But then, if I’m humiliated and degradated by a man because I feel humiliated and degraded – because my feelings and my feelings alone are the only way to measure if and how much I feel humiliated and degradated – then am I not those things if I don’t feel them?

    That’s a lot to think about and it’s late. And I’m not sure that I want to know the truth if the truth is that every time I’ve been penetrated it was a symbol of my partners’ hatred of me.

    PS to Hecate: I wasn’t implying that you were running with that old lie about Dworkin. But I’ve been reading radfem blogs long enough to know that some misogynist asshat would chime in about your words being Dworkin’s words, too.

    Peace.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 28, 2007, 3:24 am
  111. Degradated or degraded? At this moment, I can’t remember which one is right. It’s late and I’ve very, very tired and sleepy.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 28, 2007, 3:26 am
  112. Plus there was all that tiny foot stuff.

    Hi CoolAunt. You make good reading on an early evening, waiting for the eclipse.

    “She was way hawter than her ugly step-sisters, which is why the prince chose her over them.

    Posted by Sis | August 28, 2007, 3:36 am
  113. Once more, CoolAunt, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your well-thought-out responses… I don’t have time right now to sit back and give them the answers they deserve, but to quickly answer your question–I agree wholeheartedly that porn as it exists is not sex, and is nowhere near sex other than the physical mechanics of it. However, I disagree with the idea that it can NEVER be like that. I don’t believe that the actual concept of pornography is inherently degrading–it IS degrading and awful because that’s what the industry made it.

    (I’m very much with you on what you said, though–and believe me, I’m all too familiar with your Cinderalla point given my job :P)

    To quickly answer your other question… it’s more a matter of realism than anything else. Humans enjoy sex and the concept of sex. I don’t think it’s possible to completely eliminate pornography any more than you could completely eliminate prostitution–without something radical and impossible by today’s current medical standards to eliminate everybody’s sex drive entirely. It’s incredibly sad, but I think from a realistic standpoint it’s virtually impossible to actually ELIMINATE the trade of sex. Then again, redefining it is only SLIGHTLY more feasible, so it’s really a moot point.

    It’s sort of like how I feel about the hypothetical Man Tax. Realistically, it could only actually be set up and collected in a world that didn’t need it as much anymore.

    I hope this clarified things. If not, please let me know!

    Posted by Rose | August 29, 2007, 2:16 am
  114. (on the assumption that this will get thru akismet (sp?) issues)

    Rose, it *is* a realistic standpoint to think it possible to actually ELIMINATE the trade of sex. All that would have to happen would be for men to stop feeling so freaking entitled to a woman’s body for their sexual gratification- so entitled that they think it ok to *BUY* another human being. It’s not about the sex drive. It’s not about sex. IT’S NOT ABOUT SEX. It’s about power. Without realizing it (probably) you made the same mistake many make by conflating the two. Men buy women as *things* in prostitution/pornography because they feel entitled to get a female body when they want it.

    I also think you’re conflating a visual depiction of sex acts with pornography. They’re not the same. Even so, sex being a deeply deeply intimate act, one simply cannot record it/watch it without being an outsider to that act. One is always a voyeur. I think it’s that voyeuristic quality inherent in the recording of sex acts that leads, always just a little, to the objectification of the participants. And with women being objectified off the scale in our society, there’s no way, I believe, that one could record such an intimate act- especially with a woman in it- without objectifying her.

    I hope I didn’t come across too harshly. I used all caps for emphasis, to really bring the focus to those words. Not to yell at you, if you understand. You come across as honestly curious, and exploring ideas, and as Cynthia Enloe says, one of the most important things we can have is a feminist curiosity [I’m reading her right now🙂 ].

    Peace

    Posted by Cinder | August 29, 2007, 6:01 am
  115. To clarify… well, it’s still not defined what exactly porn ‘is.’ It might be possible to shut down the industry producing disgusting schlock, but I think it’d be infinitely harder to stop people with cameras from making their own. And then, that’s only assuming you define porn solely as sexual acts depicted by real human beings. What happens if it’s drawn or computer-rendered? Or written, even? I can imagine sex in my own mind quite well, too (though I don’t think that would qualify as porn).

    So then (regarding the hypothetical ‘porn movie’ with a hypothetical boyfriend) you say that porn is totally based on the audience? Since there would be no (or little) audience for it, then it doesn’t count as porn? And if the videos sat there un-uploaded just for our personal use, it wouldn’t be pornography either? Hm. I guess I can see that in a way.

    And believe me, CoolAunt… about women being the ‘sex class’… well, I work in the video game industry, and have played them since I was a young girl. So I’m all too familiar with this. If you (or anyone) wants to discuss it, shoot me an email at fujibayashirose (at) gmail (dot) com… I shan’t turn Heart’s blog into my own personal soapbox!

    I will say, though–as an artist, I understand the desire to make attractive characters; female as well as male. I have no qualms with attractive female characters provided there’s actually something behind the outfit making them worth it. And you HAVE good female characters; strong female characters that I love–unfortunately they’re incredibly rare.

    Anyway, off the soapbox. Sorry for the abrupt change of subject, it’s just… well, it’s something I’m very familiar with.

    Posted by Rose | August 29, 2007, 3:03 pm
  116. Those who defend porn like to manufacture confusion about how it is defined. The fundamentalist view of sexuality helps create more confusion. Feminists have trouble agreeing on a way to define it, partially because the culture defines women as sex objects, making it difficult if not impossible to create any portrayal of sexuality or female nudity that is not corrupted by that.

    I wrote a long blog entry called The Trouble With Pornography. I think it is possible to make a distinction between portraying the female body as a commodity and a work of art. What I call porn bears no resemblance to art, since its purpose is to sell women as sex objects, which has nothing to do with art, education, or anything remotely constructive.

    Posted by Aletha | August 30, 2007, 3:56 am
  117. Rose,

    “…you say that porn is totally based on the audience…”

    I said no such thing. I didn’t your question about your hypothetical film because, as I stated before, it doesn’t matter to anyone but defense attorneys and pornographers facing judges and juries where the line between porn and not-porn lies. I did tell you what I think the response to your film would be because the market (consumers) determines what products are offered. In other words, demand drives supply.

    “…I don’t think it’s possible to completely eliminate pornography any more than you could completely eliminate prostitution…”

    There was a time when there were women in the US who didn’t think it was possible that they would ever be able to legally cast a ballot in an election. Before that, there were people who didn’t believe that black slavery in the US would ever be abolished. (For that matter, there were Confederates who didn’t think it was possible for the North to win.) Centuries before that, there were people who thought it impossible that Christopher Columbus wouldn’t sail off the edge of the Earth to be eaten by monsters. They were wrong.

    I believe that it is possible to eliminate both porn and prostitution.

    “…I work in the video game industry, and have played them since I was a young girl. So I’m all too familiar with this. ”

    You’re so right. Misogyny is alive and well in video games.

    “I will say, though–as an artist, I understand the desire to make attractive characters; female as well as male. I have no qualms with attractive female characters provided there’s actually something behind the outfit making them worth it…”

    From what I’ve seen, most of the female characters who aren’t shamelessy drawn to appear hideously unattractive are drawn to exaggerated pornilisciousness, with impossibly large boobs sitting high over wastes too small for innards to be housed inside, skinny legs over feet too small to carry a baby, much less an impossibly large-breasted woman, etc. Sure, the male characters are drawn to exaggerated physical proportions, too, but not necessarily impossible proportions and, needless to say, nowhere near the exaggerated to impossible physical proportions of the female characters. I don’t share the opinion that those characters are attractive (which isn’t to say that those are the characters that you are speaking of, either). Instead, I think those images are just another promotion of women as sex class, this time to an audience that includes a large number of kids.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 30, 2007, 5:55 am
  118. Oops! Left out a word again. I meant to say that I didn’t answer your question blah blah blah.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 30, 2007, 5:59 am
  119. No, that’s exactly it. Even more than the outfits, it’s usually the poses and the body language that boils my blood–I’ve seen artists… good, talented artists who SHOULD have a iron grip on anatomy and physiology… put their female characters in poses that not only border on the physically impossible but if they were possible would be excruciatingly painful for anybody, male OR female to stand in. And it’s the body language that makes me shudder because no, you never get the impression that she’s some all-powerful sorcerer about to rain destruction from the heavens, she’s got NO power in her pose whatsoever, and it’s pretty much just “tee hee, look at my tits you big manly man you!”

    This isn’t to say that -everyone- is like that, of course… and to be fair, the days of HIDEOUSLY out of proportion Lara Croft & Co. are behind us. there are games with wonderful (and decently dressed, too–imagine that) and assertive strong female characters… and for that, I’m thankful. That’s part of the reason I’m in the industry in the first place–to try and continue that trend.

    And CoolAunt… I sort of see those as different things. Slavery, democracy, racism… are all learned values. There have been cultures without slavery, matriarchal cultures without the submission of women, and so on. The sex drive is one of the intrinsic parts of… well, of any living animal. As long as sex exists, and the desire for sex exists, I think you’ll unfortunately have someone willing to pay for it or to accept pay for it.

    I agree that you might be able to outlaw / eliminated pornography–the industry of capturing two actual people (or more) in sexual acts. But then I don’t think you could eliminate pornographic art/writing at all; and it’s arguably not much better than the others.

    Posted by Rose | August 30, 2007, 3:32 pm
  120. I read this article and found it interesting; I just wanted to comment a bit on the pornography aspect of it.

    I think the problem isn’t so much the pornography, but rather the poor quality of pornography, where women are treated as objects and sex is reduced to an animalistic act.

    What if there were pornography that’s not like this? A genuine story with an erotic element, where both partners are equal, enjoy each other, love each other, and the emphasis isn’t on ‘bits’, ‘money shots’, and so on?

    Would you be against this as well? As a man, I enjoy looking at beautiful women; that’s only natural. I dislike 99.9% of the porn I’ve seen because it all looks so “forced”. What about, for example, a photo of a couple holding each other, in the heat of passion, without the objectifying element?

    Sex is a beautiful thing, in the right context. There isn’t anything inherently “bad” about it, as many religions would want you to think. Objectifying of women and men in porn is what’s bad, though. If that element could be removed, would the porn still be objectionable?

    And yes, men are objectified in porn too. How many times do you see men in porn simply because they have larger than average anatomical features? How many women see porn at an early age and think that’s the norm, then are disappointed or surprised when most men aren’t like that?

    Just some food for thought.

    -thelynx

    Posted by TheLynx | August 31, 2007, 3:15 pm
  121. DISAPPOINTED men aren’t like that? The men in porn are invariably ugly, old, fat, and have GROSS penises intended to look painful and dominating to the woman. There is nothing that can turn a young girl off to men more than seeing the penis purposely construed as a domination tactic (nevermind au natural ugly guys paired with bizarrely hacked up women’s bodies). But then being turned off by this is used as “evidence” by mainstream sexist thought that men’s needs in sex are the primary definition of sex, because women don’t have libidos or the “same needs” to begin with.

    Porn sex is portrayed as being about the man’s ego, period. The servile slit on the end of something that large and dominating and painful is about him and feeding men’s fantasies of how sex should make him feel–never about women’s sexuality, desires, or ideals. You really thought, by the looks of Ron Jeremy and these gross guys, that porn was ever made even remotely for the consumption of women’s turn-ons or to microcosmically mimic their psychosociopolitical realities? The whole thing is about catering to men’s egotastic fantasies, not an objectification of them. This just goes to show how much porn really does delude its users into thinking this has anything to do with women in the real world whatsoever. No, porn doesn’t hurt you, it’s not intended to, so stop trying to intimate that it does. Equating the two just shows how warped it helps make men’s perspective of sociosexual realities.

    And, yes, sometimes some women prefer average-large over small-average sizes, but they didn’t learn this from porn; they learned this from experience. This is off-topic, but I blame some of those preferences on the focus of penetrative sex alone as being sufficient for both parties in the first place, a notion that was created from the male perspective that sex is primarily for men’s benefit anyway. When foreplay and oral focusing on the female is considered par for the course in most sexual encounters, I’ll bet a lot of those women wouldn’t have to rely on the idea that size = better stimulation.

    Posted by K.A. | August 31, 2007, 7:43 pm
  122. Hmm, my comment seems to have disappeared. Maybe I shouldn’t feed the stereotypical anti-feminist troll, but he seems more deluded, willfully ignorant, and misguided than hateful.

    I’ll just summarize my goner comment that the “objectification” of men has nothing to do with women’s expectations whatsoever; it’s a manifestation of the male fantasy due to his perception that sex is a domination tactic. Porn has nothing to do with what women find sexy or visually stimulating, in case you haven’t noticed! (Have you SEEN Ron Jeremy?!) A massive phallus–and her pain during sex–has everything to do with sex conceived as a way to use women to prop up the male ego. It has nothing to do with women or real sexuality without a patriarchal taint. Don’t dare conflate a manifestation of the fetish of dominating women with this BS about porn hurting men, too.

    Posted by K.A. | August 31, 2007, 7:54 pm
  123. TheLynx, assuming you really did read the article rather than scanning it for key words and phrases in which you believe yourself to be an expert, which is typical of most men who’ve posted here before you, you should have read or scanned the articles after it, too. If you had, you’d not have asked for opinions that have already been shared throughout the 123 comments posted before yours, including the most recent comments, just above yours. If you had, instead of asking your (most likely rhetorical and not meant to be answered) questions as if you possess some unique insight that must be shared with us as it will surely enlighten us and convert us from the prude, fearful, sex-hating anti-porn hags that we must be to the yay!porn supporters that pornsturbating misogynists like yourself would want us to be, you might would have learned something about the topic. At the very least, you would have found the answers to your questions without ever having posted them.

    If I’m wrong and you didn’t post your questions in an effort to enlighten us to the wonders of porn, if you truly are wanting them answered, go back and read through the comments posted before yours. The answers to your questions are already there.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 31, 2007, 8:12 pm
  124. “You really thought, by the looks of Ron Jeremy and these gross guys, that porn was ever made even remotely for the consumption of women’s turn-ons or to microcosmically mimic their psychosociopolitical realities?”

    LOL! KA, you’ve found the one word (okay, one name, two words) answer to the question, “Is porn produced for and marketed to women?”

    Answer: Ron Jeremy.

    LMAO! If the hideous sight of Ron Jeremy doesn’t say “No,” nothing does or will. ROFLMAO!

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 31, 2007, 8:17 pm
  125. No, that’s exactly it. Even more than the outfits, it’s usually the poses and the body language that boils my blood–I’ve seen artists… good, talented artists who SHOULD have a iron grip on anatomy and physiology… put their female characters in poses that not only border on the physically impossible but if they were possible would be excruciatingly painful for anybody, male OR female to stand in. And it’s the body language that makes me shudder because no, you never get the impression that she’s some all-powerful sorcerer about to rain destruction from the heavens, she’s got NO power in her pose whatsoever, and it’s pretty much just “tee hee, look at my tits you big manly man you!”

    Haha! You’re funny, Rose. LOL! And I’ve seen that pose that you’re describing, too. LOL!

    This isn’t to say that -everyone- is like that, of course… and to be fair, the days of HIDEOUSLY out of proportion Lara Croft & Co. are behind us. there are games with wonderful (and decently dressed, too–imagine that) and assertive strong female characters… and for that, I’m thankful. That’s part of the reason I’m in the industry in the first place–to try and continue that trend.
    I hope that you’re right that misogyny in video games is soon to be in the past and that you’ll be an integral part of making that happen (and successful in your career, to boot!).

    And CoolAunt… I sort of see those as different things. Slavery, democracy, racism… are all learned values.
    And so is the belief that the sale and purchase of women’s flesh is okay and inevitable.

    There have been cultures without slavery, matriarchal cultures without the submission of women, and so on.
    Maybe on the first. That is, if there’s ever been a culture that was free of prostitution and porn, words used to differentiate one form of sexual slavery from another.

    The sex drive is one of the intrinsic parts of… well, of any living animal. As long as sex exists, and the desire for sex exists, I think you’ll unfortunately have someone willing to pay for it or to accept pay for it.
    As long as we continue to believe the fallacy that men are entitled to sex on demand, sexual slavery will continue to be accepted and tolerated – even promoted! – as a necessary evil, a empowermentful way for a woman to earn a living while having a porntastically good time, and every other justification in between.

    When we finally learn and accept that sex is a desire and not a need, that sex can (and should be) good and pleasing and heck of a lot of fun but is not an entitlement, we’ll stop offering up women (those “other” women, the “bad” ones, the “sluts,” and “whores,” but never my mother/sister/daughter/wife/girlfriend because she’s a good girl, one of “us”) as sacrifices to sate the (perceived) sexual needs of men and “liberated, equal” women.

    I agree that you might be able to outlaw / eliminated pornography–the industry of capturing two actual people (or more) in sexual acts. But then I don’t think you could eliminate pornographic art/writing at all; and it’s arguably not much better than the others.
    Feminists aren’t trying to outlaw pornstitution. We’ll leave that to the religious anti-porners*. The goal of feminism is equality for women. That means that women be recognized as human beings. Once that happens, the flesh of women will no longer be for sale, making pornstitution extinct without no legislation regarding pornstitution required.

    …capturing two actual people (or more) in sexual acts…pornographic art/writing…
    Again, you’re focused (pun intended🙂 ) visual pornography and confusing it with sex. Sex is not porn. Porn is not sex.

    Feminists are not anti-sex. Sex is not porn. Porn is not sex.

    Sex isn’t, in and of itself, degrading or objectifying to women. Sex is not porn. Porn is not sex.

    Pornographic or erotic art and writing isn’t necessarily degrading or objectifying to women. Or it shouldn’t have to be, anyway. However, since the film porn industry makes a mint off the degradation, objectification and humiliation of women, I’d not be surprised to see the other mediums jump on the bandwagon and do the same to increase profits.

    Sex is not porn. Porn is not sex.

    *Personally, and I speak only for myself and no others, I’d not complain if the religious folks were successful and outlawing porn. I would complain if the blame and punishment for violating the anti-porn laws fell on the pimped women in porn and not the pimps and johns, those who create demand and those who see to the supply-side by use of rape, violence, threats, psychological abuse, and other crimes against women.

    Sex is not porn. Porn is not sex. Don’t forget that.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 31, 2007, 8:42 pm
  126. “…making pornstitution extinct without no legislation regarding pornstitution required.”

    That was an editing error, not bad grammar. I know better than that cuz I gots me a guud edumacation back win I wuz in skul.

    Posted by CoolAunt | August 31, 2007, 8:47 pm
  127. You know, CoolAunt, I think it’s sort of amusing that we’ve been arguing very similar points of view to one another; I can’t really even see EXACTLY where it is they differ. I don’t really see anything you’ve said that I disagree with, and I’ve never disagreed with your assertion that “sex is not porn/vice versa.”

    Also, I agree that the women forced/seduced into working as porn actors aren’t the ones who should be attacked in an effort to destroy the industry; I have a sad feeling that they WILL, though. I’ve never once disagreed with you that the state of the pornography industry as it exists today is disgusting and vile–and there’s a sort of bittersweet irony in the fact that if there were such a society where hypothetical “good porn” that depicted actual, romantic sexual acts and emphasized equality… if it existed, the society would probably be advanced enough to the point you described, where pornographic material wouldn’t be ‘needed’ (or thought of as needed… argh, you know what I mean. >_<) in the first place.

    About misogyny in my chosen industry… well, it’s getting better overall, I feel. There are definitely some days when it seems that we take half a step backwards for every step forward, but I feel (and hope) that it’s more because it’s a very young industry, and is still very much male-dominated. I think that as more girls who grew up playing games (like me) enter the industry and we achieve more of a gender balance, there will be more games made by women for women (or ideally for everybody)… that’s what I hope, anyway.

    There are days I… ugh. I mean, the other day I saw some concept art for the new sequel in the “Soul Calibur” series, of one of my favorite characters (from a gamer and from a feminist standpoint both), Sophitia. And I flinched, because it seems that the artists decided to give her breasts a small increase in size–but it didn’t even look GOOD on her frame–for no reasons whatsoever. But… I mean, her strong, assertive character that’s why I loved her in the first place should say the same, bigger boobs or not. It’s just so… unnecessary. She was certainly an attractive character before, it was just… Argh.

    Sorry, ranting. If there’s anyone there who does want to discuss misogyny, feminism, and the videogame industry, I’ll gladly chat over email (fujibayashirose at gmail dot com) because it’s something I do love to discuss. But I feel awful using Heart’s blog as my own personal soapbox, so I’m done😄;;

    Posted by Rose | September 2, 2007, 12:01 am
  128. Call me the contrarian here, but I don’t believe men intend to change at all. That’s a given in my book.

    We women are the ones who have changed so dramatically.
    India rose up against England, and they did it cleverly.

    South African men rose up against white South African men, and then when Black South African men took over, they only had two women in the cabinet. Winnie Mandela was raped in prison, Nelson was not. Now rape and horror against women in South Africa is a natioal tragedy.

    No, men don’t change at all. They pay lip service, but they have no interest in the freedom of women. I don’t even think men know what love is. I think they selfishly and cleverly intend to enslave women until we put a stop to it.

    What the problem is is women supporting the evil of patriarchy, that’s what the problem is.

    Women have not walked out of the catholic church, for example, even though it blatantly discriminates against women.

    I am horrified that women have children at all — a sure receipe for poverty. If divorce is so common now, that means almost all heterosexual women who marry and have children will be single mothers. And I hate dealing with issues of children, child care or the boredom of this straight world.

    The more we believe men will change, the less work we will do with the women who are so deluded by patriarchy.

    I know, I have it easy. I was a lesbian feminist from the day I was born. I never engaged in any activity that would put me at risk under the personal terror regimes known as women actually “living” with these monsters.

    I love the phrase Not My Nigel! It always amuses me to meet the wives of my really sexist colleagues. Smart women, women with black belts in karate, yet they have no idea what their husbands do to oppress women in the office day after day, no idea at all.

    I am proudly anti-children. I never liked children even when I was one. When women marry and have children their brains go into decline. They stop reading and studying with intensity, and I have watched this with my own highly intelligent sister-in-law.

    Why do women keep doing these things? Why do straight women listen to male supremacy from pulpits across America?It boggles the mind.

    Women are 53% of the U.S. population, and if we wanted change it would happen tomorrow. That’s why men are always attacking feminism, and always degrading lesbians with their pornographic minds.

    A friend recently got an email from a gay man talking about a spiritual issue. Somehow, when she printed out the email, it also had an attachment from a gay male sex website. He didn’t mean to have this attachment sent along with the email, but it was a real window into the secret minds of men.
    You know the type — Daddy looking for “son” to discipline.
    That’s how common their secret lives are!

    Maybe I’m the only lesbian on earth who still believes that the very act of women having sex with men is a desecration of the female soul. I’d love to have an entire conference with feminists who never had sex with men, to see if the energy would be different. I don’t have any sympathy for my enemy, and no illusion that men will change or that they are good. They aren’t good, they don’t voluntarily stand up against sexim in all male groups, and they believe they own the world. Then you have the collaborators… the arrogance of straight women and their silly slavelike worlds! Angry enough to spit on this world!

    I could not fathom the venom of the anti-gay religious right, until one day I realized that they were truly affraid that if lesbian self was not punished constantly under heteroterrorism, women really would sexually reject men entirely. We wouldn’t be 1.4% of the world’s population, we would actually be maybe 30-70%.

    As a lesbian, my taxes go to heterosexual idiots who have no money for children to begin with. I’m getting a little sick of funding at every turn the “heterosexual lifestyle.”

    Hard liner that I am, that is my furious no compromise position in the world! ‘Even if I were the only one, I would still be a radical lesbian feminist,” Mary Daly.

    Posted by Satsuma | October 30, 2007, 7:28 pm
  129. I am proudly anti-children. I never liked children even when I was one. When women marry and have children their brains go into decline. They stop reading and studying with intensity, and I have watched this with my own highly intelligent sister-in-law.

    Well, sometimes that happens. But I have 11 of them, you know? And I never stopped reading and studying with intensity, and my brain did not go into decline.

    Just sayin! 🙂

    I hear your frustration though. It’s hard to watch women give themselves, their bodies and lives, to men who really don’t love them, and that happens all the time. It’s ridiculously frustrating to clean up the messes men make in women’s lives and then to watch them go back to the men who hurt them. It’s hard to watch women struggle to raise the children they had, thinking they wanted to be moms, when a lot of the time they found out they aren’t good moms and wouldn’t have been moms if they had known what they know now, but now there are no options for them, not really, but to raise the children they had, often alone. It’s hard to watch women, het or lesbians, because lesbians do it too, defending the indefensible in what men (and women, for that matter) do.

    I try to focus on all the reasons women make the really bad choices they make. I’ve made many bad choices, believing at the time that I was doing the right thing. We don’t know what we don’t know– you know? We are on our own paths, our own journeys, doing the best we can as female persons in a world that hates us and wants to kill us. There is so much in our world that conspires to blind our eyes, not just the eyes of women, but the eyes of men as well. Even those of us who want revolution rarely have the first idea as to how to go about making it, and especially when we are young.

    It’s easy for me, honestly, to agree with most of what you have written there, Satsuma. But I’m 55 years old and have learned what I know in the school of hard knocks, have I ever. Thirty years ago, I wouldn’t have seen it. Not 20 years ago either.

    I try to keep that in mind when faced with the really rotten choices and decisions women make in their lives. But yeah, I understand the frustration.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 30, 2007, 9:32 pm
  130. I know it must be sort of disappointing to be encountering someone like me, who gets it — because I really do get it — with my particular history, my life. But I get it *because* of my life. That’s what feminism is about, I think, in large part–it gives us, as women, words with which to describe our lived realities and experiences as women under male supremacy. It gives us tools to make sense of what we may have known in our lives long before we had words to describe our experiences. And it gives us a supportive community of women who will stand with us, believe us, when we tell our own truths. Our is the only movement, Gloria Steinem said, where the older its members are, the more radical they are. That’s because we have to keep living under male heterosupremacy, have to keep resisting it, keep seeing how resistant it really is to our freedom.

    Posted by womensspace | October 30, 2007, 9:41 pm
  131. 1. I am proudly anti-children. I never liked children even when I was one. When women marry and have children, their brains go into decline. They stop reading and studying with intensity, and I have watched this with my own highly intelligent sister-in-law.
    Perhaps your words may go over better if you say some women who have children, or the women you have met. I am married and have children and my brain is not in decline, if anything it is more alive than it has ever been. I have not stopped reading and studying with intensity, in actuality, I did not begin studying and reading until I had children. It was my children, my girl children who woke me out of a slumber. It was my children who made me feel, think, sense, employ my instincts, to first protect me so I could protect them. If we are going to divide women, elevated some as superior because some were lesbians from birth and some did not lay with a man to have a child then we must tally the points in all honesty and see which woman is truly the superior woman. However, I don’t recommend that type of pissing contest because it reeks of patriarchy.

    Posted by E. K. "Kitty" Glendower | October 30, 2007, 9:56 pm
  132. Maybe I’m the only lesbian on earth who still believes that the very act of women having sex with men is a desecration of the female soul.

    No you’re not.

    I’ve always felt that way. From the time I was a small child. I think that’s the female child’s natural reaction to the idea of fucking and being fucked.

    Then the world closes in and tells her that the only way for her to go forward as a “woman” is to fuck for men (or a man).

    Most of us don’t see any way out, and we do it. Dissociate from our bodies to have the “life” that we think we need to have.

    Sometimes I think it’s a miracle for a young woman, (or a woman of any age) to realize that she doesn’t have to do that.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | October 30, 2007, 11:20 pm
  133. Perhaps your words would go over better if you gave your highly intelligent sister-in-law a hand now and again, or even more frequently?

    And you could learn a lot by observing those children who share your genes grow.

    But I too am if not anti-children, just wish I’d had the sense to know myself better, then. Then, I thought you had to have children.

    Posted by Sis | October 30, 2007, 11:45 pm
  134. I am once again, barely literate. It’s because, as Satsuma says, I’m heterosexual and a parent. And old and have no money to buy ergonomic equipment so I keyboard in pain and rage.

    Posted by Sis | October 30, 2007, 11:51 pm
  135. Well, I am presenting a point of view that is almost never heard anywhere these days, and I am an adament person on the subject of female autonomy.

    My sister-in-law lives in another state, and her decline in abilities is significant. She’ll be so far behind when her children are in school, that very likely her income will never catch up. She will be dependent on this marriage. My brother is not a bad person at all, but this economic weakness that is so “normal” makes me shudder.

    Now I know Sis is trying to be helpful about lending my sister-in-law a hand, but she is in a state and a city that is dreadful, and I don’t do childcare or menial work of any kind. I spend hours a day writing very seriously, and also working to the best of my abilities. Distractions will prevent me from doing this work, and I avoid them. I am very sorry about your condition Sis, and when I hear these stories I feel even more driven to try to tell young women not to do these things.

    How I serve women is I demand that they become economically successful. I mentor probably over 74 women of all ages, to make sure they won’t be poor and they will continue in their studies and careers. Some of these women are elderly, and I protect them and guard their assets as if they were my own.

    In fact, I am being so BLUNT here to get through to young women who come on here and read this. If I can get through to just a few young women, then I feel I will have made the world better. Heart said that it took a long time for her to get at these truths, and they were not easy to discern 20 years ago. Or even at age 30. We are not so far apart in age; I’m only five years younger, but somehow, even at age 9 or 10 or 13 I saw a very different social reality.

    At 13 I was reading Thomas Jefferson and Karl Marx, at 14 or so I was the only girl in shop classes, and had to fight tooth and nail against those boys to stay. I always got straight A’s in every shop class I ever took. I smile when I add oil to my car– when the hood is up, nice men always come running offering to help. Politely I tell them “no, I can do this myself.” They see themselves as being nice to a “helpless” female, but those shop classes helped me.

    I dreamed of going to Washington D.C. to work for the U.S. Senate, and in sixth grade, I got my first briefcase. I was the only girl in the entire school who had one. Yes, straight girls thought that was very funny. Boys didn’t make fun of it for some reason. I told myself that someday, I’d take that very briefcase with me to Washington and climb the capitol steps carrying it. I was not wasting my time dating boys or worrying about any connection to them at all. I did not go to the stupid prom nor was I interested in the dumb things straight girls did back then.

    Every aspect of straight girls superficial lives made me ill. If they were smart, I liked them, if they fussed about make-up and boys, I secretly felt pity for them.

    Now I paid a huge social price for this seriousness. Boys thought they could beat me up and make fun of me, but I had such anger that drove me, that my physical strength was huge. That anger would cause me to defend myself, only for me, I wanted to choke the life out of them, and the fear was so great on their part, that they left me alone. I was going to kill them if they didn’t. This is a great source of pride to me, even to this day. Driven, angry and determined… Straight women fear this kind of anger because they fear truly feeling anything at all. If they felt, they’d have to see male supremacy close up, and they still hide from this. They still go to fundamentalist churches, they still back up male supremacy, and they still annoy the hell out of me for doing this.

    Just how does patriarchy go on? Ask yourself who enables it? (I hate 12-stepish type words but these seems appropriate here).

    I know, these words will drive straight women nuts, but you make me crazy with your servile man pleasing ways! Don’t lie here, you do wait on men, you do kow tow to them, and I bet none of you have ever knocked an oppressor out cold in a fight in self-defense. You smile and laugh when men belittle you, you give up your minds to serve children, and then you wonder how men have such an incredible amount of time to create an atom bomb. How did Freud come up with his “brilliant theories”? How did Tolstoy write his great novels?

    How did Leonardo Da Vinci paint the last supper? How you should ask yourself, how did men get all this power, and do all these things? THEY DIDN”T DO CHILD CARE!!!

    I hate it when women get older and live in poverty, and I do everything in my power to give women the tools not to have this happen. It is an uphill battle to get through to women because they get so conned by the economics men have created for themselves.

    You don’t see women producing the kind of quality literature or technological advances precisely because they do take steps outside the work force. It is horrifying for me to see this.
    Now don’t go whining “but my aunt Sally did…” despite having 20 children by the age of 21… you all know what the statistics are, and you all know that the highest paying professions do require a lot of time and dedication. Many of the very best jobs require an incredible amount of travel too.

    As for scoring points, no I’m not scoring them. I am simply telling you all that from a very early age, I demanded a level of freedom that most women don’t think about until later in life.
    I don’t see straight women ever asking lesbians many questions, and most of you are completely out of it when it comes to radical lesbian consciousness. You just are out of it, and get threatened by BLUNT words. Goddess of 10,000 faces, straight women get so mighty flustered with anti-child opinions.

    Remember, I’m not trying to persuade you to do anything at all. I am simply presenting one radical lesbian feminist life and opinion, and if you want to read and learn from this great. If you are horrified by it, that’s ok too.

    There is this idea that even all lesbians have had relationships with men, and I’m here to tell you that this need not happen ever. Women are conned into sexual slavery to men, and I’m here to say that you actually can be in total rebellion against any male control in any home in America.

    It’s a very radical position to say that women should NEVER have sex with men, and I mean NEVER. The very act of this is colonization of the worst order. Straight women are going to squwak about this, but really I have to listen to straight women blathering about their relationships to men all the time, and I hate this.

    No children, no men, and a drive and ambition to achieve on my own no matter what. How did I get this way? I got this way because I would not bow to social pressure, conformity or public opinion. I wanted to rule my life with no compromise, and the feminist movement itself meerly provided me with a political / social ideology that helped me to understand why the thought of male colonization was so incredibly ugly, and why it was that women were so enslaved in every culture in the world, for all of recorded his-tory.

    I actually don’t believe most (not all) but most women actually do achieve their highest intellectual potential if they are taking care of children. To me, I just can’t stand to see women with children at all. The distractions, the prattle, the servile nature of this work is intolerable to watch.

    And I believe a lot of women need to see this choice so that they know as a radical lesbian feminist you will triumph. You may intensely dislike the heterosexual world and all it stands for, but you will show by example that women indeed have the real choice to avoid the oppressors as much as is humanly possible, and the greatest oppression women face is in their own home.

    You can’t police the home very well. O.J. Simpson, our favorite Los Angeles whipping boy, did not hit or abuse his buddies on the golf course. No he waited to do this to Nicole in their home.

    This will be very threatening words to most straight women out there, and no doubt lesbians will whine a bit too — It’s tough, it’s not accomodating, but it is my truth and I intend to tell it from the roof tops so women know there are the determined driven and deadly serious lesbians out there who won’t kow tow or coo coo or shuffle around this issue.

    Now I have bluntly told women for decades that child rearing is about slavery, and that it will put you in great danger for poverty, or a lower standard of living, and this is particulary true for women who get divorced. Women are just too economically dependent on men, and this freaks me out.

    Girls are constantly pressured to have sex at younger and younger ages. For some reason when I was young, I felt an absolute rage at this female oppression, a total revulsion at the idea of sex with men, or even living in the same home with them.

    This was not because my biological family was rotten, poor, wife beating, alcoholic or anything out of the ordinary. But something in that structure made me sad that my Mom never achieved as much as she could because she was taking care of four young children. My father and mother were very well educated and encouraged me in my dreams, and still there was something decidedly wrong with the whole picture.

    I want to put this blunt post out there, because I want women to be serious about buidling up a strong economic and intellectual life. I want them to put energy into the fight for freedom, not in service to children.

    It is a selfish motive. I want my freedom, and I’m tired of women cooking and cleaning for the enemy. My sexist colleagues are well cared for by their wives, and they are probably in complete denial about how their husbands treat women in our office. Not overt stuff, just the condescending tone of voice men so love to use to women. You know what I’m talking about.

    I want women to have a real choice and not a socially mandated choice by goddamn heterosexuality. This is really a crime against women in my opinion. Straight women can yelp and wail, but that’s my rather harsh worldview. I don’t expect you to understand one word of any of this, and I certainly don’t depend on public approval in any way, but that’s just it for me.

    No I am not a liberal feminist, or a feminist who supports all the issues revolving around children. I moved to a neighborhood with terrible schools, because I did not want to deal with children at all, even the sound of them. And most certainly I can’t bear the sight of women with children, while their arrogant husbands carve out careers in science or finance or the arts– yes men achieve because they delegate as much slave labor as they can to women. And women fall for this trap again and again and again.

    It is just a horrifying picture to me. What if the liberation of women — finally — really was dependent on women giving up this role completely? What if the very survival of the world required women’s full time ADULT deadly serious attention right now? What if the end of poverty was all about women getting real about what a “family” really is all about?

    What if that happened? If I hear one damn woman come on here and whine “Oh the human race would end” … don’t even try that with me, because I know there are millions of very cowed women who will always do this work. Believe me, even lesbians are having babies these days!!! The next generation of poor women in the making!!

    Wow, I do get passionate here! But at least some woman out there won’t be able to say they weren’t warned, or that “they never knew.” I don’t want women to ever go through life and not know they can have incredible success and happiness as a radical lesbian feminist, who’s loving every minute of the greatest fight for freedom the world has ever known.

    I am a freedom fighter, and this is what I believe is required in this struggle against a clever and evil enemy, who is so good at con jobs, and so clever at seducing intelligent women into being slaves of “their own choosing.” Men are laughing at women, you can hear their laughter and their gloating on radio, on T.V. and just about anywhere where they have power. They believe they can really turn back the clock on feminism, and young women in particular are really falling for the bait once again.

    Bait.

    Posted by Satsuma | October 31, 2007, 8:14 am
  136. Oh I agree completely about economic self-sufficiency. I don’t have it and I can’t now change that. It’s very hard.

    But why are you blaming your sister-in-law? You might want to turn your fine radar on your brother a bit more thoughtfully and examine his role here.

    And if you are too brilliant to do women’s work, then start sending your sister a cheque every month from your men’s work career so she can hire competent child care for long enough to meet with intellectual peers or take a graduate level seminar.

    Keep writing!

    Posted by Sis | October 31, 2007, 4:00 pm
  137. Wow, I do get passionate here! But at least some woman out there won’t be able to say they weren’t warned, or that “they never knew.” I don’t want women to ever go through life and not know they can have incredible success and happiness as a radical lesbian feminist, who’s loving every minute of the greatest fight for freedom the world has ever known.

    I am a freedom fighter, and this is what I believe is required in this struggle against a clever and evil enemy, who is so good at con jobs, and so clever at seducing intelligent women into being slaves of “their own choosing.” Men are laughing at women, you can hear their laughter and their gloating on radio, on T.V. and just about anywhere where they have power. They believe they can really turn back the clock on feminism, and young women in particular are really falling for the bait once again.

    *******
    Whooooooooa. Swap out “radical evangelical Christian” for “radical lesbian feminist” and “Satan” for “men,” and it’s positively SPOOKY how many times I’ve sat through this same exact sermon. EXACT!

    Right down to the speaker making a point about washing her (his back in the day, obv!) hands when it comes to rtake responsibility for how a message is delivered and received, by saying that we’re at war and now at least nobody can claim, from her future hellpit, that HEY, she just NEVER KNEW about the freedom she was turning her back on!

    And right down to foolish young women being “seduced” by the “clever and evil enemy, who is so good at con jobs” into being “slaves of ‘their own choosing’,” (nooooooooo!) and the gloating laughter of The Enemy as the female youth all go wantonly astray according to the evil plan, and…and…

    Absolutely SPOOKY, I am telling YOU! Happy Halloween, y’all!!😀

    Posted by funnie | October 31, 2007, 4:02 pm
  138. I only made it through maybe the first third of that last diatribe but couldn’t stomach any more so I stopped reading. It reads like the typical conservative Republican by-the-bootstraps, you-too-can-live-the-American-dream, money-as-measure-of-success bullshit. Blaming the poor and disadvantaged for being poor and disadvantaged because they could have done what you’ve done but didn’t is the kind of smug callousness that one would expect to hear on conservative radio programs. Even the class of the working poor, those who will perpetually be poor while working those pesky menial jobs that ultimately keep the rich rich, is somewhat represented by the hordes of women whose fate and function is that of breeder so that there will always be a human race and more females to keep the mentor mentoring.

    Spooky Halloween stuff? I can see that. I was thinking, however, of something more Christmassy (is that a word?), along the lines of, “Are there no orphanages? Are there no soup kitchens?”

    I thought that feminists are supposed to be pro-woman, realizing that women – all women – are human beings, not just a select few women.

    Posted by CoolAunt | October 31, 2007, 5:00 pm
  139. You know, it’s not about sending sister-in-laws checks, and it’s not about telling my brother what to do. It is the economic structure.

    My sister-in-law quit her profession to raise children, and it’s the kind of job you just don’t want to walk in and out of.

    Women will set themselves up for long term consequences. There is incredible economic data on all of this.

    When they look at the data, the really don’t have a clear idea of how it comes about.

    This is not right wing fundamentalism and mega churches, and I certainly do not have the kind of power men have — guns, mega churches, T.V. programs, the White House.

    I’m actually offended at anyone who would said my blunt assessment of the state of women in America is the same as fundementalism. I’m just being a little more blunt here than most women are comfortable with.

    The other day, I talked to a woman who is working on a credential to teach special education. She’s teaching high school full time now. She survived a divorce, and will run out of spousal support in June of 2008.

    This woman is working over 80 hours a week at this job — the paperwork and reporting are enormous. All for the princely sum of about $46,000 a year. There is a reason women do these things.

    There is a reason women are so far into denial that they’ll actually think my warnings are the same as those idiots in pulpits nationwide.

    You’ll actually think that all it takes is to send welfare checks out of my pocket to my sister in law, when the issue right now is not money for her or my brother, they’re doing fine, the issue is the gradual destruction of women’s earning power for their “choice” and “freedom” to marry men and “give up” their careers to raise children.

    A woman who is 27 will be more obssessed with getting a new car, and wearing sexy clothing then even beginning to set up a retirement account. This is hetero female brainwashing at its worst, and it happens all the time. Not all women, but one hell of a lot of them!

    You can call me a fundamentalist all you want, but that makes a lot of invalid assumptions. That I don’t have the right to be very critical of the institution of heterosexuality, and it is an institution designed to disadvantage women. Or that I have institutional power to stop the men who actually say women are inferior on the radio with no adverse social consequences to them.

    I don’t know why women remain so unwilling to be honest about what is really going on in the world. Perhaps it is unbearable to know that you have been duped into supporting a system that disadvantages women, and so you have to call me– the messenger– and the truth teller that I’m the fundamentalist. Let’s think about that for a moment.

    Now Sis, 25 years ago, I would have warned you to be careful in the world. I would have pushed you to do the things that would have protected you from poverty, and you probably would have fought me over this. Now you are trapped, or seemingly trapped.

    There is no reason to stay in “trapped” mode. I’m not blaming victims here, I’m just wondering what it takes to get women to really wake up.
    What does it take to get straight women out of their superficial idiocy and their unwillingness to overthrow this system? You, straight women of America, are the majority! But what do you do with this? You must actually like this system, or you wouldn’t keep supporting it.
    At 25 you are not victims, you are adults. Do I have to kick your butts so you won’t do something dumb like buy a new car and neglect retirement? How do I get through to women who waste so much money on make-up and then seem so unconcerned about the system this fuels?

    Yeah, I know I’m the bad person here. I’m the same as those men who say the devil is out there. I’m the one who’s raping women, and stoning them and going along with their bad choices. Yeah right.

    You will think about my words, and you can read what Sis has written. This should be a wake up call to you.

    Radical feminism isn’t about being nice and “why can’t we all just get along.” I see no evidence of straight women or men bending over backward to understand lesbians. Nor do I have high expectations here.

    Even with Heart, I could have told her all of this decades ago, and she still would have had 11 children. It would have been impossible to get through to her, even though it was 1975 over 30 years ago, hardly the dark ages.

    Now of course she sees what this is all about. But what I’m wondering is why women remain so cut off from knowledge that was in the mainstream back in 1975. Ms. was first published in 1972 I think. Feminism was on the front pages of newspapers back then. As a child of 12 or 13, I was well aware of what was going on politically, and I spent a lot of time in the library reading about all the freedom movements…black civil rights, Ghandi and India, the Russian Revolution, the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X, and I saw Billie Jean King win her big tennis match. I remember how the boys in school jeered thinking Bobby Riggs would easily beat her, and then their reaction after the game. I’ll never forget their look of shock, and their sullen silence. They had no words for a visible end to their perceived male superiority — at a sporting event no less.

    I was just an average little girl growing up in the midwest, but even then, I knew that the idea of raising children would be a deadening and boring life choice for me. I watched the girls pretending to be dumb in high school to get boys. I watched as my freshman college room mate declined in academic standing for a strange reason I could not fathom. Yearly later, she told me she was the victim of date rape. She was absolutly brilliant and was bent on a scientific career. She had more ability and academic smarts than I will ever have. She took organic chemistry and aced it. I had to study for very long hours to get the results she got effortlessly. I admired and looked up to her. She coached me in math so that I could get up to speed.

    Now she’s in a small midwest town. She ended up in a series of dead end jobs, and she became more angry and embittered.
    In the early 90s she got married, and I was really happy for her. I was so excited and I always believed in her. She was an amazing women who loved opera and classical music, but this marriage ended very badly too. She wouldn’t talk about it much.

    These stories continue to haunt me. In that same college, I thought the frat parties were dangerous, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with alcohol and boys. They seemed wild and not at all nice. But my college room mate was not so suspicious, and she went to those parties.

    I believe it was just this year or last year, that women were finally paid exactly the same championship fees that men get at Wimbledon. That’s right, this just happened after all this time! All these stories took place in the 70s.

    Girls often thought I was odd for being so serious about my studies and so guarded around men. They wondered why I bothered to take self-defense classes, or why I avoided drugs and alcohol. They wondered why I would not want children and was horrifed by housework.

    I believe what women are most affraid of is social disapproval. They are afraid to be challenged, and afraid to even deal with serious issues. There is women’s fear of “not fitting in” that is very pervasive. It’s peculiar but very strongly wired into women.

    We are always put in the role of caretakers and peacemakers, and neither one of those roles is very appealing to me. I choose to be more aggressive and blunt in my life view and ideology. It’s a large part of who I am.

    What does it take for women to wake up? Why are women giving up so much ground? And why are they so willing to let the oppressors get away with so much?

    It’s a puzzle that’s for sure.

    I don’t do menial work. I don’t clean up after people, I won’t work for substandard wages, and I won’t tolerate the worlds straight women put up with.

    I am aggressive in presenting women with the tools they need to be free of deference and servitude.

    My sister in law has “chosen” to stay home and take care of three children. She has many options, but she has chosen to do this. If she ever got divorced her standard of living would plummet to less than a 1/4 of what it is now. Nothing bad is happening at all, and yet she has positioned herself in such a way, that this could happen.

    This is the choice many women in America continue to make, just as they continue to go into professions that have so little income potential. Yes, she could go to graduate school, and she could hire help, but she doesn’t.

    Where once she was well read and a good conversationalist, now all she can talk about is the children. She doesn’t read a newspaper anymore, she hasn’t kept up with her foreign language… and on and on it goes.

    I’m just using her as an example here. She hasn’t witnessed her own steady intellectual decline; this is an invisible process. I can give her a Sunday subscription to the NY Times, but it will remain unread –even just the front page or the editorial section.

    So that’s what happens every day in America, and you are calling me a fundamentalist for questioning why women do this?

    Take a hard look at what Sis said… that’s a common situation of many elderly women in America, not all, but more than you’d ever imagine. What caused this state of affairs? What caused them to so willingly do the menial work “assigned” women without protest? What causes them to question my complete rejection of menial work for the choice of an intellectual life?

    What causes this?

    Posted by Satsuma | October 31, 2007, 5:20 pm
  140. Yeah, this particular conversation has never been a win/win, in my experience. Finding fault with one another over the deals women cut to survive doesn’t get us anywhere good.

    What I wrote in the other thread applies here, as well.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 31, 2007, 5:21 pm
  141. “Finding fault with one another over the deals women cut to survive doesn’t get us anywhere good.”

    Right. You can not hold the oppressed responsible for their oppression. Further, it is not feminist to speak poorly of women.

    (Delphyne should be so proud right now.😉 She knows what that means.)

    Posted by CoolAunt | October 31, 2007, 5:30 pm
  142. Ah, but sooner or later, women are going to have to accept responsibility for the deals they cut to survive and for making our own world.

    Posted by branjor | October 31, 2007, 5:32 pm
  143. Branjor, no, women do not have to accept responsibility. Not sooner. And not later. Whether a woman does or doesn’t is completely up to her. Most women never do.

    Posted by womensspace | October 31, 2007, 5:52 pm
  144. I don’t completely agree with you , but I will leave it alone for now.

    Posted by branjor | October 31, 2007, 6:01 pm
  145. My words are merely the messenger. I question women being so unconcerned about their welfare while they “take care” of everyone else.

    Yes, it is a radical lesbian feminist hard line political message, and yes, I get annoyed at straight women for being 53% of the population, and still falling for this nonsense.

    As for bootstraps, I did have to work harder than the average person, and I had to deal with incredible homophobia on the part of straight women and men.

    So I don’t really get along with straight women or men for that reason, and I get sick of straight women expecting me to do their work.

    My feminism is about changing this system, and you can call me a fundamentalist all you want. But I have staked out my territory.

    I do see straight women as very cowardly and afraid of confrontation. I do see them as colluding in their own oppression.
    They make a lot of mistakes in believing that someone else will take care of them, someone else will do the work of planning for the future, someone else will….

    I can tell women again and again to be more focused and to stop doing work that pays so badly, and to insist on more.

    Recently I had a meeting with a very successful business woman who was still way undercharging her clients for her work. All I did was ask her to raise her prices from $25 dollars per hour to $75-$150. She was very afraid to do this, but I told her she had nothing to lose in quoting these prices to a brand new potential client. She did this. It was hard for her, she was scared, but she did it, and she got the $75 per hour.

    I am a very concrete and strategic thinker, and when I see the position of women so stuck in lower paying jobs, and lives of such intellectual deprivation, that I wonder why they are making these choices.

    It really amazes me. Yes, I am saying that women are not children, they do have choices and they do have personal power. As lesbian feminists we have been talking about this for decades now, decades women!

    You can attack the messenger, but you really have to question the system you are in. I meet straight women all the time who can chatter for hours about nothing. They have this incredible fear of serious discussion, they don’t know anything about the war in Iraq, they don’t even vote because it would be too confrontational — a direct quote from the woman who works next to me!

    You have to wonder at this unwillingness to take a hard look at the economy, and about women’s place in it.

    I can tell you right now, that I have no expectations of straight women ever putting themselves out there for the rights of lesbians, even though we often do the hardest political work. Just think Susan B. Anthony or the life of Mary Daly, for example. How did women even get the right to vote they now squander?

    I don’t think straight women are ever accustomed to being challenged in their “choices.” It’s this la la land they live in that is mystifying.

    Even Heart with the 11 children is unfathomable. She would not choose that life now, but all this information was widely available in 1975. How women break free and get a political consciousness is very interesting to me. No men ever abused me in a home. No man raped me. I beat up a few attackers, but they came out the worse for this not me. I was a radical feminist because I looked hard at the day to day life of women.
    And on some level, I was indifferent to public opinion. I’d get so bored by straight women, that their lives were never very interesting to me.
    I know this sounds bad, but often straight women still bore me to death, and I like to do a little blogging to tell them that they are bores and cowards. Yes, you are. Not all of you, but so many of you that it makes me wonder what is going on.

    I often wonder why the lives of women that so horrifed me in 1972 guided me in the life I live today. Why I wouldn’t accept the lot of women, why I didn’t feel I could trust the system and so I had to create a system that worked for me.

    Self-reliance is very important to me, and I don’t expect help from governments and certainly not from straight women. They are pretty useless as far as fighting for the rights of lesbians, but I have fought for their rights in the workplace, and I give them the tools to stop undercharging for their services. It’s what I do.

    Take it or leave it. I have not “converted’ from one ideology to another, I have had a consistent political belief that women have to really change radically, and men aren’t going to do anything to make this possible.

    You can have a much better life than most women “settle” for, and if that’s a “spooky” proposition so be it. Just don’t do the things that will put you into a position of being a Sis in the end.
    Don’t do it.
    Don’t have those children at a young age, don’t settle for badly paid jobs, and stop being so tolerant of men and so contemptuous of radical lesbians. We certainly didn’t create this system, and we certainly didn’t get ahead marrying men.

    No we didn’t. Self-reliance is absolutely essential to survival in the straight world. It’s not Republican to not want to live in poverty, and to want to achieve greatly in the world. I didn’t want to settle for the standard of living most straight women settle for. Straight women, without their straight marriages, would be in one hell of a lot of trouble financially–not all straight women, but more than you’d care to imagine.

    I could have told all of this to Heart in 1975 or even 1972. I could have told this to Sonia Johnson when she was in the Mormon church. How can we speed up the process of women not having to wait so long to get what it is we’re dealing with?

    I have no interest in the reproductive rights, the birth control the this the that. I have no interest in children or caring for them. But I am interested in women’s control of their own destiny, and I am concerned that so many young women are having children at young ages, never knowing what this will do to them later.

    What can you tell women? Stop! Read the words of a hard line radical lesbian feminist, yes it is a diatribe to straight women, but at least it has a hell of a lot more passion than the words of straight women about make-up, children or a day at the spa. My words have more integrity than the women who go on reality T.V. and act like colonized zombies.

    My diatribes are simply a response to all I hate about the straight world and the sickening vapid lives that many women settle for. Go into any major department store and look at the counters of expensive make-up. Look at the women with this stuff plastered to their faces. Look at the number of women who do this every day. Look at the masks they wear!

    You should feel sick that this isn’t challenged as much as it needs to be. Look at the self-satisfaction and hatred of lesbian women who dare to challenge these women’s lives.

    We challenge straight women. We’re not the nice women, we’re the radicals. We are a small minority who accomplish a lot, so you can go out again and make life easy for the sexists of the world.

    Someone has got to get tough here, or we’ll be stuck on the nice button till the end of time. Call me the fundamentalist, but what do you call the men in power? Someone aids and abets them, someone cooks Jerry Falwell’s food, someone buys all the right wing christian books, someone goes to all those right wing churches, and it isn’t just men.

    Why do women support this system? After 30 years they’re still doing it. Is it brainwashing? Is it a fear of having to make your own way in the world without male subsidy?

    Why do you find these blunt words so objectionable in the world that is out there, the world that colonizes women and the world that creates the department stores and the shopping malls that women flock to?

    And why do straight women so oppress lesbians? Why are straight women so afraid of us, and so unwilling to even say the word “lesbian” in public?

    It’s pretty sad, but it happens. I have no answers because it is impossible for me to understand why women do these things against their own economic self interest. Please explain oh goddess of the universe. Should I put a damnd smiley face here?

    Posted by Satsuma | October 31, 2007, 6:02 pm
  146. Most women don’t even realize that they’re cutting deals. They’ve never even pondered that things – the choices they’re given – could be any different than they are. They don’t even realize that they live under patriarchal rule, within a patriarchal system, and that their choices are limited by that system. They just think that the way it is is the natural order of things and can’t imagine that it could be and should be different.

    Posted by CoolAunt | October 31, 2007, 6:32 pm
  147. Hey, Satsuma, you know, a lot of het women bore me to death, as well, but so do a lot of lesbians, you know? There are also plenty of radical feminists who are het women and they don’t for a moment bore me! They’re out there, honestly. And women who defy all of the labels, including “lesbian” and “het.” And women who won’t disclose for political reasons (good ones). I’d hate for this to end up being about whether het women are smarter/better educated/less boring or whether lesbians are!

    Recently I had a meeting with a very successful business woman who was still way undercharging her clients for her work. All I did was ask her to raise her prices from $25 dollars per hour to $75-$150. She was very afraid to do this, but I told her she had nothing to lose in quoting these prices to a brand new potential client. She did this. It was hard for her, she was scared, but she did it, and she got the $75 per hour.

    I just wrote a news article relevant to this for this issue of oob, so you all get a sneak peak.

    In the early 90s a business professor at one of the big elite universities got complaints from a bunch of women students who said that they were all still teaching assistants while male students who had started the same time they did were teaching. This was important because of references, curriculum vitaes, etc. So she and a colleague poked around and found out that the reason the men were teaching and the women weren’t was, the men *asked*. The women expected to get a memo or something. It didn’t occur to them to ask for the positions.

    That experience got this prof doing a bunch of research and studies on why women don’t advance the way men do, etc. A really central thing she discovered that proved out over a number of studies was, women had good reason for *not asking*– when they asked, they were often resented and turned down! What the studies showed was that when a man and woman asked for the same kinds of things — more pay, promotions, a certain job — as opposed to accepting an offer that was given to them, the men were looked upon favorably for making the request but it didn’t work that way for women. They were thought to be not nice, aggressive, all sorts of negative things, just because they asked for what they want. This is something most women know in their bones, if they aren’t consciously aware of it yet, that to ask for what they want may cause the people they are asking to turn on them, to think poorly of them.

    This is one of *so many* phenomena built into the system– things women know on some level. It’s easy to say, “Well, women should learn to be assertive and ask for what they want.” But a lot of times, that backfires, because of sexism.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 31, 2007, 7:05 pm
  148. And for what it’s worth, Satsuma, I appreciate much of what you’ve said. It’s true, it’s hard to hear, but it’s also true that women can take it or leave it. We hear so much of the garbage, just as you describe, once in a while it’s really good to be provoked some.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | October 31, 2007, 7:13 pm
  149. Yes, I know there is no win-win to this. I just need to put cards on the table, and I want to share from my experience that you can be very aggressive and not very nice, and still you’ll get results.

    Now I don’t intend to treat people badly, and I am certainly diplomatic in how I describe a lot of things. But mean and tough are not bad traits. They are honest feelings. You don’t have to charm people, or kow tow, or even care all that much if you are perceived as “too aggressive.” Goddess, all lesbians are often thought to be this by genteel straight women. Just by walking into a room we’ll set their hetero teeth on edge.

    Just being an intensely introspective person once caused men and women to say, “Why do you have a mean look on your face, or why don’t you smile more?” I was lost in thought, and quite happy, but my blank faced was perceived as threatening somehow.

    There are structural reasons women don’t advance as quickly as men. I know that rejection is a very hard thing to take. It’s very scary for women.

    My brother in law never once had a woman ask him out on a date. I was very surprised to hear this many years ago. This young man was a very wonderful caring person, very positive, and even handsome, but he had terrible luck dating women.

    I felt powerless to help him, because I knew nothing of how hetersexuals date, nor do I have much clue about dating period. It never really interested me.

    I knew he was a good person, I’d known him since he was eight. But still women never asked him out, even though he would have loved to be asked. Once he said, “Women have all the power in a dating relationship.” Wow, I couldn’t believe this, but it was a sincere comment coming from him.

    So rejection is something men endure. They ask women out, they get rejected a lot of times.

    Rejection is a part of success. It is a part of a learning process, and if women know this, they can really learn about this.

    Since I have been out in the public sphere for a very long time, I think I forgot about rejection. I go through a lot of it as a lesbian, and as a woman who doesn’t conform and in my profession.

    But what I’ve discovered is I am not for everyone. For every group I join or movement I participate in, there will be a very few people who will totally love me, many who won’t care one way or the other, and a few who will hate me on sight.

    I have grown adept at detecting the feeling of homophobia in a room, or of feeling it in a restaurant. Now when people hate me on sight, it doesn’t mean much to me. It simply means that I need to move on, and not try to deal with the automatic haters. They may make a mistake because I am a very loyal friend to people, and I make mistakes by rejecting straight women who wear make-up and high heels– I tend to write them off too quickly, so I miss out on good friendship opportunities as well. It’s all a process.
    One of my favorite games with my gay guy friends is telling stories of favorite restaurants and our favorite food we love to cook. This holds an endless fascination for me, because I so love to eat and drink with good friends. I’m the happiest person in the world across a dinner table. Anyway, we all brought up a restaurant yesterday, and I told them how much I loved it. But then I said, “For some reason, I felt uneasy there, slightly on edge, but nothing bad happened.” I revealed how I felt silly about this feeling but it was very strong. What did they think about the same place? One man said my feelings were correct, it was a homophobic place, and then he told me more about the demographics of the community it was located in.

    This “nothing bad happens” feeling is strong in me, so I know how important it is to deal honestly with rejection.

    You may not get the first T.A. position at a university, and men certainly don’t bend over backward to help women get ahead– whatever “ahead” really means, but you do have to realize that rejection in and of itself is a process. It is not the end of the road but the beginning of a journey.

    Yes, it is not win-win with these ideas. Critiquing women and not 100% cheerleading around them, will set feminist teeth on edge.

    I must admit, CoolAunt is very right. It’s hard for a fish to even know what water is. Maybe the very experience of being lesbian in a straight world at a time when nobody talked about “homosexuality” made me more aware of some oppressive force out there. Maybe nothing about straight life appealed to me, and that is why I went my own way. Maybe I just had a harsher temper and got into more fights with boys when I got really mad. Or maybe I was a little taller or physically stronger than a lot of women.

    Whatever it was, I knew what the water was, and somehow I believed that I could be the metaphoric fish out of water, and evolve into a land creature.

    So our job is to still try to tell women about patriarchy. It is still about trying to uncover what can work best for us.

    I appreciate all your comments really, even if I get annoyed or mad at them, and a lot of the time I really love them.

    I knew I had to go out and change the world, and I was lucky to have had a band of very creative lesbian feminists out there to do it with. With nothing we created the first rape crisis center in a foreign country, and we taught each other editing skills, and I had wonderful conversations about finance.

    There really was nothing in the way of lesbian anything at my college. Nothing at all in 1975, but my imagination took me far.
    Mary Daly once said she wanted to take her mind and throw it as far as it could go, and this was a life journey that I loved.

    Whatever the “feared” rejection was, or the “feared” attacks by men, I simply kept on going. And then, after all the hard work and slow starts and failures and rejections, something changed. Suddenly, well not so suddenly, life got a whole lot easier.

    The tough early going led to incredible success later. I may have struggled in my youth, but the stubborn traits I had all along were great as I got older. I felt very proud of the body of feminist work I did, very proud. We did so much “first this” the first that that even I can’t remember my own life.

    I forget the triumphs, and maybe I remember the frustrations and get mad again. Feminism is about anger after all, and lesbian feminism is about applied explosive anger. That is a part of what it is to be revolutionary. When women are not allowed a great deal of anger, we are oppressing ourselves. Yes, I get very angry at straight women, and they are very bad to out radical lesbians. We don’t mix very well, but there also breakthroughs and friendships and all kinds of things.

    Just about anything is possible, but I do have a right to my anger and my angry assessment of what straight women do in the world. It is easy to feel no sympathy or compassion sometimes. I admit both these things don’t come easily to me ever. I try, but I do have a stubborn senes of revulsion at a lot of things women do. I know its bad, but I honestly do.
    Maybe it’s a little bit how a person born into terrible poverty feels when he or she becomes wealthy. You begin to forget why it is that the others remained poor, and you forget that you did something differently for reasons even you are unaware of.

    All I know is, I took feminism and applied it. I studied the enemy, and learned how it worked its tactics against women. I also realized I was indifferent to the many things women really cherish. Women really do love to have children, and they also love malls and make-up, just as much as I love talking about restaurants and great wines with my buddies.

    In many ways, I think I love the freedom of single gendered worlds more than the integrated worlds of men and women together. I loved aesthetics and a discussion of a fine cigar, just loved this. But I would bore a lot of women out there, but men would be engaged.

    I saw a new world because my lesbian sisters were with me, and still I deal with the tragedy of one of my friends who just died last Saturday. She couldn’t overcome drug addiction, and it did her in. She was a lesbian, age 53 or so. She and I had a special friendship, we’d quote Coleridge and William Blake together, we loved smoking jackets and Sherlock Holmes– and we never knew who we were going to “pretend to be” was she Holmes to my Watson, or was I Watson to her Holmes.

    All I know is we had such fun, and most of the other women in our circle considered her a hopeless drug addict and alcoholic, but I asked her about her life, and I learned she was one of the most well educated women there. The drugs got her in the end, but she never had a bad word to say about anybody.
    My radical feminism just baffled her, because she’d always say, “Hey Holmes, I’m just an aging hippie, I’m for peace, love and happiness…” and that’s who she was.

    A lot of death can make you very angry. I hate it when my friends die, and I hate feeling that patriarchy is winning.

    I’m a sore loser. Some people even called me a sore winner. I have to laugh at my own extreme nature at times. I’m am the extremist, the person who can’t stand to have women lose.

    I should have faith that women are coming to consciousness worldwide. We truly really are! We have more power and we do have patriarchy on the run, just as Martin Luther King had all the white supremacists on the run. They could dump ice cream on the heads of civil rights activists, but in the end, Blacks do get to eat at “white” counters.

    Women do have huge enrollments in Harvard Law and Medical school, and they do high level political commentary on the aire.
    46 single women own their own homes, and that’s something I helped them achieve over the past 15 years of working with them.

    I had a persistence with women that I could “lend” them, a dogged nature that brings very good results in the world of investing. Straight women will have secure retirements, simply because I care more about than they do. If I can get to them soon enough, this can happen.

    Will radical lesbians and straight women get along very well overall. Probably not, but then probably yes.

    All I know is, we’re all trying to tell our truths here, and we have a great moderator, who is long suffering at times. We have great conversation and good arguments.

    Our life experiences can dictate our political realities at times.

    I see the world through my radical lesbian feminist journey. A woman who did very little of anything that women normally do.
    I did a lot that very few young women bother to do.

    It made me very different and very determined, and I’m happy with the way things turned out. I see always a better world.

    Posted by Satsuma | October 31, 2007, 8:31 pm
  150. I’m not hostile to radical feminism, lesbian feminism, spearatism, or radical lesbian separatism. On the contrary, I like them very much, in no small part because they grapple in interesting and potentially revolutionary ways with complicated questions about *how* one can best love and support women given the toxic soup of patriarchy.

    But one thing they *don’t* do is attempt to strategize about how to live a radical separatist life while still being able to secure access to misguided women in order to let them know the good news and attempt to convert them to the cause. Radical lesbian separatism isn’t about how best to persuade women to save themselves, how to get them to relinquish all ties to their current lives, to pick up their collective crosses, and to follow one woman’s vision of what separatism, properly done, should look like.

    Women who love women don’t use women’s honesty and willingness to share as though their lives as lived have no value other than to create scarecrow material: “don’t do the things that will put you into a position of being a Sis in the end.
    Don’t do it. Don’t have those children at a young age, don’t settle for badly paid jobs, and stop being so tolerant of men and so contemptuous of radical lesbians.”

    I’m sorry that I offended you when I said that your intolerant evangelism struck me as so very similar to what I have personally witnessed fundamentalist men do to shame women about their lack of abilities and capacity (over and over and over). I didn’t think I would offend you that much; I was being a bit lighthearted, trying to avoid getting “into” very much conversation about it, as I find your posts provoking but not provocative. Also, you generally seem to enjoy having your actions perceived as being the hallmarks of male-dominance-derived power-acquisitional strategies.
    I’ve let the comments of your posts stand, uncorrected, several times. I don’t understand how you can be so pro-economic-emplowerment and yet entirely convinced that employment protections for women are nothing feminists should want to engage with, since “the law” is patriarchal. Money is, too, and women certainly can’t have it both ways – accessing salaries that can make them independent without being able to force at least SOME level of formal equality in their workplaces. Your beliefs, as expressed, are some ill-thought-out cafeterial plan of what YOU find expeditious, unfortunately expressed as though no woman can be a radical, a lesbian, a separatist, or all three, unless her tray matches yours.

    I’m glad that I know that’s not what the shit *is,* because otherwise I’d be pretty resistant to it, for all the wrong reasons.

    I know that women who love women talk to women who are not openly hostile as if they actually care how their messages are received.

    I may struggle with actually being able to *execute* that myself, sometimes, but I DO know that’s the goal, and I know not to trust anyone who excuses the way that she uses women’s lives and vulnerabilities in order to shame them and hold them “responsible” based on the fact that we’re engaged in some sort of “war.”

    Women have always been at war, and will continue to be until we’re free. It’s not a blank check, it’s not a tactic-justifier, it is situation-normal, for women. So the first thing we have to do is to drop the crisis paradigm that “justifies” us treating each other so shabbily, IMO.

    Posted by funnie | October 31, 2007, 9:53 pm
  151. Well I don’t appreciate it, because if I want to be abused I can turn on the tellie, or talk to a man in the street.

    Satsuma talks like an abuser to me and I know for a fact young women will turn a deaf ear to her type of rhetoric. You know how I know, because I have two young women, born and bred from my womb. My womanly womb, and fed by my womanly breasts.

    For one, her logic is flawed and unreasonable and reeks of a hatred for humanity—women specifically. In order to make her hypothetical situation work she claims all women who have children will suffer poverty, yet, in order to dismiss a possible defense, which, some can rightfully accuse her of wanting to end the human race, because that is what will in fact happen (hypothetically) if women stopped having children, she asserts that no such thing will ever happen. So what she needs to happen to prove her point will but what others need to happen to prove their point will not. So to make her argument seem sound she has an omnipotent eye that will favor her hypothetical but also one that will dismiss someone else’s hypothetical. It is bullshit. It is bullshit, and patriachal to assume that women would only have children to please a man or for a man. What? No woman could want a child just because she may want a child? Can she only exist for a man? I done plenty, plenty of things in my life for me, not for a man.

    It amazes me that no one has called her on her elitist bullshit, which again is completely patriarchal. That is, that menial work is beneath her and only scholarly pursuits are held in esteem. That my friend is a patriarchal value. No one can convince me that there are not people who enjoy serving others, enjoy doing the duties that are other than academic. Work that has been traditionally deemed women work, thus called menial is viewed as menial because society has placed that value on that work. However, I consider that work the glue that holds society together. Let some highfalutin fool wallow in their trash, their dirty dishes, their soiled clothes and all other things that are far too menial for their precious hands to touch and let’s see how quickly they are vanished from this earth because of unsanitary conditions. Let’s see how a book will protect the highfalutins from staph, e coli, or any other nasty little germ that will in fact invade their space if they continue to be too good to soil their hands and clear it away.

    Another aspect about her little screed that is abusive, is how she is focusing on women in an abusive matter. All the bastard ass fucking rapist men in this world and she is compelled to let women know how fucked up they are. Tell me, for the love of a got damn god/dess, what fucking woman don’t know how much she has fucked up? Do tell me that? What woman does not know this. Yet, Ms. savior, which sounds to me like another Mister man, is coming down to the little old women folks and telling them how fucked up they are. Yeah, well you know what? Tell me something I don’t know already. In the meantime, I love my children, because I don’t hate humanity, and I’m not a sociopath that wants humanity annihilated so I can feel like somebody now. I want the world to last, and for people to last. For women to last.

    And let’s not forget the superior tone, “I’m have not been abused, I’ve not been raped, I’ve have not been…………” Right, and last I heard addicts love counseling from people who don’t know what a high or an addiction feels like.

    Posted by E. K. "Kitty" Glendower | October 31, 2007, 10:18 pm
  152. Sorry for the out of order posts to this thread; some were in the spam queue so I had to unspam.

    I’ve got a lot going on today and haven’t been able to read all the new posts. I just skimmed, really, the last several, and I’ve got to go out again in a few minutes.

    I think what you’ve both said is really good, Kitty and funnie. I have a lot to say, too, but I’m too busy, and I’m having the experience that by the time I sit down to respond, there are so many new posts that the response I’d formulated isn’t relevant or current anymore, there are all these new posts to read, don’t have time, argh.

    I really like this:

    funnie: I may struggle with actually being able to *execute* that myself, sometimes, but I DO know that’s the goal, and I know not to trust anyone who excuses the way that she uses women’s lives and vulnerabilities in order to shame them and hold them “responsible” based on the fact that we’re engaged in some sort of “war.”

    And I love this:

    Kitty: What? No woman could want a child just because she may want a child? Can she only exist for a man? …snip…

    It amazes me that no one has called her on her elitist bullshit, which again is completely patriarchal. That is, that menial work is beneath her and only scholarly pursuits are held in esteem. That my friend is a patriarchal value. No one can convince me that there are not people who enjoy serving others, enjoy doing the duties that are other than academic. Work that has been traditionally deemed women work, thus called menial is viewed as menial because society has placed that value on that work.

    So true. I loved being pregnant, loved childbirth, loved breastfeeding. I am an earth mother type of person, one of those women to whom conceiving and bearing children was enjoyable and uncomplicated. Being pregnant, bearing my children, breastfeeding were bright spots, for me, in the years I lived with abusive men. They gave me hope, love, inspiration, they kept me wanting to live and thrive when I might have given up otherwise, beyond all that, they were and are human beings and it was a privilege for me to be part of their lives and their worlds. I love and deeply respect children and far more now than I did when I had my first. Life has taught me to value the children in the world and in my own life. Which is another post, another thread, I am saying, I loved having my babies, all 11 of them, even though, were I to start again, I would definitely not have 11!

    I also cannot get excited about accumulating riches. That’s not me. I don’t like anything about capitalism, about accumulating wealth, for so many reasons I don’t have time to write about now. I especially do not like the exchange economy which most of the world celebrates and which is all patriarchy understands. I want a whole new paradigm, a gift economy, not one in which patriarchy decides what has value and tells you how much of your life you will give for it. Because that’s what gives rise to what you’ve described there, Kitty, patriarchy deciding nurturing and creating relationships has no value whereas kicking a thick piece of pigskin around a stadium is worth billions of dollars. Total bullshit.

    Well, there is so so much to say and I have to go again and don’t have time.

    Satsuma, everyone, I would like our interactions here to be characterized by respect for each woman. The women who comment here are the smartest feminists on the internet, no matter what their lives, backgrounds, realities are. This is a fact. We all have very good reasons for what we have done in our lives and for the way we now see things, and that is something I hope each woman will keep in mind as she is writing.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 1, 2007, 1:24 am
  153. Also, there are probably more posts in the spam queue because I only had time to check two pages. So if some of yours are missing, it isn’t personal, I’ll check when I get back.

    Posted by womensspace | November 1, 2007, 1:32 am
  154. I don’t see how my logic is flawed. I simply don’t subscribe to the worlds straight women take for granted.

    Of course I am an elitist and always have aspired to be one. I wanted to throw my mind as far as it could go. You sqwauk over my refusal to do menial work, but I’m merely not wasting time on things that don’t interest me. Women were always chiding Mary Daly for being an elitist or for not speaking to working class women. I think what they were really getting at is they didn’t like her radical lesbian feminist brain in full throttle. They felt intimidated by her degrees and by her message. If Mary Daly is an elitist, then I’m in very good company.

    I aspire to intellectual achievement for its own sake, because the ideas are there and because the books are there. I share my knowledge with women who show interest in bettering themselves, and I don’t waste time on the air heads out there.
    I suppose air head is a mean phrase, but empty headed women kind of make me crazy.

    Women often play dumb when they aren’t. Lesbians can pick up on this pretty quickly.

    Reading and study is my highest value. I’m not interested in a lot of things people do, but I have intense interest is a few things. I don’t believe women will ever get out of slavery until they stop making excuses, and stop acting like vicitms.

    Just know you are in patriarchy and do your best to overthrow it in large and small ways.

    If you have children in America today, you really are setting yourself up, and you should know this in advance. I will not support your children, because I don’t see you really advocating for lesbian rights much at all. I’m not interested in children, but their economic impact is huge on women.

    Unfortunately, a lot of women discover all of this too late, way too late. If you read the letters of women in “Lesbian Connection” you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    I don’t expect to pursuade you, I am just describing my life.

    Do I care if laws are changed or not? It’s helpful to have more laws so women can win in courts of law. Do I think the law is effective for me as a radical lesbian feminist? The answer is not really.

    I don’t believe there are many legal protections for me at all in the world, and I don’t worry about it much.

    An anti-discrimination law can easily be turned into “reverse discrimination” and often is. Patriarchy is a clever player in the game of life, and most women aid and abet this clever creature, never quite knowing what they are doing out there.

    It just happens.

    It’s hard to take a lot of my words, because you’re so accustomed to the “nice” feminism that is “non-threatening” but feminism is very threatening, and when you don’t take it seriously, I can assure you men do.

    Do I get fed up with women not taking action more, yes, I get mildly annoyed.

    Radical lesbian feminism is about truth telling, about the truth that individual radical lesbian feminists dare to tell. Most lesbians I think just stay away from heterosexual women’s reality and form groups of their own.

    In early feminism, straight women and lesbians worked together, but I believe a lot of straight women now even dislike being called “feminists.” Can you imagine black men being ashamed of their great civil rights movement and being afraid of calling themselves civil rights advocates or activisists?

    This fear of feminism is something the mainstream media has always tried to fuel. Do I have much interest in mainstream women, no to tell you the truth I don’t.

    It is painful for women to hear that they are responsible for their lives, and that they must decide to reject or embrace freedom. They can decide if they believe men are waging a war on women or not. They can decide if the patriarchs are trying to make women FEEL guilty for all the abortions they have. Someone is funding right wing women, and it sure as hell isn’t radical lesbians! Remember we’re supposed to be poor, and wear flannel circa 1978. That’s a little in joke by the way. “By the way” is fully spelled out here. I don’t like Internetisms very much.

    It’s up to women to change what they dislike about the world, and it’s up to women not to pretend things they don’t believe in.

    I don’t like children and never have. Perhaps don’t like is too strong a word, but anything having to do with children I’m not interested in, as a political issue anyway.

    My feminism is tough and rather heartless at times, just as I’m tough and rather heartless in how I see straight women’s lives in this country. Straight women’s fear of lesbians is quite strong, and they expect us to do a lot of their work for them.
    I believe all women should exercise their pride muscles, their power, and their extreme opinions as much as possible. Lesbian feminism is about extremes. It’s not even really about compromise.

    Just ask Sonia Johnson about how she refuses to cook for people, or about how she decided that she didn’t want to be in her children’s lives anymore. Maybe she has changed her mind since her last book, so who knows, but I found those words so inspiring. Wow, I don’t have to do that work anymore either! I don’t have to pretend to be interested in hetero families and their endless babbling about “family.” Yuck.

    It is radical even to this day to say you will not bow, scrape or curry to the great P . A. T. (trying for a little play on patriarchy, but invention fails me now.)

    Get all riled up at my posts. Get mad mad mad, and then get really mad at the people behind this woman controlling social system of ours. I’m not your problem, you are your own problems for accomodating too much and demanding too little out of life. Way too little in my opinion. You could all be so much better, and you will be, just keep working at it.
    Do I care if you agree with me or not? No, I don’t. Do I write for that special woman out there who really will get excited by these ideas, yes I will. The very select few who really need to hear this stuff, not for the masses but for the very very few.

    What patriarchy does is it makes women too accomodating, too willing to pretend, a little too nicey nice. “Nice” that word that women are when they feel powerless around bad men, for example.

    The reek of niceness that women wear like expensive perfume is distasteful to me.

    It is a great social taboo to say that you are bored with children, that you will not do housework, and that the lives of a lot of heterosexuals really horrify you. But I’m really horrified when I read about the lives of ordinary women.

    I can’t help it, I go into shock when I read Sis or when I found out Heart was in a cult and had 11 children. Shocked that women still do these things in this day and age. I know I’m a little naieve, I live in a very rarified world, so these things really get to me.

    That’s just me. I’m only 1.4% of the world’s population according to a recent book called “The First Sex” by an anthropologist whose name escapes me at the moment. She compiled data on lesbians who have never had sex with men, and it is 1.4% of the world’s population. Now that’s an elitist if there ever was one, or perhaps a great rarity in the world.

    We have a special point of view, a unique take on life. Maybe I don’t make excuses for myself, because I haven’t had to make the compromises many women in this country make.

    I didn’t have to placate relatives in order to survive. I didn’t have to be with people I completely disliked at holidays to “keep the peace” in the family. I just bet that is not the case with many of you. You do have to keep the peace, and you do have to dull down your ideas, and you do make incredible compromises when you live with men. You just do.
    You do get angry at me for holding women accountable for the worlds they are in. Yes, women you are adults, and no you are not victims. You are responsible for your destiny good or bad. You can’t blame men for your problems, but you can hold men accountable for THEIR actions.
    You can give up too easily because you are rejected for a job automatically handed to men. What would have happened if I had done that? If I had caved at the first sign of danger or aggression out there? I wouldn’t have gotten very far with the great lesbian support network that straight women fight tooth and nail for. Yet, you expect me to pay for your children.

    Don’t shame or blame the victim you say. I say, are you adults or not? You do need a kick in the butt every now and then. Especially straight women who are so fearful of feminism, but so lap it up in the benefits that lesbians fought for. Yes, that’s right, who do you think did all this stuff and helped get these laws passed and supported the very first women’s studies classes at major universites? Who do you think did all that?

    We weren’t afraid of a little name like “feminist.” Geez, we were proud of politics, proud of our great battles, and I fondly remember all the wonderful arguments we had over everything.

    I don’t know if the next generation is up to this battle. After women got the right to vote, the next group just pooped out.
    We do this again and again and again throughout history.

    Young women fear radical feminism because it’s in patriarchy’s interest to turn you into objects, and to make you feel fear.
    It’s not that they mean to be rather lazy, it’s just that patriarchy has adapted to the protests of women at entry level positions. You can now get an equal entry level wage at many companies now. It is only later in life that you’ll see what happens.

    Women are once again going back into the home, and men remain unchanged in their career focus. Men do this, because they believe women will just cop out, or drop out, or get some useless degree that won’t pay jack.

    Men are tireless in their unchanging selves this way. Perhaps even these beasts of burden would like to do child care, or they’d like women to really go for it in the big world.

    Yes, we do see true partnerships — Hillary and Bill being a good one. Bill doing pay back for his wife having his back while the radical right attempted to kick him out of the White House. I think I admire their dedication, even if Bill was a jerk in his sexual exploitation of women. It’s really hard to say, but I do know he is helping his wife break the ultimate glass ceiling.

    The flawed lives and struggles of the First heterosexual couple I have a soft spot for. It is very hard for heterosexual women to move forward and to get power in this way. Very hard for women to get on the campaign trail, very hard indeed.

    How do I end this thing? Yeoww, my mind wanders a bit.

    I hope to annoy more of you again. And I also hope that the select “Elite” few will see into my words and dream big.

    Dream big women! You’re not victims you’re adults now. Take 100% responsibility for your lives and minds, and you’ll see amazing progress. Take charge!!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 1, 2007, 4:43 am
  155. “The fight is its own reward,” says the wealthy woman.

    When, Satsuma, was the last time you went hungry? …that you had to hide your car from the repo man? …that the power was shut off due to lack of payment? …that you came back to your roach-infested apartment in a part of town that even the cops are afraid to drive into to find your possessions on the curb and a notice of eviction on the front door, just above the lock that your key no longer opens?

    These things happen to women. They happen to single women, lesbian women, women with no kids. Mostly, they happen to women who have children living with them and who are helpless without their mothers. When mother is helpless herself, she has to do whatever is necessary, sell out to the patriarchy, sell her soul, even. The same for women who are alone and without children. They must eat, too, and find shelter from the elements and predators.

    That they all aren’t as educated as you or even as educated as I am isn’t a character flaw or a sign of their stupidity or foolishness. That they aren’t all aware that when they sell out and play the game by the rules under the patriarchy in which they live hurts all women because it hurts feminism isn’t some silly weakness or carelessness on their part. Even those who sell out to survive and know that their selling out hurts feminism don’t do it because they don’t care. They do it because, if they don’t, they may very well die in the streets of starvation, illness, accident or murder.

    Your lack of empathy, Satsuma, is very much apparent. Men and abusers, if there’s a difference between the two, lack empathy, too. It’s the source of their intolerance and contempt of everyone except themselves, most of all women. I suspect that lack of empathy is the reason that your comments read like theirs, full of intolerance and contempt for everyone except yourself and others who are exactly like you.

    Posted by Cool Aunt | November 1, 2007, 9:45 pm
  156. I started with nothing, and worked hard. I struggled against male supremacy and snotty straight women.

    My first investment was $25 into a mutual fund. I worked long hours for very low wages, and built from there. I did a few things differently than most women out there — I studied the market since high school, and I didn’t marry men or have children. I just kept my eyes on the prize so to speak.

    I take wealth accumulation very seriously because I don’t want the inferior medical care, the homophobic doctors and the heterosexual oppressors having that kind of power over me. Heterosexuals take a huge bite out of my taxes to support their children… it’s called the public school system. Every day I watch as these ill mannered children go to school and waste everyone’s time — the graffiti, the disrespect for teachers, the poor parenting and on it goes.

    In one neighborhood, the kids study in the libarary after school, and you see great progress.

    You’re right, I guess I don’t have much empathy for straight people. I did realize that I had to do things for myself. I pay more for health care because I don’t get hetero couple discounts.

    Don’t forget, I studied how the patriarchy works. It has its predictable qualities, but the one thing that is constant about patriarchy is that it tries to con women into working for no wages “heterosexual child rearing and marriage” or very low wages. The key to the game is to not stay in the low wage jobs forever. “Paper or plastic” is what people who don’t study have to say on the job. Women who have children as teenagers will set themselves up for poverty. I can tell women again and again not to do these things.

    But they don’t listen.

    Your post is filled with a lot of errors. No quotes from books, no interest in money or investments, just an attack on me for working hard. I suppose I could baby you, and say oh poor women, you are so oppressed. Yes, women are oppressed, but you need not stay that way. You do have to face all kinds of obstacles just as I did. You just do.

    To this day, I use my library card to check out books constantly. You too can get a library card, it’s free to all people in most American cities. So do the work and stop your complaining. It just doesn’t cut it for me.

    Read “Women and Money” by Suze Orman, and learn the language of wealth. It’s there for every woman who really want this. But you do have to work and read.

    I didn’t expect the law to change to support fully lesbian civil rights. I actually have fewer civil rights than immigrants to America who have the right to marry, and the right to public access.

    Now why would I want to choose poverty and a bad money management plan just to prove I hadn’t sold out to whom?
    It’s my money, I earned it and saved it, I studied how to invest it. I worked in school daily to get an education. I had trouble in math, trouble reading, plus I had to deal with bullying heterosexual boys, and air head hetero girls.

    That didn’t stop me. Wow, the whining. What is it? You have access to the very same books I do. Why don’t you read them? Stop getting angry at me as a lesbian who wants self determination in a hetero controlled world.

    Sometimes women just feel threatened by everything. You do have choice in the world. I won’t say it is easy, but I did see so many girls in my high school long ago goofing around, not showing up for classes, getting pregnant, and they still had time for incredible homophobia. I vowed that I wouldn’t let those girls stand in my way. And I wouldn’t allow the boys to do that either.

    Women are told again and again to stay in school, not marry early, and make sure they learn about money. But they don’t listen.

    The first apartment I moved into had roaches in it. I didn’t even buy any cars until I was much better established in the world. I sacrificed in low income jobs for years, to create savings and begin investments. So get to work!
    In this country, anyone can save money, anyone can read a money management book, and the daily Wall St. Journal and any other financial publications you care to read. Subscribe to them or get them a few days old from someone you know.

    If you are poor, you won’t be forever. Just as I once had no money and started out with nothing.

    I did a few things differently from most women. I learned a few languages. I read on Friday nights at the libarary while others went to parties. I paid my dues. Pay your dues, and you’ll be on the road to freedom.
    You can crab all you want, but this is what you need to do. Now go do it or stop complaining!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 2, 2007, 4:57 am
  157. You know, Satsuma, you are not totally clueless, except about certain things, like the lives of heterosexual women. You think you are so radical, and women like you are responsible for all the progress women have made. That would be laughable if it were not so insulting. I do not find you especially radical. Extreme, yes, but not radical. Your citing of Bill and Hillary Clinton as a true partnership is a case in point. It is hard for me to imagine what the word partnership means to you if you think that relationship is a good example of it. I liked that turn of phrase Funnie used, provoking but not provocative. I think your kind of rhetoric is the kind the patriarchy laughs at behind our backs. It is not threatening to the status quo, because it helps men keep us divided and conquered. I do not expect you to agree with that assessment, and do not care.

    I hardly think anyone on this blog needs your advice about how to stand up to men. Men allow some women to succeed in the corporate world as tokens. Whether that applies to you, I really have no idea. Regardless, your all-seeing wisdom has some serious holes in it. You seemed to think a few days ago the courage of posters on this blog was due to it being women-only space. If you had read the About page carefully, you would have realized Heart was referring to her bulletin boards, which have been down for months. Also, nine comments above yours was one from a man who posts here occasionally, Mr. Rich. Did you think the Mr. was a joke, or did you miss that somehow? Heart moderates this blog carefully. That is why women feel free to speak so boldly here, even with the occasional comment she allows from a friendly man or transsexual.

    I believe lesbians and heterosexual women can work together, and have accomplished some things because of that collaboration. I have no problem with most lesbians I have encountered, in real life or online. There have been exceptions, those who think they are so radical and those poor straight women just do not get it, desecrated lost souls slaving away to support the status quo. Get a clue, Satsuma. Heterosexual women can dream just as big as you can. Some even have partners supportive of that, and no, I do not mean men like Bill Clinton. I imagine his great welfare deform plan was no big deal for you, no skin off your back, right?

    Posted by Aletha | November 2, 2007, 5:15 am
  158. Satsuma, you commented in another blog post at this site that men talk too much and talk at women, not with us and never listening to us. The words *pot, kettle, black* come to mind.

    Aletha, I get what you’re saying and I agree. I don’t care for how most of us here have been stereotyped in these discussions by one lesbian feminist therefore I won’t stereotype all lesbian feminists based on this mercifully brief yet irritating experience.

    Posted by CoolAunt | November 2, 2007, 8:01 am
  159. I am not holding up Bill Clinton as a paragon of virtue, but I am saying that Bill and Hillary do work together as a political team, and this is unusual in American politics.

    What is rather different about them is that they have supported each other in the quest for elected office. No former first lady ever ran for Senate and won, for example.
    No former first ladyeven ran for president to my mind.

    Electoral politics does reflect a certain change in the social status of women. It’s not the be all and end all, and certainly the Clinton administration was not perfect.

    What I admired about them was they really went out and met the gay and lesbian community. They may have stumbled around on the “gays in the Military” issue, but they did bring it up, and they did try. I give points to people for trying.

    Welfare reform is a very complex issue. I did a study awhile back between poor neighborhoods and middle class neighborhoodswithin a 10 mile radius of my own house — grocery store prices, apartment rents, access to good libraries etc. What I found out, was that poor neighborhoods actually charged more for many of the same services, including rent.

    I wondered what prevented poor people from leaving what was actually a more expensive place, and there were many complex reasons, but one of the main reasons that I learned from my interviews with people, was that they were afraid of middle class people.

    This intrigued me, because as a lesbian, I have to be around heterosexuals a lot. Groups of heterosexual women can be just as exhausting to be around sometimes as stright men.

    So everywhere I go in daily life I will be well out of my usual comfort zone.

    I find your words rather insulting that “men allow women to succeed in the corporate world as tokens.” Well no,men don’t allow one thing or the other. My work is judged strictly on its productivity. If I don’t produce I am out. That means I have to be far more entreprenurial than the average American.
    I took a lot of classes on my own, and no, I don’t have any particular status in my company. Most of those men play golf together or have lunch together, but they ignore the women in the office.

    The thing is you have to focus on what activities will work for you. If I had listened to all the things men say about women “can’t” do this or that I would have gotten nowhere.

    Women had to file so many lawsuits and change so many laws to break down barriers. It takes a long time to do these things. What distinguishes me is my persistence, and also I really don’t listen to heterosexual women calling me an elitist or whatever, because I won’t dumb down for people.

    I won’t do the “poor so and so” I simply provide concrete strategies for women to do better than they usually do in life.
    If I were a corporate sell out, I would work exclusively in markets that would pay me about 10 times what I make trying to help a lot of women get their economic acts together.

    But I do want women to do things like open a retirement account that their own company will match, for example. Women will have plans that they don’t even access. They won’t even read about their own benefits package many times.
    I actually have to tell them to do this!

    This self-defeating behavior is really amazing to watch. It happens. Not all the time, but it happens often enough to make me really wonder sometimes.

    I wasn’t paying much attention to Mr. Rich. There are a lot of posts here, and it’s sometimes hard to keep up.

    What I do notice is that there is not much concrete strategy on what to actually DO. That’s why I suggested that women buy the movie that Catherine Crouch made on ‘The Gendercator” and show it in homes, collect the money and send it to the film maker so that her art gets out there in the lesbian community. Even though several venues banned her work because of transgender protest, we don’t have to rely on other’s distribution systems.

    I was happy to see that Heart posted the address to order the movie and its price, which is very reasonable. $25 for the movie, holding a screening in your home and raising perhaps $100-$250 dollars for the film maker will make her a nice return on her movie. If we calculate the lost income she experienced as a result of being banned at a few film festivals, we can know how many lesbians can show X number of filming, to create a system where we are more in control of distribution.

    You just have to sit down, do the math, and reach the people.

    As for spaces being woman only, none of them are on the Internet. But you can tell by the content of the writing whether there is a strong lesbian presense on a site. You can tell by the what books are cited, what issues come up, and what information is available. So I’d say that most of this site is about the issues of concern to me as a lesbian. By women only, I mean the quality of the information itself, and the level of education of the people on it.

    There are a lot of factors obviously.

    My job is to not go into “whine” mode but to say what has actually worked for many lesbians I know. It certainly isn’t the only answer out there, but it is my authentic lesbian answer. I don’t have much affinity for many of the heterosexual women’s issues out there. It just isn’t of much interest to me, but I do know why women stay in poverty. That I do know.

    Sometimes feminists have a rather poor understanding of economics and numbers. They have inaccurate analysis of what works economically or not.

    For example, there isn’t one capitalism but many. Second, there is a mixture of both the exchange economy and the gift economy, which I think all of us participate in in a variety of ways. Sonjia Johsnon advocated a gift economy, but I rather suspect that she charges guests at her bed and breakfast just the way any straight man would at his bed and breakfast.

    You have to look at what people actually do.

    Most women get stuck in class envy, or they get angry when some women are more educated. I value education very highly, and I enjoy reading complex things, because it challenges my mind.

    When I see poverty, its chief characteristic is an incredible lack of curiosity.
    I know this from my own relatives who are very improverished.

    Rather than railing at me for being the messenger of what really works worldwide for women, you can actually decide where you want to be in life. Women have many choices, and it is up to us to excersize them.

    I agree with you, heterosexual women and lesbians can work together, but I am not going to put your issues over my own. I’m just not going to waste my time. I want to focus on my attention on things of interest to me, and I don’t want to waste my time on things that are of little interest.

    Heterosexual women in my experience did not advocate strongly enough for the worlds of lesbians. I find a certain weakness there.

    You saw a lot of lesbians working for abortion rights for example, but I didn’t see the same reciprosity on other issues.
    Gay and Lesbian marriage, not a peep from all the straight women I knew. I have a certain ambivilence about this, because my lesbian strength comes from being outside the hetero system. I won’t ever attend marriage ceremonies, for example.

    It’s just something I noticed.

    I guess I just get bored with heterosexual women who whine and make excuses for themselves. I can assure you, when I was younger, there was absolutly nothing in the way of support for lesbian anything. Nothing. It would be hard for you as a heterosexual woman ever to imagine that high schools are about heterosexual indoctrination, for example. Or college campuses are filled with “entertianment” for wild heterosexual youth.
    The downside was my complete invisibility in these social structures, the upside is I didn’t have as many distractions coming at me, and so I was able to study harder, rather than party mindlessly. There was no issue with birth control or dealing with men on a personal level. I was able to become as smart as I wanted to be without some idiot boyfriend getting threatened.

    Maybe it’s why I do have so little empathy for straight women a lot of the time… not all of the time, but many times I guess. There is a certain distance I feel from you. I feel distance when heterosexual women call me elitist for wanting a very high level of achievement in my life. Sorry, but I do.

    I can’t settle for crumbs when I could have a fine meal. I can’t settle for the rather pathetic and uninfomred economic analysis that passes for wisdom in even the feminist world.

    I just can’t get excited about women and their children. Sorry to upset people but it bores the living daylights out of me. It’s just what I really feel. I won’t pretendinterest — that’s the ultimate male tactic on women — forcing women to give all their attention to men. Women go along with this. The giggle giggle, tee hee and listen to men, even when I’m pretty sure they don’t feel much interest at all. They just do this. It’s a hetero woman knee jerk thing. Sometimes I think they are not aware of this, but that’s ok That giggle giggle of teenage girls makes me nuts.
    My bottom line is I employ specific tactics with specific women to get results. I apply radical lesbian feminist theory and combine it with global economic analysis to analyze things, to think up solutions.

    I bring together lesbians nationwide for a variety of projects to the benefit of all concerned. There are lots of things I do, but I don’t advertise these things to the general public.

    I respect critique based on knowledge. Whatever economic system women advocate, and actually they have very vague ideas in this area most of the time, I look at its effectiveness.

    I question the choices young women make, because bad choices can have worse consequences. Lesbians challenge the baby making machine that is so much a part of heterosexual reality… from the endless attention to abortion and birth control to the silly collusion in the so-called “sexual revolution.”

    My life as a radical feminist led to great reward precisely because I was free of that personal heterosexual system. I lived outside that box, and was not a part of its customs. This isolation from my own people in my youth gave rise to my resourcefulness of which I am very proud. And I’m not going to let any heterosexual woman ever get away with using elitist as an insult to me. It is a badge of honor to be above average in a world where women “settle” and you know how women settle for things.
    No one is preventing women from reading and applying knowledge. A critique of capitalism is hypocritical, because most people don’t know what it is. I guess they really want a welfare state, and that most certainly is not very appealing to me. I wouldn’t want my income taxed heavily for what will inevitably be heterosexual programs at my own expense.

    I don’t want to pay for the heterosexual system out of my own pocket, and I don’t trust straight women to really get out there full bore for lesbian programs. You won’t do it, I know and you know it, so I’ll create the things that work for me.

    Well this is kind of long sorry folks. I try to be brief and clever like my gay brothers, but it doesn’t work. I’m long winded — a windbag instead of a godbag? Funny huh?

    P.S. Every time I go back to correct spelling or grammar mistakes, the over right function kicks in. I don’t like such poor writing out there — stubborn pride I guess. Is there a way to deal with this?

    Sometimes I can do it right, but I think it works before I get to the very end of the text.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 2, 2007, 3:21 pm
  160. I’m just wondering how long Heart is going to allow these women-hating posts to make it on blog. If they were being made by a man (if…?) they wouldn’t be here would they.

    Posted by Sis | November 2, 2007, 3:34 pm
  161. Oh, which ones would those be, sis?
    The giggle giggle tee hee of teenage girls? The comments about air headed women? the constant exhortations against whining and excuse-making? Using a woman’s thoughtful discussion of her life as a weapon against her? The handwringing concern about how to Save The Women? The constant characterization of discussion participants in a fashion that doesn’t reflect them and complete refusal to take responsibility for engaging in a *conversation*?

    It’s so over-the-top woman-hating that it’s nearly as hilarious as constantly promoting your writing as educated and reasoned and strong-minded, as though the women reading your words couldn’t discern that to be the case, were it the case.

    Posted by funnie | November 2, 2007, 4:17 pm
  162. Hey, Sis. I feel bad that your sense is that Satsuma’s posts are woman-hating. I understand why you see them that way, completely, believe me. I don’t, though. And I wouldn’t compare what Satsuma is writing here with what a man would write, because Satsuma is a woman. Now hear me out. Come on, it’s me, Heart. Give me a listen.

    xxxooo

    I know what Satsuma is saying is troubling and hard to read for some. I see today though that possibly she may be taking that into account a bit more, and I appreciate that.

    The reason I’m okay with what she’s saying is, she really and truly is speaking out of a woman-centered reality and position, and I see that. What she says resonates, in particular, with lesbians, and particularly those who have been lesbians and lesbian feminists for all of their lives. I obviously am not the expert on that, and wouldn’t completely trust my hunches there, so to be sure I was reading everything right, I e-mailed five good friends in the above category, i.e., lesbian women who had been lesbians all of their lives — never partnered with men, lesbian centered. Those who have responded to me so far have generally said something like, well, I might have said some things a little differently, but yeah, I have to say, what she says resonates with me (or some variation thereof). Some were wildly positive! Heh. Wry heh.

    The lives and realities of all-of-their-lives lesbians have been *way* different from the lives and realities of those of us who took up with men as young women. Way, way different. I wouldn’t have understood that or recognized that 10 or even five years ago, but I’ve learned some things. One reason I didn’t understand 10 years ago is, lesbian voices are silenced, so almost nobody besides lesbians does get it.

    Lesbians are silenced silenced silenced. Relentlessly. Lesbian voices are made to be invisible. They are made invisible deliberately, by males, in society and culture, in organizations, in politics, government, and they are made invisible unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally, too!) by progressives, feminists, and GLBTQ. Lesbian lives, lesbian realities have been *so* discounted, and in *so* many ways, it would be hard for me to even begin to describe all of the many ways I have learned about, become aware of, and honestly, I’m tearing up sitting here at my desk at work thinking about it, because the injustice is so grievous and wrong, and it so deeply harms all women — all all all — so much so, you feel like standing on the rooftop and screaming about it, but all that would get you is taken to some institution or jail somewhere.

    Lesbians like Satsuma don’t have anyone to rely on or to take care of them and never have the way women partnered with men have. Not ever. From the time they were very, very young they knew that they were on their own– always. Most of the time, they didn’t have the support of anybody– not families, not parents, not churches, not the workplace, not the laws of the land, obviously, none of the institutions of male heterosupremacy. They were not able to marry or enjoy the financial and other benefits of marriage, like social acceptance or to have their relationships and families recognized and affirmed. Whatever they have, they had to build for themselves, from scratch, no safety nets of the type most of us who have partnered with men or lived as het women for however many years — however hideous our lives with men have been and mine has sure been hideous — have. Het women are recognized as deserving certain things from the men they partner with and from the surrounding culture as well. They receive a certain societal and cultural recognition which to some degree they can rely upon when men abandon them, betray them or abuse them. Lesbians are recognized as apostates and infidels who must be punished, and whatever harm befalls them they are believed to deserve.

    One turning point in my own education happened at my first festival in Michigan. I went to one of Davis’s workshops and she had invited two other women to participate. One of them was exactly my age. She described having grown up in the South and knowing she was a lesbian from the time she was about 14, 15 years old. In time a lesbian relative took her under her wing. They would go to lesbian bars together– in those days bars were the only real meeting places for lesbians. She described the way that with regularity, the police would sweep in, arrest all of the lesbians who “looked like men,” would take them to jail, where they would be beaten and raped. Dear god, very hard to type this. Then they’d just be jailed, for however long these haters felt like jailing them and nobody cared. The woman described the ways they would try to find to get out of jail. For a while she had been partnered with a prostituted woman, who would have sex with the local judge in order to get him to order the jailed women released.

    Did any of you het women know about this? Or that things like this happened to lesbian women? This was the first time I had ever heard of it. I started to cry and it feels like I cried for days, for my whole Festival, off and on. I was so moved and so enraged. That was the first of many such stories I was to hear, listening to lesbians. If they’ve lived as lesbians all their lives and they are older than 40, especially, they will have these stories.

    Things like this happen to het women under certain circumstances– when they are white and partnered with black men in the U.S., when they are women of color partnered with men of color, and when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. But if this did happen, at the very least, someone would recognize the injustice. Men would speak up on the women’s behalf, whether white men or men of color. Het women who had some measure of power (usually because of their connections to men) would speak up on the women’s behalf. Not so with lesbian women. Males have occasionally declared open season on them and nobody cared. Het men didn’t care, and het women didn’t care. And didn’t know. And if they knew, figured oh well, what do they think they are doing anyway, they should have known better.

    But this kind of thing — and there’s so much, many books could be written, many, many, but who would publish them!? — creates a *very* different lived experience than the experience of living as a het woman. With respect to those of us who have partnered with men — however horrible that experience — lesbians are marginalized. They know this and of course, it is invisible to women who have partnered with men because that’s how privilege works. You have the luxury of not recognizing that you have it.

    Satsuma is speaking as an older woman out of this very different lived experience. She sees things about het women that het women don’t see. That’s also the way privilege works– those who do not have it know a lot more about those who do than the other way around. What she has to say and to offer is important and valuable, even where there are disagreements or someone might think she’s wrong. In order to be female-centered feminists, we have to pay heed to the voices and lived realities of female persons. Even when what they have to say is really hard to hear. What we are hearing when we listen teaches us about the way women are affected by the fact that some take up with men and some do not. We’re hearing what happens to women who do not and what happens to women who do. The conflicts which arise are rooted in the issue of women’s loyalties to specific men, loyalties to men being a hugely important “glue” which holds male heterosupremacy together. Even when it seems like het women are being wrongly or unjustly blamed, it makes sense to look closely at the way loyalties to men divide women against one another.

    Well, I could go on and on. This is what I have for now.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 4:25 pm
  163. I don’t see these posts as speaking from a lesbian perspective. They don’t represent any of the thoughtful loving and radical feminist lesbians I know. These posts are coming from a woman hater named Satsuma. And I’m logging off.

    Posted by Sis | November 2, 2007, 4:45 pm
  164. One more thing I wanted to say.

    Satsuma is giving every woman here the benefit of the doubt. If you’ll recall that discussion we had a while back, we give the benefit of the doubt when we take the risk of engaging with those who have not experienced the specific marginalization and terrorism we have experienced. We are trusting, and risking, that they will “get it.” It was justicewalks who wrote about that somewhere, and it might have been on private boards, but she was saying that when a woman of color engages white women about racism, that *is*, in fact, giving the benefit of the doubt. She wouldn’t engage you if she didn’t think you’d get it. She hopes that you will. I dunno. I have learned so much from lesbian women who have taken the risk of engaging me, who have given me the benefit of the doubt. I think that grappling personally with the issues raised by lesbians’ lives and realities, facing up to what it means to have partnered with men, is critical to deepening our awareness of what it means to be female in a world that hates females. We have to go there, I think, for the sake of all female persons.

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 4:47 pm
  165. Nanette is the person who first wrote online about this particular understanding of giving the benefit of the doubt. A link to what she wrote is in the Fifth Carnival of Radical Feminists.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 4:48 pm
  166. I appreciate your considered post, Heart. I feel, though, that I’ve made an effort to not be overly provoked by Satsuma’s posts. She presumes, in her writing, that stupid het women will take offense to her bold speaking (or what have you) but what *I* take offense at is that she thinks I DO take offense at it and that it’s okay to call me stupid.

    I understand being discriminated against. Very well. And I have no problem with the rage that can make somebody feel. Rage is good. It can be productive. But sometimes it’s destructive, and when you’re talking about heterosupremacy, which IS SEXISM, it’s entirely destructive to aim that ire against women. Period.

    Because while straight women can access some privilege through men, being paired with men IS NOT privilege. It hurts women far more often than not, and even when it’s somehow “beneficial” it means serving men’s interests or being punished. How is that a privilege? It isn’t.

    Satsuma ignores the reality of heterosexuality – she calls it enslavement and then treats women who are therefore so enslaved as being responsible for harms perpetrated against her. Maybe some have done that, I don’t know. I’m willing to believe it, for sure. But I’m not willing to be treated as though *I* have. Not because I’m unwilling to examine any privilege issues I have, because we’ve had interesting discussions about that sort of thing. But because women being punished for the harms of sexism doesn’t advance the cause of women…and it’s not in me to pretend that it does.

    Women are guilted into feeling responsible for all sorts of injustices. Sometimes we may be at fault. But, even recognizing my race privilege and why a man would do it, I won’t let a black man call me a white bitch. I’ll be happy to talk to him about white privilege, but THAT is unacceptable.

    It’s okay to draw lines regarding acceptable treatment WRT people who may have less privilege. And I think the time to draw that line with Satsuma (at least for me) is now.

    Posted by funnie | November 2, 2007, 4:55 pm
  167. Sis, but what about the fact that lesbian women I contacted, directly, via e-mail, say Satsuma’s posts *do* resonate for them?

    Of course it doesn’t sound like “most lesbians”. Most lesbians are civil and nice and don’t unnecessarily rock the boat because there’s no point. And media portrayals of lesbians are an atrocity. And most lesbians do care about all women, especially feminists, so they do their best to get along, go away when it gets too troublesome, bite their tongues, and so on. But this is a feminist blog, this is “Women’s Space,” and that is in part what we’re here to do, rock one another’s boats?

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 4:59 pm
  168. Hi Heart,

    One of my beefs with Satsuma is that by her logic, any never-het Dykes who are living in poverty have only themselves to blame.

    I find that profoundly misogynistic and lesbian-hating.

    All of the never-het dykes and separatists that I have known know the lesbian oppression that they have lived with all their lives is more intense than that of the lesbians-come-lately, and Marilyn Murphy, a deceased lezsep sister used to describe herself. They have described that to us with much pain and passion , and that has led to my own understanding of that issue.

    And yet, I have never encountered any never-het Dykes who have vilified het women with the apparent misogynistic glee as Satsuma has done here.

    Julia Penelope is a brilliant, brilliant lezsep and radlezfeminist pioneer who was fighting all those battles before Satsuma was born. She is / was widely published, and in her writings has expressed vehemently her disagreement with the kind of scapegoating in which Satsuma is indulging. Julia was at that time referring to the so-called BattleAxe Dykes (BevJo, Linda Strega, and Ruston), whom I used to know personally. Well, the Battleaxe Dykes really, really got into the het-hating diatribes, and many can still be found out there still in print-only les/fem journal archives.

    But nothing that BattleAxe ever wrote comes close to the pure misogynistic hatred expressed here by Satsuma.
    I find Satsuma to be way short on the symbolic logic, and long on the arrogance and misogyny.

    Heart, if you need a senior never-het Dyke word on the subject of Satsuma, email Julia Penelope (who is also the editor of “Out of the Class Closet: Lesbians and CLASSISM”.)

    Also, I am taking a moratorium on reading here until I hear that Satsuma is gone.

    She really, really needs to start her own blog and put a link to it here. Such a smart, smart girl as satsuma surely couldn’t have any trouble with wordpress.

    She is using the traffic that your blog gets to vent her sadistic spleen against women and lesbians. She could just as easily post her venom to other blogs, but then she wouldn’t have such a high profile on those blogs as she has here. She knows what she is doing.

    I will be taking a moratorium on reading your blog, Heart, until I hear that Satsuma has gone.

    Sis, thanks for speaking up.

    This whole thing has affected me, a woman with decades of experience in the lesbian feminist and lesbian separatist communities, really badly. To the extent that I need to leave, for that sake of my own well-being.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 2, 2007, 5:03 pm
  169. I do accept her experience and sympathize completely. But just as with an abusive mentally ill person I know, I understand the source of the abusive personality, but that does not mean I have to take the abuse. Thanks but no thanks. I’m topped right up with abuse for quite sometime.

    Posted by Sis | November 2, 2007, 5:03 pm
  170. funnie: Because while straight women can access some privilege through men, being paired with men IS NOT privilege. It hurts women far more often than not, and even when it’s somehow “beneficial” it means serving men’s interests or being punished. How is that a privilege? It isn’t.

    How is this different from saying something like the following:

    Because while white women can access some privilege by being white, being white IS NOT privilege. Because women are still subject to sexism.

    Being paired with men can be a miserable existence. Nobody knows that better than me, one of whose husbands tried to kill me and went to prison for life for it. But I think we have to think more deeply than that, to the broader, systemic kinds of marginalization. I think lesbians love their lives and wouldn’t trade places with het women for a nanosecond. Just as people of color love their lives and wouldn’t change places with white people. Just as women love our lives and wouldn’t change places with men. None of that changes, though, the difficulties and systemic injustices involved in being female/a person of color/lesbian compared with being male/white/het.

    We don’t compare the bum in the gutter with Oprah. We compare the male bum in the gutter with the female bum in the gutter. We don’t compare the brutalized het woman with Ellen. We compare the brutalized het woman with the brutalized lesbian woman and compare what each will have in terms of resources and help. I think that’s the only way to do any kind of accurate analysis.

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 5:07 pm
  171. Heart,

    Having read your posts made since I made mine, I have to say that what Satsuma is doing isn’t “engaging”. It’s battering. It’s beleaguring. And it’s exploiting you and your blog.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 2, 2007, 5:08 pm
  172. And yet, I have never encountered any never-het Dykes who have vilified het women with the apparent misogynistic glee as Satsuma has done here.

    Yeah, I don’t like that either. Although I have found it kind of humorous, i.e., having children makes women stupid, but here I am with 11. I know who am, you know? I don’t have to take that in.

    I know what you’re talking about re Julia Penelope (whom I love). There’s also a much beloved (to me) essay written by also lesbian-come-lately Robin Morgan about the so-called “Lesbian Vanguard” and everything that is wrong with “vanguard-itis.” Round and ’round we go, you know?

    One reason I haven’t rushed to conclusions about Satsuma is, she doesn’t have a blog. She’s not one of the bazillion people who has come here apparently friendly at first, then progressed to spamming my blog with all sorts of stuff to drive traffic to their own blog. That tells me she came here simply wanting to participate.

    But of course, I’m listening to you women, my sisters, Mary and Sis. I’m paying attention. It’s hard to make these decisions when women you dearly love are deeply divided. I’m doing my best.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 5:17 pm
  173. Just what is woman hating about suggesting that women take their lives seriously?

    I’m telliing you to take life seriously, and I’m meerly reporting on one lesbian life.

    You all have lives, you all can write. Just do it!

    Yes, I’m tough on all of this, because I don’t see what good being wishy washy or too touchy feely or whatever is.

    Just ignore my posts if you don’t like this. I don’t read everything on here either. I am intrigued by opposite opinions.

    You all take way too much way too personally.
    I told you my goal was not about mindlessly agreeing with you all, I am simply challenging you.

    A lot of men simply write off women, and don’t even bother to criique anything.

    I just don’t buy it.

    Now if you want to write some contrarian ideas, then do it. I am happy that you are. But censorship Sis, wow, now that really is anti-feminist. That really is about preventing lesbian speech.

    Don’t expect me to be too “easy” on heterosexual women. You can be wonderful and whimpy, and sometimes I just have to laugh because you are all unaccustomed I think to any lesbian commentary.

    I’m not deliberately being difficult here, I am just telling my truth to the best of my ability. It certainly isn’t perfect, but it is concrete. It has its own logic.

    You all know what women need to be doing out there. There are a million ways to have a feminist ideal, and a practical feminist reality. Lesbians are not all alike. Straight women aren’t all alike — this is a given women.

    I am generalizing here based on what I see in the world, and what I see in the lives of straight women. What do straight women often call lesbians — everything we say that is a critique of a very oppressive heterosexual system is — we’re like men. That’s the common hetero insult, and I’ve heard it a million times.

    When I was the only woman in an investment study class, other women said I was just like a man for wanting to study this subject. I never thought of investments as being either male or female, they were about math and analysis.

    When I gave a speech on investments in front of a feminist group I was called “a male hetero immitator” I think that was the phrase back then. That speech was in 1980 I think, and the 80s became a stock market powerhouse. A lot of my friends from back then are very poor, when they had the same jobs I had, made the same income, but the one thing they didn’t do was invest… to start small and build. They attacked me for advocating that women get involved with money. It was very “anti-feminist” back then to even talk about this.

    But I didn’t listen to this at all. I wanted my money to work harder for me, because I already had to work harder than men, and harder than a lot of straight women. Long hours, Saturdays, weekends… you name it. I was a very boring nerdlike lesbian, before the word nerd was associated with wild Silicon Valley success stoires🙂 little smiley to placate the masses out there🙂🙂

    We will have some things in common everyone, but we are supremely different. So I was just different in many odd ways…

    Now what do you all want to do to better your lives? What ideas do you have? Stop this nonsense about me personally, I want you to address the idea that women can do _______.

    It doesn’t matter what you do, just make it about things that are personally challenging and worthwhile to you.
    “if they were being made by a man…. they wouldn’t be here…” This is a typical quote advocating the censorship of a lesbian who is speaking up for herself. I don’t ever think heterosexual women should not have a voice, or that they should not be here. But the minute I challenge you all in such a direct way, out come the censorship demands.

    This is what heterosexuals do all the time to lesbians and gay men. Try to shut us up. And that’s ok, you have a right to say this. I don’t say shut up, but I can and do say whether or not I am interested in the particular issue at hand.

    We all have to focus on a certain body of information. We’ll have common goals and different goals.

    Why would I be so concerned with my own economic welfare?
    Did you ever wonder why this is so PERSONALLY important to me? Take some guesses here.

    Do you think I have friends who need my help? You better believe it. I not only work for my own benefit, but I have many obligations to my lesbian sisters. I take this very seriously.

    Why do I get frustrated when women settle for so little! Is it because I’m a heartless “male immitator” no it’s because believe it or not, I deeply care, and I hate to see women slogging away for low wages, or doing things that really will harm themselves.
    Would you just sit there while some woman injects heroine in her arms? Would you just sit there and not say what is important for women’s self-determination just because it appears to be “elitist” or “woman hating” or whatever insult you care to level at me.

    Just think about this! You can be annoyed, but annoyed at what? Because I point out a valid critique of heterosexual women or the system of heterosexuality? It is a system, and you have to have some awareness of its power. I don’t expect you to know that much about it, just as I don’t expect to know that much about what heterosexual women go through in daily life. We can know much, but ultimately we are not able to completely be in the heads of others– about what racism FEELS like, or what starvation FEELS like, or what recovering from a terrible right wing woman oppressing cult really FEELS like. But we can share and discuss and get clues.

    There is give and take and choice here. This is a powerful site because women dare to speak up and really get into very sophisticated legal ideas, and commentary on women’s spaces, and there is real passion here. It is a site that a heterosexual ally set up. That’s right, Heart is an ally to all women. I’m just a crummgeon in comparison. I’m not blessed with great compassion and mercy. It’s hard work for me. Sometimes I falsely associate compassion with a call for women to be a servant ‘caring” class yet again, and this really horrifies me. I question what women are told to be, what qualities are “assigned” to us.

    It’s what I like about all of you— you have real passion, but you get overly mad at me for wrong reasons. Will I not speak up on an area of expertise that I have developed over 30 some odd years. Now that doesn’t make sense at all.

    What I deeply admire about Heart’s site is here devotion to the authors I revere as sacred texts. That was my first delight in coming here. Then what I loved was how much I was learning about things that had happened at Michigan and in Vancouver, and in women’s lives in general that I had missed out on hearing about.

    The last time I heard women talking about Michigan was maybe way back in the 80s. Believe it or not, I forgot about it, and Heart made me realize how wonderful Michigan is.

    It brought a lot of happiness to me, and I also connected it to my childhood experiences of listening to my cousins and gradeschool friends describe Disneyland to me. Being a midwestern child, Disneyland might well have been in China!

    So these Disneyland tales were so wonderful, because they seemed like the Arabian Nights. Magic.

    Then one day, when I had become an adult I went to Disneyland. It was really fun, don’t get me wrong, but somehow I felt a loss. The stories had actually been about my connection to my beloved cousins and my gradeschool friends, but the real Disneyland was a pale immitation.

    So Heart and the great Michigan controversies had been a treasured part of lesbian and feminist lore. Every year there was a big issue at Michigan, and this is a treasury to me.

    But I can see that the more I tell my truth, the more it conflicts with yours. And that’s just the way life is.

    What is your truth and why do you care about it?

    Are my ideas really just like right wingers? Or are they a lesbian interpretation of a lesbian’s concern with what taxes do to me?

    Is my advocacy of economic power for women wrong to tell about? Is my honesty about what I really like and dislike such a trial to you all?

    What I am is sincere about my life. A lesbian has a right to pride, because we get so attacked all the time. We are a very small minority. I am simply delighted to have succeeded in life because the theory of radical lesbian feminism worked so well for me. Long ago, before a lot of you even were feminist, radical lesbian writing was rare. Lesbian opinions were not easy to find. All the things I tried to do were attacked by a lot of straight women… not all (don’t get feathers flying here) but a lot of straight women thought it was fine and dandy to trash lesbians and call us “like men” perhaps because many lesbians (not all) but many were indifferent to femininity.

    We really disliked make-up and dresses. It wasn’t the only thing we disliked about many (not all) straight women, but a lot of them. Radical lesbian feminists and straight women weren’t in the same groups a lot of the time.

    In my experience, I was not in intergated political groups on this level at all. Spiritually I didn’t meet with straight women either. We formed lesbian communities and groups, and stayed in them.

    I had a few close straight women friends, but they never had children. We were united in our activism for democratic party candidates. And we campaigned together for some of the first women to achieve state and national offices in America.

    My first political campaign was for a woman school board candidate in my hometown. She was straight and I’ll always love the opportunity I had to do this when I was a teenager.

    So what are all of you really annoyed about? That I don’t like you? I don’t even know who you are. That I speak up and don’t sugar coat ideas?

    Really, this site is powerful because it is about the individual truths women tell here.

    Lesbians ( a lot of us, not all ) really are very different from straight women. I even personally think my brain is wired differently. The science is not in on this yet, but I do feel I respond to life in a very different way compared to a straight woman.

    It’s hard to put my finger on it. I suppose it would have to be a kind of metaphor. A poem might describe the delight of lesbian mind in a straight female world. I’ll have to think about this. Perhaps we could have a lesbian only discussion of how our brains work? Who knows, anything is possible here!

    One of the things lesbians can teach straight women, is to not be so sensitive to valid criticism of heteronormative society.
    There is this false thing called “blame the victim” or even the idea that women are victims. The word “victim” needs to be used carefully in my opinion. I remember the days when people were called “AIDS victims” and my gay brothers hated this phrase! They were not victims, they were brave heros!
    We were heros and heronies to each other back then.

    Do I feel distaste for heterosexual social worlds? Yes, I do many times. I really like heterosexual women as colleagues and business women. But I don’t really have a passionate interest in the social lives of heterosexual women a lot of the time. We support each other as business people, we help each other in the world, but I am more comfortable in the public spherer with working women in general.

    I just don’t identify with stay at home Moms or women. It’s not that I think they are bad, it’s just that I don’t relate very well to this life, kind of like I don’t relate to jocks or football fanatics or people who play golf. I don’t relate to hard rock or large stadiums filled with yelling happy people. I relate to reserved tickets and lovely concert stages and opera lovers everywhere. I relate to an elderly gay man who is a piano teacher, and I revere our musical discussions. He is a lovely cultured gentleman and I adore him.

    I love my gay brothers who are kind of the male extended family to me. I love my straight sisters in our great projects together. I love my “power lunches” with straight women in my industry and our big discussions about GDP in America and abroad. I thrill to their presentations and ideas! I LOVE ‘EM to pieces! This is a true love affair between straight women and lesbians! Odd to you all, but fun for me.
    If I say, I am bored with children, this sets feathers aflying. Aren’t all women supposed to love children and be interested in them? Well no I’m not. Sorry but I’m not.

    Heterosexual women will have hurt feelings if I say this. It just is going to happen. Even Heart will be hurt a little bit or a lot by my words, but I still go into shock at the thought of having 11 children. I know I know, I’m still in shock over this.
    I should “get over this girl” but it affected me deeply, and I don’t know what to think! So I’m trying to deal with this bit of information, and I’m simply still in the shocked stage of human development here. To use a phrase my African American sisters use that I LOVE — “I’m just saying.”

    It’s honest shock, not dislike of her personally. I admire Heart greatly because she is so great at moderation.

    It’s an art form and she is an incredible diplomat in a world that is very brutal… radical feminism is a very contenious political ideology. The fights ARE the biggest! It’s knock down drag out!

    Wow, did we have it out with straight feminists in the late 70s and early 80s! It made political battles of today seem like tiddley winks!

    Believe it or not, I have very fond memories of this, because it was the beginning of my lesbian feminist self. It was how I trace my political development as a free woman. I treasure my personal memories of things that will probably never be written up in this history books, our lesbian feminist political past will seem so ugly to straight women, that you will once agains say “Heart, kick this bold kick butt Dyke off this site, she’s woman hating!! She “acts” like a man. Oy vey, that one dates back to 1972 — I get that all the time.

    I don’t act like the type of woman you personally feel comfortable with, and I don’t just dull down my words. I don’t placate and play nice nice. I just don’t.

    As a lesbian feminist, I shouldn’t even bother anymore to explain my life to straight women. You’re not going to like or respect my life, because I just hate heterosexual culture and norms. I know I’m supposed to LOVE everyone equally, but I am selective. First I have to lead with what I REALLT FEEL, then I test the hetero waters… then sometimes I try to be tactful somewhat. Tact is not an easy thing to me. I’m emotional like an opera, my voice comes out like Pavarotti, who I deeply identify with. Don’t ask me why. A lesbian sister gave me my first free opera ticket around 1988. She was a cellist in the opera orchestra! Wow was I impressed! My first opera had Pavarotti as the lead. La Boheme, and Pavoratti was a terrible actor. He’d just stand all 500 punds of him center stage and out would come this incredible voice.

    That’s an inner me I think🙂

    If you were married to men, and now struggle you’re just not going to like me very much.

    For the longest time, I had nothing at all. No community, no women’s history, no women’s music, and no lesbian only spaces. There was nothing, nothing and more nothing!

    We created our own spaces out of nothing and with nothing.
    We had no money, and no “connections” and no public support of any kind. None. All we had was each other and a dream so big, that it surprises me even now that we dared to dream it.

    The one thing I’m going to call you on Sis, is your call for my censorship! That is just unacceptable to me. How dare you try to silence me! Now that is real lesbian feminist attacking in my opinion. Imagine me saying you shouldn’t write.

    Your words aren’t all that engaging, but I do respect YOUR right as a woman to write anything you want. It’s not my favorite stuff here, but it does motivate me to work harder so that other women don’t end up like you did. You will make me work harder for my women clients, and pay attention more.

    So thank you for motivating me to serve women better.

    I’m a pretty complex person actually. Contradictory, inflamatory, loving, funny, a real pain in the butt, anger provoking… name call attracting… That’s just good old old school lesbian feminist me.

    It’s really my delight to write here. I enjoy it because I view you as peers — when you act like it, and cute whiners when you don’t. I enjoy a good old fight! And I enjoy having a light bulb of connection go off at something I read here.

    I never know exactly what will come up for me, but I respect you all and encourage you to be as big as you can be for your own self. Be as brave or as reserved as you want to be.

    Be as hetero irritating as you want to be —🙂 straight woman immitating smile going right at you all!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 2, 2007, 5:20 pm
  174. Also:

    I’m a *separatist*.

    I want males not to exist, and never to have existed.

    I’m not an “equality” feminist, as is Satsuma. Bill and Hilary??!! … give me a break.

    Satsuma bloody well *admires* males. That is abundantly obvious. They have made it possible for her to be rich, at the expense of other females, and the planet.

    What I would like to know is, if she admires them so much, why doesn’t she just go suck herself some —-? (OK, you don’t have to approve that part of my post … )

    If Satsuma didn’t have males, then who would she have to admire?

    Certainly not women and lesbians. Maybe herself. But then we knew that.Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 2, 2007, 5:26 pm
  175. True confessions.

    I’ve been in these discussions in the past, responding as some of you women I love are, really pissed off to the point of going away. I was once memorably told, by someone I love who is my good friend today, that my defenses of het women and my arguments amounted to saying het women could or should “fuck their way to freedom.” And a lot of similarly horrible stuff. Ow. We went away from each other for a long time then, a bunch of us. But, for the most part, we worked it out over time.

    Those arguments from years ago resulted in my creating a certain, I don’t know, ability to not take things personally when they are coming from someone I believe really does care about women, who is a woman herself. As opposed to, for example, someone with an axe to grind or who is being a pissy asshole out of pettiness or vindictiveness or who is being otherwise psychotic in some way. Or who is male and therefore stands to benefit from hurting or dividing women against one another.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 5:33 pm
  176. I will say though that it’s these discussions that get me thinking I’m going to go “No Comments” on my blog!

    Honestly.

    I want to ask everybody here to consider the effect of their words on women reading. I am trying to derail the trainwreck, if possible. Otherwise I am going to have to (1) edit out all insults; (2) stop approving comments completely for a while on this topic.

    Somehow we’ve got to get better at dealing with this kind of conflict in feminism or we’re just going to go round and round forever. We have to learn the lessons of the early years, somehow, because this is a very old argument, the movement has been here and been here and been here.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 5:48 pm
  177. As a lesbian who has never been het or partnered with a man I want to say THANK YOU to Heart for your post above. What Satsuma says resonates with me too, though I would not have said it in exactly the same way as she did.

    Posted by Branjor | November 2, 2007, 5:49 pm
  178. I always trust my instincts and to tell me not to is what?

    I am reading an abuser here.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 2, 2007, 5:54 pm
  179. Kitty, no way would I tell you or any woman not to trust your gut. I will tell you to honor your gut. That’s what I do. If our guts tell us differently, well, I don’t know. I have no answers for that.

    Other than to say I do honor every woman here and believe what she tells me about herself and her own life.

    I appreciate your weighing in Branjor.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 5:58 pm
  180. Here is the message I’m reading,

    Lesbian-smart
    Heterosexual woman-stupid
    Lesbian-Takes her life seriously
    Heterosexual woman-squanders life

    On and on and on…..

    end conclusion:

    Lesbian=superior
    Heterosexual woman =-inferior.

    And it is spoken here of all places. And it is spoken in absolutes. Absolutes arrived at by one person’s experience.

    Sis come have tea with me, we shall hug, since hugging is too touchy feely around here.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 2, 2007, 6:15 pm
  181. “Somehow we’ve got to get better at dealing with this kind of conflict in feminism or we’re just going to go round and round forever.”-Heart

    I’ve only been a reader on this thread.
    The nooks and crannies of arguments can snag the world into messes.

    I wonder if it might be constructive to ask commenters (in a separate thread?) what does feminism call for in the way if resolution/peace? If it calls for it/desires it at all? It seems to me there has been a great deal of dissension among feminist blogs as of late and I am concerned/conflicted as to how this affects movement and progression for women. At some point, don’t we have to agree on *something* besides being “pro woman” as this label, broken down, runs the gamut?

    Posted by pisaquaririse | November 2, 2007, 6:32 pm
  182. Okay, there are five comments I am reluctant to approve now because they are heat-, not light-generators. Only pisaquaririse got approved.

    Come on, women. I want us to continue but I want it to be productive and less-trainwreck-producing-of instead of more.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 6:36 pm
  183. I don’t understand your post to me, Heart, re: comparing apples to oranges…?

    How is this different from saying something like the following:

    Because while white women can access some privilege by being white, being white IS NOT privilege. Because women are still subject to sexism.

    It’s different because white privilege has nothing to do with sexism. However, whatever “hetero privilege” exists for women IS sexism.

    More and more, I just don’t believe in “het priv” for women, as we used to call it back in the day. I believe that some are protected from the full force of sexism, but there is no privilege in being heterosexual *for women* – it means being paired with a man, and being paired with men hurts women. Macro-ly, at least.

    I believe in recognizing the ways in which our lives are different from other women’s lives – how they’re easier in some respects and harder in others. It’s easier to navigate relationships as a lesbian, in certain ways (as Satsuma herself noted). It’s easier to navigate the world at large as a heterosexual woman.

    But het women ARE of course threatened and raped and murdered and generally terrorized every day, and even their white skin and their money and their heterosexuality *don’t* necessarily make anybody realize that’s an injustice. And in fact their heterosexuality may be the means by which an abuser accesses their bodies (since so much violence is “intimate” and lesbians aren’t intimate with men).

    So, anyway. I’m bowing out now, because like I said, I’m drawing a line with Satsuma. I won’t read more of her words. I understand that they come from painful experience, that comes through very clearly. But that doesn’t mean I can, or that I have to, take on whatever accusations she levels.

    Just some thoughts on where my head is.

    And I appreciate that you emailed lesbians about this, but…I don’t know. I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean to me – personal context is everything in considering an opinion, and I don’t have any for those.

    Posted by funnie | November 2, 2007, 7:03 pm
  184. Oy vey, I’m still trying to get a grip on posting order, and “threads” –a word I never before read before until I came here. I kept thinking that thread meant “needle and thread” for the longest time! Laughable but true.

    Reading all these responses to my words is a bit strange for me.

    Wow, Sis, don’t get so scared all the time! Yikes.

    Everyone else, this is what one lesbian who is truly and really giving you the benefit of the doubt is like. I’m letting you in on my inner life, and also how I really do see straight women — insulting as that often might seem. Yes, I really do see you like this. Just as all oppressed groups really see all ruling classes or privileged classes or whatever. I don’t see straight women ruling anything yet, but they sure get mad when us lesbians point out how we sometimes see THEM.

    I know I know back to the old us / them verbage here. It’s descriptive until I can find a kinder or gentler word or phrase.

    I’m glad Heart gets a little about what I’m about. 10,000 goddesses in India, I am not a professional blogger, and I never started one. I’m just a plain old school radical lesbian feminist talking my truth.

    I’m just talking out of my lived experience. We’re meaner than a junkyard dog, big bad radical lesbian brown…

    Lesbian feminist culture often thrives on polemic. Think Malcolm X and his talks about ‘the white devils.” I always loved Malcolm X by the way, because he attacked white men back when I hated them even more! Believe me. The early days of my career were filled with the kind of abuse and contempt you straight princesses could shrivel up and die over.

    And you think I’m bad or womanhating! I am not, for the record womanhating! That’s is not what I’m about. But I am a lesbian feminist who doesn’t love straight oppression. I don’t support all things hetersexual women support.

    I don’t care. I don’t expect you to truly care all that much about lesbian issues. I don’t even bother to ask for your support any more because you are so clueless. But Heart does try, and she is not clueless. Annoyed at my “mean old lesbian self” maybe but certainly not clueless.

    Believe it or not, I’m spending time with you all because I enjoy seeing what you are about, and learning some things.

    I don’t like to dwell on the awful things I’ve gone through in my life. But I do like to celebrate my deep feelings of satisfaction with what I’ve done in the world. You’ll just get all riled up and yell “classist” but believe me, I’m proud of my life, really deeply happy.

    I like to sing the songs of the Amazon warrior back from battle who sits down to a huge turkey leg! I like to light up a great old Macenuedo cigar with my buddies over fine wine or cognac and tell good old tales of how I survived yet another day in straightland, yes I do I do! I get annoyed when some idiot calls me a “butch” lesbian. No I am a radical lesbian feminist.
    Ignorant straight women, we are not at all LIKE men, we just have a lot of fun posturing… pretending to be Radclyffe Hall or a 19th century lesbian. It is a persona and fun! My gay brothers totally get this and we laugh love over our “sterotypic” behavior.

    Since many of your weren’t even there back in the “good old days” of straight women ultra-lesbian hating mania, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. You don’t know and you’re not very lesbian aware in my opinion. You just go into attack mode because I am not like you! You can’t take these words a lot of you, but really, they are a truth.

    It’s not a very nice truth, but it is one lesbian life.

    There are a million things to say about a million woman centered ideas. All I know, is that when my lesbian sisters need real help with real financial issues — a little thing like their phone got cut off, or they don’t have grocery money, you’re not going to cough up the dough. Now that is reality, and yet you attack and attack me for my elitism, and one woman even called me “wealthy woman.” Oy vey, if only I was truly wealthy in the technical sense of the word. In my industry wealth means this: you have enough money, so that the money you make on the money pays for your entire lifestyle. Dividends or capital gains or interest coming in checks each month so that you “live” off this “income.”

    Wealth means you don’t have to “work” at all. You can stay home and do “nothing” and checks will still come in. Now I have set up systems where money does make money for me, and checks do come in. But believe me I am still working on this, and still educating others about money, including you ungreatful straight women with children. Yes, my lesbian brain power is putting several of YOUR (metaphor here, not you women on this blog but straight women out in my community) children through private high school and college!

    My lesbian brain power helped 46 women buy their own houses for the first time ever. It took me about 15 years to reach that number of home sales that I coached women on how to save, invest and get the loans for. And only a few of these women were lesbians! You don’t know how many whiny straight women I had to coach to get them to do the thing that would make this happen. How many times I had to educate them, how many hours of explanations… all for the same fees that I would get from men for a fraction of the time involved. Men are easy to make money for, women often are a real pain in this department. Even good old Heart leveled the favored “capitalist” insult at me, but I’ll forgive her for thinking she was stupid to have children. Truce? I guess I deserved some of this because I know my little “we shall overcome upward mobility bootstraps individuality speech” gets on feminist nerves usually.

    We “victims” of oppression don’t like to complain, we like to triumph over adversity and make it fun. The pain of your abuse of lesbians in heterosexual social worlds is so horrendous, that I don’t like to think about it anymore. I like to forget the vicious cruel things you have done to lesbians and continue you to do. We all suffer, and their is no hierachy of suffering. It you get hit it hurts. My wound is not superior to your wound. I am happy not to be a “het” woman, and even that word is one I don’t use at all. I think it is an insulting term to heterosexual women, just as I get really mad at my gay brothers when they call straight people “breeders.”

    And I’m womanhating! Yes, I really truly hate your living guts, when I show up on a Saturday… on your schedule, at your house, because you have children and can’t get to my FAR office on a work day. It’s time away from MY family, to help YOU in every way I can as a financial professional.

    And then I have to listen to MY boss yell at ME for taking on these “C-accounts” when I should be taking “A-accounts and bringing in MORE money to the company. So I have to tell MY boss that the “C-accounts” are life and death to the women I serve. No one at my level ever really looks after women at THEIR economic level. Am I making myself clear here?

    Does this sound like woman hating to you? I hate having to tell out any of this at all. I won’t reveal what I do for “free” in service to straight women. I won’t reveal the exact dollar amount of “lost” income to make sure YOUR families are cared for.

    Now I am not saying this to brag. I am saying that I deeply care about this, it is very important to me to make sure women get the help they need in my own narrow little area of interest. And yes, this is CAPITALISM my sisters, and this money feeds children, educates them, and takes care of women so they won’t become poor!! Damn it, do you even GET what this is all about? Do you?

    Sorry to get in your face here, but this has to be said by someone, some lesbian feminist somewhere on the Internet.

    Well, there you have it my “het” women name callers you!
    Do my words actually resonate with other lesbians out there. I don’t know you’ll have to ask them. I don’t know who I resonate with, just the radom sister out there who get me or don’t. It’s a radom universe out in Internet land.

    So thanks Heart for your good and bad words. I know you to be fair, and the rest of you attackers of good old Satsuma, go ahead throw another bomb… it’s not something I’ve never dealt with before! But stop your whining about my desire for economic success and my devotion to hard work. That just insults your intelligence, because as all oppressed “immigrants” know, you have to work hard to “make it” in hetero-homeland.

    We lesbian demonized upwardly mobile types do get tired of “poor” heteroasexual woman complaining about us. We just do!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 2, 2007, 7:04 pm
  185. Oh wait, one more thing. The crux of my earlier post was this:

    “…when you’re talking about heterosupremacy, which IS SEXISM, it’s entirely destructive to aim that ire against women. Period.”

    I just wanted to say that I arrived at this opinion by revisiting and re-revisiting a lot of the anger I had at women for behaving in ways that I viewed as having persecuted me:

    * Being “weak and stupid” and trying to force that behavior on me

    * Limiting their options by having lots of children and then trying to force both the children and the reduced options on me

    * Pairing off with men and being encircled by some protection that I, as a single woman who intended to always remain that way, was not allowed to access, and using that to their advantage against me

    And so on and so on, I have my complaints that I could list – very painful and salient ones – against girly-girls, fundies, Enforcers of all kinds, patriarchal apologists…and so on.

    And (you may even remember) I used to TALK about how much that pissed me off. I used to SAY all manner of unkind things about *these women* because of the way I was *treated because of patriarchy.*

    And I’m glad I don’t do that now. Not because I’m refraining from talking that way, but because I’m able to not *think* that way. I’m able, finally, to talk to women in those lifestyles and mindsets that I was so, so alienated from for my whole entire life, that made me feel so, so bad about myself, and so alone in general, and not-woman, even, and not-lovable, and so forth…I can talk to women who are virtual stand-ins for the women and girls who did that to me, and I can relate to them. I understand them, I understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, I’m not patronizing or scolding OR excusing them…I’m just finally realizing that it’s simply *not about* them, *not about* what they did.

    Women’s pain under patriarchy, including that of lesbians, just ISN’T ABOUT women, and I can’t not-say that when someone acts as though it is. Even if it’s only women’s hands that have ever hurt her and women’s voices that have ever criticized her. It’s still a misdirection to blame women. Blame patriarchy.

    Posted by funnie | November 2, 2007, 7:16 pm
  186. It’s different because white privilege has nothing to do with sexism.

    I think that it does, and that our other disagreements might have something to with this basic one.

    For a woman partnered with men to say she has no privilege pretty much ends the discussion, regardless of Satsuma’s participation here. There’s nothing I can do about that, other than to say that I think it’s an important discussion and curtailing it by saying het privilege doesn’t exist seems unfortunate to me.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 7:16 pm
  187. Everyone else, this is what one lesbian who is truly and really giving you the benefit of the doubt is like. I’m letting you in on my inner life, and also how I really do see straight women — insulting as that often might seem.

    See… this. As women, do we want to know how we come off to one another or not? Is it supposed to be about keeping it all to ourselves?

    I’m not asking rhetorically, I’m really asking. Do we really want to know one another, across our differences? Or not?

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 7:19 pm
  188. funnie: And (you may even remember) I used to TALK about how much that pissed me off. I used to SAY all manner of unkind things about *these women* because of the way I was *treated because of patriarchy.*

    And I’m glad I don’t do that now.

    I do remember. 🙂

    This is part of the issue here. Satsuma is, I think, fairly new to the internet/blogosphere. She doesn’t have the long history the rest of us have in working through all of these issues to some sort of resolution. She’s been away from feminism and isn’t exercised the way most of us here are, which is something I’ve taken into consideration.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 7:28 pm
  189. Women’s pain under patriarchy, including that of lesbians, just ISN’T ABOUT women, and I can’t not-say that when someone acts as though it is. Even if it’s only women’s hands that have ever hurt her and women’s voices that have ever criticized her. It’s still a misdirection to blame women. Blame patriarchy.

    Yeah, funnie. I agree with you completely about this.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 7:29 pm
  190. Satsuma, reading your comments I’m getting the idea you think the readers/commenters here are all het. I agree that it’s het women who are mostly arguing with you, but a long-time radical feminist lesbian separatist has argued with you, too, fairly intensely: Mary Sunshine. She is quite a bit older than you and has been around the lesbian block for a long time. And I think she raised some good points that I would like to see you address? There are zillions of other lesbians who read and post here but they are mostly reading right now. Can’t say I blame them!
    :/

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 7:34 pm
  191. Satsuma, this is what Mary Sunshine said that I am wondering if you might respond to:

    https://womensspace.wordpress.com/2007/08/17/men-boys-sons-something-i-wrote-to-someone-i-love/#comment-66686

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 7:36 pm
  192. I thought I was the only het woman posting in reponse to Satsuma. Oh Kitty too.

    So now Heart you’ve got it all over the blogosphere that het women are attacking a poor dyke here.

    Fuck you.

    Posted by Sis | November 2, 2007, 7:39 pm
  193. All right, that’s it. Sis, that is way over the top.

    I’m closing the thread to further comments. I am going to have a nice cry. And then decide how I will proceed from here.

    Since when have I ever deserved that, Sis? When?

    Posted by womensspace | November 2, 2007, 7:42 pm
  194. All right.

    I have taken the time out of my (early) Saturday morning when I could be sleeping in to go through all of the comments since the thread was revived with the intention of highlighting the kind of commentary that I believe caused the thread to turn into a trainwreck.

    NOTE. I am not saying that in every case I *disagree* with the commentary or, in particular, with the ideas or politics of the writer. It’s not about whether I agree or disagree. What I am saying is that this kind of commenting is what causes or aggravates trainwrecks.

    There is a lot of good stuff in this thread. A lot. So much good stuff that I do not want to retire the thread because of the last 40 or so comments. I also do not want to retire the thread because of the possibility that it will taken on a life of its own and become an urban legend around the blogosphere with people reporting that this, that and the other was said when the reality was very different. This is why I virtually never delete threads, posts, discussions when they are on my websites. I think it’s better for everything to be right out in the open where everybody can read for herself or himself.

    The commentary I’ve bolded (not what I’ve italicized, hold on for that) is problematic in my opinion for one or some of the following reasons (among others):

    * It unnecessarily and unproductively stereotypes;
    * It makes unwarranted or insulting assumptions about the women here;
    * It amounts to name-calling;
    * It is an adhominem attack;
    * It participates in gangpiling: several women piling on to one woman who is getting little to no support in the discussion without any effort to acknowledge the unfairness of the situation. Women who are being gangpiled (whether or not the gangpiling was deserved, in whomever’s mind; my opinion is that women gangpiling women can never be a good thing) feel understandably besieged and attacked and can be expected to respond at times in ways that are immoderate. If five or six women who know each other are clobbering me, and I don’t know any of them, that’s going to feel horrible. Some effort should be made, where there is gangpiling that women feel, for whatever reason, is valid, to acknowledge that a gangpile is in process and that it is an inherently unfair situation;
    * It makes sweeping generalizations in an offensive way;
    * References are made to women here, participating in the discussion, in the third person, as though they aren’t here. Sort of like talking about and past someone when the person is right there in the room with you;
    * It makes unwarranted assumptions about the motives of women here for writing what they have written;
    * It is harsh and mean-spirited;
    * It is sarcastic in a way that increases the tensions that are driving the incipient trainwreck;
    * It is controlling or manipulative;
    * It blames the victim;
    * It ridicules or shames.
    * It is passive aggressive.
    * It is a cheap shot.

    Those are some things.

    I italicized parts of comments that I think women likely missed because of the nature of trainwrecks. Once the train is speeding full bore down the trainwreck track full throttle, my experience is, women often don’t notice commentary which might actually be an effort to apply the brakes. They read right over efforts in the direction of diplomacy or peacemaking in their haste to seize upon the newest incendiary or inflammatory statement.

    I wanted to note that the threads here are the first threads Satsuma has ever read on the internet. She didn’t know what an internet thread was until she started reading here. I think that ought to be factored in in reading her posts. There’s a learning curve to commenting in the blogosphere and to participating in internet community, just in general.

    I know that it is a little confusing to have bolded things given that quotes are also bolded, but hopefully it won’t be that difficult to sort out.

    I didn’t bold everything I could have bolded and if I went through all the comments again, I might bold other comments and not bold some that I bolded, but I did my best to highlight the comments I thought sent us into a trainwreck. Maybe if these are considered, we can avoid trainwrecks in the future. I think it’s important to focus on what is most important in these discussions. For me, exchanging information, ideas, encouragement, discussing politics, feminist theory, activism, and working towards internet community are the priority. Whatever distracts from that is a problem for me, a waste of women’s good time and energy.

    I really don’t want to close down comments on my blog, because I get a lot out of reading what women have to say. But I am stretched *very* very thin. For Satsuma’s benefit, since most others here know this, I commute 3-4 hours total each day to work in the big city 60 miles away from my farm. I own a farm which I have to take care of, and which includes farm animals and pets. I have three children still at home. I am a freelance writer and am the News Editor for Off Our Backs, a second job which is a labor of love for me. Then I have my blog and my websites. To keep this place useful and valuable as a resource, in light of the various attacks on radical feminist spaces, mine, especially, I have to carefully moderate every comment. I am getting *lots* of comments right now. I don’t mind moderating thoughtful, sincere, comments, in fact, I *love* it. But I do not have the time, energy, or heart to devote a lot of time to moderating incipient trainwrecks. I am asking that each of you write with the goal of *communicating* and that you temper your occasional impulse or urge to put someone in her place, vent in her direction, give pieces of your mind you can’t afford to lose, or get digs in, lob rhetorical grenades, insult women, make sweeping generalizations about women, period, or otherwise tell someone off. When I feel like I need to do that to maintain my sanity, I try to do it privately, via e-mail or on private boards, with women I trust, as opposed to participating in ongoing trainwrecks to the delight of all of the misogynists who read here and love to see us hurting one another. I can’t stand being part of that.

    This is what I’ve got. I have reopened comments, but *please* comment with what I have just written here in mind. I honestly cannot bear the thought that this thread might pick up where it left off! If you could just give some consideration to the kinds of things that cause problems in threads like this — note, again, I am not commenting on whether or not I agree with what is bolded, I’m commenting on its trainwreck-causing potential — as you comment, then possibly light can be generated as opposed to all of this heat that gets us nowhere.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 3, 2007, 1:29 pm
  195. Maybe we could have a Satsuma thread as such, where women who are willing to engage with her could comment.

    It’s a serious matter to me that so many of us are finding the whole blog toxic because of her omnipresence and the targeting of such a large group of females.

    The classism is also extremely stressful to older women ( > 60) who are living in poverty. It has driven me to despair. It is severely contemptuous. I don’t deserve to be targeted that way at this point in my life.

    I’d like to be able to comment to an active Boys and Men thread without it being all about Satsuma. The further education of Satsuma could take place in the thread devoted to her.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 3, 2007, 2:01 pm
  196. Mary, with respect, because you know I respect you, what I think might be better is to speak directly to Satsuma, who I am sure will be reading here, i.e., “This is how your comments make me feel. This is what I’m getting from your comments.” Because again, this is talking “over” Satsuma. Then she can come in and say, “I would like Mary (or Sis or whomever) to do this and yay.” And so on.

    I’m not saying rewrite your comment, I’m just saying, I think we have to talk *to* each other, as opposed to past each other.

    I bolded the portions of everyone’s comments that I thought were a problem, including Satsuma’s. I am hopeful that every woman will look at what I’ve bolded, think about what I’ve said, and keep it all in mind when she posts, including Satsuma. If we all do that, then the blog will not be toxic to anybody. I don’t think restricting certain women to specific threads is a good idea for a whole lot of reasons, including that it isn’t a precedent I would want to see set.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 3, 2007, 2:12 pm
  197. I wanted to say, too, Satsuma, that as I requested yesterday, I would like to hear your response to Mary’s earlier, longer comment, which I will go find because I think she raised good points which deserve a response.

    I’ll go find which comment it is.

    Posted by womensspace | November 3, 2007, 2:15 pm
  198. This reminds me of the situation at Twisty’s where women got banned, and that bothers me.

    Posted by womensspace | November 3, 2007, 2:19 pm
  199. Thanks, Heart.

    Thanks, for your long, caring patience with us all.

    I hope for your sake that this works.

    love & hugs,
    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 3, 2007, 2:30 pm
  200. Yeah, I hope so too, Mary.

    Hugs and love back,
    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 3, 2007, 2:39 pm
  201. Heart, I appreciate the effort, time, patience, trust, and love you’re putting into this.

    I haven’t yet decided to what degree I feel comfortable posting in this thread.

    But for now, I just want to say, as a radical lesbian feminist who has never been in a relationship and/or sexually involved with a man —

    Satsuma, I, too, find much of what/how you write to be abusive, insulting, classist, and unbearably arrogant.

    How I see it, the only thing that could cause patriarchy to cease to exist, would be women bonding with women, deeply, wholeheartedly… women putting women first. Every woman prioritizing herself and her relationships with other women, putting all of her energy there. Patriarchy would dissolve by default.

    I don’t see your posts here creating or strengthening a sense of sisterhood at all. I see your posts DIVIDING us, to the point where women are making other women cry, swearing at each other, and leaving this blog.

    Maybe I can relate to some of your thoughts and experiences, as a lifelong lesbian living in a heterocentric world, but the way in which you have been speaking has made me unable to focus on the content of your words. To me, merely speaking the truth (and I’m not saying anything about whether your words are true or false) is not enough – HOW you say it is important, too. It doesn’t matter how much clarity may be at the heart of what you’re saying – it’s lost in the fog of your insults, harshness, arrogant tone, and proud announcement that you “love a good fight.” I’ll echo and agree with funnie here: “I know that women who love women talk to women who are not openly hostile as if they actually care how their messages are received.”
    Upthread somewhere, you’ve said somehing like you know that what you say makes many people angry, but that you don’t care, because you’ll get through to “a few young women” and that’s worth it to you. I disagree. I think alienating MANY, MANY (most?) women in hopes of “saving” a handful isn’t being helpful at all.
    And again, I am a young woman – a radical, lesbian, feminist one – who is completely turned off by your words. I’m not uniformly bothered by “het women,” as you are. I’m bothered by women provoking other women with insults and condescension (i.e. what you’re doing), regardless of any of the women’s sexual orientations.

    My stomach hurts when I read this thread, my breath is constrained, and my instinct is just to click the “x” in the corner of the page and stay away. But I’m taking the risk of posting, of engaging in this painful thread, because I share Heart’s desire to work through this divisiveness and hopefully move beyond it.

    I’m just not sure what else to say. I can’t move beyond a meta-discussion about the way to have a discussion, because I can’t focus on the content of someone’s words if their writing style is so alienating and mean. It’s like attempting to eat a delicious meal that has been served on a placemat of manure. Who cares how divine the food is, then? Who’d be able to taste it, anyway??

    Posted by Eeni B Bella | November 3, 2007, 4:47 pm
  202. Heart, I totally appreciate your moderation strategy here. It made me think about how to make the internet a place where we can be more genuinely attentive to each other, so thanks!

    Satsuma, as a young dyke who’s never been anything but a dyke, I see your words as an attack on characteristics and behaviors that are characteristically “feminine” (caring for children, paying attention to other’s emotions sometimes at a price of directness, attention to clothes or dress, cooking food). Problem: these are characteristics that I LOVE, both in men and in women. I think these activities sustain humanity and community. I think the fundamental damage that patriarchy does to people is to make these valuable, life-sustaining activities into tools to damage and disempower women. I appreciate the truth of your claim that women are disempowered by choosing these activities, but I think the goal of feminism should be to sever the link between being “feminine” in these ways and being powerless — whether through changing the workings of the mainstream or through creating our own institutions.

    Why is it that it is nigh unto impossible to raise children and still be in positions of significant decision-making power? Why is it that women who giggle are seen as less intelligent? Why do men and women who dress and gesture in “feminine” ways seem less powerful?

    (I don’t mean by this, of course, that there is anything wrong with a woman who would rather study or practice law than raise children, or with a woman who is assertive rather than nurturing. The point is to make both “masculinity” and “femininity” equally valued as strategies for dealing with the world, and encourage all genders to choose which one works best for them.)

    Posted by Emma | November 3, 2007, 9:54 pm
  203. Wow, I’m not ignoring you all, but I somehow keep missing out on the previous threads.

    And I’ll have to check links. Still trying to get up to speed here, but at least I had a chance to read Emma’s post.

    More later….

    Posted by Satsuma | November 3, 2007, 11:11 pm
  204. Oh, another quick comment about whining: I read somewhere (I think in a former professor’s master’s thesis) that whining is what we call it when the powerless express their frustration — think women and children who can’t get what they want, but insist on asking for it anyway.

    Posted by Emma | November 4, 2007, 5:21 am
  205. P.S. I posted a response and an apology for any feelings I hurt amongst you all. But this morning, I don’t know if it actually got on or not. Anyway, it was long winded (windbagish). I guess when they invented Hai Ku I was in the Dickens novel class🙂

    I also tried to answer a lot of the highlighted posts on Heart’s reconfigured “thread” — So I will try to not be so flippant or mean spirited. It’s a bad disposition I must admit, and I often get lost in the heat of the moment. My partner kicks me out of the living room when I am, as she puts it “popcorning too much.”

    Anyway, I certainly didn’t mean to upset people, I was just trying to be honest about my life experiences. But too much is too much! Hope this helps. We can only attempt to be the best we can be in the world, and constant reflection and effort is my sincere attempt here.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 4, 2007, 3:05 pm
  206. What we need is an actual *thread” here analyzing heterosexuality and lesbianism (yes, lesbianism, too – because lesbianism is sure no radfem utopia) , and hierarchy of heterosexual privilege *within* the female population of the patriarchy.

    There is just as surely a hierarchy of heterosexual privilege amongst females as there is a racist hierarchy, or a classist hierarchy, or any of the much-discussed hierarchies that affect males as well as females.

    And, of course, each of the different -archies operates in a unique way relative to each of the others.

    As I see it, this analysis is *as* critical, if not even *more* critical to female communication and cohesion as the analyses of the other -archies.

    And: only radfems can, or will be willing to, do it.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 4, 2007, 3:24 pm
  207. Thanks, Satsuma, for that apology, much appreciated. Now I am going to look and see if I can find your comment you think you left here!

    Posted by womensspace | November 4, 2007, 4:17 pm
  208. Yeah, Mary, I think you should get on that. 🙂

    Posted by womensspace | November 4, 2007, 4:17 pm
  209. Yeah, Mary, I think you should get on that.🙂

    Huh?
    😛

    OK, I’ll just have to go hijack one of yr blog threads to do so.

    I’m not *capable* of raising 11 children, or running the most extensive, truly feminist blog on the internet.

    Hey, did u ever have any trouble getting any of yr kids to leave home?
    😀

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 4, 2007, 4:50 pm
  210. Mary Sunshine you are right, we do need a “Thread” analyzing

    I don’t think I’ve come across any places where straight women and lesbians really get a chance to hash this out.

    Usually, most straight women I know are too unopen to that kind of honest dialogue. They’ll be cool with lesbians, but I often get the feeling that they don’t really want to listen in full, and have a space where we can talk at length.

    I tend to hold back my ideas, because I fear that once again, they’re just not going to get it. It’s not an anger producing thing, just that I don’t want to keep doing feminism 101.

    Also you really do have to be carerful of not using fear of hierarchy to hold women down. I like to take the car at 120 miles per hour just to see what happens, and not get stuck in the slow lane. My best metaphor here.

    This discussion of straight and lesbian feminism would really be useful. It could really open some doors.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 4, 2007, 5:19 pm
  211. Here’s possibly a place to begin:

    Heterosexualism

    Understanding sexism involves analyzing how institutional power is in the hands of men, how men discriminate against women, how society classifies men as the norm and women as passive and inferior, how male institutions objectify women, how society excludes women from participation as full human beings, and how what has been perceived as normal male behavior is also violence against women. In other words, to analyze sexism is to understand primarily how women are victims of institutional and ordinary male behavior.

    Understanding heterosexism, as well as homophobia, involves analyzing, not just women’s victimization, but also how women are defined in terms of men or not at all, how lesbians and gay men are treated — indeed scapegoated — as deviants, how choices of intimate partners for both women and men are restricted or denied through taboos to maintain a certain social order. (For example, if sexual relations between men were openly allowed, then men could do to men what men do to women and further, (some) men could become what women are. This is verboten. In addition, if love between women were openly explored, women might simply walk away from men, becoming ‘not-women’. This, too, is verboten.) Focusing on heterosexism challenges heterosexuality as an institution, but it can also lead lesbians to regard as a political goal our acceptance, even assimilation, into heterosexual society: we try to assure heterosexuals we are normal people (that is, just like them), that they are being unjust in stigmatizing us, that ours is a mere sexual preference.

    In her ground-breaking work on compulsory heterosexuality, Adrienne Rich challenges us to address heterosexuality as a political institution which ensures male right of physical, economical, and emotional access to women. Jan Raymond develops a theory of hetero-reality and argues: “While I agree we are living in a heterosexist society, I think the wider problem is that we live in a hetero-relational society where most of women’s personal, social, political, professional and economic relations are defined by the ideology that woman is for man.” I go a bit further.

    Understanding heterosexualism involves analyzing the relationship between men and women in which both men and women have a part. Heterosexualism is men dominating and de-skilling women in any of a number of forms, from outright attack to paternalistic care, and women devaluing (of necessity) female bonding as well as finding inherent conflicts between commitment and autonomy and consequently valuing an ethics of dependence. Heterosexualism is a way of living … that normalizes the dominance of one person in a relationship and the subordination of another. As a result, it undermines female agency.

    What I am calling ‘heterosexualism’ is not simply a matter of males having procreative sex with females. It is an entire way of living which involves a delicate, though at times indelicate, balance between masculine predation upon and masculine protection of a feminine object of masculine attention. Heterosexualism is a particular economic, political and emotional relationship between men and women: men must dominate women and women must subordinate themselves to men in any of a number of ways. As a result, men presume access to women while women remain riveted on men and are unable to sustain a community of women.

    In the u.s., women cannot appear publicly without some men advancing on them, presuming access to them. In fact, many women will think something is wrong if this doesn’t happen. A woman simply is someone toward whom such behavior is appropriate. When a woman is accompanied by a man, however, she is usually no longer considered fair game. As a result, men close to individual women — fathers, boyfriends, husbands, brothers, escorts, colleagues — become protectors (theoretically), staving off advances from other men.

    …What a woman faces in a man is either a protector or predator, and men gain identity through one or another of these roles. This has at least five consequences. First, there can be no protectors unless there is a danger. … So it is in the interest of protectors that there be predators. Secondly, to be protected, a woman must be in danger. In portraying women as helpless and defenseless, men portray women as victims…and therefore as targets. Third, a woman (or girl) is viewed as the object of male passion and thereby its cause. This is most obvious in the case of rape. She must have done something to tempt him– helpless hormonal bundle that he is. … Fourthly, to be protected, women must agree to act as men say women should: to appear feminine, prove they are not threatening, stay at home, remain only with the protector, devalue their connections with other women, and so on.

    Finally, when women step out of the feminine role, thereby becoming active and “guilty”, it is a mere matter of logic that men will depict women as evil and step up overt violence against them in order to reaffirm women’s victim status. … as the demand for women’s rights in the u.s. became publicly perceptible, the depiction of lone women as “sluts” inviting attack also became prevalent. A lone female hitchhiker was perceived not as someone to protect, but as someone who had given up her right to protection and thus as someone who was a target for attack. The rampant increase in pornography — entertainment by and for men about women — is men’s general response to the u.s. women’s liberation movement’s demand of integrity, autonomy and dignity for women.

    What radical feminists have exposed through all the work on incest (daughter rape) and wife-beating is that protectors are also predators. Of course not all men are wife- or girlfriend-beaters, but over half who live with women are. And a significant number of u.s. family homes shelter an “incestuous” male.

    Although men may exhibit concern over womanabuse, they have a different relationship to it than women; their concerns are not women’s concerns. For example, very often men become irate at the fact that a woman has been raped or beaten by another man. But this is either a man warming to his role of protector — it rarely, if ever, occurs to him to teach her self-defense — or a man deeply affected by damage done to his “property” by another man. And while some men feel contempt for men who batter or rape, Marilyn Frye suggests it is quite possible their contempt arises not from the fact that womanabuse is happening, but from the fact that the batterer or rapist must accomplish by force what they themselves can accomplish more subtly by arrogance.

    … In other words, the logic of protection is essentially the same as the logic of predation. Through predation, men do things to women and against women all of which violate women and undermine women’s integrity. Yet protection objectifies just as much as predation. To protect women, men do things to women and against women; acting “for a woman’s own good,” they violate her integrity and undermine her agency.

    … Heterosexualism has … similarities to colonialism, particularly in its maintenance through force when paternalism is rejected (that is, the stepping up of male predation when women reject male protection) and in its portrayal of domination as natural (men are to dominate women naturally as colonizers are to dominate the colonized, and without any sense of themselves as oppressing those they dominate except during times of overt aggression) and in the de-skilling of women. …just as it is colonizers who cannot survive as colonizers without the colonized, so it is men who cannot survive as men (protectors or predators) without women.

    … Given the masculinist naming of women, a ‘woman’ is (1) male-identified, someone whose identity emerges through her relationship to a man; (2) someone who makes herself attractive to men; (3) an object to be conquered by men, and (4) a breeder (of boys).

    … A woman belonging to no man either doesn’t exist or is trying to be a man. Further, a ‘woman’ is responsible for the sexual servicing of men. Her goodness or badness, her ethical status, is based on her sexual availability, cost, and fidelity to men.

    … Second, a woman is someone who is attractive to men. If she does not try to make herself attractive to men, she is considered to have a serious problem.

    Thirdly, a ‘woman’ is someone who must be conquered by a man. The ideology of pornography, from soft porn to snuff, portrays a woman as an object (someone to be acted upon– in th is case, attacked and overcome), someone who existed to be dominated. ..

    Finally, a ‘woman’ is a breeder. A woman is fulfilled through breeding, her basic ethical possibility is a selfless giving and nurturing and anything which interferes with this process is suspect. …

    A ‘woman’ thus is a sex object essentially submissive to and dependent on men, whose function is to perpetuate the race (while protectors and predators engage in their project of destroying it.)

    I want a moral revolution.

    … heterosexualism is a set of values which undermines female agency outside the master/slave values. Women hang on to those values out of fear, out of a choice to focus on men while taking women for granted, and out of a lack of perception of any other choices. ..

    I want a moral revolution.

    …To withdraw from a system, a conceptual framework, or a particular situation is to refuse to act according to its rules. A system can only function if there are participants. …

    when we withdraw from someone’s game plan, the game becomes meaningless, at least to some extent, ceasing to exist for lack of our acknowledgement. …

    There are considerable prohibitions in all quarters against withdrawal. … the choice to withdraw is judged to be (a) functionally equivalent to collaborating with the enemy; (b) cowardly hiding from the situation and foolishly hoping it will go away; (c) an indication of dull-wittedness or admission of defeat; (d) a refusal to be politically responsible; (e) a denial of reality, including insanity.

    …the system of the fathers designates as evil what it can tolerate and uses it as a safety valve. When things threaten to get out of hand, those in power can then scapegoat that which they designate as evil to explain why that which they designate as good — marriage, business, education, religion, medicine, for example — isn’t working. And this suggests that withdrawal from and change in central values, rather than evil, are the real threats to the traditional framework of ethics and politics.

    … by withdrawing or separating from the conceptual framework of heterosexualism we can understand a number of things… We can realize male domination persists through both protection and predation. We can realize what it means to be a woman is a creation of patriarchy and that ‘femininity’ makes male domination appear natural. We can realize that what men call ‘difference’ is actually ‘opposition’….

    …I am not trying to argue that heterosexualism is the “cause” of oppresion. I do mean to suggest, however, that any revolution which does not challenge it will be incomplete, and will eventually revert to the values of oppression. Heterosexualism is the form of social organization through which other forms of oppression, at times more vicious forms, become credible, palatable and even desirable. Heterosexualism — that is, the balance between masculine predation upon and masculine protection of a feminine object of masculine attention — de-skills a woman, makes her emotionally, socially and economically dependent, and allows another to dominate her “for her own good,” all in the name of “love.”

    …It is heterosexualism which makes us feel that it is possible to dominate another for her own good, that one who resists such domination is abnormal or doesn’t understand what is good for her, and that one who refuses to participate in dominant/subordinate relationships doesn’t exist. And once we accept all this, imperialism, colonialism and ethnocentrism, for example, while existing all along, become more socially tolerable in liberal thought. They become less a matter of exercising overt force and more a matter of the natural functin of (a) social order.

    Heterosexualism is a conceptual framework within which the concept of ‘moral agency’ independent of master/slave virtues cannot find fertile ground…it combines with ethical judgments to create a value whose primary function is not the moral development of individuals but rather the preservation of a patriarchal social control.

    …I do not claim that lesbians haven’t made many of the choices (heterosexual) women have made or that lesbians haven’t participated in the consensus of straight thinking or that lesbians have withdrawn from the values of dominance and subordination and the security of established meaning we can find therein. I am not claiming lesbians have lived under different conceptual or material conditions. I am claiming, however, that lesbian choice holds certain possibilities. …that the conceptual category ‘lesbian’ — unlike the category ‘woman’ — is not irretrievably tied up with dominance and submission as norms of behavior. …In calling for withdrawal from the existing heterosexual value system, I am calling for a moral revolution…

    –Sarah Lucia Hoagland, Lesbian Ethics — Toward New Values, from Ch. 1, “Separating from Heterosexualism”
    (alternative spellings/capitalizations Hoagland’s).

    ***

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 4, 2007, 7:08 pm
  212. I fucking love Satsuma. Jesus. I am in that 1.4%, too. I didn’t have the luxury of being OK with the patriarchy when I was younger enough to suffer AND benefit from it and get my kids and my husband money and then, years later, realized what shit I’d been dealt. Because I’ve been a lesbian since I was 19, I’ll never have a family (and don’t tell me I can adopt and have a partnership, we all know how the extended families feel about that, we all know how our co-workers will look at that — if I got married on a whim in Vegas and got knocked up a bit before or after, that would be a more acceptable family structure to 99% of America, including the so-called “progressives,” and we all know it.) Anyway, I wish that still didn’t bother me. If there were more women like you in my life, I bet it wouldn’t. You have said what I’ve been thinking but better and with experience. I have no experience, and I’m 23 and live in hellsville.

    Posted by Edith | November 5, 2007, 1:51 am
  213. Oh yeah, and I agree with Satsuma about money matters, even though, EVEN THOUGH I am HORRIBLE with money. I mean, HORRIBLE. It has taken me a long time to realize this, longer than it should have, but here’s the truth: I’m sick. I am mentally ill in a way that is unfortunate for me, because I am not being cared for by a husband/partner or anyone else. I am an undergraduate in an expensive, mediocre university because I dropped out of a “good” school and no other schools in this state would take me. Because my level of functioning is so awful, and because the medical care that I can afford is so sub-standard, it will like be three years before I can graduate. And because of financial aid restrictions, I can’t even work full-time.

    But when I graduate, I am NOT going to do what the majority of 22-year-olds with their new BA’s do. I can’t afford to, unfortunately, because I’ll be 26 and I’ll have debt from school AND from medicine. I’m going to get a job that works with my illness and can pay me as much as possible, with hopefully decent medical/dental. Actually, definitely. I don’t even care what it is. It won’t be a shitload of money, that’s for sure, but I’ll be damned if I’ll settle for a working class life just because that’s what is normal for a person in my situation. Middle class or bust, I say. Fucking go capitalism.

    Posted by Edith | November 5, 2007, 2:02 am
  214. Oh, and this same thing is going on over at Twisty’s forum. Well, not the “same thing,” but certainly some criticism about heterosexual privilege and heterosexism that I think is quite interesting, although I can’t take much more of it, frankly. Weird how these things converge. Check out the threads entitled “Heterosexuality” and “Heterosexual, pt 2.”

    Posted by Edith | November 5, 2007, 4:56 am
  215. Edith, I think you should tell us how you really feel. 🙂

    I don’t want to be misunderstood. We live in a capitalist society, we can’t not live in it, we need to live in it, and it’s a far sight better to have enough money to survive and help one another, too, than to not have enough! No matter what. I think Satsuma helping 47 women to buy houses is amazing! I own property, a six-acre farm which includes a lovely home, a large, nice barn with a room in the loft, a chicken house and fenced pasture. I’m glad for my place and want to use it more and more to help women. I don’t see it as any sort of feminist act to take vows of voluntary poverty, etc. I wish as women we all had a lot more money so we could all help each other more than we do, and all women, for that matter, capitalism or no.

    What I don’t like is assimilationist attitudes, i.e., having it as a goal to live the way rich Americans live, consuming way more than our own fair share, without regard for all of the poor people in the world. I may have to live in capitalism, but I don’t have to share the goals or values of those who worship at its feet. I can continue to dream a world with a gift economy, which rejects exchange of all kinds, in every sphere, in favor of gifting. I have a lovely place (lovely to me) but I am not a consumer. I virtually NEVER go shopping, other than for groceries, because that is unavoidable. I *hate* shopping, it is a waste of time to me. Since forever I have lived by the old Depression-era maxim, “Use it up/Wear it out/Make it last/Or do without.” Every piece of furniture in my house is used to the absolute hilt, but as long as it is still functional, I have no plans to replace any of it. Most of it was very used when I got it. A lot of it is really ratty, but I don’t care, so long as it works. I value what has personal meaning to me– stuff that I’ve made or that people I love have made, things handed down to me by my womenfolk, etc. It isn’t my goal, in other words, to have expensive anything– not furniture, clothes, appliances, widgets, blah, stuff that hollers “MONEY.” For me to live that way — even if I could, which I cannot — would violate my ethics. And I don’t enjoy living like that, with more and more shit to insure and take care of and which will own me instead of me owning it. I would have far less stuff than I have if it were only me, but I have had to raise 11 kids and had to meet their needs. I do have things that in light of the living standards of most human beings *are* signifiers of affluence: my lovely home, which the Religious Right bought for me, thanks to you, RR xxxooo. My flock of sheep. My barn. My garden area. I have a piano, an organ, a cello, a violin, two guitars, a handmade dulcimer, folk harp, and four handmade frame drums. I have three computers. I have a grain mill, a juicer, a bread kneader, a food processor. I have a washer/dryer/microwave. All of this stuff, though, I have not out of aspirations to have stuff, to keep up with anybody, but because I am a writer (computers), my family is musical (instruments), I value health (grain mill). All of it is also used or handmade (i.e., the drums). None of my instruments/ appliances/etc. were new when I bought them or when they were given to me.

    In my perfect world we would all trade stuff around as we needed it, we would own stuff together and share it as necessary, we would give to one another as it made sense to. As opposed to exchanging our lives for crap, spending the best hours of our lives doing stuff we don’t enjoy for money, etc.

    Satsuma, I wanted to say one thing maybe you haven’t considered? You’ve said many times that children guarantee a woman will be poor. I know what you mean by that, but hear me out. I have eight grown kids. In the next nine years, I will have 11 grown kids and four grown grandkids. That means that the time will never come that I do not have a place to stay or adults who will be there for me, to help me, as I age, and should I need help. It has kicked my fanny around 20 blocks and back to be responsible for the raising of 11 children, especially during the (many) years I’ve been their sole support, but as I age, they will be there for me. I am fiercely independent and hope the time never comes that I can’t remain so, be on my own. But if the time comes when I need help, I will have it. I always tell my kids I will not wear out my welcome should that day come, I can stay at each one’s house for a month and they won’t see me again for almost a year! 🙂 I’m just saying it isn’t actually true that children bring poverty. Children grow up, become adults, friends, peers.

    There is also the whole issue of what “poor” and “poverty” really are. I am only impoverished by my children if I do not enjoy them and if I do not find much to be grateful for in having them in my life. My large family has made it possible for me to raise huge vegetable/flower/herb gardens (because I had the physical help), to run a farm with sheep/chickens/goats/turkeys/ducks. I am just learning now about the difficulties of having to do so much on my own, in that I just have three at home, and my 16-year-old is busy with school and a million activities and friends. I’m getting older and can’t put in the 18 hour days, including tons of hard physical labor, that I could 10 or 20 years ago. But I could do a lot lot lot when I had all of my kids at home.

    Leaving aside the issue of liking children or not — I enjoy children as much (or as little) as any other age group; depends on the child, the chemistry, the energy — children aren’t just red marks on the ledger. If you do enjoy them and have a good relationship with them, you enhance one another’s lives, help one another, support one another in all sorts of ways, as with all other relationships. And again, as we age, we find we need support and community more than we did when we were young, most of us. I have birthed my own community, essentially, and while if I were to start over, I would do things differently, I find much to be grateful for in that I do have the love and support of my kids.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2007, 5:47 am
  216. Yeah, I’m not “really” a fan of capitalism. Just, well, it’s there.

    Vow of poverty? Hmm. To be honest, this could just be brain-washing here since I attend a Jesuit university, but I think taking a “vow of poverty” is fine if you are doing so because you are going to dedicate your life towards helping others, as the Jesuits do. I’m SO not an expert in any of this, as I grew up in a Jewish home, but I certainly greatly respect my limited association with the nuns and priests and brothers I’ve met through my school and my involvement in interfaith work.

    There are ways to help others financially AND help yourself financially. But if you can work it out so that you help other women so much so that you give ALL of your money over to that, I respect that choice. You could very well criticize that. You can definitely criticize that that kind of option is available mostly ONLY to those who subscribe to patriarchal religions! I do, myself, and I say that as a practicing, religious Jew.

    Actually, now that I think about it, I sympathize with the defensiveness from straight women when confronted with “disrespect” from radical lesbians, because I get that too from feminists and other progressives about religion. But I don’t get defensive. I also don’t take it personally. It’s weird, because OBVIOUSLY😉 I get SO angry about so many things. Feminists try to cut me slack sometimes, and ask me if it’s really about spirituality, not religion, and so forth. But no, my relationship with my faith is pretty straight-forward, actually. I love to read feminist interpretations of Judaism, but as far as my actual day-to-day faith goes, I’m pretty boringly patriarchal.

    Weirdly, the more radical I get in my politics, the more conservative I get in my religious identity. I think it might be a comfort thing — if I have to throw out everything, let me just cling to this one thing. I’m probably going to have to sort this stuff out better one day, though!

    All right, enough navel-gazing, Edith.🙂

    Posted by Edith | November 5, 2007, 6:17 am
  217. Let me organize my thoughts a bit. I appreciate Heart’s description of her way of life, and it works for her. I detest people’s obsession with consumer gadgets, and I find this annoying. We can concentrate far better by being honest about what we do and don’t want.

    I see what this rampant materialism does to people close up, and I try everything in my power to try go get people to focus on what’s truly real in the world — being together with friends, keeping a car well repaired and running, instead of ever buying a new one, recycling or sewing buttons on shirts rather than getting rid of them.

    However, I love tailored suits, and I want a tailor to make a suit to my exact specifications. I am fussy with clothing, and a tailored suit will last about 15 years, and when you average the price over that period of time, it is far less than what women settle for off the rack.

    Not to let advertising or consumer manipulation control our lives. People need to be very careful what they watch and read. Even a simple tactic of muting out every commercial that comes on during a T.V. program is excellent. A small thing, but again, this tiny act is about you excersizing power over what comes into your mind.

    I believe in these tiny acts to change our thinking, and to not abuse our resources. That is a given for me.

    However, I do not want to be part of any heterosexual household ever. No children, no heterosexuality, no raising of heterosexual children, no dealing with daughters who would want to date boys, no nothing of the kind ever never!

    I can’t say exactly where this violent distaste comes from, probably my intense boredom when I’m in these situations. I can last about an hour with children and doting adults, and then I must leave. My mind gets restless, I long to read a book, and boredom is something I battle with daily in the straight world. The lack of focused intensity drives me nuts.

    Boredom is a form of anger, and it is dangerous for me to go into that state of mind. So I never tolerate any social situation where straight people start blabbing about family lives.

    This distaste probably comes from the fact that straight people never ask me questions about my life. Only if I volunteer information will they ever know anything. When you’re out of the closet, then they try to put you back in it in their imaginations. They soon forget who I really am as a human being, and this is quite errie– kind of being erased while you are standing right there in front of them.

    You can see the one way nature of heteronormativity — why should I care about this heterosexual family structure, if they have no questions for me. The conversation becomes exhausting. It can be as draining as having a vampire drain your blood or life force.

    How could we change the colonization of women? I know the answer, but women aren’t going to go for it. If women can sit in churches while men preach inferiority, and refuse to walk out, what hope is there for this second class species?

    No amount of feminist activism seems to change this balance of power, and I think women are unaware just how much men have contempt for them. Somehow I hear this more, because men forget I am in the room with them. My unfeminine deadly serious face makes me invisible in a peculiar way, and then I hear what they think. It truly is shocking this contempt.

    I’d like to see a real change in this status quo. I’d like to see women’s real economic self-sufficiency in life. It’s one of my life purposes to really make this happen for women.

    I’ve seen the incredible fear of math that’s drilled into young girls. And it still persists. I see this in women clients, and I work for years educating them on investments. It’s something very few men in my industry ever do. Women are so used to being bossed around by men, that they don’t realize they have a right to know, and that the better their education the better the client relationship. Investment ideas come to me based on what I hear about women’s real lives.

    It begins with a life story, and then I find how to make the money follow the life story. It’s kind of fun, like a puzzle or like writing the end of a Dickens novel.

    You are very lucky that you fought your battle with the right wing and won, otherwise the outcome might not have gone as well. But there is justice in the world. Women win battles in court again and again and again. This does slow the patriarchy down, every time women speak up, stand up, and show up!

    Well this is a very complex subject. Lesbian life in this strange foreign territory know as Heterosexual Land. The older I get the more distant I become from it.

    And then to end on a note of laughter I was just howling over Edith’s “I fucking love Satsuma” loved and hated all in one little old blog. I’m just laughing and laughing over this. Isn’t life the funniest on earth sometimes!?

    Posted by Satsuma | November 5, 2007, 7:30 am
  218. Hi – while I’ve been reading this thread, I haven’t posted much anywhere lately, as my ‘day-job’ etc, has taken up so much time & energy – but am now off work for a few days.

    Getting this far, my original impression of Satsuma’s posts – was similar to Heart – I understood where she was coming from, a place of pain and deep woman-caring, that incredible frustration with why so many women don’t *resist* – I have felt that too, it resonates with *me*, even though I haven’t always been lesbian. And I am also a mother, both birthed and adopted etc.

    Why do so many women just roll over and take the shit? *sigh* — are we women or are we pussies? I feel and think quite differently now, but I *understand* that point of view and where it comes from.

    But despite that anger, I didn’t get the impression that Satsuma wasn’t attacking, just frustrated at women, she hasn’t given up on women, but continues to help, engage, teach and support etc, and makes that woman-caring a centre of her life.

    It just gets her real mad sometimes, when so many women just don’t *get it*.

    But I can also understand why so many women would receive her words so negatively and personally. Sometimes we all have difficulty separating the *personal* from the *political*.

    Like heart and some others — I didn’t take Satsuma’s anger personally, it is a valid justifiable anger – Black, Indigenous, women of colour etc have similar issues with white “privilege” – and the access to power that some women have, some of the time — and it happens amongst feminists, and radical feminists. No matter the theory, we all have that oppressor inside our heads, no matter how separatist we are we all engage with the world etc, and some of us have access to some privileges, by circumstance of our class, race or sexuality etc.

    Het women do have access to more privilege and power than lesbians, as white women do compared to women of colour. And I can understand their anger, frustration.

    That said, there is another view too — all lesbians are not automatically feminist, let alone radical feminist. As a young woman, a confused one I might add, my first experiences with lesbians were incredibly abusive, including physically. I went running back to men, thinking “I must be straight after all!” ( Not for long though🙂 I was unlucky I guess) Later on working in DV refuges, I was also shocked by my first exposure to a case of lesbian DV coming through our doors – and in more recent times, many lesbians publicly identify with gay men and trans politics, far more than they do with other women or feminism. Many fight hard for gay marriage so they can access het privileges especially financial breaks provided to ‘couples’, not because they care about women or lesbians for that matter.

    Other examples include high-profile lesbians promoting lesbian porn and the virtues of lesbian BDSM, and I get similarly angry when I see dykes who “sell out” through making personal and political alliances with gay men as a means of accessing privilege and power.

    We are all conditioned by patriarchy and its tool heterosexuality, being gay doesn’t make us immune to the dom/sub power politics rooted in heterosexuality, or all the dom/sub role-play (whether gender roles, class, race etc – its all dom/sub) burned into our brains from birth – and we are all in various stages of having our consciousnesses-raised on just how deeply internalised that oppressor is, even amongst lesbians and women-of-colour.

    One experience that brought it all home to me regarding race and class, was when I was 19 and back-packing through remote Australia. In a mining town, I teamed up with 8 other young white women also doing their trips bumming around the outback, from various countries Britain, Canada, Germany, Sweden etc. We got 6 weeks work, very highly paid, serving as waitresses, kitchen-hands etc for the single men’s mess halls on the iron ore mines. 9 young white women, and 1,000 men – You do the math!!! It was pick one each sisteren – or you’re free for all.

    It wasn’t until later, we started to realise just how thin a veneer our white skins, our education and “privilege” actually was. We didn’t know that near the mines was an Aboriginal reserve, and night after night, we had to listen to those women being gang-raped and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it, but cry, go mad and watch each other’s faces as it slowly dawned on us, one by one – that very little really separated us. Our only “privilege” was that the men gave us a choice, they granted us a petty bargaining chip, we were able to choose just one man to rape us, and the privilege of some privacy while being raped. We did not have the option of “No Deal” – of course. But, the black women had no choice, no bargaining chips, and we were not able to help those women, other than through stealing food from the kitchens to give to them and their children. That was nearly 30 years ago, and things have changed a lot since then.

    To top that off, during the days we had several hours to ourselves between shifts, and being near the ocean we would go down the beach. We had to walk past the married-family compounds of the “big men” who had their families with them. These married women with their transplanted middle-class suburbia-in-the-desert – would turn their noses down at us girls, muttering “sluts” and would turn their kids away from saying hello to us. Although a couple would nod politely, or smile shyly, with eyes that understood, but most didn’t. One of my friends from that trip, a British girl with a very classy BBC-news accent (that I fell madly in love with *grin*) – once said loudly as we passed ” Anyone for tennis after brunch?”

    Its similar with lesbians and hets, het women do have more access to social privileges and its understandable that lesbians will be angry about it, and het women won’t always *get it*, either the anger or the reason for it.

    I also think threads like this are truly valuable to feminism, and I often wish there were more of them – as feminists we do need to explore these divides, no matter how extremely painful it might be – coz we need to *understand* where it comes from, and how its all part of the patriarchal Divide-and-Conquer that prevents us from resisting.

    We are all oppressed by the anatomy between our legs, regardless of what we end up doing with it by choice or circumstance. Of course there will be differences in how that oppression is experienced, and differences in how we deal with it as individuals, or how much access to male privilege we have, and how much use we make of it when we have it, as there is differences in life, the universe and everything.

    and as we’ve seen here, there will be extreme pain, anger, frustration etc in even looking at it – its like an open oozing wound, and exploring it will hurt — but ignoring it, or running away from it in reverse anger, fear, confusion, pain and hurt etc doesn’t help it one bit.

    it needs to be talked about, it needs to be shared, for if we can’t talk to each other – if we can’t *TRUST* and try to understand each other in all of our diversity, then I tend to fear that women-as-a-class will get nowhere.

    Just my own view, for what its worth ..

    *hugs* to all
    Rain🙂

    Posted by Rain | November 5, 2007, 9:58 am
  219. If women can sit in churches while men preach inferiority, and refuse to walk out , what hope is there for this second class species?……………No amount of feminist activism seems to change this balance of power, and I think women are unaware just how much men have contempt for them.

    I *hear* you sister!

    And I admire your energy, tenacity, passion, love and loyalty to women, despite their faults! (Even if you aren’t too diplomatic about saying what you think about those faults *chuckle* – its a bit like tripping white guilt, dont be surprised when they get defensive)

    Personally speaking, I have no problem with such anger in women, or militancy in feminism, I would like to see more of it. All this peace and love and light, non-violence and lets all be polite and super-careful with our words because of fear of hurting others feelings etc, and because we are so naturally great at “relationships” and “nurturing” – just reinforces the essentialist view of the female.

    But perhaps it isn’t just men who have such deep contempt for women? Maybe us women have internalised it inside ourselves, and in our relationships with each other?

    I was reading somewhere about little girls and team-play, compared to little boys and team-play. Boys playground games, tend to have strict rules, strict orders of play, and vertical heirarchies, often based on skill-levels, where the most skilled boys are highly complemented by the whole group – but when conflict breaks out, its usually one-on-one, they have good barney – resolve it and then move on.

    Not girls, they have fluid rules, often made up as they go along, o9r changed by democratic majority vote, like skipping rope games and hopskotch, there is no strict team order, everybody gets a turn, and although those individuals more skilled than others may be admired, not overly so – its more like “damned with faint praise”. When conflict breaks out amongst girls, its usually many-on-one, ganging up on the deviant, and is not resolved, but the “deviant” is expelled by group-majority social expulsion or social exclusion.

    Shunning. Its a peculiarly common feminine form of social punishment.

    As in — I’m not talking to you. I refuse to participate. I’m not playing anymore. You’re not my best friend anymore. Turn the backs. Flick the pony-tail in disgust and contempt. Expel. Exile. Shun. Walk away. Take bat and ball and go home.

    The author of this study called such group dynamics amongst girls in the playground, “horizontal heirarchies” – as they are not vertical ones, like the alpha-male heirarchies of patriarchy that we are all familiar with, but they are still heirarchical. They are “circles”, social circles – and layers of concentric circles at that. There may be one or more at the centre, but then concentric layers of circles in outer rings. Those on the “outer” rings are often expelled entirely, or individuals will be socially moved into “outer” layers as their popularity declines. And also, these circles tend to be closed circles, we don’t tend to interact with women from other social circles. The circles just bump and bounce off each other, sometimes with more conflict, sparks and abrasion than others. The group shunning.

    A friend of mine told the story, of how as a little girl she was once playing baseball with a bunch of neighbourhood girls in the park. At one point she must have said something that sounded like a “bossy-boots” or some other masculine type of behaviour, and all the other girls just took off like a “school of fish” – which I thought was a very apt analogy. She spent many years wondering what she did wrong!

    I see it on internet women’s spaces over the years too🙂 Conflict breaks out, and rather than working to resolve it, or have it out – there are posts “I’m not engaging anymore because …..( <—- insert various reasons…..)

    and whole groups ( or “circles”) disappearing off, or sailing away like a “school of fish”… *sigh*

    Any girl who stands out as “deviant” from the “group norm” or the “group average”, with an exceptional skill in sports, business or large organisational management, maths or physics, engineering, — but especially “bossy-boots” girls who show leadership behaviours, are socially expelled and isolated from the group. Often with mass group contempt for the socially deviant behaviour.

    With me it was maths/engineering skills, the geek type skills. When I was a kid, I found maths easy and simple, and I was way above average academically in all subjects, but especially maths, chem, physics etc. I did tend to mix with other geeks, who were mostly boys – I liked playing chess for example.

    but I got so much more social flak and hassle from the other girls, than the boys. At one point, and only briefly, I did deliberately start failing maths. Years later still, I realised that the reason usually given for girls doing this, ie to impress the boys, was not even remotely true in my case. With me, it was because I wanted to be one of the girls. I was lonely. I wanted friends to hang out with, I wanted to be ‘one of the crowd’, I had to conform to the average of the “girl’s group” or “horizontal heirarchy” or be expelled and socially isolated by feminine shunning.

    I figured some time ago, I resolved it by thinking of myself as just a statistical outlier – just way off the “bell curve”.

    Cheers – Rain

    Posted by Rain | November 5, 2007, 11:53 am
  220. (I don’t think “woman” is irretrievable, but otherwise) I absolutely love the Hoagland piece.

    Posted by funnie | November 5, 2007, 12:15 pm
  221. What great comments, Rain, essays that stand on their own. So so so true the way the “deviants” are shunned in girls’ and women’s groups. So true the way leaders, gifted women, “different” women are expelled and treated with contempt, and this is consistently true, in my observation across groups of women and girls, without respect to their politics or affiliations. It happens in groups of religious women, conservative Christian women, feminists, radical feminists, progressives, GLBTQ-identified women, women of color, mothers, working women, volunteers in feminist organizations, academia, in the workplace, blogs, internet communities– wherever women gather and form communities, I have witnessed this behavior over and over again.

    Thanks for everything you wrote there, just great.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2007, 5:15 pm
  222. Dear Way off the Bell Curve Rain,

    Just loved your posts. Thanks for the explanation of shunning in girls play groups vs. how boys handle conflicts in their play groups.

    I did figure out long ago that girls and women just do these things, but that I can’t let their squeemishness stop me from moving forward. I just stick to my opinions, refine my knowledge and carry on.

    This internalized oppression is big both with women and with internalized homophobia of lesbians. You really have to work to understand this, and to do things that will take you out of it.
    There’s lots of strategies.

    Reality check questions often work. Finding allies works, and reflection works.

    Patriachy does everything in its power to divide women so that men get to be the big bosses. Think of how women act in polygamy vs. how the male master sits there all self-satified.

    Women get very beaten down when they are put through the beauty machine, or discarded by men for “younger models” — very common stuff in Hollywood.

    So what to do about it? For one thing, I don’t buy into this “I’m quitting I can’t take your comments” routine so common among women. I just keep going. If women want to flee, then it’s their business, but I am in this movement until the day I die, so this isn’t a little vacation for me into feminism, this is my life journey. There was no hetero detour, no period of being in some opposite ideology, and I didn’t let the shunning and meanness of women stop me from moving ahead with things I believed were in my own best interest.

    I never ever compromise on what makes my life better, and I never let heterosexual women ever tell me how to run my lesbian life.

    If we really want to rise above all this we can. I see greatness all the time, and collaboration all the time among women. I think we are far more successful at this than we give ourselves credit for.

    I gave women the benefit of the doubt here by doing the unthinkable in femaleland, showing aggressive uncensored anger. Anger over the oppression of lesbians, anger over that damn oppressive state known as baby picture wielding straight women… a call to war if ever there was one🙂

    But my devotion to the advancement of women is absolute, and yes, as a lesbian I do know what works to get out from under economic control that men have over women, and that women often settle for.

    If you succeed at maths or science or even options trading, chances are there will be no women in those rooms at all. Women need to respect the excellence of other women, the way men respect skill. Men often don’t care about these things, they will accept a woman who is good at something. They will respect women who earn a lot of money without the endless carping this brings out in feminist groups. Heavens, why in goddess name would I want to settle for poverty and penny pinching that is most women’s lot in life. No no and more no to this.

    I don’t get upset about capitalism I think because I am not and never have been a child of the 60s. I am a child of the practical 70s. I wanted to do something once women were done marching in the streets, and I wanted it concrete and measureable. Money is a tool of measurement just like a yard stick is, or a tape measure is. It is a symbol and a concept, and if you think about using it in different ways, you change your outcomes with it. Buying stock in Starbucks is not a crime. Starbucks gives all employees paid benefits, even full time benefits. It’s stock increased 50% one year. Its founder vowed that he wouldn’t have women who worked part time like his mother did with no heath insurance. Make fun of capitalism all you want, it’s a tool, it should be modified and adjusted so that all economic groups have access, and we can also recognize how to deal with people who struggle and need the support of the entire community.

    I sure as heck would not want to live in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Poland under the Soviet Union to name a few. Iran beheads non-conforming women and stones women who have sex outside marriage. Saudi Arabia is a living nightmare for women, and Somalia is the genital mutilation capital of the world. Just read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s books! She’d get upset at how lesbians and feminists trash western democracies. Immigrants see great opportunity, and I stay close to immigrants because I love their energy and positive natures.

    I take them from the mattress to Wall Street in one generation, for example. I strongly support micro-loans that third world women thrive on. I support the record number of women owned businesses in Southern California. I find large clients for other women I network with. I believe in economic support and connection to women. I enjoy business and its rules for success, the neutral rules that really work. We can all quibble about men making more, or women not getting their fair share of this system, but the one thing that is really lacking in feminism is economic and business expertise. We’re reading the works of academics and activists mostly, but lesbian business books are rare as hen’s teeth. I bring economic and business expertise to lesbian feminist thought, I bring numbers and math. I ask where the money is, and why we struggle with it so, when all it does it get you property and safe space for women. Someone owns the Michigan land and I can tell you right now Donald Trump is not renting it out to women!

    Why would I ever want to overwork, or be so full of responsibilities that I didn’t have all that time to devote to my own learning and freedom in the world. I wanted more time for myself, and less time “caring’ for others. I don’t like the concept of women do dishes and men read newspaper, women get saddled with childcare, men study Torah… etc. etc.

    Men get to eat and drink and talk, women do the cleaning all the time everywhere!

    As a lesbian feminist, I want a world of my own making, and I know other women want this to. They just don’t know how to cooperate and accept the complexity of women’s ambitions.

    Anger = I don’t wanna play in your yard whaaa whaaa’ this sort of childish nonsense so common even today.

    Not all women can stand anger, or its blunt undiplomatic (a heterosexual women’s code word for “don’t rile massah, don’t be too lesbian). Anytime someone says I should be more diplomatic, that means “lesbian shut up.” That’s what that words translates as to me. It’ll make me madder and meaner!

    I am well aware that a lot of lesbians these days are just as clueless as straight men. Lesbian pornography, being a prime example! I think there are a lot of lesbians out there who are too fearful to take on the heterosexual women’s machine head on no holds bared. Goddess, I am not a pacifist, I am a lesbian warrior woman. That means I go to war against injustice. That’s not the same as love, peace, happiness, which is often a cover women use for just being afraid of conflict and its many truths.

    No we won’t all get along ever. That’s not an ideal for me, but we can come to understandings, and we can learn to read beneath the anger. That takes a much stronger self a much more complex mind, a much more nuanced approach.

    People with social power never give it up. People in power never give in. That’s why they are in power. Women give and give and give without getting. Not that is not a good formula at all.

    Why do we all want freedom? What is it about the feminist dream that excites us all the most? And how to we go farther?

    I am an extreme minority of women in the world, and I had to learn to just move beyond the heterowoman world of always trying to placate and never wanting an angry take no prisoners fight. They bowed to men for too long, and many heterosexual women have never had the chance to bust a man’s head open and see the enemy defeated. That is essential for women to be able to do this, IN SELF DEFENSE!

    Women should never have to work in some damn mining camp with 1000 men. They are animals in large grioups like that. I never go near football games or even a bar that has sports on for example, because men will rape and attack any chance they get. This is who they are, and there is simply no getting around it.

    What women can do is to understand this, and to rise up and say no more. Kind of like a cat with claws that a big dog doesn’t mess with. It is men who con women into being afraid of their physical as well as mental power, men who profit from the beauty industry, high schools that keep putting on proms and the list goes on.

    I don’t support the great rush to heteronormativity– “gay marriage” geez. Babies in the suburbs double yuck… Lesbians having a bridal shower at a local gay restaurant yesterday, I kid you not! I don’t know what to think about a lesbian community completely unaware of its own short herstory.

    Heart does lesbians a great service by hanging in there, connecting us, and being patient. She is trying to do something the movement was never very successful at… she is an ally to lesbians. Her heterosexual privilege makes her less fearful of my table pounding kick butt frustration, when other women freak out, cut and run. That’s right you cut and run in the face of one woman’s truth, and you have trouble with women who tell this truth. But someone has to ask why women flock to overt and awful male supremacy in right wing churches.

    I believe because women want a place to go every week, and feminism failed to maintain the spaces long enough, or get good enough at finance to purchase the buildings. We still settle for a kind of nickle and dime pass the hat cookie sale economy, when we should be managing millions by now.

    We could be doing this! I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again, what we need is an economic history of feminism. Robin Morgan tells a lot about this in her autobiography, and “Different Daugters” the biography of the first lesbian organization in America “Daughters of Bilitis” revealed that the organization was never self supporting all those years.

    One very wealthy closeted woman keep that place afloat, just one wealthy woman. The rest was hand to mouth and cookie sales. Now take note of that or as my old Latin teacher used to say “nota bene.” Isn’t Latin great sometimes. All Gaul is divided into three parts…

    The Gay and Lesbian Center’s new building that opened in 1998 I think, got its huge start from the $1,000,000 life policy of a gay man who died and left that money to the center. That’s it, one little old life insurance policy. These policies are so dirt cheap when you’re young, it’s not funny. Make sure if you are a lesbian, you have one of these policies, and that when you die you don’t leave behind less than this amount! Make sure you do it women! Straight women, think about this.

    We have 500,000 lesbians in Los Angeles county. Goddess knows where they all are– in the suburbs holed up in couples… find a woman at an event, fall in love, and drop out… pretty much sums it up a lot of the time. What is 500,000 times $1,000,000? Think of what that money could do? Let’s get to it women! Life and death should count.

    We can hash out these ideas. I can share one simple idea of what works for me: I never give up! Never, never, never. I don’t back down, I don’t compromise if I know something worked very well for me, and I never apologize for wanting wealth that buys time that buys personal power for me.

    Never give up women! We can win this and you know we can. We are changing the world, and we are using technology to create a global feminist network.

    Just have courage, learn to handle anger and conflict, do some math now and then. Have fun with a financial function calculator and practice equations in bed before you go to sleep. Learn to use numbers and learn to handle rage and frustration, and then you can move on to unity. Don’t be the girls on the playground that go into shun mode against the little girl who is different. That’s patriarchal conditioning.

    Lesbians by nature really are different, especially lesbians like me. We truly enjoy our odd journey in the world, and we move in all social classes and worlds. One moment I’m greeting an Armenian fruit seller, the next moment I use Japanese and the next moment I’m touring an Armenian culture museum talking to the leading expert on the Armenian genocide, and making connections.

    I run business groups, and support archives, and write volumes on a million subjects. I just enjoy life greatly, it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m a radical feminist, not the fun kind, but I’m also a great story teller and my laugh can be heard all the way down the block. That’s my life, and it wouldn’t be as good or as successful without the secret ingredient of radical feminist thinking. If you can do radical lesbian political theory and deal with straight women shunning you and dunning you all the time, believe me international finance is a piece of cake!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 5, 2007, 10:14 pm
  223. Satsuma, my discomfort with what you are calling blunt undiplomatic aggressive uncensored mean anger is not about you being too blunt, undiplomatic, aggressive, uncensored, mean, or angry. It is about what I perceived as you being disrespectful, abusive, arrogant, mean-spirited, ignorant, contemptuous. Diplomacy is for dealing with enemies. I do not find your anger difficult to understand. I have plenty of anger at what women put up with from men, even what I have put up with from men in my life, but I direct that anger at men and their ways, values, beliefs, all comprising this male-dominated culture.

    There are constructive ways to express anger with those who ought to be allies. These require a modicum of respect, which I distinguish from diplomacy, compromise, niceness, placating, … I think you know what respect means. You showed it in your response to me on this thread. You could have just blown me off, but you did not. I would never ask a woman to moderate her anger or compromise her principles. To do that I would view as disrespectful.

    At this point I am back to square one with you, not knowing what to make of you. You have been all over the map. It may not be possible for you to express your frustration without coming off as abusive and disrespectful. I think it is. That kind of thing comes easier to me, because I do think of myself as a diplomat, and to my mind, it is even possible to show respect to outright enemies, if they deserve it. If they deserve no respect, none is due. I do not think even the heterosexual women that so frustrate you are such enemies as that. I suspect, you do not think so either.

    I fear the distinction I am trying to draw is so fine as to be incomprehensible. I am trying to say, there is a way to express anger constructively without moderating it or toning it down or being diplomatic, nice, or non-confrontational. It is not easy, and perhaps it is not possible for you, or not worth the trouble. The primary point I am trying to make is, if you want respect, you have to show it. You are capable of that, but whether that is incompatible with your modes of expressing anger, I cannot say. I am trying to say, it is possible to respect women as women even if you cannot stand what those women do, to you or themselves. We are all warped by this culture. Some do not even try to break free. Others do, succeeding to varying extents, helping others to break those chains. You do that in your life. Perhaps you think of your way of expressing anger as shock therapy. Your anger has your truth behind it, but if you leave respect behind, your truth tends to also get left behind.

    Posted by Aletha | November 6, 2007, 9:11 am
  224. Ignorant mean spirited disrespectful contemptuous

    Tone it down to WASP level Pushy Jew tone it down to heterosexual level undiplomatic

    Perception in life is everything. Lesbians can be completely harmless and say nothing at all, and straight people will still say they are all these things above and more.

    So Aletha, I can understand what you are trying to say, but I have found it doesn’t matter in many ways what lesbians actually do in the world.

    Conformity is the very curse women struggle with in the world.
    Niceness is another trait that women are often stuck in.

    The thing is, will women claim their power in the world or not?

    When I read all of the comments on this blog, we all agree that women should have freedom, but we don’t agree on how this will be accomplished.

    But the fact of the matter is, women are the majority, and yet they act like the minority.

    There is something wrong with this, and I have always tried to get at what exactly this is.

    I am often intrigued by exactly what social position women want to protect, in exchange for this compromised life of limited freedom. I just saw some silly headline this morning about “10 Mistakes Not To Make At A Wedding” — geez, a wedding is a celebration, and you’d think women would let go of it for an hour or two.

    You can be diplomatic — not a word exclusively used to describe talking to enemies by the way, but also a code word straight women use for “uppity” women. Think of the days of NOW, for example. Uppity often times but not all times = lesbian. Diplomacy is used with children, and it often has a rather colonial tinge to it. It is not a good vocabulary word in my opinion.

    So when I am talking to straight women, I am aware in advance, of their incredible discomfort with out lesbians to begin with. The liberals will assign you to a token “corner” of the room, the right wing fundamentalists will excommunicate you, but in the end, you will have to carve out your own territory and not accept the “assignments” of others.

    We all have varying styles of communication, and that is our natural tone of voice. It’s not the same as yours, nor do I have the same comfort levels as the average woman out there. I tolerate far more from the straight world that you’d ever imagine. You don’t want to hear my opinions on 9/11, for example because you’d fall over dead if you read them.

    People will respect me for courage, for putting out ideas, and for not softening or toning down to WASP level. Other people will simply be put off by my words and that will be that.

    But the bottom line is freedom for women, and how to get that freedom. Doing all the things women have done in the past 5000 years is changing the carpet, but the house and size of the rooms remain the same.

    Women will decide when they want worldwide freedom, and as I said before, it could happen literally overnight. This is up to women to decide, just when they want to end patriarchy.
    It is up to women to end it, and not worry what men think, just as it is up to lesbians to gain freedom and not tone down their life for heterosexual consumption or for closeted women’s consumption — the two being very similar in tone in my opinion, so are heterosexual women living in some sort of closet too?

    I often wonder. No matter what I say, there is a woman right this minute trying desparately to find a new boyfriend to escape out of the clutches of her abusive boyfriend. She won’t warn other women about this man, she will simply try to escape in this way. And on and on it goes.

    My truth never gets left behind, it has meant life and death to a lot of women. I see a lot of women with no fight in them by the time they get to my age, and it is because they have compromised too much of their soul placating people.

    Since there are two groups that annoy me a lot — men as a class and heterosexual women as a class, I have a critique for both groups.

    So Aletha, while I appreciate your comments, I probably won’t change all that much. My words are not your words and vice verse. I certainly would never tell another woman on this forum how to speak, even when a lot of things said here really do offend me sometimes. I don’t like the “F” word used against women, for example. I don’t like vulgar langauge period, it strikes me as lacking in imagination. And there are other things that women say that really upset me here, but I’ll just use that one simple example.

    An honest lesbian commentary is something most straight women rarely if ever hear, and many lesbians are unpracticed in speaking out in straight groups. Many of us rarely do political work at all with straight women, because they still are too homophobic for words.

    I myself prefer single gender groups — either all male or all female, but rarely do I spend much time in mixed groups. I simply can’t bear to even watch how straight women act when men are in the room. They don’t see this of course, but it is strange to watch.

    I will take your words under consideration and I appreciate the time you took to write them. I’m not always nice and I’m not always mean. I have a thousand interests, and a million ideas. Some of my ideas have gotten women very tangible results, and a lot of these ideas don’t even exist in feminist literature.

    We have a lot of writers and academics and activists, but we have very few women who can completantly comment on economics, business models or how to run a business in a feminist fashion.

    There’s a huge divide between feminists and women who are millionaires, for example. The millionaire women are self made by the way, and their patterns of using wealth are very different from the way straight men use this same wealth. This rare group of women donates a larger percentage, is more active in helping a community, and more modest in how they live. You’d see their economic lives as feminism made material.

    I am always surprised when wealthy women do enter lesbian feminist activism, because they keep this part of their lives secret. It’s not cool to be the beneficiary of a trust fund, and yet these women devote their lives to building lesbian feminist community. Lesbians and a lot of feminists worship at the throne of poverty and disdain wealth, and when you disdain this women will simply lie about their economic status in the world.

    Women go in the closet rather than confront unpleasant realities I think. Why they do this is beyond me Aletha.

    I don’t know.

    I don’t know why women get so sensitive about other women getting freedom, when here they are being battered by men, or stalked by them, or being underpaid by them.

    I don’t know a lot of things about what keeps women worldwide in such a sorry state of affairs. What is interesting to me is to see when they break free, when they wake up, and when they really go for it. That’s what’s exciting to me.

    Perhaps a feminist consciousness can come as something you or born with or it can come as a conversion experience. The born withs come into conflicts with the converts, for example.

    The lesbians and the straight women won’t be natural allies very easily, and most lesbians who work on straight women’s issues hide a lot of their thoughts to “get along.”

    I don’t hide that much. It exhausts me, but I am interested in ideas and how to make them real. No matter what you do as a radical lesbian feminist, you will not be liked. We are just a group apart in the world a very very small group, but I think our productivity speaks for itself out in the feminist world!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 6, 2007, 5:30 pm
  225. Perception in life is everything. Lesbians can be completely harmless and say nothing at all, and straight people will still say they are all these things above and more.

    This is true (though I do think Aletha has been paying close attention to what you are actually saying, Satsuma, not sure if you think otherwise, but just in case. Aletha does pay close attention– to what all women say! This is my experience with her over many years.)

    I’ve been wanting to say that my observation is, for lesbian women, particularly women who have lived, for lack of a better descriptor, a lesbian-centered life — they’ve always been lesbians, their community has been lesbian community — a lot of what heterosexual women say all of the time, everywhere, comes across as some women have described Satsuma’s words here, i.e., as arrogant, dismissive, insulting, offensive. That’s where privilege comes in. Those who are visible and who make up the societally endorsed standard or norm can afford to speak/behave as though they are the only people who exist, i.e., we have “mankind,” not “humankind,” certainly not “womankind.” We have “all men are created equal,” where are the women, and yet little girls grow up, and women continue, to agree to be invisible amongst manUNkind. Amongst conservative or politically apathetic heterosexual women, especially, nobody would ever know there was a woman in the world who was not heterosexual. There are certain foregone conclusions always operating which come across as arrogant, uppity, dismissive, and all sorts of things heterocentric women would not ever believe or see about themselves. That’s where the anger comes from, realizing that your (rhetorical “your”) reality is invisible to so many people, and especially when you say something about it and it is perceived as an attack, when in fact, your own erasure, being invisible, feels every bit the same as an attack on you. There is this shadow-boxing sort of feeling because a lot of the time all people see is what is on the surface, they aren’t motivated to, or don’t want or need, to go deeper.

    You don’t want to hear my opinions on 9/11, for example because you’d fall over dead if you read them.

    Satsuma, I think you might be kind of surprised so far as this goes, that quite a few of us here would probably not fall over dead! 🙂

    What we have here, in part, is a clash of cultures– women speaking to one another across important differences in personal history, lived reality, perception, standpoint, etc. This is really evident in some of the things that have been commented here.

    It’s hard because we don’t have bodies, faces, body language, we just have text here, and whatever understanding we achieve, we will achieve because we have worked really hard to communicate, to listen, and many of us, maybe most, don’t have the time to work that hard on the internet.

    I think when lesbian-centered women and heterocentric women and feminist, woman-centered women (whoever they might love), encounter one another online, it’s really tricky. In real life, everyone would probably be cordial or apathetic, possibly courteous, but it would take a long, long time to actually connect, and it probably wouldn’t happen. There would be too much distrust, too much self-absorption, not enough interest, it would take too much energy. The perception would be that there wasn’t enough in common. I think if we each look at our own lives, we can sort of verify that this is true. Who are our closest friends? With whom are we most intimate? Usually those whose lives are most similar to our own. (Again rhetorical, I don’t want women to weigh in, I’m musing, thinking aloud.)

    Here online, there is the protection of not actually encountering one another in real life along with the (apparent) availability of instant intimacy via text. There is a sense that we can skip over all of the steps we would take to know each other in real life, all of the various stages of relationships, and get right to the heart of things by saying what’s on our minds. But really, it doesn’t work that way. What we say gets read by all of these differently-situated people, bounced back to us as they’ve read it, our words having taken on a life of their own, as words always do, we bounce back, and it gets hard to really listen and to do the work of communication, especially once a certain level of intensity sets in.

    I know that for me, I can feel very close to someone online, engage them over years on the internet, feel a real connection, but when we meet in real life, that all might be completely moot and meaningless. The person might feel like a complete stranger to me, despite all we have shared online. Or, I might instantly click with the person just as we clicked online, but there are still the levels of relationship in the flesh that cannot be omitted if the connection is to remain. All bets are off in meeting someone for the first time whom you’ve previously only known online. And that’s important to think about, consider. We think we know each other well sometimes here because we’ve talked about deep stuff, but we cannot know a person, really, just by reading what she writes online.

    I’m just saying all this because I think it’s good to keep in mind. We don’t know one another (except those of us who really do, who know each other in real life; I have met many here in real life). We aren’t aware of each other’s background, history, communities, current situation, etc. We might have very few “pegs” to hang the hats of our (apparent) insights about one another on, because very likely we haven’t met women quite like the ones we are encountering here before. We don’t have enough information, iow, to organize what we are reading in a way that results in an accurate understanding of what the other person might be saying. I think we should try hard not to make assumptions about one another, should recognize that there are some important differences between us.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 6:37 pm
  226. Ignorant mean spirited disrespectful contemptuous

    Perception in life is everything. Lesbians can be completely harmless and say nothing at all, and straight people will still say they are all these things above and more.

    I also wanted to say that this is true of all situations where the groups are situated differently so far as access to societal/cultural power (as opposed to actual possession of societal/cultural power. What creates the inequality is as much access as it is possession). Persons of color, for example, are often perceived as “ignorant, mean spirited, disrespectful and contemptuous,” by white people even when they are harmless and don’t say anything at all.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 6:56 pm
  227. Here’s a belated attempt to describe what I’m referring to when I talk about a het hierarchy amongst females. This was in reply to another woman.

    ——————————————

    I’m just fine-tuning the analysis, not limiting it when I say:

    … hierarchy of heterosexual privilege *within* the female population of the patriarchy

    I’m referring here to a hierarchy with the features (but not limited to):

    Top
    —-

    Married het women with sons.
    Married het women with daughters as well as sons.
    Married het women with daughters.
    Married het women with no children.
    Unmarried het women with sons
    Unmarried het women with daughters and sons.
    Unmarried het women with only daughters.
    Unmarried het women with no children.
    Lesbian couples with sons.
    etc etc.

    Each of these axes confers or denies het-hierarchy privilege amongst females:

    Married Unmarried
    Childed Unchilded
    Male offspring Female offspring only
    Perceived feminine physical and/or social characteristics lack thereof
    Heterosexual lesbian

    I’m not particularly attached to whether of not these interactive and multiplicative dimensions of hierarchy are called “the het hierarchy”.

    That was just the terminology used by the women who first delineated this hierarchy to me.

    These dimensions, though, all have to do with the extent to which a woman’s sexual & reproductive behaviour and appearance adhere to a standard set by males for females.

    Trouble is, “heterosexism” is defined superficially in common discourse as the ways *people* are “discriminated” against for choosing “same sex partners”. That definition of heterosexism does me no good at all, and just pisses me off and frustrates me.

    From a radfem, separatist perspective I define heterosexism as the requirement that a woman’s sexual & reproductive behaviour and appearance adhere to a standard set by males.

    Language is an awkward tool here.

    I can understand the rage of never-het lesbians against het women in terms of the male-given privilege of het women over lesbian women. It’s a privilege given to hetwomen by men over lesbian and celibate women, for the obvious purpose of coercing women and girls into sexual and reproductive behaviours that benefit males.

    It’s very different from the anger of gay males against het males. Gay males want *all* the privileges enjoyed by het males, *including* those over women, especially with respect to reproduction.

    So here we have females, overwhelmingly oppressed everywhere by males, and all the horizontal hostility that already goes with that, and *then* we add in the “I’m more pleasing to men than you are” bullying that het women and girls do to each other as well as to lesbians / celibates, and *then* amplify that by the degree to which males really fucking *hate* lesbians and approve of girls and women for hating them … you get the picture.

    Why am I interested in this?

    Because it is an essential analytic tool for radfems’, and all females’, understanding of how males define and operate the patriarchy against us, and within our own female ranks

    ——————————————

    It’s a comprehensive set of dynamics that creates a hierarchy within the Lesbian world, as well as within the female celibate population, and amongst hetwomen. As well, of course, as creating a hierarchy amongst all females.

    Oops … one dimension I left out:

    Never Het Lesbian Ex-het lesbian

    This analysis was first published in a book called “Dykes Loving Dykes” by Bev Jo, Linda Strega, and Ruston.

    1989 or 1990, I think. I remember them writing it.

    It was self-published, and I don’t know whether it’s still available.

    Satsuma, one your archivist friends may very well have a copy.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 6, 2007, 7:16 pm
  228. It’s very different from the anger of gay males against het males. Gay males want *all* the privileges enjoyed by het males, *including* those over women, especially with respect to reproduction.

    Yes. Exactly, precisely right. Which is why the “L” gets erased from “GLBT” so relentlessly.

    Thanks for putting all of that up there, Mary! You are the best. xxxooo

    Here’s something interesting.

    In radical feminist/lesbian separatist circles, turn the whole thing upside down because a different kind of stratifying can sometimes occur. In our circles, it can work out — though it mercifully doesn’t always, usually when women really care about each other and want to build community together — that the “hierarchy” is inverted, with never-married lesbian women on “top” and married women with sons on the “bottom.” Those of us online any length of time have seen how these various dynamics play out *where women do not care about each other,* where *men are involved*, and where women want to hurt each other, usually over political disagreements (i.e., disagreements over pornography, prostitution, SM, transgender issues, and issues around how women look physically).

    Which is another sort of history that is figuring in to what is being commented in this thread, I think.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 8:10 pm
  229. A “liminal” figure — marginalized, disenfranchised in ways visible pretty much only to women situated as they are and those who love them — existing across both categories, is the woman married to a man who nevertheless loves a woman and who identifies as a lesbian. (There are many such women, their situations are always complicated, and if you do not know of any such women, well, there is good reason for that. They stick to themselves.) These women are deviants to both groups — lesbians and het women. And they are shunned and ostracised by both groups. They are always on the bottom. As are the lesbian women (whether always lesbian or not) who love these married, apparently heterosexual women. They are also shunned and ostracized by both groups. These women (both the married women and their single girlfriends) violate all sorts of group norms and political values many feminists hold dear.

    Of course, ultimately, many of these married women with lesbian girlfriends divorce, partner openly with their woman partners, and are recognized as lesbians.

    But their (the MGFs’) and their single girlfriends’ (SGFs’) experiences during the time the MGF was still married are usually really, really difficult, and will also inform their perceptions of both groups of women and will factor in to discussions like this one.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 8:26 pm
  230. Is it generally useful to create hierarchies of oppression, or do other approaches to understanding women tend to yield more productive, if complex, results?

    Posted by funnie | November 6, 2007, 9:12 pm
  231. I ask not because I disagree that the standard Mary Sunshine outlines here exists:

    From a radfem, separatist perspective I define heterosexism as the requirement that a woman’s sexual & reproductive behaviour and appearance adhere to a standard set by males.

    But because from my own radfem perspective, I define *sexism* as the requirement that a woman’s sexual & reproductive behavior and appearance adhere to a standard set by males. And the nature of sexist standards is such that you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t and damned if you don’t wanna.

    To the extent that you are able to “pass” for the ideal, your life is controlled more directly by the arbiters of that male standard. To the extent that you can’t “pass,” your life is made miserable by the arbiters of that male standard in order to get you to live up to it. To the extent that you don’t want to be a part of that standard and don’t want to try, your life is made miserable by the arbiters of that standard, who freak out that you don’t care and try to get you to at least do *that,* so that they can then press you into conforming.

    All three positions – meeting, not-meeting, and actively avoiding sexist standards – hurt women, because sexism hurts women; patriarchal standards hurt women.

    Why not discuss what *actions* that women take hurt other women, and come together around that discussion. Better yet, which of *men’s* actions serve to define and divide the three groups of women…rather than creating a hierarchy of privilege in which the highest-ranked and most privileged woman is the woman whose life is most intimately involved with men, and most centered around meeting the needs of men? Do we *really* want to call that a position of privilege?

    Notably, most radical feminist scholars, including lesbians, including separatists, *don’t* take that perspective.

    Posted by funnie | November 6, 2007, 9:30 pm
  232. funnie, Mary Sunshine said this:

    I’m not particularly attached to whether of not these interactive and multiplicative dimensions of hierarchy are called “the het hierarchy”.

    That was just the terminology used by the women who first delineated this hierarchy to me.

    I think that male heterosupremacy is hierarchical — it oppresses hierarchically — and recognizing that is just… recognizing that. Under male heterosupremacy, you are at the top if you are white, male, rich, not disabled, heterosexual. To the degree that you are missing one of those, you aren’t on the top.

    I think playing Oppression Olympics is always counter-productive, but my sense is not that that is what’s happening here. If it is I think I and others are addressing it. (Oppression Olympics being “I am more oppressed than you.”) I think understanding how we are all at times affected by these hierarchies and upside-down hierarchies which exist amongst radical feminists is necessary to *not* engaging in (or indulging in) Oppression Olympics.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 10:10 pm
  233. rather than creating a hierarchy of privilege in which the highest-ranked and most privileged woman is the woman whose life is most intimately involved with men, and most centered around meeting the needs of men? Do we *really* want to call that a position of privilege?

    Not when we are engaged with that woman and paying attention to the pain she is experiencing in her relationship with her husband or the men in her life.

    But when we are talking about access to societal perks, I think we have to talk about it.

    It is very likely that Hillary Clinton will be our next President (even though everyone should be voting for me!). Do you think that would be so if she were a lesbian?

    The entire world of fundamentalist religion actively teaches that all but heterosexual relationships are damned, with consequences we all get and don’t need to list. This is true, though, worldwide, that throughout the world heterosexually partnered women get a pass that lesbian women will never get. (They will be stoned/hung/imprisoned/not promoted/not hired.) Families, therefore, can be counted on to raise their children homo/lesbophobically, with again, consequences we all are very aware of.

    These systemic, institutionalized perks and benefits doled out on the basis of complicity *do* create hierarchies among us and I am not sure what is to be gained by arguing that point.

    That does not mean, though, that as individuals, lesbian women are “more oppressed” than heterosexual women are as individuals, and it doesn’t really make sense to talk about it that way. Oppressions are weblike, I think, not stacked like weights on an exercise machine at the gym, such that we can count everybody’s and come up with totals to compare.

    But weblike or not, I think it makes sense to consider which classes and categories of people fare better, societally and culturally, than which classes. The fact that Hillary Clinton might well be President whereas, say, Marilyn Frye never would be, or Charlotte Bunch, isn’t only about their individual lives– it reflects society’s judgments on their decisions about who they will love, more specifically, about whether they will partner with males.

    Having said that, I am absolutely sure that speaking individually with Charlotte Bunch or Marilyn Frye, they are probably 5,000 times happier personally in their lives than Hillary is in her life with your buddy and mine, Bill. Their personal happiness with their relationships doesn’t change the fact that Hillary is privileged with respect to them. And Hillary’s personal misery married to an asshole like Bill doesn’t change that either.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 10:25 pm
  234. Under male heterosupremacy, you are at the top if you are white, male, rich, not disabled, heterosexual.

    The thing is, I’m not oppressed through my whiteness, my able-bodiedness, my wealth (to the extent that it’s present, not absent). Whereas my femaleness is subject to heterocentric norms that *HURT ME*.

    That’s what makes heterosexuality for *women* not-privilege…at least not in the same way those other characteristics serve as clear privilege. My ability to exercise white privilege may be limited due to sexism, but I am not punished for being white. My ability to exercise “het priv” is limited due to sexism *AND* I am punished for being heterosexual, *through* sexism.

    I’m not saying membership doesn’t have its privileges! I’m just saying heterocentrism and sexism cannot be compartmentalized into two different privilege considerations. So in talking about women and sexuality,j we’re talking about gradations between two (three, four, more) minority groups, not the classic framing of powered group vs. minority. The same analytical structure just doesn’t work when you’re talking about women…unless you think that heterosexuality is good for women.

    Which I do not.

    Posted by funnie | November 6, 2007, 10:27 pm
  235. rather than creating a hierarchy of privilege in which the highest-ranked and most privileged woman is the woman whose life is most intimately involved with men, and most centered around meeting the needs of men?

    I wanted to say, we aren’t “creating” the hierarchy of privilege, though. We are recognizing the hierarchy of privilege men have created because it needs to come down, because it hurts us all.

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 10:29 pm
  236. Funnie,

    We’re already pinned in so many hierarchies of oppression within the patriarchy.

    Class. Race. Ethnicity. Education. Male-centred “progressive” discussions have given visibility to those. They have *not* of course, given visibility to the hierarchies induced within the female world by male-prescribed-for-female appearances and behaviours.

    Here’s a bit that I wrote about that to another group:


    Heterosexuality is a *status* within the patriarchy, by which males rank females. It’s not, and never has been, about females or our sexuality.

    It’s a status in the same way that “university graduate” is a status.

    Marriage is a status, yes? We see it on the legal forms we fill in all the time. It’s a way in which we’re branded, like cattle: heifer, yearling heifer, first-calf heifer, cow. Has to do with who (male) has owned us (yet), or disowned us, or has predeceased us, and left us as part of his property remains.

    Motherhood is a status.

    “Out dyke” is a status – one more fraught with danger, and disempowered than that of “closeted dyke”.

    I’m referring to a power structure here, not to whatever choices we may or may not have made that may have anything to do with where we find ourselves within it.

    Where we have been, or are now, within that structure (and of course, this is only *one* of the many power structures in which patriarchy has us pinned) will have a huge amount to do with the life experiences that we have as women at the hands of males.

    It will have a profound effect on the feelings that we have about other women, who are in different places in that structure.

    This is why the consciousness of this rank-ordering is an essential tool for us as we work to communicate within female and radfem circles.

    I don’t think of it as the way in which females differ from each other most importantly. Good grief, we have age, size, wealth, race, etc etc.

    Just that the het (for lack of a better word: maybe “male-pleasing” would be better) hierarchy is one not commonly addressed in our understandings and work with each other.

    What I’m trying to get at here, is that this is a power hierarchy (intersecting with all the other power hierachies) induced and enforced by males against us. Not to be confused with the concept of “lifestyle choices”, which obscures the glaring actuality of the power hierarchy.

    For instance, in terms of the class hierarchy: an owning-class woman may choose to live a spartan existence, sharing resources with other women. That is a lifestyle choice. It does not in any way abnegate the fact of her class status. That endures even the *loss* of her money. Her economic status may change ( *not* by her choice, e.g. her Enron stocks collapse ) but her class status endures.

    So, all other things being equal, a married woman with sons has a higher het (I keep going back to “het” because it means female connected to the world through males) status than a married woman with daughters and no sons. This is not a status that she claims or chooses. It is a status (a power position) awarded to her by males.

    Do we want this hierarchy acting on us in our female groupings? Some of us do, some of us don’t. But it acts on us anyway. Knowing that, we can hopefully exert our own psychic forces against it.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 6, 2007, 10:29 pm
  237. This is not a status that she claims or chooses. It is a status (a power position) awarded to her by males.

    See, this is, I think, again, key. We aren’t ordering ourselves in a hierarchy. We are recognizing the hierarchies men have created, and how we are all affected by them.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 10:35 pm
  238. That’s always the way with these differences accorded to us by male heterosupremacists. Men often offer detailed explanations as to how it is that they are also oppressed by patriarchy, they don’t really derive benefits from it because of various reasons, the machinery harms them as well. And you know, they are *right*. That is *true*. They are cogs in a machine that is hugely bigger than they are and which can and does kill them individually like it can kill us. But to dismantle the machine — for our sake and for their own — they have to recognize and resist the lubes and oil filter changes and tune-ups and repairs that make them really efficient cogs. They have to actively work to dismantle the machine. The fact that they resent and do not enjoy their cog-like roles doesn’t make them any less an integral part or any less better off than the people the machine is rolling over (namely us!).

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 10:40 pm
  239. (xposted that last one)

    Heterosexuality harms heterosexual women socially, not just privately. Is it a different (and lesser) punishment than what lesbians receive socially? Yes. Is it privilege? No. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s heterosexuality is used as a weapon against her, *just like* her womanhood is.

    Her private relationship is not the only way in which living heterosexually harms her. That the public harm is lesser than the degree to which she would be harmed if she were a lesbian doesn’t erase it and it doesn’t make her privileged, as much as it makes her a differently-punished woman.

    As to what can be accomplished with this discussion: who knows. I found the characterization of heterosexual women’s lives as privileged to be false and the separation being made between sexism and heterocentrism to be false, and I thought that by calling those two things into question I could reorient the conversation back into something like the piece you posted, Heart, which talks about how heterosexism negatively affects women without characterizing it as a separate kind of discrimination that straight women don’t experience. Since straight women experience heterocentric discrimination every day.

    But if my posts aren’t doing that, then yeah, there’s no point.

    Posted by funnie | November 6, 2007, 10:41 pm
  240. Mary, see, I would change what you said:

    Heterosexuality is a *status* within the patriarchy, by which males rank females. It’s not, and never has been, about females or our sexuality.

    to

    Heterosexuality is a *status* within the patriarchy, by which males rank males. It’s not, and never has been, about females or our sexuality.

    ****

    I don’t think men rank women according to straight/lesbian. I think they rank men according to straight/gay, and change their oppression tactic according to straight/lesbian.

    And, Heart, in “PHMT,” P is a dominance system that benefits M.

    Under heterocentrism, do straight women benefit?

    My answer is no. Yours is (I take it) yes. We disagree. If that makes me some bizarre heterosexuality apologist (the apologist who hates heteronormativity SO MUCH that she finds it a totally abusive and degrading paradigm), so be it. But I don’t understand why it has to be that way.

    Posted by funnie | November 6, 2007, 10:49 pm
  241. I think this is why it was a *good* thing for Satsuma (hi Satsuma!) to have arrived here.

    Opening dimensions of awareness.

    Hammer, chisel, rock.

    I said to my friend Bev, when she had finished writing this book:

    http://www.antiqbook.com/boox/paz/026449.shtml

    “Bev, you’ve carved it out of the rock.”

    It’s as radical feminist as anything Andrea Dworkin or Marilyn Frye ever wrote.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 6, 2007, 11:07 pm
  242. funnie, my point re PHMT (patriarchy hurts men too, just in case someone needs the explanation) was that enjoying one’s privilege, or liking it, isn’t essential to having it, just as not enjoying one’s privilege doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    I agree that men change their oppression tactic according to whether a woman partners with men or women, and I totally agree with you that the underlying, or “root” oppression, or maybe core oppression, no matter who a woman partners with, is sexism. I think, though, that the differences to women’s lives in these differing tactics confers privileges to some women and not others.

    Hillary Clinton’s heterosexuality is used against her, but she will still in all likelihood be president of the United States. No lesbian in the country at this moment in history (or ever before) would be able to come near that office. That communicates a level of affirmation or acceptance or respect for Clinton which is not awarded to lesbians. This is true however wrong it is, whether Clinton wants it, seeks it, and so on. I think recognizing this is so doesn’t take anything away from the way individual heterosexual women suffer because of their connections to men. I think we can recognize that Hillary is both very much privileged compared with similarly-situated (age/class/race) lesbians, and also subjugated in her relationship to bill and to all men. I think we can recognize that Hillary is privileged compared with a similarly situated lesbian and agree that she is simultaneously oppressed because she is heterosexual as well.

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 11:09 pm
  243. Where we have been, or are now, within that structure (and of course, this is only *one* of the many power structures in which patriarchy has us pinned) will have a huge amount to do with the life experiences that we have as women at the hands of males.

    It will have a profound effect on the feelings that we have about other women, who are in different places in that structure.

    This is why the consciousness of this rank-ordering is an essential tool for us as we work to communicate within female and radfem circles.

    I don’t think of it as the way in which females differ from each other most importantly. Good grief, we have age, size, wealth, race, etc etc.

    Just that the het (for lack of a better word: maybe “male-pleasing” would be better) hierarchy is one not commonly addressed in our understandings and work with each other.

    What I’m trying to get at here, is that this is a power hierarchy (intersecting with all the other power hierachies) induced and enforced by males against us. Not to be confused with the concept of “lifestyle choices”, which obscures the glaring actuality of the power hierarchy.

    Yes! This is really insightful, Mary.

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 11:16 pm
  244. funnie: My ability to exercise white privilege may be limited due to sexism, but I am not punished for being white. My ability to exercise “het priv” is limited due to sexism *AND* I am punished for being heterosexual, *through* sexism.

    I think that speaks to the “root-ness” of sexism, not only the damned-if-you-do-or-don’t that you describe but also the way white (and other) kinds of privilege are limited because of sexism.

    I think, though, again, that the fact that a woman is punished for being heterosexual through sexism doesn’t change her greater access to power and societal perks and benefits. Women partnered with men are both punished and disenfranchised by their partnerships and privileged vis a vis women who do not partner with men societally and culturally.

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 11:29 pm
  245. I just spammed a comment intended to insult or scold several of us here. But I wanted to respond to this part of it because it has some relevance to the thread:

    Mary Sunshine – why do you think that gay men want the same privileges as straight men over women? Isn’t that quite a generalization – one that stands out among others? In my experience, many gay men either care very little about women or treat them well. I don’t know any gay men who hold Republican views on abortion/birth control. I don’t think there are many of them out there.

    Log Cabin Republicans

    They aren’t the only ones.

    And to care very little about women is to actively participate in our subordination, if you are male.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 11:33 pm
  246. Okay, a coolio woman I know in real life, Michfest sister, posted this elsewhere on the intertubes and I am stealing it, because as with everything she writes, it’s really good. Maybe she’ll come over here and claim it. 🙂

    Het privilege includes many areas, much of it automatic and unquestioned by most:

    ~Most of the world is assumed to be het partnerable absent evidence to the contrary. For those who are het, this sets the world up from your perspective as much as being right-handed in a right-handed world.
    ~If you’re het, your relationship is assumed to be a positive thing. (A het woman tells her mother she’s met a new man and isn’t likely to hear: “Oh. So you’re still dating men?” or a sigh and then a quick change of subject.)
    ~If you’re het, your relationship is assumed to be positive even if there is evidence to the contrary, sometimes dramatic evidence.
    ~If you’re het, your union is considered be part of the mainstream values that keep the society running and strong. However, forming a gay family is too often considered part of the negative forces that are driving society apart (extreme view) or just a harmless “alternative” to het normalcy ( moderately tolerant view).
    ~All the pronouns are normalized by gender, requiring a cognative disonance when one has to ‘translate” even in the case of allies.

    This is just the foundational list–there is much more and thousands of examples.

    Here’s the key: Privilege is not an insult–it’s a given in life. We all have it in different ways and living a conscious life requires us to seek it out and identify it wherever it exists. Tracking privilege provides invaluable clues and helps us see and evolve past patriachal power structures by pointing out where that structure draws its lines and thus showing how it works.

    It also gives us a social structure for understanding how to respectfully discuss these issues, it provides a map of who we are and where some of us come from.

    Bolds mine.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 11:36 pm
  247. I think we can recognize that Hillary is both very much privileged compared with similarly-situated (age/class/race) lesbians, and also subjugated in her relationship to bill and to all men.

    I don’t, though. I don’t recognize that she’s privileged compared with a similarly-situated lesbian.

    The distinction I’m making between “privileged” and “differently oppressed” isn’t semantic, and it isn’t just pertinent to assessing women in light of men.

    In assessing similarly situated women who are exactly the same BUT FOR their sexuality, I do not think the hetero woman is necessarily privileged as compared with the lesbian. They are differently oppressed.

    Pleasing men isn’t a power hierarchy among women. Pleasing men doesn’t give *WOMEN* power. Pleasing men doesn’t *empower* women. Pleasing men doesn’t *benefit* women.

    Pleasing men is pleasing men which is different than displeasing them. Period.

    And with that I think I have to depart because I can’t be any clearer, so further participation from me isn’t going to be helpful, just repetitive.

    Posted by funnie | November 6, 2007, 11:39 pm
  248. funnie, I think what you say can only be so if we ignore the list of stuff in the comment just above your last comment, for example. I don’t think “pleasing” men empowers/benefits/gives women power. I think women’s real connections with men — as wives, daughters, heirs, mothers, grandmothers — whether they are pleasing to men or not, confers certain societal benefits on them. If they sever their connections with men, they lose those benefits. They might be personally happier, but they also will be poorer, have more trouble finding/keeping jobs, have more trouble finding places to rent, find it impossible to visit their loved on in the ICU, be anathematized by most of the world’s population, not be able to go to most churches, and so on. I think the goal of feminism, or one goal, is that women do not have to trade societal benefits for happiness, or trade happiness for societal benefits, that our happiness and whatever benefits we enjoy do not hinge on our connections with men.

    Posted by womensspace | November 6, 2007, 11:55 pm
  249. Except, aaargh, to say, hopefully by way of making myself just a little clearer *yet* that none, not ONE, of the things on that tilde list are privileges…for *women*.

    It’s not a matter of liking/not liking, or wanting/not wanting privilege (just as you keep saying, Heart, I agree with you there, I just think you’re applying that criticism incorrectly – you’re applying it to what *I* am saying, and I’m not saying those things…you are!).

    Privilege is a question of *benefiting* and those things DO NOT benefit *women. Do! Not! benefit women. Any women! Anywhere!

    Some of the examples are egregiously detrimental – like the fact that your relationship will be called healthy even when you’re being abused – holy crap not a privilege!

    But even the lesser ones – like pronoun normatives – presume a heterosexual pairing-off of women, a property-izing of women that HURTS women, *even* heterosexual women, and does not BENEFIT women, *even* heterosexual women.

    At most, heterosexual women gain protection of men granted according to those men’s decision to be benevolent.

    Not privilege!

    Heteronormativity hurts women. Not benefits. Women are harmed, not privileged, by associating with men in a patriarchal system.

    Posted by funnie | November 7, 2007, 12:02 am
  250. Bottom line (and then I swear I’m done) the “het priv” ghost consistently being referenced WRT women is *protection*-based, not *rights*-based.

    And this “het priv” paradigm completely fails to address what happens when women are screwed over by the “protection” paradigm: e.g. the ways in which abuse of women becomes less, not more, real (socially AND legally, worldwide) the more involved a woman’s life is with men’s.

    A man forcing sex upon his wife NOT being rape, as it would be were she single being only one example of many.

    Not privilege. Protection. And when the protection is revoked, the lack of privilege becomes really, really, really obvious.

    Posted by funnie | November 7, 2007, 12:10 am
  251. Sometimes, it takes a long time.

    With the hammer, the chisel, the rock.

    Patience.

    Not that we want to be patient … but we must.

    Rest, restore, renew, return to the job another day.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 7, 2007, 12:17 am
  252. Funnie, I agree with you that sexism hurts women. I agree with you that heteronormativity hurts women.

    Social and familial acceptance of an (even abusive) relationship with a man isn’t a privilege except when you compare it with being disowned by your family/ostracized by society/stoned/executed/put in prison for *any* relationship you have with a woman, however healthy, until you compare it with what happens to you if you should partner with an abusive woman in a family and society which has already ostracized/shunned you for partnering with women at all.

    Pronoun normatives, presuming a het pairing off or property-izing of women isn’t a privilege until you compare it with being situated such that when you discuss your partners, there are no pronouns available to use that will be (1) understood and/or for which (2) you will not be immediately punished/shunned/thought to be wrong, in ways that go beyond someone’s personal opinion to real, material consequences in your life.

    How is it not privileged to be have access to jobs/apartments/homes/positions of status in society, which access het women can expect to have but lesbians cannot? How is it not privilege to be viewed as an appropriate candidate for President of the U.S. as opposed being viewed as completely inappropriate for that particular office? You seem to be not engaging with these particular indicea?

    I agree with you that sexism and heteronormativity hurt us all, as women, no question (men, too, for that matter). But partnering with men opens doors to women societally, culturally, fiscally, materially which will not be open for those who do partner with women. That is indicative of comparative privilege. It doesn’t mean women partnered with men are not, again, also harmed in that particular partnering.

    Posted by womensspace | November 7, 2007, 12:19 am
  253. Funnie, I think the batterings and rape heterosexual women experience in our homes, at the hands of men, fathers, stepfathers, husbands, priests, pastors, strangers, boyfriends, sons, are not made any less horrifying or real by the fact of those same women’s societal privilege relative to lesbians (who are also raped/battered at the hands of men, fathers, strangers, sons all of the above, as well as raped/battered because they are lesbians?).

    But I think Mary’s right. Another day, another time, maybe, we can pick this up.

    Posted by womensspace | November 7, 2007, 12:26 am
  254. Pleasing men isn’t a power hierarchy among women. Pleasing men doesn’t give *WOMEN* power. Pleasing men doesn’t *empower* women. Pleasing men doesn’t *benefit* women.

    I agree. I don’t see lesbians as immune either! Many lesbians have ‘sold out’ and negotiated a deal just as het women do.

    When I see lesbian feminist anger at het privilege, I am often tempted to anger of the kind of “Look in your own backyard Sister!”
    Or people in glass houses etc…. the denial of the lesbians who have sold out gets up my nose. Camille Paglia, Judith Butler spring to mind. All the butch/femme world-views etc, heterosexism is alive and well across and within lesbian communities!

    All patriarchal male groups need their ‘pink ghettos’ and ‘ladies auxiliaries’ to support their agenda. Whether its religion or gay rights lobby groups.

    Its like women cannot, or will not, Unionise on the grounds of their common womanhood.

    Its like a patronym has to appear before our feminism. christian feminism, liberal feminism, anarchist feminism, lesbian feminism – all of them, imply a connection with men, including lesbians.
    Lesbian-feminism for example, implies and suggests that gayness, is far more important than the womanhood. Lesbian is a patronym, it gives identification with gay men.

    Its like women must have a group of men, to be seen as “protectors” or “owners” – it doesn’t matter which group of men, or how lowly that group of men are within those heirarchies. The power and status of individual male groups rises and falls, independent of women’s status.

    The only bargaining chip we have is our sexuality, including lesbians who flock to gay male led groups, to negotiate some access to patriarchal privilege. Lesbians are increasingly seen as the “pink ladies” of gay rights activism.

    Another example of how patriarchal groups, grant privileges, or deny privileges, to *their* women is like abortion laws. Women didn’t fight and *win* that, liberal men granted a concession. It was in their self-interest to do so, and it was no Big Deal concession to make, to solicit the support of *their* women. The only bargain which could be made is that liberal het women would refuse alliance, and hence ally themselves with a different group of men.

    So many women are pathetically grateful for these concessions, they often forget that the granting or the denial of these concessions, or privileges, is solely *HIS* to make. Your male partner may be very liberal and strongly pro-feminist – but it always remains *HIS* privilege to either grant or deny your access to that privilege. Het women are ‘sleeping with the enemy’, but so are lesbians with gay men, they’ve sold their pussies in exchange for “protection” from just a different male faction.

    Posted by Rain | November 7, 2007, 12:29 am
  255. Mary, I’m not trying to chisel you or your opinion into something that matches mine, and I’d much appreciate you returning the favor.

    It’s not, after all, as if I’m unacquainted with the theory that heterosexual women are privileged over lesbians. I thought that was an appropriate analysis for years. Now I don’t. Maybe later I’ll change my mind again, but maybe not.

    I don’t see lesser degrees of exploitation (especially when that exploitation is so seldom lesser and so often just plain different) as proving privilege.

    In Florida, for example, Guatemalan immigrants and Haitian immigrants are exploited differently. In certain scenarios one group has an advantage over another: Haitians are mostly presumed to be legal residents of the US since defection from their country of origin most often makes them refugees. Haitians mostly don’t fear INS raids. Haitians mostly work on the books, not in the underground economy, and have access to all of the benefits that entails.

    On the other hand, Guatemalan immigrants share a religious and racial background that white people are more comfortable with – despite the fact that they’re not white, being indigenous and/or Latin@ is far better than being a (black) Haitian, in terms of how willing people are to give you a chance to prove yourself. Of all of the immigrants in South Florida (and there are many, many groups, from every country in the Carribean and Latin America, as well as all of the other continents), Haitians and Guatemalans pretty consistently duke it out for the bottom of the social barrel. So much so that it’s just not right to talk about citizenship “privilege” for the one group and race/religion “privilege” for the other. Both are discriminated against on those same grounds, to an amazing extent, even while “privileged” over the other.

    It just doesn’t make sense as an analysis, not when it’s more beneficial to *both* groups, both *marginalized* groups, to discuss how they are marginalized, both similarly and differently. It’s more complex, much more complex, than a one-up, one-down hierarchy.

    Posted by funnie | November 7, 2007, 1:25 am
  256. I think the point Funnie is trying to make is, the relative nature of relative privilege makes it virtually meaningless. Yes, there are ways lesbians are oppressed that do not apply to heterosexual women, but there are also ways heterosexual women are oppressed that do not apply to lesbians, or not to the same degree. I think heterosexual women are far more likely to be battered, raped, or murdered by a significant other, for instance. To rank this as more or less significant than the relatively higher status conferred by men on heterosexual women in society at large, or the greater likelihood a lesbian will be battered, raped, or murdered by a man she does not know, is highly problematic, IMO, and sounds suspiciously like oppression Olympics. Who is to say which forms of oppression are worse for women, or cause more harm? What would be the point? The forms of oppression are different, and I would say are impossible to compare quantitatively, meaningless to compare qualitatively. Being placed higher up in a social hierarchy defined by men to benefit men is a dubious privilege, at best. I find it largely illusory, crumbs men throw at heterosexual women trying to keep all women in line.

    Posted by Aletha | November 7, 2007, 5:51 am
  257. Wow, look what all comes out in a day.

    There is always a social ranking with everything human beings do.

    I don’t expect anyone to “give up” privilege at all. It is something you are born with or something that comes to you, and not many people actually ask for it.

    Nobody asked to be or studied to be either heterosexual or lesbian.

    In my case, I saw a lovely political ideology that simply lent dignity to my way of life. I believed myself to be morally superior to straight women, and in my fat headed self-satified way, I still believe myself to be morally superior. It is the privilege of people like me to simply overcompensate for all the hatred and abuse. The last shall be first, and in my mind I have made myself first in all the world.

    I know that women worldwide can overthrow patriarchy tomorrow if they wanted to. I know all women are free right this minute!

    We are free right now! We just have to know this in our waking lives.

    It’s a choice we make, just like Indians in India chose to ask Britain to leave, or African Americans stopped sitting at the back of the bus. Women can stop marrying men and having children any time they want. They can pursue an education and create companies and travel the world.

    They can build houses and communities for women. They can choose to leave that male world behind any time they want to.

    They can stop attending those awful churches any time they want to. They can wake up tomorrow and walk out of patriarchy forever, and men know it!

    Women can….

    Posted by Satsuma | November 7, 2007, 7:01 am
  258. Rain:

    At the end of your dreadful story about your time in rural Australia and the treatment of the Indigenous women there, you said this:

    That was nearly 30 years ago, and things have changed a lot since then.

    I wish that were true. Many places are still exactly like that, and if Howard has his way those that HAVE improved will soon be cast back to those horrible days.

    Please don’t buy into the washing over atrocities committed against Indigenous Australia as “past”. It’s bullshit, and it allows this mistreatment the protection of invisibility.

    Sorry for the derail…

    Posted by hexy | November 7, 2007, 11:09 am
  259. There are some comments in my moderation queue that I am going to hold off on approving for the moment for various reasons. I want to ask questions instead.

    If heterosexual feminists decide or declare or just argue that heterosexual and lesbian women are not hierarchicalized under male heterosupremacy vis a vis one another, that the oppressions/subordination are just different, with neither group worse off overall than the other, what is the likely outcome of that, for feminism, for women? How might work on behalf of specifically lesbian issues be affected by that decision/position? How might work on behalf of specifically heterosexual women’s issues be affected by that decision/position? Will this position result in more support for lesbian-specific issues? or less? More support for partnered-with-men-specific issues? Or less? Who stands to benefit by this position more, women who partner with women or who partner with men?

    Is this position — that lesbians and heterosexual women are simply oppressed differently, but are not heirarchicalized — more or less likely to decenter heteronormativity than the position that lesbian women are at the bottom of the male hierarchy?

    Do heterosexual feminists have a history of working for lesbian rights prior to the time that lesbians themselves organized around lesbian issues?

    Do lesbian feminists have a history of working for the rights of women partnered with men?

    Is the position that there is no hierarchy based on with whom women partner more likely to result in greater or lesser interest in specifically lesbian issues? In issues specific to women who partner with men?

    I’m asking please that nobody dash off a quick response designed to drive their own point home one more time. I think for this thread to continue to be productive, we might have to come at things from a little different angle.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 7, 2007, 12:22 pm
  260. “Do heterosexual feminists have a history of working for lesbian rights prior to the time that lesbians themselves organized around lesbian issues?”

    -This is a very good question, because we don’t have much documented history of lesbian life yet. My guess is that the 19th century feminists worked together on a lot of issues, but I have never seen hetersoexual women really do much at all in the area of lesbian rights. We can have lesbians leading straight groups like NOW, but many of these women get deposed in some political battle. Tammy Bruce of Los Angeles NOW and Ivy Bottini the founder of New York NOW come to mind. (70s and 90s by the way) In all the history I’ve read, and in all the original archival research I’ve done, I’ve never come across straight feminists ever even thinking of lesbians of their own accord.
    Lesbians have always had to step forward on their own and organize on their own.

    “If heterosexual feminists decide or declare or just argue that heterosexual and lesbian women are not hierarchicalized under male heterosupremacy vis a vis one another, that the oppressions/subordination are just different, with neither group worse off overall than the other, what is the likely outcome of that, for feminism, for women?”

    It’s hard for me to imagine a greater oppression than having to actually live with the oppressor! I certainly wouldn’t leave it to heterosexual feminists to place me anywhere in some sort of “oppression ranking system.” I just don’t see myself as oppressed in the true sense of the word at all. I guess I mean this in the day to day sense of the word. But the very fact that I spend so little social time really talking to heterosexual feminists one way or the other is telling. They aren’t really up on the issues that matter to me most, and time is something we don’t have endless amounts of.

    I just don’t believe heterosexual feminists will work enmasse on lesbian issues. They seem to set the political agenda, and it’s one I’m no longer that interested in.

    If heterosexual feminists argued that all these oppressions are just different, but not greater or lesser to each other, I think that they’d use this as an excuse to do nothing at all vis-a-vis lesbians.

    This is not personal, so don’t have everyone get mad here, but I just don’t feel that straight women do much at all for lesbian anything. I still think they’re at the fear stage or the guilt by association stage.

    Even the liberal feminists who were behind the movie “The Jane Austin Book Club” had a movie ending in which the lesbian couple was completely excluded or absent from the party at the end, thus saying that lesbians can’t be included in the happily ever after formula. Straight feminists who made this movie no doubt thought that they were being “inclusive” (code word for token if there ever was one) just by *SHOCK* having lesbians in the story to begin with.

    “How might work on behalf of specifically lesbian issues be affected by that decision/position?”
    Just another excuse for heterosexual women to do absolutely nothing, or they would revert to the token lesbian invisibility comfort zone.

    ” How might work on behalf of specifically heterosexual women’s issues be affected by that decision/position? Will this position result in more support for lesbian-specific issues? or less? More support for partnered-with-men-specific issues? Or less? Who stands to benefit by this position more, women who partner with women or who partner with men? ”

    It seems to me that women who partner with men will garner the lion’s share of political thought and activism, if the hierarchy of oppression were erased from discourse. It’s hard for me to answer these questions, because all of my lesbian energy has come from lesbian only groups. We spent decades building our own groups and places, and this made the life we wanted. In time, after dealing with fear and coming out issues, I grew indifferent toward straight women, I had very low expectations. I didn’t think a lot of straight feminists knew much about lesbians at all.

    I am very uncomfortable with being placed at the bottom of anything, because I don’t feel I belong there. Maybe it’s my sense of moral superiority that causes this to rankle, I don’t know. I often have difficulty telling if my life is more or less difficult than most women everywhere. Tired old analysis that this sounds like, I just took a look at census data to see what the income ranking system was in the U.S. I decided that I wanted to be in the top 20% of income earners in America, and that this economic advance would improve my life situation far more than waiting around for straight women to do anything vis-a-vis lesbian “oppression.”

    The majorities benefit, the minorities don’t benefit– that’s the formula. In a good economy, the general population is more concerned with the welfare of people different from themselves.

    For example, I was talking to a woman who is associate pastor of a very liberal church in town. She was a student at Berkeley in the 60s, and I just enjoyed her insights. Her husband works for a low income housing non-profit corporation and is a minister as well. So we were talking in detail about how low income housing works. In passing, she said something that really struck me, she said back then, “We never ever even worried about getting a good job when we graduated from college, we took all that for granted.”

    This last bit revealed a lot. The great activism of the 60s was based on a good economy, not necessarily people’s desire to work on the issues of others.

    When I look at my straight neighbor across the street, she has two small children, and she has never brought up any political issue at all. She has no awareness of anything outside her small world and no curiosity. This is peculiar in a person who has a masters degree in journalism, but there you have it.

    This whole idea of hierarchies of oppression is interesting, because what does it mean exactly? We’re still at the stage where straight people will “allow” lesbians at “their events.” We are there on sufferance, and that’s why I don’t really like being involved with straight women’s groups or functions outside of work obligations to begin with.

    We got as far as we got when lesbians started taking their own issues seriously and doing activism and political theory around lesbian concerns as well. I have an ambivilent feeling about doing anything in terms of straight women’s issues, because I feel then I am taking time away from my own people. After 30 years of watching abortion hog the headlines, or birth control being discussed endlessly… well I think you can see my point here.

    The answer is for straight women to really care and to see the value lesbians bring to any political discussion or life situation for that matter.

    Lesbian fueled political theory was a huge gain for straight women, they could have women more objectively analyze the very nature of marriage, for example.

    It would be interesting to see statistically what percentage of lesbians contribute to this blog, and what percentage of straight women contribute to it. How does the discussion of issues about lesbian freedom (not rights feminism but freedom feminism) come about in a straight woman discussion situation? How does it look here? This will reveal a truth when you do the numbers.

    How we are here, is how we are everywhere.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 7, 2007, 5:59 pm
  261. PS I just posted something, but it seemed to disappear.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 7, 2007, 6:01 pm
  262. This happens off and on, so please advice, because awhile ago something that I thought had disappeared, then was posted???

    Posted by Satsuma | November 7, 2007, 6:02 pm
  263. Satsuma, yeah, sometimes comments go into the spam queue, and when that happens, you won’t get the usual, “Your comment is awaiting moderation” message. It happens unpredictably– the spam filter is “adjusted” by various techies who are in charge of such adjustings based on various factors like how much spam is coming through. When the filters are tightened up, legitimate comments go into the spam queue, including, at times, mine. If I’m not thinking about it or someone doesn’t alert me to it, sometimes it takes a while for me to check and see if anything is in there. There are always thousands of spams (most of it pornography spam, i.e., attempted “comments” that are nothing but hundreds of links to pornography) in the spam queue and hundreds of pages, so once I get to looking, sometimes it takes a while to find lost comments.

    Anyway, you aren’t doing anything wrong and it isn’t anything personal, it’s just computers, doing what computers do.

    Posted by womensspace | November 7, 2007, 6:46 pm
  264. Thanks for the explanation. Most of my posts seem to do the right thing.

    Kind of yucky that so much pornography spam goes to you Heart. Yuck and double yuck.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 8, 2007, 12:06 am
  265. Oh, good, my post where I went through some of Heart’s questions on hierarchy of oppressions made it after all.

    I tried to pick several of the comments, and attempted to answer them. They were very difficult questions, and I think as the years have gone by, I have become more and more distant from concerns of majorities.

    We live in a country where the protection of minority rights of any group is highly problematic.

    I can’t think of one feminist group that I know of where straight women and lesbians really truly work together as equals, where half the group is straight and the other half lesbian.

    When straight women even use a word, they often say “gay” because just saying the word “lesbian” is terror provoking. “Gay” is not a good sign in any conversation; it usually means the woman is at least watching T.V., but has probably never read anything remotely like lesbian feminist literature.

    Lesbian feminists like Mary Daly are sited on campus, but not by name. You can go back to the 19th century to see really radical feminist writing, but there has been little follow up in the 20th century– you needed a huge social movement like the feminist movement to push these issues to the forfront to begin with.

    I don’t know what the answer is really. All I know is I sure would not want to be dependent on straight women to do this work, so I am focusing my time and energy on lesbians issues like elder housing, access to job information, and the basics of money management.

    I also support archives and organizations that will preserve our documents and letters and writings, just to make it a little bit harder to erase everything, and even then, this is going to be hard.

    The majority often feels very uncomfortable with anyone but the most “assimilated” minority groups anyway. Since assimilation has never interested me, I don’t have that much of a connection to straight women as a group in any political or spiritual context at all.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 8, 2007, 1:55 am
  266. If heterosexual feminists decide or declare or just argue that heterosexual and lesbian women are not hierarchicalized under male heterosupremacy vis a vis one another, that the oppressions/subordination are just different, with neither group worse off overall than the other …

    Heart, I do not know what you are holding in moderation, but that is not what I was arguing. I was arguing the concept of relative privilege is problematic. Clearly men would like heterosexual women to feel privileged over lesbians, otherwise more might abandon men. Clearly lesbians suffer from all sorts of things from being classed as sick, immoral, abnormal, what have you, which heterosexual women are spared. It is not that the forms of oppression are just different, but they are different, and affect women in different ways. It also depends on where one lives, how tolerant the culture is of lesbians and of noncomforming heterosexual women. These are tradeoffs. Perhaps it might help if you defined what privilege means to you, Heart.

    Satsuma said, “It’s hard for me to imagine a greater oppression than having to actually live with the oppressor!” Interesting point. Having a typical male significant other holds a woman back in all kinds of ways, as she has pointed out. I think it is important to recognize how men place women at various levels in the social hierarchy, but whether that means I am better off than Satsuma in an absolute sense is dubious. Men may want me to think so, but that kind of “privilege” did not mean a whole lot to me when I suddenly discovered how foolish I was to trust a particular significant other. That foolishness nearly cost me my life, and I will never know why he relented, did not finish me off. Heart also had a narrow escape from death at the hands of a significant other, though it may not be as fresh in her mind. She and I are both lucky to be alive. I had never felt threatened by a significant other before that day shattered my illusions. There was no previous violence, just some nasty verbal fights that should have been a red flag.

    I am ambivalent about this whole concept of comparing forms of oppression. Certainly men confer some privileges on heterosexual women over lesbians, but what does that really amount to? I totally disagree with the implication that questioning the validity of relative privilege is an excuse to ignore or discount lesbian issues. Those who want to make excuses will find rationalizations for doing so, but to my mind, discounting any form of oppression is foolish at best, certainly not radical. That might explain why the big feminist organizations have not done much for lesbians, since they are relatively moderate, not particularly radical. Any radical feminist worth her salt will oppose all forms of oppression regardless of whether they affect her personally or not. This does not mean splitting her energies equally among all the forms; that would be impossible, and dilute her energies too much. I do agree too many heterosexual women tend to overlook lesbian issues, and that radical heterosexual women ought to take pains to be aware of the unique forms of oppression faced by lesbians. I understand why lesbians would want to devote most of their energy to fighting their own battles, since they are not getting much support. Heteronormativity is a trap that benefits no woman in the larger sense, despite the superficial benefits of the gilded cage.

    By the way, Tammy Bruce is a fan of George Bush, hard as that might be to believe. She has a talk show that has to be heard to be believed. The reasons she makes me feel sick have absolutely nothing to do with her sexuality.

    Posted by Aletha | November 8, 2007, 7:41 am
  267. I approved the comments that were in moderation and they are here in the thread now.

    I wish some of the women who have e-mailed me about this would add their thoughts to this discussion. I know it’s a thick discussion, complicated, and fraught in various ways– all the more reason we need more women’s voices, offering their insights, experiences and thoughts.

    I can’t stand Tammy Bruce. Argh.

    I wanted to point out that I have repeatedly stressed that I do not think the matter of relative privilege of heterosexual and lesbian women can be isolated out and reduced to a matter of one-up/one-down privilege. Whatever benefits we may have, and however we are marginalized, the effect on us is to be caught in a web and unable to move freely. Slash through some parts of the web that is hindering us and we might free an arm or a leg, but other of our parts remain immobilized. The idea that heterosexual women are privileged compared with lesbian women is a political analysis essential to the political class struggle of lesbians. It is not a club with which to whip heterosexual women in line and it is not an inference that lesbians are more victimized, especially by heterosexual women.

    See, this is where I get really pissed off and want to rant for hours. The reason this is so muddled and confusing, in part, has to do with the way the class analyses which have served us so well in progressive and feminist movements have been individualized into oblivion and seized upon as though they were personal weapons in debate, especially online. Any of us online for any amount of time has seen this. Somebody is making a really cogent, intelligent argument about something, and some other person randomly comes in and starts clubbing that person for some element of her “privilege”. This is done not in the interests of more light, more understanding, and a more intelligent discussion. It is done because of axes to grind, power struggles, being pissed off, old grudges, resentments, or plain old wanting to win the argument, or it is simply and purely a dominance behavior, a person being a bully and an asshole. Once someone has introduced the “you are privileged/you are ____phobic” boogeyman, whether it is relevant or not, the discussion often then becomes personal with everybody whipping out evidences of her own privilege, or not, then the arguments about Oppression Olympics, boom another trainwreck.

    That has happened so much, the concept of privilege has been so abused in that particular way, that it’s difficult, I think, to even have this discussion anymore, of the benefit and value to a disenfranchised group of a specific class analysis of that particular group’s marginalization. I think lesbians need this class analysis of their subjugation under male heterosupremacy in order to achieve specific political goals which amount to justice for lesbians. In order to illuminate job discrimination, relationship discrimination, housing discrimination, police brutality, it is essential to say: “This group of people, AS a group of people, faces certain discrimination and injustice which other similarly situated groups do not face and which a just society must remedy.”

    Right now, Margaret Witt’s case is under review. She was a highly decorated military flight nurse who had served 17 years in the Air Force. Her commanding officers received a “tip” that she was a lesbian living in a long term relationship with a civilian woman.

    She was fired. She was fired during a time of shortages of flight nurses, outraging her colleagues. One of her male colleagues retired in disgust saying he wanted no more part of the military after many years’ service. Her appeal is before the Ninth Circuit as a challenge to the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy of the military.

    While Witt’s firing is centered in sexism and misogyny — that is the root cause — it is a specific act of lesbophobia. If Witt had been partnered with a man, or not partnered at all, she would not have been fired. She was fired *strictly* because she was partnered with a woman. In order for *that particular discrimination to end* — and not be obscured behind other types of discrimination women face which are already illegal, the specific disenfranchisement of lesbians *must be made visible* and must be *recognized.* This is, in fact, something heterosexual women never need to face, this possibility of a “tip” about whom they love which will end a brilliant career.

    This is what class analysis, as political strategy, is all about. It is in the best interests of those who are *not* affected by a specific form of discrimination to insist that it is not as specific as it actually is. I love what you say there, Aletha, that any radical feminist movement or progressive movement will care about all marginalization. That is so true. And in that caring, in that analyses, certain constellations of specific acts of subordination will become clear, and *that* is what I am talking about when I talk about relative privilege.

    Argh.

    I am wearying of this discussion, I admit. I wish some other of you amazingly brilliant voices who prefer e-mailing me to vent (!) would weigh in with your thoughts.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 5:24 pm
  268. The other thing is, one reason we need to make lesbophobia — forms of discrimination specific to lesbians as a class — is so that we can *address* and *challenge* lesbophobia within our own movement! If the specific forms of oppression a people group experiences are not made visible, their oppression within progressive groups, *by members of progressive groups*, either openly or by various types of complicity, won’t be visible either.

    Here is a link to a story about Margaret Witt’s appeal:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003995853_weblesbian05m.html

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 5:33 pm
  269. One more thing. This resistance to recognizing the specific subordination/subjugation of lesbians resulted in lesbians devoting their energies to GLBTQ, etc. some years back and leaving some kinds of feminist groups behind. If feminists are not going to focus on, and place front and center, lesbian issues, then lesbians — faced with those issues day in, day out — will have to go where they think there is greater hope of finding support and allies so far as *those particular issues*.

    Of course, that decision to devote the time to GLBTQ didn’t work so well, because lesbians were and are marginalized, erased and made invisible by the the overwhelming numbers of males in GLBTQ who focus on what is important to males and don’t really give a shit about lesbians, especially lesbian feminists! The lesbians GLBTQ gives a shit about are those who will support issues of primary significance to thoes born male. Leaving lesbians, once again, out in the cold.

    Lesbian issues are feminist issues, very central to feminism, *just* as issues specific to heterosexual feminists are. The problem is, there are *lots* of heterosexual feminists willing to support issues specific to heterosexual feminists, far fewer willing to devote themselves to issues specific to lesbians (and some of that has to do with, yes, lesbophobia. There is plenty of lesbophobia in all progressive movements, including feminism, including radical feminism.)

    Damn Sam the Elephant Man, as my mom used to say, I am getting too fired up, meaning I am weary.

    The other issue is, when attention is devoted, by ALL feminists, and ALL progressives, for that matter, to *lesbian issues*, all women benefit. ALL. In a million ways. So there is plenty of reason to focus on lesbian issues, even for women who partner with men, as a matter of their own self-interest. But to see and get this we have to recognize the privileging of heterosexuality over lesbianism.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 5:49 pm
  270. This is, in fact, something heterosexual women never need to face, this possibility of a “tip” about whom they love which will end a brilliant career.

    Actually, no, that’s the basis of marital status discrimination – women being not-hired (or paid less) because they’re married and therefore don’t need the career/money. Or because the fact that they’re married to a man means that they’ll have kids soon and drop out of the workforce anyway. Being discriminated against because someone finds out you’re married to a man happens a lot in teaching, for example.

    AS DOES discrimination based on being a lesbian. Obviously. As DOES discrimination based on being single (presumed heterosexual).

    My point being that there’s probably much more efficacy in pointing out what happens to women, including lesbian women, without saying that it does NOT happen to other women when it does, in fact, happen to other women, because patriarchy will find a way to “get at” all women in one way or another. Better, in my opinion, to talk about women being fired for being lesbian, full stop.

    I’d like to point out that never, not one time, did I say that homophobia didn’t exist, or that lesbians aren’t discriminated against on that (also sexist) basis in addition to your garden-variety sexism.

    I also didn’t say, as you seem to be implying, Heart, that the ways in which lesbians are discriminated against shouldn’t be delved deeply into and recognized, or that straight women aren’t capable of blindness when it comes to the varieties of discrimination they don’t personally face. Or that straight women aren’t capable of homophobic acts. Anti-lesbian acts. Of course we are.

    My point is merely that characterizing different oppressions as privilege is entirely unhelpful. Characterizing what happens, legally, socially, individually, to a woman when she marries a man as *privilege* is incorrect when it is *harm* and the fact that someone else suffers a greater harm doesn’t make lesser harm *privilege.*

    I think that it’s best, in talking about that web, to talk about what is stuck and why that’s bad. I think that as soon as we start characterizing stuck-limbs as “free” we start to run wildly off-track, chasing goals (gay marriage) that won’t, in the end, help women to be free.

    Posted by funnie | November 8, 2007, 5:51 pm
  271. This is, in fact, something heterosexual women never need to face, this possibility of a “tip” about whom they love which will end a brilliant career.

    Funnie: Actually, no, that’s the basis of marital status discrimination – women being not-hired (or paid less) because they’re married and therefore don’t need the career/money. Or because the fact that they’re married to a man means that they’ll have kids soon and drop out of the workforce anyway. Being discriminated against because someone finds out you’re married to a man happens a lot in teaching, for example.

    Funnie, no heterosexually married woman is going to be fired because someone tipped a co-worker off, privately, that she was heterosexually married.

    Marital status discrimination is specific to women who partner with men. Fix it and it will help women who partner with men, but it will not help lesbians.

    Fix the discrimination Witt has endured and it may well help women partnered with men, in the ways that you describe. If a tip that a woman is partnered with a woman can’t be used to fire her, a tip that a woman has children or is going to get pregnant may be unavailable for use either.

    Curing marital status discrimination isn’t going to help Witt in any way, unless and until lesbians can marry, which is a cause most of us don’t really believe in supporting for reasons you cite at the end of your comment.

    This is really a pretty good example of what I’m talking about.

    Men privilege women who partner with men. They fire women who partner with women. It’s an example of the core significance of so many lesbian political issues.

    I didn’t intend to imply anything with respect to your views of feminist/progressive lesbophobia or inattention to lesbian issues, I was speaking generally.

    Funnie (and everyone), I am trying to err on the side of being moderate, avoiding inflammatory language, where possible, making inferences about motives, reading stuff in, and so on. I would like all of you to consider this as well. I’ve been lenient with Satsuma because she is new to this blog and to internet feminism, so please, nobody accuse me (in so many words) of favoritism! I am not willing, today, and don’t have time, to moderate a thread in which women will not moderate their own comments with an eye to what is helpful and productive and what might not be.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 6:20 pm
  272. Really, that’s kind of an evidence of heterosexual privilege in itself. Lesbophobia and homophobia exist in abundance, including in progressive movements and including in feminism, including in radical feminism. Heterosexual relationships are the norm and the standard, including in radical movements. By contrast, there is no such thing as heterophobia, anywhere.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 6:26 pm
  273. I think that it’s best, in talking about that web, to talk about what is stuck and why that’s bad. I think that as soon as we start characterizing stuck-limbs as “free” we start to run wildly off-track, chasing goals (gay marriage) that won’t, in the end, help women to be free.

    To be clear, I sure never characterized stuck limbs as “free”.

    My point was to agree with you that we cannot make side by side, or straight-line, or up-and-down(as you say) analyses where many different forms of oppression factor in to individual women’s lives, and to remind everyone of what I hope is a foregone conclusion, that even where a marginalized, subordinated class gains ground in some way, “frees a limb”, individuals may remain immobilized by the remaining strands of the web — all of the many other subordinations they experience — which restrain them. It’s not, in other words, a competition to see which subgroup, or which individuals, more specifically, within the subgroup, are “most oppressed”, because that doesn’t even make sense. Which is something that is true *even when* oppressions within the larger group are heirarchicalized (not by us, by male heterosupremacy).

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 6:33 pm
  274. Funnie, no heterosexually married woman is going to be fired because someone tipped a co-worker off, privately, that she was heterosexually married.

    That’s not true. It does happen. And in fact, I believe it happened (in some sense) to *you*. It usually centers around the characteristics of who the woman is married to.

    Again: why say that things *don’t* happen, when we can be more accurate by talking about things that *do* happen and how *often* they happen (since being fired for being lesbian obviously happens much more often than being fired because you’re married to a man).

    I don’t understand this impulse or its utility.

    Posted by funnie | November 8, 2007, 6:38 pm
  275. That’s not true. It does happen. And in fact, I believe it happened (in some sense) to *you*. It usually centers around the characteristics of who the woman is married to.

    So true. Not just characteristics, but I would add demographics as well, it the two are not already the considered the same.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 8, 2007, 6:48 pm
  276. “Again: why say that things *don’t* happen, when we can be more accurate by talking about things that *do* happen and how *often* they happen (since being fired for being lesbian obviously happens much more often than being fired because you’re married to a man).

    Funnie,

    Would you say that if the issue of oppression under discussion here were, instead of lesbian oppression, race? or education? or class background? or plain old biological sex i.e. male/female?

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 8, 2007, 6:50 pm
  277. Yes, funnie, it happens to outliers, and that’s usually about racism, another mechanism by way of which male heterosupremacy regulates women’s partnerings, which is probably what you’re remembering re me. I wasn’t fired, though. I was told by my boss that if she had known I was married to a black man and had five kids, she would not have hired me, that I should have told her about that. She didn’t fire me because when she talked to family members and friends, they said, “So what?” I can promise you if my partner had been a woman, I *would* have been fired. This was a conservative, Republican, white woman, Roman Catholic, mother of six children with her own business. She towed a very strict patriarchal line. She had to, to be successful in the business we were in, in which our clients were far and away affluent, white, male attorneys.

    Sort of like, although many members of my family went ballistic because of my interracial relationships, they would have gone off the charts had my partners been women. No freaking way. My family would have been absolutely devastated. They weren’t devastated over my interracial relationships, just either worried, irritated, or pissed off. The more liberal members of my family (because my parents were liberal Democrats when I was young) thought it was okay. They would have been horrified had I partnered with a woman, liberal Democrats or no.

    I do get what you’re saying. I have a similar perspective with respect to transgender/transsexual issues. I think that subordination/subjugation of transgender/transsexual persons is about sexism and that that is the approach to be taken in considering issues around transgender. While I recognize that transgender/transsexual persons *do* experience discrimination which is unique to their class, I don’t see female persons as privileged vis a vis transpersons, because transpersons are male or men– they are either male-born and transitioning (MTFs), or they are female born and transitioning to men (FTM) (leaving aside for the purposes of this discussion the nebulous and undefined issues around many differing self-created “gender identities”). Since they either are male-born (hence the recipient of male privilege) or female-born but transitioning (so that they will be the recipient of male privilege to some degree, relative to female persons) they still have privilege relative to female persons.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 6:51 pm
  278. I can promise you if my partner had been a woman, I *would* have been fired. This was a conservative, Republican, white woman, Roman Catholic, mother of six children with her own business. She towed a very strict patriarchal line. She had to, to be successful in the business we were in, in which our clients were far and away affluent, white, male attorneys.

    Thinking more about this, the Roman Catholic church has never forbade interracial relationships, so long as both partners were Roman Catholic. But lesbian relationships? Heck no!

    Which is true, of course, so far as all of the world’s fundamentalist religions. All pretty much permit heterosexual marriages, with certain regulations re being members of the church, not being divorced previously, etc. Race sometimes, but very rarely, factors in. None allow for lesbian marriages/relationships/love, it is all forbidden.

    This is a huge international network and power structure, set specifically against lesbian relationships (and gay male relationships), which hugely influences governments, corporations, all of the other “powers” in the world.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 6:59 pm
  279. Heart,

    I’m sorry that all this has landed on you.

    Here’s a quote from an email that I just sent to someone else that may shed some light:

    In general, I don’t like to push it in conversations with women for lots, and lots, of reasons.

    In the case of the het privilege < == > lesbian oppression thing, I realized over that past few days that really, the only reason I “get” it is because I hashed it out, examined it, denied it, got pissed off at it, etc ** 17 years ago! ** with cherished, trusted separatist friends. And, over the last 17 years I have continued to pull it all apart and put it all back together with what I know from reading Sonia Johnson books over that same time period.

    What I have been rewarded to realize is that those two different descriptions and analyses of female reality in mensworld are not at all at odds. The complement each other, and are best understood in *terms* of each other, as well, of course as standing alone.

    But I have had 17 years to slowly figure that out for myself. How many women have had that luxury?

    Heart has figured it out for *herself* because she is so totally brilliant and dedicated, and also, 55 years on the planet. heheheheh …. I have never known a woman to be willing to embrace and examine so many different analyses all at the same time. Most of us take one and run with it like a football, blocking anyone who might come running up alongside.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 8, 2007, 7:01 pm
  280. Mary: In the case of the het privilege lesbian oppression thing, I realized over that past few days that really, the only reason I “get” it is because I hashed it out, examined it, denied it, got pissed off at it, etc ** 17 years ago! ** with cherished, trusted separatist friends. And, over the last 17 years I have continued to pull it all apart and put it all back together with what I know from reading Sonia Johnson books over that same time period.

    Thanks, Mary, much appreciated!

    This is the reason I get it, too. I have hashed it out, examined it, denied it, got pissed off at it, etc., with cherished, trusted separatist friends.

    Which kind of brings us back to another question that has been asked here, or topic under discussion: how well lesbian feminists and partnered-with-men feminists have been able to work together, whether they have been able to, and how much of this discussion has to do with alienation resulting from conflicts that never got resolved. Back to me saying, someday, we are going to have to be able to resolve these issues productively!

    But thanks again. I’m sorry this has landed on me, too, just glad I have broad athletic shoulders and wide, child-bearing hips!🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 7:15 pm
  281. What I have been rewarded to realize is that those two different descriptions and analyses of female reality in mensworld are not at all at odds. They complement each other, and are best understood in *terms* of each other, as well, of course as standing alone.

    This is great.

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 7:26 pm
  282. Funnie,

    Would you say that if the issue of oppression under discussion here were, instead of lesbian oppression, race?

    Yes; re: race, I did this very thing in comment #261, which has now been unmoderated.

    Re: class, I also don’t talk about how women who work 60+ hours/week and remain in poverty are privileged over unemployed, homeless women.

    Re: education, I don’t talk about how women who were forced to end their education in 8th grade are privileged over women who are illiterate.

    Re: sex, there is no oppressed-but-not-AS-oppressed as women sex to compare, unless we get into transgender-type stuff, maybe, so: no.

    I don’t get the feeling that very many women here are willing to put aside what they *believe* I am saying (or ideas about who/whatever they *want* to argue against) to see through to what I am *actually* saying, though, so I think I need to stop, again.

    It’s pretty frustrating, this continuing implication that probably I just don’t know, haven’t considered, haven’t worked through, haven’t engaged, etc. lesbian issues. I’m not holding myself out as an arbiter/expert, but. I’m not just jumping in feet-first, here, or protecting my het-priv against some imaginary lesbian avengers of yore, or…?

    One can, after all, spend quite a bit of energy on an issue and still approach it from a different theoretical perspective than is common among one’s political allies – doing so does NOT automatically mean that my perspective minimizes the harm done to lesbian women, or incorrectly portrays lesbian realities.

    Nothing – nothing – that I have said has implied that homophobia against women is not a particularly harmful harm. So, why do people keep responding as though I’ve said that?

    ****

    Heart, I was talking about a speaking engagement, so not traditional employment/firing, but I thought you were disinvited from future participation.

    Posted by funnie | November 8, 2007, 8:05 pm
  283. It’s pretty frustrating, this continuing implication that probably I just don’t know, haven’t considered, haven’t worked through, haven’t engaged, etc. lesbian issues. I’m not holding myself out as an arbiter/expert, but. I’m not just jumping in feet-first, here, or protecting my het-priv against some imaginary lesbian avengers of yore, or…?

    Exactly why I gave up discussing the topic. Regardless of how whoever thinks they sound or meant to sound it was coming across as “You stupid little girl you just have not applied yourself enough, therefore you are inferior to me.” I kept hearing it post after post after post. Projection maybe, maybe not. At the end of it all when my headache was throbbing I wanted to know where all the splintering was getting us.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 8, 2007, 8:33 pm
  284. I don’t get the feeling that very many women here are willing to put aside what they *believe* I am saying (or ideas about who/whatever they *want* to argue against) to see through to what I am *actually* saying, though, so I think I need to stop, again.

    I kind of have the same feeling about what you’ve commented, that possibly you aren’t willing to put aside what you believe I am saying to see through to what I actually am saying.

    But, this is a thick and complicated discussion and it’s almost impossible to do it justice in the limited time we have to comment to this blog.

    If your position is as you’ve set it forth above, that you don’t believe a woman with some education is privileged vis a vis an illiterate woman, then I think I really do disagree with your approach. I think you either aren’t following, aren’t reading, aren’t interested🙂 (friendly smile, just want to be sure that comes across!) in some of what I’ve worked hard to communicate, i.e., that being privileged in some area as a woman, doesn’t change the fact that vis a vis the *very same women* you are privileged with respect to, you might also be disenfranchised with respect to, i.e., the rest of the “web” remains. I think that my many decades of partnerships with men privilege me with respect to Satsuma. But I think Satsuma probably has both class privilege and race privilege with respect to me, because of my interracial marriages/children. I think all of the women here who have college degrees/advanced degrees are privileged with respect to all of the women who do not. That would include me; I don’t have any degrees. I think all of us here are privileged class-wise compared with most women in the world. What I don’t think is that it makes sense for any of us to “count” our oppressions and line them up as against another woman’s here and say we are “more” oppressed. Which doesn’t change the fact that we have various kinds of privilege vis a vis one another.

    I guess I don’t see how it benefits all women not to acknowledge relative privilege. I do think it benefits *some* women. And that bothers me.

    I think women need time to think about things, process things, all of us need that. I never figure that the end of a thread is the end of the thread, or that nobody’s opinions have changed, or that anybody’s has. That’s a process. All I know is, it will come up again!

    As to speaking engagements, I was told after I’d spoken all over the country, by someone who at that time was an influential magazine publisher, that I had an obligation to let those inviting me to speak at conferences know that I was interracially married, and if I wasn’t willing to disclose that I had a black husband and biracial children, my speaking engagements would no longer be publicized by this publisher. It was dumb, because I never asked that my speaking engagements be advertised, I was approached and asked whether I’d mind if they were! This, of course, was an attempt from the beginning to find some way to assert control over my speaking engagements and work, just in general. I had never advertised anywhere, for just this reason, I wanted the freedom that comes from not having advertisers.

    So I said, nicely, screw you, don’t advertise me then. This person kept advertising me anyway, but later, when I filed for divorce, she headed up the organizing which resulted in my magazine being forced from the market. Hers was among the eight Religious Right organizations I sued.

    She didn’t have consensus at all on this, which is why she kept advertising my speaking engagements. But if instead of being heterosexually married and producing children with a black man, I’d been partnered with a woman, I’d have been immediately flat out on my ear, no question.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 8:45 pm
  285. I wanted to say again I think this is important, that Mary Sunshine said:

    Mary Sunshine: What I have been rewarded to realize is that those two different descriptions and analyses of female reality in mensworld are not at all at odds. They complement each other, and are best understood in *terms* of each other, as well, of course as standing alone.

    I think the ongoing discussion/debate is really, really important, and more than that, necessary. I think considering the two positions, yours, funnie, and mine, (really, the larger positions that each of our individual perspectives belongs to), in terms of each other, can lead to deeper understanding and better strategizing no matter what position we are taking at any particular point.

    But that’s only true if we have the discussion/debate in the first place. If we tiptoe around it, or won’t have it, or don’t want it, then I think we miss out. But there are good reasons that we actually do avoid this discussion, as radical feminists/lesbian separatists, which are evident in this thread and which have existed since the 60s, really. We really lose when we stop talking, and we do stop talking when we hole up with women situated just as we are and won’t venture forth amongst women whose lives are very different.

    Having said all of that, I don’t think any woman, any where, no matter how she is situated, is obligated to discuss anything at all with feminists who abuse or disrespect her or show in various ways that they don’t really care about her. That holds true for feminist women I think have more in the way of privilege than all others and for feminist women disenfranchised in every conceivable way. No woman deserves to be abused by women in the name of feminism or any other progressive movement, and no woman should tolerate abuse for any reason. There’s a lot of that around and it’s disgusting, women just accepting abuse in the name of being an ally, women being told they should accept abuse to prove they are an ally. Bullshit.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 8, 2007, 9:10 pm
  286. ((( Heart ))) Thank you for saying all that stuff that I’ve been thinking!

    I see lots of little rock chips. I see something that was hidden in the rock taking shape.

    Bless you.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 8, 2007, 9:45 pm
  287. Thanks, Mary, much appreciated!

    I just keep thinking this. How is it going to sound to a woman who is illiterate, is a woman of color, is a lesbian or a single mother of several children, is disabled, is very poor, to hear feminists who have degrees, money, who are married to men with degrees and money with 401(k)s and homes and fancy cars and retirement plans, who are white, youngish, not disabled, not immigrants, suggesting that feminists should not speak in terms of relative privilege amongst subcategories of feminists. If the suggestion or analysis comes from a woman in this category; in other words, if someone who is homeless, an immigrant, lesbian, a person of color, illiterate tells me that’s the way she sees things and explains why, I would definitely consider what she had to say. But it just seems very wrong to me for anyone not in that category to make that suggestion.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 9, 2007, 12:41 am
  288. I never said women in all of those categories weren’t privileged, or that women can’t be privileged over other women.

    I am taking issue with the idea that the more involved with men a woman is, the more privileged she is. That the more tied-up a woman’s interests are with men’s interests, the better off she is. That the more a woman meets the hetero paradigm, meaning she’s subject to that paradigm, the more advantaged she is.

    Erego, sexuality is different than wealth and race and class and education and ability.

    However, IF (big if) we insist on using that same schema to view women’s lives, it is more like comparing physically disabled women to mentally disabled women; women of low education to women of lower education; poor women to poorer women; women of an unacceptable race to women of another unacceptable race.

    So I really think that stretching what I’ve said as though it disavows privilege among women misses the mark to the extent that I just don’t know how to respond.

    Seriously. What are you TALKING about?

    TALK ABOUT PRIVILEGE, including among women. I’m in. Just stop portraying woman-with-man as privilege.

    Wealth brings you privilege. Education brings you privilege. Ability brings you privilege. And so on.

    Being with a man and/or being hetero without a man brings you a different brand of shit, nothing more.

    Posted by funnie | November 9, 2007, 2:36 am
  289. The way I see the big political picture, feminism waned as a mass social movement, and lesbian and gay movements gained energy and power in the 80s.

    It is ironic that AIDS itself gave rise to the “gay” establishment we have today.

    As a lesbian, although I consider my spiritual path radical lesbian feminism, there are no straight women’s groups I know of who would accomodate this.

    Either straight women are hiding from the dreaded “feminist” label, or something else happened out there.

    I kind of gave up on all these competing hierarchies of oppression, and I certainly did really want to rank anything.

    Straight women I know still run in fear at the idea of a real and true connection to lesbians. I just don’t see these social/political associations.

    Now we have very separate worlds, and whereas we were all once equals, just starting out in jobs etc. at the age of 21, now we are 50 and there is no social similarity whatsoever.

    My lesbian and gay world is a chosen family, and straight women aren’t a part of this. Many of us just left straight anything as a result of the AIDS epidemic, and all the deaths of our friends. We lost hundreds of our peers — men as well as women. This weekend I will be going to yet another memorial service for a 54 year old lesbian. Straight women won’t be there, but we will be there for each other.

    There is always a hierarchy. I remember one night when I was to get an award at my company. Even those sexist men could not prevent me from producing, but they were just awful that evening. As my partner and I were leaving this event, we looked out the door as the rain was pouring, and a man was curled under a doorway, lying on a cardboard box. This terrible scene took all my anger away at how my colleagues had treated me at this corporate event. He was probably a straight man, drug addict, and there he was in the rain.

    Life is like that. Amidst all the oppressions out there, I do think about all the good things in my life, all the triumphs, all the adventures.

    Straight people won’t be emotionally close to me, but I think we can work together for common cause.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 9, 2007, 4:19 am
  290. Sorry, funnie, maybe I misunderstood you, and if so, maybe you’d be willing to clarify.

    I was responding to this:

    282 Mary Sunshine quoting Funnie:
    “Again: why say that things *don’t* happen, when we can be more accurate by talking about things that *do* happen and how *often* they happen (since being fired for being lesbian obviously happens much more often than being fired because you’re married to a man).

    Funnie,

    Would you say that if the issue of oppression under discussion here were, instead of lesbian oppression, race? or education? or class background? or plain old biological sex i.e. male/female?

    ***
    Funnie, answering Mary: Would you say that if the issue of oppression under discussion here were, instead of lesbian oppression, race?

    Yes; re: race, I did this very thing in comment #261, which has now been unmoderated.

    ****

    In #261 you (funnie) said:

    I don’t see lesser degrees of exploitation (especially when that exploitation is so seldom lesser and so often just plain different) as proving privilege.

    And gave the example of Guatamalen v. Haitian immigrants (including, of course, both men and women, without respect to sex. I don’t see that that works so far as the position you are advancing for that and other reasons, and I really don’t want to discuss immigration issues in this thread, so I hope we can use other kinds of examples.)

    ****

    Continuing with your response to Mary, funnie:

    Funnie: Re: class, I also don’t talk about how women who work 60+ hours/week and remain in poverty are privileged over unemployed, homeless women.

    Re: education, I don’t talk about how women who were forced to end their education in 8th grade are privileged over women who are illiterate.

    Re: sex, there is no oppressed-but-not-AS-oppressed as women sex to compare, unless we get into transgender-type stuff, maybe, so: no.

    From what you said here, it doesn’t look like you restrict your analysis to issues around who a woman loves, it sounded to me as though that is part of a broader analysis that, as to women’s subjugation, there is no real hierarchy, there are just “differences.”

    In your most recent comment you say:

    However, IF (big if) we insist on using that same schema to view women’s lives, it is more like comparing physically disabled women to mentally disabled women; women of low education to women of lower education; poor women to poorer women; women of an unacceptable race to women of another unacceptable race.

    So I really think that stretching what I’ve said as though it disavows privilege among women misses the mark to the extent that I just don’t know how to respond.

    *Do* you talk about privilege amongst women, or don’t you?

    If women partnered with men only enjoy privilege vis a vis lesbians as women of low education enjoy vis a vis women of lower education, how is that not acknowledging a hierarchy of privilege?

    If you aren’t agreeing that women partnered with men do enjoy at least as much privilege over lesbians as women of low education enjoy vis a vis women of lower education, then possibly the hypothetical you offered is the answer to your question: What are you talking about? That’s what I’m talking about. If the hypothetical doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work as to degrees of education privilege or class privilege either. If it works, it works as to lesbians and heterosexual women as well. If I misunderstood, I apologize and hope you’ll clarify.

    Hey, Satsuma, you know, there’s one place I can promise you where women partnered with men and lesbian women are allies, and that is at Michfest. It’s about 90 percent lesbian to 10 percent women partnered with men, so heterosexual women are way outnumbered, but the relationships are real and true, the commitment is true, and the alliance really does work. I hope you come to the Festival this year, see for yourself.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 9, 2007, 5:20 am
  291. Yes, I would definitely like to see straight women in a 90% lesbian environment. I think the lesbian contribution to the very energy of feminism has always been a kind of unsung one. Michigan can at least reveal what this world actually looks like in a day to day way.

    I often have this feeling, especially today, that straight women don’t want to continue fighting the battle of feminism in the U.S.

    We can talk about hierarchies all we want, but I see a lot of hierarchy as based on differences in personal interests. A lot of women have no interest in the things that are important to me and vice versa.

    This psychological dependence on men is very pervasive, and it causes women to give up a lot of the self-sufficiency they might otherwise develop on their own.

    There are the kinds of risks straight women aren’t even aware that they’ve never taken for example, a road not taken as it were.

    When there are no men in your personal living space for over 30 years, you really do have a kind of freedom that most women only dream about.

    It is the difference between African Americans and Africans who come to America now. The absence of racism growing up changing things considerably.

    So we have to view groups of people who do have separate living quarters from oppressors for long periods of time.

    Do women have a country? Can we claim a territory? Women claim just five days of Michigan each year, and even this tiny bit of territory is attacked by men. So the ultimate threat is this freedom land of women.

    It’s a question of energy — what energy you have to fight battled X or Y or M.

    Feminism did succeed in America, beyond a lot of women’s dreams, and its very success blinded us to the large ice berg under the sea. This iceberg was race, social class, and whether you were a TAB or not (temporarily able bodied).

    I am very practical, and I always look at what is happening in daily life right this minute. Regardless of the theory out there, I still see women acting in subservient ways to men, when they don’t have to. It’s a kind of strange conditioned response that I’ve never been able to fathom.

    This distance and indifference to male power, I think has a kind of force field power about it. It makes men watch their words around me, and they have to use the caution that so many woman are forced to use.

    It’s about inner power. It’s about knowing that lesbian feminism really did change the face of a lot of worlds out there, and we’re still doing this.

    Being on the edge of the known worlds and getting used to this on a day to day basis for over 30 years, does make one very different indeed. It’s a kind of social detachment I feel in the world, where I’m in it but not of it.

    When I think of my youth, when heterosexuality was celebrated with every type of indulgence, I find it lovely still to hold hands with my partner in a room full of lesbians every chance I get. It is being treated very well at a gay or lesbian fundraiser, or hearing a concert on a summer’s evening, or listening to a lesbian read a short story to a room full of old lesbian activists.

    If I could move to a country where lesbians were the only citizens, I’d go tomorrow!

    This makes up for all the lost years of the closet, and the bored existence that is being a lesbian at heterosexual celebrations and peculiar ceremonies. Now I would never go to any of those events ever again, and in time, you come to forget that that heterosexual world ever existed.

    I think someday, I’m going to forget it completely, but for now we are all working together on some world without all the hierarchies.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 9, 2007, 6:06 am
  292. Heart, I think I get what you are trying to say here. I think part of the disconnect is due to privilege being such a loaded word. The phrase privileged few comes to mind. Those are the elites, the ultra rich and powerful who rule this world, of whom a very few tokens are women. The elites confer different status levels within the hierarchical order on everyone else, which is where what you are calling relative privilege comes into play. I think the disconnect comes into play because it makes no sense to say one serf with a higher status than another is thereby one of the privileged few. Funnie said this was not a matter of semantics, but I do not think she is using the word in the same sense you are. In the sense I understood her to be using, having relative privilege in this oppressive hierarchy defined and orchestrated by a few men to maintain their positions of privilege does not qualify as actual privilege, because those status differentials are really a means by which the actually privileged keep the serfs divided and conquered.

    Posted by Aletha | November 9, 2007, 6:26 am
  293. Uh oh. Cross posted, and now I think my comment does not make much sense.

    Posted by Aletha | November 9, 2007, 6:36 am
  294. I think part of the disconnect is due to privilege being such a loaded word.

    Yes, totally agree.

    having relative privilege in this oppressive hierarchy defined and orchestrated by a few men to maintain their positions of privilege does not qualify as actual privilege, because those status differentials are really a means by which the actually privileged keep the serfs divided and conquered.

    Yes, I agree. I would say, though, that there is a big difference between being a house slave and a field slave (following on your serfs idea). The difference is going to be far more apparent, and far more important, to the field slave than the house slave, although they are both enslaved. The field slave is going to feel completely and totally betrayed by the house slaves. And some house slaves will gladly lord it over the field slaves. I think in the interests of solidarity, the house slave has to stand, first and foremost, with the field slave, and disavow whatever privileges she gets in the master’s house. That’s where I’m coming from, I guess.

    Thanks for your insight, Aletha, something I have come to count on you for (pardon the rotten grammar).

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 9, 2007, 6:37 am
  295. I think part of the disconnect is due to privilege being such a loaded word.

    Yes, totally agree.

    having relative privilege in this oppressive hierarchy defined and orchestrated by a few men to maintain their positions of privilege does not qualify as actual privilege, because those status differentials are really a means by which the actually privileged keep the serfs divided and conquered.

    Yes, I agree. I would say, though, that there is a big difference between being a house slave and a field slave (following on your serfs idea). The difference is going to be far more apparent, and far more important, to the field slave than the house slave, although they are both enslaved. The field slave is going to feel completely and totally betrayed by the house slaves. And some house slaves will gladly lord it over the field slaves. I think in the interests of solidarity, the house slave has to stand, first and foremost, with the field slave, and disavow whatever privileges she gets in the master’s house. That’s where I’m coming from, I guess.

    Thanks for your insight, Aletha, something I have come to count on you for (pardon the rotten grammar).

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 9, 2007, 6:37 am
  296. Ftr, this thread breaks all records for amount of feedback I have received, via e-mail, from MEN who fancy themselves to be progressive/pro-feminist, etc. They are quite upset about how mean lesbian feminists are, Satsuma in particular, to feminists who partner with men. You are the great protectors of heterosexual feminists.

    Right. To the men who have e-mailed me: think about it.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 9, 2007, 6:41 am
  297. Aletha, I think your comment makes good sense, and I appreciated it very much.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 9, 2007, 6:45 am
  298. I suppose privilege is a loaded word, since privilege is always defined as something someone else has. If you don’t have a college education, then someone who has one has privilege. But did the college educated person work nights to go to college? Did their parents pay for everything? Did a smart kid win a scholarship or contest?

    Does Bill Cosby have more privilege than I do?

    I don’t know, because privilege has an inner emotional component as well. How does one feel as a visible minority in a world of majorities? Is the sense of being ill at ease in these worlds constitute a lack of privilege? Or is it a cause of ambition, to be better than the enemies, to work harder and take less for granted? Who knows?

    The problem with the word, is that there is no objective way to determine what kind of privilege someone may or may not have. Appearances are just that, appearances.

    Once you get to know people, you find out all kinds of things about whether or not real privilege exists.

    Who doles it out? Who controls it? Hard to say. Dick Cheney came from a very modest background, so he didn’t start out with more privilege than say a Nelson Rockefeller. Virginia Woolf had a kind of trust fund, that gave her the time to write and hire servants, and yet she was not allowed to go to the male elite schools of England at the time. She did have use of her father’s extensive library, but then she also took advantage of it. Princess Diana had access to all kinds of things, but she did not like to read or study in school.

    ****

    “Ftr, this thread breaks all records for amount of feedback I have received, via e-mail, from MEN who fancy themselves to be progressive/pro-feminist, etc. They are quite upset about how mean lesbian feminists are, Satsuma in particular, to feminists who partner with men. You are the great protectors of heterosexual feminists.”

    “Right. To the men who have e-mailed me: think about it.”

    The above quotes made me really laugh out loud. What drama with emails and postings, and men attempting to “protect” their women. Kind of cute really.

    Didn’t even know men cared about feminism at all really. You’d never know these days. I still have guys say in such a cute and patronozing tone of voice that they believe the country is “now ready for a woman president.” You wouldn’t believe how sincere they look when they say this.

    It is actually straight women who have the angriest things to say about men. Even I couldn’t go as far as they do. And straight men say the worst things about straight women on the public air waves, and these comments are far worse than anything I’ve ever heard about gay men saying bad things about straight women. And on it goes.

    Still though, consider all of his-story. Think of groups of men talking to each other over the centuries about religion and democracy and theology etc., and no women were even allowed to be a part of these discussions.

    Now it is time for women to talk, and these poor liberal feminist men should consider themselves lucky. They can read these posts if they want to, but women never were even allowed into Plato’s symposiums — except perhaps as servants and cooks.

    They can read the posts, but I can assure you they will do absolutely nothing to change their liberal behavior. Liberals of history never stopped any determined male supremacist movement (fascism, communism, christian fundamentalism..you name it), they just didn’t.

    ****

    I don’t know about the question of privilege. My philosophy has always been we make our own life, we don’t wait for heaven to give us a boon, and we go on from there.

    Some of us when we were younger perhaps spent more time in feminist movements, and less time on careers, so that young women today can spend all their time on careers.

    A whole generation of African American people spent their youth trying to get the right to vote in the south, or suing white people to get into college, or a lifetime in a lawsuit over wage discrimination. That was time that could have been spent elsewhere, but it had to be spent on trying to get beyond the barriers that other ‘thoughtful liberals” didn’t even know existed.

    The main benefit I receieved from all of this was to observe what worked and didn’t work for my elders. I could see what worked and didn’t work for my Mom. And when I was young, I could see what I never ever wanted to do, and then I discovered what I loved to do.

    My earliest statements of public policy began I think at the age of four, when I announced to one and all that I would never ever marry. At the time, I knew that I hated boys, wanted to beat them up, and could not imagine spending my life with them. What you don’t want comes first, and what you do want comes later.

    If feminism is worth anything, it is the pointing out of possibilities for women that is its greatest strength.

    Women can go around and around with the word privilege, but we will never solve this problem.

    We now know more about how patriarchy operates– I look at it like a car engine– you can understand what makes it go and makes it stop. A good analysis of patriarchy will reveal this to anyone who cares to “look under the hood.”

    Patriarchy is a lot about illusion. Making women believe that men are smarter than they are, for example. I well remember how Mary Daly discovered how stupid boys were at an early age, when she observed them in her catholic gradeschool. Since she is probably one of the best and the brightest of radical lesbian feminists alive, she could see this. It carried her forward.

    Mary Daly was a working class woman who got more college degrees than anyone I have ever met before. She lives a very modest life to this day, but she took some great risks early in life, that propelled her forward on that incredible path of spiritual enlightenment known as radical lesbian feminism.

    Read her autobiography for inspiration.

    The key is to move beyond an idea of privilege and more into how we can share knowlege so everyone has access to as much as possible.

    Whether you’re a field hand or a house slave, you are still a slave.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 9, 2007, 9:47 pm
  299. Homelessness——————–|——————–Wealth
    Illiteracy—————————-|—————-Advanced Degree
    Minority Race———————-|——————-Whiteness
    Female—————————–|———————–Male
    Gay man—————————|————————Hetero man

    In each of these situations, every “tick” to the right represents a move toward privilege – actual, tangible autonomous power and advantage. True, it’s socially-granted, but it’s socially-granted with no further qualifications than that you stay in that group and appear reasonably loyal to it.

    If I’m independently wealthy, for instance, my being a woman may make me less-privileged than a man of my same means BUT though my womanhood may be used against me, my wealth isn’t and can’t be. People aren’t oppressed *on the basis of* their status as a rich or educated or white or male person, or for being a heterosexual man.

    By contrast, on the scale

    Lesbian ———————-|——————–Hetero woman

    Every step to the right does NOT represent a move toward privilege – actual, tangible, autonomous power and advantage.

    True, because of the scale for *men* where being heterosexual is prized, it is easier for a hetero *woman* to move through society unchallenged to whatever degree she’s perceived as being loyal to the male hierarchy.

    However, UNlike wealth, sex, whiteness, education, *being* heterosexual, for a heterosexual woman, IS a primary, fundamental way that she is oppressed.

    Women are oppressed via their sexual and reproductive capacities; living in a heterosexual relationship makes this fact directly and immediately relevant; heteronormativity *is* how women, all women, are oppressed.

    As a result, living with a man and bearing male children makes one less, not more, autonomous. Women partnering with men are more, not less, subject to sexist paradigms for intimate relationships. Even the “conveniences” of heteronormativity work against women; being presumptively-heterosexual makes women presumptively-fuckable.

    None of those other privileges work in this way; the conveniences of race, wealth, and education – EVEN FOR women – are just that, conveniences. Their full “enjoyment” may be partially mitigated by one’s femaleness, but they’re not marks *against* a woman *with* that privilege – a woman who dutifully *toes* the party line will not be disadvantaged on the basis of that privilege.

    Yet this is what happens to heterosexual women. The more they comply with what is expected of them, the more they become the het-prototype, the more personal agency they lose. They move from the realm of scary-outlier-lone-ranger-rebel-to-be-punished into protectable-property-for-breeding-and-unpaid-work.

    Women move from being constantly hunted and stalked wild game to inhumanely-factory-farmed livestock: two very different and very bad things. And what I saw in this thread earlier – which motivated me to comment in the first place – was the equivalent of: “well, at least you livestock aren’t going to be KILLED and EATEN.” As though McDonald’s hasn’t served over a billion hamburgers. And “it makes me sick the way you livestock just stand there in your own shit and moo (giggle, whine) and allow yourselves to be bred,” as though faulting women for the things that are done to them ever helped any woman.

    Do I talk about privilege among women? Sure. It’s difficult but absolutely worth doing…when it generates discussion and understanding. When it generates gross mischaracterizations, when it results in cruelty about women for behaving how women are told they are to behave, when it turns into a bootstrapping lecture, when it discourages dialogue, when it portrays women as oppressive initiators of the things that *men* do…it’s not worth doing.

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 3:51 pm
  300. funnie, thanks for that insightful post. I agree with all of it, actually. I don’t disagree with any of it.

    What happens, in your mind, though, as the woman “ticks” to the left, towards lesbianism? What’s your analysis there?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 3:59 pm
  301. The wild game thing – she becomes more and more hunted, more of a target, more exotified, more supceptible to the elements, more excluded from the system such that those within it don’t even know what’s happening to her.

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 4:04 pm
  302. Well… that’s pretty sparse, compared with your analysis of what happens with the right tick?

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 4:12 pm
  303. Sparse? Or concise? Having invested the time to lay out the framework such that it would be more understandable, it’s become a great deal easier to talk about various roles within the system.

    I didn’t explicitly talk about how men are farmers/hunters/consumers, either; does that mean I’m letting them off? Or is it just kind of obvious?

    Seriously asking – I had assumed the position of different actors was obvious, but if I should be more explicit about anything I can be.

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 4:19 pm
  304. Funnie,

    it’s not worth doing.

    But you keep doing it.

    Because you’ve never been oppressed as a lesbian.

    And because you feel targeted. You’re not being targeted. You’re being educated. Just as I, as a white woman, have had to be educated about the way racism affects interactions *between females*.

    Look at your own words: here I have bolded the word lesbian that I have inserted in the place of women (by which you mean het women, once again invisibilizing lesbians.)

    Lesbians are oppressed via their sexual and reproductive capacities; living in a lesbianrelationship makes this fact directly and immediately relevant;

    Now, think about why and how both of the above statements are true. It may take you more than 10 minutes.

    …heteronormativity *is* how women, all women, are oppressed.

    Exactly. So the women who comply are privileged, by males, over females who do not do so.

    And then:

    … cruelty about women for behaving how women are told they are to behave

    And what is there about women *not* behaving like women have been told to behave that privileges them over women who *are* or *have* behaved as men have told us how to behave?

    You have it backwards.

    The ways that you think of yourself as being “oppressed as a heterosexual woman” are not ways in you are being oppress as a heterosexual woman. They are the ways that women are oppressed by men.

    Lesbians are raped. Lesbians are impregnated by men. Lesbians are beaten by men. Lesbians are derided and sexually humiliated by men, every day, 24/7.

    Lesbians are oppressed for *not* complying with how they have been told by men, in all the ways that het women have been told to behave by men.

    Plus, *** Lesbians are oppressed by men for being lesbians. *** This is added to, not replacing and parallel to, and equivalent to, the ways in which heterosexual women are oppressed by men.

    You have to do a bit of math here.

    You know, setting lesbians up as the ones who are “cruel” to heterosexual women is like white women setting up women of colour as being “cruel” to us when they delineate our racism.

    Those accusations of cruelty are, in themselves, an act of oppression against the women who are already bearing the oppression. If you understood the dimension of lesbian oppression you would not have made such a remark.

    My words are not oppressive and cruel.

    You feel angry.

    Why? because when lesbian oppression is discussed, you as a het woman are no longer the center of attention, and that any attention directed your way focuses on privilege?

    Are you saying that because your feelings may be hurt that lesbian oppression should never be discussed in your presence?

    Are you afraid that a discussion of that will take away from the focus on oppression of women?

    Well, check this out: the oppression of lesbians by males for being lesbians, as such, is part of the way that males oppress females.

    Jeebus, you think lesbians have gay males to protect them? Huh? In your dreams.

    Expand.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 10, 2007, 4:39 pm
  305. I submitted a comment, but it didn’t say that the comment had gone into moderation.

    I hope it shows up.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 10, 2007, 4:41 pm
  306. Consider the following, plagiarized, edited, and added to from this link which is also plagiarized and edited, of course, from Peggy McIntosh’s Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.

    Daily Effects of Heterosexual Privilege

    * I can be pretty sure that my friends, acquaintances, and co-workers will be comfortable with the fact that my intimate partners are men (or would be male, if I had intimate partners).

    *If I pick up a magazine, watch TV, or play music, I can be certain women who partner with men/are attracted to men will be represented.

    * When I talk about my intimate partners or attractions (such as in a joke or talking about my relationships or who I think is attractive), I will not be accused of pushing my sexuality or attractions onto others.

    * I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out I am attracted to/partner with/love men, there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.

    *I did not grow up with games, jokes, rumors, religious or other teachings attacking or ridiculing my attractions or intimate relationships.

    * I am not accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of my attractions to/relationships with men or because of my history of relationships with boys and men.

    * I can go home from most meetings, classes, the workplace, and conversations without feeling excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped or feared because of the sex of whom I love or am attracted to.

    * I am never asked to speak for everyone who is heterosexual.

    * I can be sure that in school, my classes will require curricular materials that testify to the existence of people who are like me — who love/partner with/are attracted to men.

    * People don’t ask why I made the decision to partner with men or love men.

    * People don’t ask why I made my choice to be public about my partnering with or loving men.

    * I do not have to fear revealing I am attracted to/partner with men to friends or family. It’s assumed.

    * My partnering with men was never associated with a closet.

    * People of my sex do not try to convince me to change who I love or with whom I partner.

    * I don’t have to defend my attractions to/partnering with men.

    * If I am celibate by choice or circumstance, my statements of attractions to men or past relationships are reassuring to the surrounding community and my friends and family. (I am “normal,” just celibate or “not in a relationship.)

    * I can easily find a religious community that will not exclude me for being heterosexual.

    * I can count on finding a therapist or doctor willing and able to talk about my sexuality.

    * I am guaranteed to find sex education literature for heterosexual couples.

    * I have no need to qualify my heterosexual identity.

    * My masculinity/femininity is not challenged because of whom I love/partner with/am attracted to.

    * I am not identified by my choice of intimate partners (i.e., I am not referred to as a “het woman” or “straight woman”) in the normal course of living my life, in society in general.

    * I do not have to fear being called a man, read as a man, or described as masculine or “like a man”.

    * I do not have to fear entering women’s restrooms or other spaces which are for women only.

    * I take it as a given that my intimate partners will be able to attend me in the hospital if I am seriously injured, will inherit my belongings when I die, will be covered by my health insurance.

    * My being heterosexual has no impact on my ability to adopt children.

    * I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my being heterosexual will not work against me.

    * If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it is because I am heterosexual.

    * Whether I rent a movie at the video store or go to the theater or watch plays, I can be sure I will not have trouble finding heterosexual women represented.

    * I am guaranteed to find heterosexual people represented in positions of leadership wherever I work or go to school.

    * I can walk in public with a partner and not have people double-take or stare.

    * I can choose to not think politically about being heterosexual.

    * I do not have to worry about telling my roommate or new acquaintances or friends about my intimate partners/attractions.

    * I can remain oblivious of the language and culture of lesbians without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

    * I can go for months without being called straight or heterosexual.

    * I’m not grouped because of my heterosexuality.

    * My individual behavior does not reflect on people who identity as heterosexual.

    * In everyday conversation, the language my friends and I use generally assumes my experience, i.e., “sex” understood to equal heterosexual sex, “family” understood to equal heterosexual relationships with kids.

    * People do not assume I am experienced in sex (or that I even have sex) merely because I am heterosexual.

    * I can kiss my partner in public without being watched and stared at or causing persons to openly express disgust, shock or revulsion.

    * Nobody calls me heterosexual with maliciousness.

    * People can use terms that describe my heterosexuality and mean positive things (IE “straight as an arrow”, “standing up straight” or “straightened out”) instead of demeaning terms (“that’s gay”).

    * I am not asked to think about why I am heterosexual, attracted to men, partner with men.

    * I can be open about being heterosexual/partnering with men without worrying about my job.

    * I do not need to fear having my children taken from me by the legal system because I am heterosexual.

    * I do not need to think about how my being heterosexual will affect my children among their friends, in their schools and in the workplace.

    * Most people are not revolted by my attractions or the sex of my intimate partners.

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 4:51 pm
  307. ***being presumptively-heterosexual makes women presumptively-fuckable.***

    It doesn’t really work that way. Knowing that a woman is a lesbian does not deter men in the least from treating them as though they are presumptively fuckable. They just do it anyway. There’s a lot of ways to be “fucked” besides in a bed.

    Posted by Branjor | November 10, 2007, 4:56 pm
  308. Look at your own words: here I have bolded the word lesbian that I have inserted in the place of women (by which you mean het women, once again invisibilizing lesbians.)

    Mary,

    Where I said women, I meant all women. Where I specified heterosexuality, I meant heterosexuality.

    Do not assume that where I said women I meant het women; if you do so you will come, as you did, to wildly incorrect conclusions about what I said, and meant.

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 5:05 pm
  309. Jeebus, you think lesbians have gay males to protect them? Huh? In your dreams.

    Dear goddess on high, circle that, star it and point red arrows to it! Gay males not only, far and away, could not care less about lesbians, they have consistently acted in ways which have hurt lesbians.

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 5:07 pm
  310. Knowing that a woman is a lesbian does not deter men in the least from treating them as though they are presumptively fuckable.

    And nowhere did I suggest that it did.

    I’m engaging with (arguing with) the idea that presumptive heterosexuality advantages heterosexual women.

    Letting go of the het-priv paradigm in no way lessens the fact that presumptive heterosexuality disadvantages lesbians.

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 5:09 pm
  311. Funnie, you included that language Mary was referencing as part of your analysis of what happens when women tick towards the right, towards heterosexuality, as though it doesn’t happen as frequently to the women on the far left of your paradigm there. They are WAY down there to the far left, far removed (in your analysis) from what you have described.

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 5:14 pm
  312. Funnie,

    Well, then how was this paragraph of yours:


    Women are oppressed via their sexual and reproductive capacities; living in a heterosexual relationship makes this fact directly and immediately relevant; heteronormativity *is* how women, all women, are oppressed.

    supposed to support your position that lesbians are not oppressed vis-a-vis het women? That’s why I assumed that your first use of the word “women” was invisibilizing lesbians.

    If that was not the intended reading of the word “women”, then your paragraph only *underscores* the obvious oppression of lesbians vis-a-vis het women. If female normativity is defined as heterosexual, then Bingo!

    Please tell me why denying the fact of lesbian oppression is so crucial to you, and why any discussion of it makes you so angry.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 10, 2007, 5:19 pm
  313. as though it doesn’t happen as frequently to the women on the far left of your paradigm there.

    I never said or intended this part. In fact, I re-emphasized in the very *next sentence* that heteronormativity is how women, all women, are oppressed.

    I did not specify that lesbians are oppressed through their sexual and reroductive capacities because I said that WOMEN are. And I did not specify *how* lesbians are oppressed through their seuxal and reproductive capacities because WE ALL AGREE that lesbians are oppressed by these. AND we all AGREE that lesbians are oppressed by heteronormativity.

    My point, the point of departure that requires further explanation, is that “ticking” toward heterosexuality does not loosen the oppression of heteronormativity; it remains right there with women, bound up with them.

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 5:21 pm
  314. My point, the point of departure that requires further explanation, is that “ticking” toward heterosexuality does not loosen the oppression of heteronormativity; it remains right there with women, bound up with them.

    What does ticking toward heterosexuality do to lesbians?

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 5:26 pm
  315. What does ticking toward heterosexuality do to lesbians?

    Other than putting the power of numbers behind the heteronormativity that oppresses all women, I don’t know what else it WOULD do *to* lesbians.

    It makes more women “not-like” lesbians (as defined and delineated by the opppressors, men), it increases the number of women who are situated in opposition to lesbians (as defined and delineated by the oppressors, men). This makes the lives of lesbians more difficult. It makes the lives of ALL women more difficult.

    Rejecting the relationship of opposition seems like the right move to me. Rejecting the idea that heteronormativity confers “benefits” upon hetero women, and that justice will be done to lesbians if those “benefits” are extended to lesbians*, also seems like the right move to me. Working against heteronormativity seems like the right move to me. Destroying heterosexuality’s property-paradigm and related institutions seems like the right move to me.

    Opening the barn door and prodding women out of the barn, into the wild, to mingle with women they’ve been told are totally separate species, seems like the right move to me.

    None of those thoughts bout heteronormativity harming hetero women undermine lesbian oppression. But some of those moves I’m suggesting would certainly lessen lesbian oppression.

    *nobody here suggested this, but it is a common assumption, even in many feminist circles.

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 5:43 pm
  316. Dear goddess on high, circle that, star it and point red arrows to it! Gay males not only, far and away, could not care less about lesbians, they have consistently acted in ways which have hurt lesbians.

    Well, it sounds like gay men make equally as good protectors as heterosexual men, then. It’s about female identification with men. It’s about them subsuming women’s needs to some male cause, like liberalism or queerness. And, yeah, that doesn’t often do women much good, but that doesn’t mean that the women casting their lot with men, whatever their orientation or politics, don’t find aligning themselves with men better than the alternative. Ask the lesbians going on about their gay male “families” whether or not they feel more protected under the wings of gay men than they do alone, as just individual women bucking the patriarchal system.

    I’m with funnie and Rain on this one. A black woman cannot become white; nor, in most cases, can she fake it. An illiterate woman cannot become an Ivy League graduate (at least not over night), and in most cases, she cannot fake it. A poor woman cannot become a rich woman (upward class mobility is pretty much a myth), and in most cases, she cannot fake it.

    Setting aside the question of whether or not a person *ought to be expected* to fake education, class, or phenotypical whiteness, the fact of the matter is that these things *cannot* be faked.

    Sexuality, on the other hand, so far as the public is concerned, is all about gender roles. All women, regardless of race, creed, or credential can fake whatever sexuality will get them through the day. It may not be fair that anyone expect them to do so, but the fact remains that, unlike race, literacy, and class, it can be faked.

    In that regard, all women have exactly the same choices with regard to getting by in the world. Lesbian women have just as much option to mire themselves in relationships with men as heterosexual women do. Heterosexual women have just as much opportunity to eschew relationships with men as lesbians do.

    I’m not handing out cookies to women who choose (and this is key – not every woman in the world has the choice of being a lesbian; it is a choice) not to do the heterosexual thing. And I’m not going to pretend as if all the women who choose not to do the heterosexual thing do so out of commitment to a feminist ideal.

    I get called a dyke (and treated like one) as often as any of the actual lesbians in my office do, but I accept that my treatment is a function of my choice not to do much in the way of femininity, not to date men, and to speak out against misogyny wherever and whenever I encounter it. And if I lived with a woman, I’d have just as much option to call her my roommate as any other heterosexual woman; and as much freedom to call her my lover as a lesbian, however much or little freedom that might bee depending on my location/circumstances (and assuming the live-in woman is as unconcerned about meeting patriarchal expectations as I am). That is so not like any of the other hierarchies of privilege.

    Posted by justicewalks | November 10, 2007, 5:58 pm
  317. Rejecting the relationship of opposition seems like the right move to me.

    Could that be because that’s what is going to most benefit you?

    Do you think this is what would most benefit lesbians?

    What if they say that is not what is going to benefit them as lesbians? How will you proceed?

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 7:17 pm
  318. justicewalks: I’m not handing out cookies to women who choose (and this is key – not every woman in the world has the choice of being a lesbian; it is a choice) not to do the heterosexual thing.

    Who asked you to? You are being asked to see and acknowledge how heterosexism privileges you. Nobody is asking you for “cookies” and suggesting someone has produces heat, not light, in this discussion. Don’t be dismissive towards the realities of lesbians — you know, the women who actually are lesbians and take the hits for it, as opposed to being, once in a while, thought to be a “dyke” (an impression that is eminently correctible).

    justicewalks: And I’m not going to pretend as if all the women who choose not to do the heterosexual thing do so out of commitment to a feminist ideal.

    Who asked you to? Whether she did or didn’t doesn’t change the fact of your own privilege with respect to her.

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 7:21 pm
  319. Well, it sounds like gay men make equally as good protectors as heterosexual men, then. It’s about female identification with men. It’s about them subsuming women’s needs to some male cause, like liberalism or queerness.

    Possibly because the feminists they’d been working alongside, on issues that do not affect most lesbians (birth control, reproductive rights) take the position you and funnie are taking. (I think you have misunderstood Rain’s position.)

    And, yeah, that doesn’t often do women much good, but that doesn’t mean that the women casting their lot with men, whatever their orientation or politics, don’t find aligning themselves with men better than the alternative.

    Which alternative might be invisibility amongst feminists prioritizing reproductive rights, abortion, birth control, battered women’s shelters, for example.

    Ask the lesbians going on about their gay male “families” whether or not they feel more protected under the wings of gay men than they do alone, as just individual women bucking the patriarchal system.

    Queer identified lesbians (many to most of whom no longer even identify as lesbians) have cast in their lot with GLBTQ in part in responses, Justicewalks, to the kind of arguments you and funnie are making.

    I don’t ask them about anything. I think they have made a big mistake, they are headed down the wrong path, and for that, I blame the patriarchy, I blame men, who won’t take women’s issues seriously unless they are aligned with some group of males somewhere.

    Here’s who I get my information from. Here’s who I ask. Lesbian radical feminists. A group that has fucking goddamn stood alone for a long long time now because they are shat upon by heterosexual feminists, got shat upon by the “Gay Liberation Movement, and are currently being shat upon by GLBTQ as well. A group ALL of us should be fracking thanking and listening to if only because *all women* are indebted to them. Do you realize the definitive, groundbreaking book about domestic violence/battering in heterosexual relationships, which participated in giving birth to the shelter movement in the U.S. in the very early Second Wave, was written by a lesbian radical feminist? That book is still definitive today. Do you realize the shelter movement was in large part created and run, in the early grass roots days (before the shelter movement got co-opted by fundies and males) by lesbian feminists? Just for two things that come immediately to my mind.

    Why are you bashing GLBTQ-identified lesbians for their alliances with men, while ignoring all the lesbian feminists who are as disgusted with that as you are? But who are standing alone because you refuse to acknowledge their particular reality?

    Maybe you’re doing that because you don’t know any of these women very well? Maybe because they are invisible? And why might that be?

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 7:32 pm
  320. justicewalks: All women, regardless of race, creed, or credential can fake whatever sexuality will get them through the day.

    I’ve read and re-read and re-read this and keep being blown away by it, which means instead of reacting, I should ask questions, ask for clarification.

    Are you suggesting since lesbians can closet themselves to “get through the day”, if they are out, whatever happens to them should be viewed as a consequence of their choice to be out, which makes whatever discrimination they face is somehow a “choice” and therefore less real somehow? Does that mean that persons of color who can pass, but don’t, who are out and activist about their race/ethnicity, also are not members of subordinated, subjugated classes because they could fake being white if they wanted to? Does that mean that disabled persons whose disabilities are not apparent, but who are out about their disabilities, are not members of a subordinated/subjugated class, because they can “fake” it and not talk about their disabilities? Does that mean that immigrants are not subordinated/subjugated, to the degree that they can fake citizenship?

    Are you saying the difference between being subordinated and not, in other words, is a matter of how well someone can fake complicity with a white, racist, male, heterosupremacist status quo? And if they don’t fake it, and they could have, whatever subjugation they experience is, I guess, their own responsibility? Are you saying the only people who are subjugated are those who cannot fake their way into the theoretical melting pot, I guess by any means necessary? Including living a lie?

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 8:07 pm
  321. One more thing I meant to ask re women can fake it and stay in the closet, do you realize, justicewalks, that there really is such thing as lesbian culture? That lesbians are a people group, just as much as any other people group is, a group with a specific history, culture, traditions, Heras, institutions, leaders, philosophy, a body of literature/art?

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 8:15 pm
  322. Daily Effects of Heterosexual Privilege — Part 2

    * I will not be asked what my gender identity is.

    * I will not be asked whether I have considered “transitioning” and will not be urged to consider it.

    * I can be confident my woman-only spaces and events will be respected.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 8:33 pm
  323. Could that be because that’s what is going to most benefit you?

    Yes.

    Do you think this is what would most benefit lesbians?

    Yes.

    What if they say that is not what is going to benefit them as lesbians? How will you proceed?

    Well, most I’ve talked with and read have said that it is, so I feel confident enough in proceeding for the moment.

    I’d be interested to hear why a lesbian would think she’d be better-served by keeping a system where women oppose each other, rather than work together, in place.

    The only objection I’ve ever heard is that het women can tend to “take over” lesbian space. Which is a realistic concern, but where het women share and support lesbian goals, it doesn’t seem to be an issue.

    So if het women support the dismantling of heteronormativity, and see lesbian women as allies in that struggle, I don’t see why lesbian women wouldn’t feel similarly.

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 8:54 pm
  324. Which alternative might be invisibility amongst feminists prioritizing reproductive rights, abortion, birth control, battered women’s shelters, for example.

    This is what I don’t get. Not all feminist issues are my particular issues either. I’ve never been battered, I’ve never been pregnant, I don’t fuck men anymore. That I don’t have to deal with those issues in my immediate life is a good thing, and I don’t begrudge women who need feminist attention in those areas of reproductive rights, abortion, birth control, or battered women’s shelters.

    Are you saying the difference between being subordinated and not, in other words, is a matter of how well someone can fake complicity with a white, racist, male, heterosupremacist status quo? And if they don’t fake it, and they could have, whatever subjugation they experience is, I guess, their own responsibility? Are you saying the only people who are subjugated are those who cannot fake their way into the theoretical melting pot, I guess by any means necessary? Including living a lie?

    I’m not saying that it’s their own responsibility, so much as I am saying that it’s not unexpected that people who do not live up to those standards will be punished on the basis of failing to meet them. What I’m saying is that the only people who should complain about being subjugated are those who cannot do anything about their circumstances. If a white-looking person takes on anti-racist activism, she is still not as persecuted as a black-looking person undertaking the exact same activity. Whatever persecution she takes on is chosen – not unlike the persecution white women choose when they partner with nonwhite men. It is not the same thing as being persecuted on the basis of an unchangeable, un-hideable fact. I certainly wouldn’t want the white-looking anti-racist activist going on about how personally oppressed she is in comparison to a white anti-racist activist. I have plenty of relatives who could (and have) passed as white. Each one of them acknowledges that she/he has as much white privilege as she chooses to accept, and that they don’t get cookies for coming out as black. In actuality, these white-looking relatives of mine are not any more oppressed than similarly situated white people, unless they choose to be.

    One more thing I meant to ask re women can fake it and stay in the closet, do you realize, justicewalks, that there really is such thing as lesbian culture? That lesbians are a people group, just as much as any other people group is, a group with a specific history, culture, traditions, Heras, institutions, leaders, philosophy, a body of literature/art?

    I think of lesbian culture in much the same way that I do about black (American) culture. It’s obviously distinct from heterosexual white male culture, but it’s also very obviously a product of heterosexual white male culture. I don’t think there’s much acknowledgment in either community that its culture is not free of heterosexual white male influence. I also don’t think there is (certainly have not been exposed to) an overriding lesbian culture any more than there’s an overriding culture associated with the entire black diaspora.

    Posted by justicewalks | November 10, 2007, 9:06 pm
  325. Oops, I had missed this:

    Possibly because the feminists they’d been working alongside, on issues that do not affect most lesbians (birth control, reproductive rights) take the position you and funnie are taking. (I think you have misunderstood Rain’s position.)

    Justicewalks’ position appears to be as disconnected from what I said as it is from what Rain said.

    It’s interesting that you’re willing to see the disconnect between justicewalks and Rain, but not between justicewalks and me (or, for that matter, recognize any similarity between Rain’s and my position).

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 9:12 pm
  326. I’d be interested to hear why a lesbian would think she’d be better-served by keeping a system where women oppose each other , rather than work together, in place.

    Okay, I am not following you here at all. What system, in particular, are you talking about? What “opposing [of] each other” are you talking about? Who has been arguing that heterosexual feminists and lesbian feminists shouldn’t work together?

    I think a number of lesbians here have been telling you the problems they are having with your views. Invoking lesbians who agree with you who aren’t here, participating, and whose views none of us knows or can evaluate for ourselves feels like appealing to some sort of authority-of-unseen-lesbians-funnie-knows as though somehow that makes it okay to ignore or dismiss what lesbians here have taken time to write.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 9:14 pm
  327. As for living a lie, I meant to add in the above post that I think all sexuality is a lie.

    Posted by justicewalks | November 10, 2007, 9:30 pm
  328. What I’m saying is that the only people who should complain about being subjugated are those who cannot do anything about their circumstances.

    Taken to its logical conclusion, justicewalks, all women would have to do to end sexism is present as men, make sure they are read as men, get their hair cut really short, wear men’s clothes, study and imitate male gestures, etc. and that should solve the problem. If they decide not to do that and are therefore read as women and subordinated on that basis, they shouldn’t complain. They should have worked a lot harder to present as men and to blend in. No cookies for them.

    Subordination/subjugation are not only about how people react to us when they see us. They are about all of those things I wrote about up there in those two lists. They are about what is institutionalized and systemic in the world which affects us when nobody is looking at us or engaging us, just in that we’re aware of them. They are about the accumulated influences and coercions and experiences of a lifetime, which continue on each day that person lives, which demarcate a person as second class and which form that person’s lived reality, not only the external reality, which come from the experiences of interacting with people, but the internal reality which comes via living as a person who knows herself to be second class, deviant, wrong, other, and how that affects responses, decision-making, perceptions.

    Beyond all of that, how is the status quo ever to change if people do not openly violate it? Challenge it? Announce their resistance to it and that they intend that their challenges and resistance will be honored and respected? That goes for people who can pass for white who say, surprise surprise, I’m not white, for people who can pass for not disabled who say, surprise surprise, I am disabled, for people who appear to be heterosexual who say surprise surprise, I’m gay, I’m lesbian, deal with it. This is activism. This is resistance. This is deconstruction of the racist/sexist/lesbophobic/ableist status quo, and whoever is punished for that is punished as a person *resisting*, as an activist, as someone who is taking the risks inherent in making real change. I think these people do not deserve a cookie, I think they deserve the entire cookie factory.

    As to asserting that lesbian culture doesn’t exist, justicewalks, the fact that you haven’t seen something, aren’t aware of it, don’t know anything about it, doesn’t change the fact that it exists. It has existed over centuries and millennia up to the current time, it exists right now, and it is one reason among zillions many lesbians would not want to be closeted. They are proud of the culture of their people, as any people are. Why should they be expected to hide it? Or anything about their lives.

    funnie, I know your position is different from justicewalks’ position but you share in common the belief that lesbian and heterosexual women are simply experiencing differing kinds of sexism and that heterosexual women are not privileged compared with lesbian women. That’s what I was referring to. I don’t think Rain’s position agrees with either yours or justicewalks’.

    I don’t know if I’m going to continue this beyond this comment. I might, but I’m not feeling it any more. I’m feeling really disgusted right now and am having trouble keeping a lid on that. I appreciate both of you in many ways, funnie and justicewalks, and don’t want to go off on you, and I’m feeling frustrated enough that I’m afraid that’s what I am going to do. I’m just saying, it might be that this is as much as I am willing to give to this back-and-forth with you, which will just mean I’m done for this round. I’ve given it as much energy as I’m willing to for now.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 9:47 pm
  329. Invoking unseen lesbians? Come ON now. I’ve engaged women here to the extent that their criticisms are based in what I’ve said, and even beyond that. The fact that I’m not going to address every accusation leveled at me (that I’ve accused Mary Sunshine of cruelty, for example) or every attempt to nettle me (you may have to think about this for more than 10 minutes) or every side issue someone brings into the conversation as though I said it (that lesbians are protected by gay men, or that lesbians are less discriminated against, or that lesbians are able to “pass”)…doesn’t mean I haven’t engaged plenty of posts that have engaged what I have said.

    Sometimes, “ignoring and dismissing” is a positive thing, a concrete action called giving women the benefit of the doubt. As in, OK, you go ahead and say that, I can see why you need to say that and I can tell where you’re coming from, and so I’m not going to tell you why what you’ve said is flat out wrong, or complain that it misrepresents me, even though I think it is and does.

    However, I have to admit that my ability to hold myself in check is slipping. And I’m honestly sorry about that.

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 9:47 pm
  330. Taken to its logical conclusion, justicewalks, all women would have to do to end sexism is present as men, make sure they are read as men, get their hair cut really short, wear men’s clothes, study and imitate male gestures, etc. and that should solve the problem.

    All it means for me is that subjugation is not unexpected when one goes against the grain. I guess I don’t see the point in complaining about the foreseeable.

    I’m glad you’ve been willing to contribute as much as you have.

    Posted by justicewalks | November 10, 2007, 9:59 pm
  331. Heart asked What system, in particular, are you talking about? What “opposing [of] each other” are you talking about? Who has been arguing that heterosexual feminists and lesbian feminists shouldn’t work together?

    Who? I don’t know! I guess the “they” here:

    [funnie]Rejecting the relationship of opposition seems like the right move to me.

    [Heart]…What if they say that is not what is going to benefit them as lesbians? How will you proceed?

    Posted by funnie | November 10, 2007, 10:00 pm
  332. What the hell, justicewalks. You say people don’t have a right to “complain” unless they can’t avoid being oppressed and subjugated, then you say, well, all I meant was, they knew it was coming.

    I think every revolution begins with oppressed people finding the courage to complain. And with their allies also finding the courage to complain. And why’s that. *Because it is wrong that all people are not free to be precisely whoever they are, openly, without being punished for it.* I think a whole lot of us better complain really loud and quick or we’re stuck with this bullshit world we currently have.

    Funnie, re your private comment, I think the feeling you are getting may have to do with my having to write so as to protect myself in certain ways, something I have to do right now for a bunch of reasons. Everything I’m writing here is my own, mine, all mine. Nobody is whispering in my ear or coaching me or anything like that.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 10:17 pm
  333. Heart,

    You have given more to this discussion than I can imagine any lesbian having been able to do.

    Abundant thanks, and abundant admiration to you, Dear Dykeheart.

    (I use to address my letters to my sep friends as “Dear Dykeheart”)

    You are hereby awarded the Lesbian Purple Heart, for lesbian bravery.

    Much love,
    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 10, 2007, 10:23 pm
  334. funnie, I think you took what I wrote there out of context. I think the way you’ve used it is confusing and doesn’t have anything to do with what I was talking about earlier.

    Ah, thanks, Mary. xxxooo

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 10:29 pm
  335. I’m feeling one more thing that I kept meaning to write:

    Me, Heart: Which alternative might be invisibility amongst feminists prioritizing reproductive rights, abortion, birth control, battered women’s shelters, for example.

    justicewalks: This is what I don’t get. Not all feminist issues are my particular issues either. I’ve never been battered, I’ve never been pregnant, I don’t fuck men anymore. That I don’t have to deal with those issues in my immediate life is a good thing, and I don’t begrudge women who need feminist attention in those areas of reproductive rights, abortion, birth control, or battered women’s shelters.

    Justicewalks, I was talking about the way lesbian feminists spearheaded the crusade against domestic violence/battering in heterosexual women’s homes, and for reproductive rights, and then were too often abandoned by heterosexual feminists when it came to specifically lesbian issues.

    Sort of the way black suffragists in the 1850s devoted themselves to causes which far and away benefitted white feminists and then ended up shat upon by a large percentage of those white feminists to whom they had devoted their time and energy. And yeah, they got shat upon in part because men shat upon and betrayed the white feminists, but shat upon is shat upon.

    Nobody can blame black suffragists, or lesbian feminists, for seeking alliances with people who would take their specific issues seriously.

    So no, we don’t have to apply ourselves to issues of subgroups within the larger feminist movement which don’t directly benefit us, unless we give a shit about those womens’ lives, and unless it matters to us how much energy and time they’ve devoted to our issues.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 11:17 pm
  336. Dykeheart.

    Mary, I’m going to change my name soon. I’ve been thinking of names that incorporate “heart”. This kind of has a ring to it. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 11:21 pm
  337. Heart, along with Mary Sunshine, I also want to add my heartfelt thanks. As Mary said, I wouldn’t have been able to add to the discussion as much as you did. Silly as this may sound, your solidarity with lesbians has moved me to tears.

    Posted by Branjor | November 11, 2007, 12:01 am
  338. I’m very sorry, then, Heart – I absolutely understand how self-protection might be what makes something sound a bit odd to someone else.

    Posted by funnie | November 11, 2007, 12:10 am
  339. That’s not silly, Branjor. Thanks so much.

    xxxooo

    And thanks, funnie, for the understanding.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 11, 2007, 12:14 am
  340. Sorry, for chiming in late and out of sequence, as I’m TZI (Time-Zone-Impaired). By the time I read and catch-up with what has been posted while I was asleep or whatever, its “moved on” again.

    Heart wrote: “Justicewalks, I was talking about the way lesbian feminists spearheaded the crusade against domestic violence/battering in heterosexual women’s homes, and for reproductive rights, and then were too often abandoned by heterosexual feminists when it came to specifically lesbian issues”.

    Such splits happen a lot in feminist activism. In 19th century suffragism in Europe/UK etc – race was not as big a factor as in the USA. But class issues split them just as much. Working-class women had little interest in struggling for women’s education, and often allied themselves with the trade union movement instead. But thats another story/thread…back to this one.

    Just for argument’s sake: If all het women acknowledged their privilege, celebrated and acknowledged lesbian contributions to feminism, dropped other activities and started fighting on lesbian issues, would that help to resolve the conflict:? To me I read it as guilt-tripping. I could be very wrong in that view. Its like black women triggering “white guilt”, to me – it just doesn’t get us anywhere.

    On another tangent though, I see sharing our personal stories as enormously valuable – as a kind of consciousness-raising. Ultimately, no matter how different these stories might be on the surface – underneath, they are much the same. Only by sharing our differences, might we come to understand how much common ground we really do have after all.

    At feminist conferences, I don’t have a problem with women-of-colour having separate spaces (at which I am not included), or lesbians (at which I could be included). I also highly respect and honour and celebrate the contributions of each of these diverse and often very different groups of women, and respect their right to exclude me, or welcome me as they see fit.

    Why shouldn’t Russian, Rumanian and South Asian women take “leadership” on international trafficking? They are the most affected by it, they have the most knowledge, skills and experience in it.

    Another example, I don’t identify as Jewish or any other religion. I have great difficulty understanding the specifics of Jewish and Palestinian women’s life experiences in the Middle East. I was raised in a rabidly atheist Marxist family. I see lesbian issues in the same way. I can educate myself on these specific issues, I can listen and learn from their experiences, I can even contribute and support as much as I am able to, whether that comes out of my patriarchal privileges or not.

    I can understand, empathise deeply, with the anger of African and Middle-Eastern feminists at US-dominated “privileged” Westernised feminists, who they feel (rightly or wrongly) have continually betrayed them, through indifference, and “privilege” of nationality living under more liberalised forms of patriarchy.

    None of these differences in focus or priority means we can’t or don’t meet on common ground, or that we can’t contribute, support or participate across those boundaries. Conversely, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those who don’t contribute are somehow betraying any or all the others.

    Personally, although I can identify as a lesbian, I am not overly politically active in lesbian politics. Like justicewalks ( I think) said, I also feel that sexuality is a lie. Its a false split.
    An “illusion”. Its a very insidious, subtle tool of patriarchy to divide us and have us guilt-trip each other on one of the huge number of versions of Good Girl vs Bad Girl duality. As Mary Daly once said, we are forced to focus on the anatomy between our legs just like patriarchy does.

    Whether we use it with men or not, whether we birth kids or not, whether we sell it for privilege or pleasure, whether we are blessed with some limited patriarchally defined “choices” or not, is all beside the point to me as we as a class have little power over it. Those privileges are granted or denied by men. In motherhood, there may be some power, but it is delegated authority. Step outside the limits and boundaries of what men have delegated to mothers, and you will soon find that your motherhood has no power at all. An “illusion”.

    Lesbians are seen, in some circles, as equal to gay men (whether lesbians choose to contribute to this perception or not, is beside the point). In some liberal left-centric moderate circles they are granted equal status as gay men are. Some dykey women get along better in male-dominated communities because they are seen as “one of the boys”, or “honorary men” and acknowledged or respected for their skills, talents etc. One example, is the young friend of one of my daughters. She grew up in a very liberal christian family, which proudly accepts gays in the church. She lives and works in a very liberal leftist community and coming out was no drama for her.

    A few years later, she outed as a radical feminist with separatist views. That was not tolerated, no way. Whilever she was seen – by others – as belonging to community that included men – no matter how lowly status those men might be – (trans, gays, blacks etc) she was fine inside that particular circle, while she played by their rules.

    The minute she declared she was identifying solely with a group of people that did not include men of any social status, political stripe, shape or form – that is the ultimate taboo, not the sexuality.

    Its stepping outside the boundaries of protection, and takes enormous unbelievable courage. Many years ago, I read how Andrea Dworkin once had to hire private security for a speaking engagement tour, and how other high-profile radical feminists often had to use underground networks of anonymous “safe houses” when they travelled. I was puzzled – to the greater world it’s a bit “out there”, a fringe element, so to speak – doesn’t exactly pack the crowds in like a christian revivalist meeting in a sports stadium. Doesn’t get much mainstream media play, yet these brave few are literally putting their lives on the line in just saying it.

    Few women can do it, few even have the opportunity to try to do it. Thats probably one of the reasons US-based radical feminists are often seen by other countries feminists as “elitist” – ie as having the “privilege” of living in a more liberal western culture, where at least the opportunity to ‘separate’ is a possibility.

    That said, radical separatism is an ideal, available as a “choice” to only the very few in even the most liberal of cultures – I suspect the majority who fight and struggle for it are lesbians, and while I can understand the huge risks involved, in some respects, it is a little easier for lesbians who dont like kids, to make the jump – they aren’t leaving that much behind them, or making as many sacrifices.

    For others with that complex twisted convoluted paradox of love/pain of sons, brothers etc — its a double-whammy of pain to try and cross, for some it gives some pleasure and joy today, eg. the pleasure of feeding a baby – for a moment or three – such experiences can soften the blows of patriarchy, as socialism softens the blows of capitalism.For some women, separatism involves far more sacrifice than others.

    I can also well understand the frustration when so many women neither acknowledge separatism as a goal, or ideal to be worked towards, or are willing or able to take the step to join the struggle, not for the illusion of “Now-You-See-It, Now-You-Don’t” pseudo-equality defined by men, but for true freedom. Liberal feminism is not so threatening, doesn’t involve so much sacrifice, and of course there are men who support it which makes it legitimate.

    Als I’m not sure I agreed when Mary Daly said “numbers don’t matter, numbers are a boy’s game”. If women don’t unite in “numbers too big to ignore”, no progress will ever be made. That is what patriarchy wants – they can tolerate a handful of women slipping through the cracks and living outside of patriarchy to a degree, as long as its always just a few, with the majority bound one-way-or-another (including most lesbians) to menfolk.

    Personally, I find it hypocritical when separatists then complain about ‘privilege’, it doesn’t exactly make other women sign up to join in – if they feel they would then have to sit through “Re-education” classes, like the communist conquerors “re-educating” the masses on daily guilt-trips about ‘decadence’ or ‘privilege’.

    Posted by Rain | November 11, 2007, 4:21 am
  341. Hey, Rain. I wonder why your comments always go directly to the spam queue. 😕

    I am way too tired to respond in depth to what you’ve said there, but I did want to say that I have spent a lot of time in radical feminist/lesbian separatist circles, and I have never seen anything like “re-education” or sermons or guilt trips about decadence or privilege. In the U.S. anyway, it’s the opposite. So many of the separatists I know are so determined to center love, above all else, to be positive, encouraging, to avoid negativity, to avoid dualistic thinking and binaries of various kinds, that they end up without the separatist communities they long for and with no way to insist that the boundaries of their communities, i.e., that they be female only, be respected. I want to say that here because so many people seem determined to equate radical feminism/lesbian separatism with cultishness or the extremes of 60s Marxism, and honestly, the problems here in the U.S. with lesbian separatist communities are so far from that. I know that wouldn’t be your intention, but many who read here search for whatever might shore up their anti-radfem/lesbophobic views of things.

    I think that if heterosexual or partnered-with-men feminists acknowledged their privilege and focused on lesbian issues, all women would benefit, including them. I don’t think heterosexual feminists would have to drop their own priorities, though, just acknowledge the importance of lesbian women’s issues. (When I say lesbian issues, I am talking about feminist lesbians, not GLBTQ/Queer-identified lesbians.) In the states, a focus on lesbian issues (again radical feminist lesbian) would include work/wage/housing discrimination issues, gender-conformity issues, issues around Queer advocacies for “gender identity” (whatever that even is) protections, pressures on gender nonconforming people to “transition”, around the importance of respect for female-only spaces, so essential for our liberation, support for woman/mother-heads-of-household. All of these would benefit all women. I think oftentimes in progressive movements, when we align with the most marginalized people in the group, we end up fighting for everybody’s rights. I think radical feminists/lesbian separatists are, as you’ve described as well, a quite hated minority within feminism, for so many reasons, including that they do not engage with men. This threatens men on so many levels and so they respond punitively, but I think all women benefit when men (and women) see that women are able to do quite well on our own.

    Well, so much to say. Too tired!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 11, 2007, 4:55 am
  342. I should say, when I think of the most marginalized women of all, I think of Renata Hill, one of the New Jersey Four. She is a young, black, poor, lesbian, single mom now in jail (for eight years, having had no prior police record) for having defended herself against a man who accosted her. The media had an unapologetic field day, calling her and the women with her “howling wolves” and other names, and the judge openly mocked her and the other women and their families when he sentenced the New Jersey 4. If all feminists focused on what would most change Renata Hill’s circumstances and life, in the end, all women would benefit.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 11, 2007, 5:18 am
  343. Hey, Rain. I wonder why your comments always go directly to the spam queue.
    Story of my life! *grin*.
    Born in the spam queue, been trying to fight my way out ever since!
    Perhaps its my Karma?

    Heart, re Renata Hill – very good point – with you all the way there.

    But as a strategy, it also could possibly, (just hypothetically speaking) run the risk of focussing on the long list of marginal descriptors, and by only focussing on the characteristics of marginality, ignores the fact of their womanhood.

    Such incidents, including the media vilification and name-calling, are not always due to the marginality, and can and do affect women from all walks of life. Plenty of fine upstanding rich right-wing women have found themselves in similar situations and suddenly lumped in with the filthy dykes, hookers etc, much to their own horror, I suspect.

    Its very painful to learn the hard way, ie – that your patriarchal privileges can mean SFA, when it comes to the crunch.

    Plenty of women have ultimately been drawn to radical feminism because of learning that lesson the hard way.

    Have you ever read Fay Weldon’s novels “Down Among the Women” and “Heart of the Country?” Very black, dark humour and not to everybody’s taste – its very confronting on this topic.

    My view – is that women should be supporting Renata in large numbers, simply because she is a woman treated harshly because of her sex as a hate crime against a female person, not because of her marginality, which are all just patronyms.

    If we highlight the marginality, we are just being socially conscious bleeding-heart liberals taking on the harsh treatment of any poor, black gay etc etc etc etc … and as feminists we would then be just the lefty liberals “pink ladies” – we might even get brownie points for that, amongst the bleeding-heart liberal christians, Democrats, post-modernists, anarchists, and so forth.

    I’m not sure I’m communicating very well – or just confusing people more – we can support Renata as long as we do it in the patriarchally validated acceptable way, by focussing on her patronyms of marginality.

    Her race, socio-economic class, her sexuality etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc – becomes so much more important than her womanhood.

    Women are treated like that, every minute, of every day, in every square mile of every land mass on the planet, regardless and in spite of whatever perceived patriarchal privileges they might have – and it just doesn’t register that its a hate crime against female persons.

    Renata’s case can be seen as a hate crime against gays, blacks etc – all sorts of things – but it can’t be seen as a hate crime against women. There’s no such thing. You can only be hated or oppressed because of your patronym. Jewish women are hated because they are Jews, not because they are women. Lesbians are hated because they are gay, not because they are women. The list goes on.

    By focussing on the marginal patronyms, I think feminists run the risk of reinforcing those very same patriarchal definitions, not challenging them.

    Like I saw a movie recently about a case of a MTF trans teen who was beaten to death, and at the end it talked about how the case had led to foundations and fund-raising to change laws to make such murders a “hate crime”, along with education programs in schools, and numbers in the credits about how many trans had been killed that year. Mainstream society is generally sympathetic to this – but not to making the far more numerous, vicious, bloody and horrific crimes against women “hate crimes”.

    In short, I guess I’m saying that I would rather move beyond the patronyms of our different male-defined, male-applied and male-enforced oppressions. Perhaps thats idealistic and living in la-la land.

    Cheers – Rain

    Posted by Rain | November 11, 2007, 8:05 am
  344. Rain,

    You blaze with the pure brilliance of the morning sun as it pours in through my window here.

    Yay, yay, and yay!
    😀

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 11, 2007, 1:28 pm
  345. Hey, Rain. You know, I so agree with your entire comment. I think I agree with every word of it! And of course, it’s why on my blog I point out the disgusting way Britney Spears is treated, and Michelle Duggar, and other women who are the (apparent) recipients of certain kinds of perks and benefits under male supremacy.

    I acknowledge the truth of what you are saying and the importance of it and actually, it’s what I believe and have always believed.

    There’s something I’m trying to get at though, and I haven’t so far been able to, exactly.

    I think you’re spot on so far as the weaknesses in the last idea I had, re: if we focus on the “most marginalized” women, we end up helping all women, for precisely the reasons you say. This inevitably becomes an unwillingness to even *see* brutalities against women *as* brutalities against women *because* we are women. There always has to be something else, some other reason, for people to pay attention, and so hate crimes against women fly under the radar every second of every day, ho hum, just another woman raped, tortured, beaten murdered. :::rage:::

    I’ve sure seen the way an apparent focusing on the “most” marginalized of women gets turned against us by various !&$&@$&*@*&@! assholes of various stripes, to wit people like Amp writing blog posts about white woman messiah imagery, i.e., the white woman teacher who performs miracles in inner city schools etc. SO fucking unfair and enraging, not to mention opportunistic, something that gives Amp a chance to bond with various stripes of progressives in their overall misogyny. This was a while back when I still occasionally engaged Amp, and I clobbered him for it and presented him with imagery he conveniently omitted, i.e., “To Sir With Love,” with Sidney Poitier not only the savior of the poor kids and the poor school, but the darling of all the girls in class, a long history of other movies about male teachers as saviors and messiahs, etc.

    I had been thinking of posting a youtube of Annie Lennox’s new song, SING, what a beautiful song, from her new CD. I went lookng for the video and found some of live performances of her AIDS benefits in Africa, so inspiring. In the background as she sang, there was all of this information about the horrible situation she was drawing attention to that we are all aware of, the terrible toll HIV/AIDS has taken and continues to take in Africa. But I realized if I posted the youtube, I would open us all up to another round of just what you say, oh, look at the white lady, come to save the day, such bullshit, but that’s what goes down all the time on the intertubes, and I’ve sure so had my fill of it in all its disingenous gratuitousness. I’m not anxious to go there there again any time soon. But in fact, it is WOMEN who are most affected by AIDS in Africa, and Annie Lennox’s song was for women, “Sing Women Sing.” But just as you describe, plenty of assholes would be willing to jump right in to quickly erase that central and important truth and reality and the fact that Lennox was drawing women together around women’s issues.

    Hmmm. Now I think I’m going to post it! And link to this comment for context. Maybe that will be a sort of pre-emptive strike against the asshattery we have all seen so much of.

    And continuing with this same thought, I’ve also seen the way the “focus/ally with the most marginalized women” can sometimes play out, with fine feminist women censoring themselves into silence for fear of being seen too much as the messiah white lady.

    Still.

    I’ve seen and see what has happened to lesbian feminists in the U.S., this almost complete silencing and invisibility. I see the way the moment they stand up for themselves, they are (sometimes brutally) silenced and the way they do not receive feminist support. I see them, and anyone who stands with them, attacked and harrassed and subjected to what amounts to hate speech over and over again in real life, in the courts, in their work, online, in their real life communities, in the GLBTQ community, in “progressive” circles. I see what has happened to their organizations, book shops, coffee houses, festivals, wimmin’s lands, spiritual communities, and over and over I’ve observed that when they attempt to speak up, the treatment they receive is just unconscionably wrong– unjust and sometimes brutal.

    This tells me that this analysis I’ve staked my feminism on doesn’t exactly “work.” There’s something not exactly right about it.

    Why is it that men have focused on destroying what remains of radical feminist/lesbian separatist communities in the U.S., in the UK, in Australia, in Africa (the woman-only city there, can’t recall the name of it)? Males have focused on this destruction with a single-minded, malignant, relentless intent to eliminate these communities. This is a comparatively small number of women we are talking about. If we view this as just one of millions of similar assaults on women as a class, then I’m afraid we will not see the significance in it that men actually *do* see, which is the reason for the doggedness of their attacks on such a comparatively small group of women, which is the reason that men of all political persuasions and none so oppose these communities. These communities are opposed and attacked by the Religious Right and fundamentalist men of all persuasions across the world, they are opposed by nonreligious conservative, middle of the road, and liberal men, they are opposed by progressive men, they are opposed by men of all races, ethnicities, and white men as well, and they are opposed by all of the women who’ve thrown their hats in with all of these groups of men, feminists included.

    There is a watershed there. I wonder if what I might have wanted to get at, or say, had less to do with standing with the “most marginalized” women (definitely, as you say, not the place to go), and more like needing to stand in these watersheds, to find where the waters gather and attempt to direct the resulting divergent streams in ways which will flow to the benefit of all women.

    I think historically the feminist movement has missed some important watershed moments. I am trying to look both backwards and forwards to see where we went sideways and how we can get better at recognzing these moments/situations. I know that when I try to explain what has happened to lesbian feminist/separatist communities to most feminists I encounter who aren’t aware of them, try to describe the way men have moved in and destroyed them and continue to, they look at me sort of blankly and don’t get it. So I start trying to explain, and I find it so wearying, demoralizing, tedious and discouraging that half the time I give up. But the fact that good feminist women have no awareness of what has happened, no awareness of the significance of it, don’t even know that we’re close to losing the tiny number of places on the earth where women have made *real life* revolution, where they have built something reflecting societies women would build, if we were in charge, tells me somehow the movement went the wrong way, didn’t “get” something it was so important to “get.”

    I think the New Jersey 4 situation is a watershed too, not so much, maybe, as you say, because the women involved are marginalized — though this results in their having few resources with which to fight and so they stand in need of so much support they just aren’t getting — more perhaps because this is a situation in which women who have rejected males as partners have now been jailed for defending themselves against the resulting direct attacks on them by those males, that terrorism I have repeatedly observed that relentlessly and doggedly comes to women who do not want men in their lives, and who, on a deeper level, are unconcerned what men may think about them at all.

    Maybe we need a Watershed Feminism. 🙂

    But thanks for that fine comment and series of reminders of what we all know and have learned. You are so right, no need to go down certain paths we know take us straight to dead ends!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 11, 2007, 2:38 pm
  346. Watershed Feminism, yes!

    What a solar flare today is.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 11, 2007, 3:16 pm
  347. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days now and I figured I’d share what I’ve come up with. I’ve looked at the privilege list, and while it’s true, something still seemed off that I couldn’t put my finger on. The Field Slave vs House Slave example didn’t quite seem to work either (though it might fit for discussions of things like classicism). I think I’ve finally figured out why.

    Like some others here, my problem with it is that it is a choice to live as a lesbian. This is a choice that all women have. This is not true for something like race. A black woman doesn’t (light-skinned exceptions aside) decide she’s going to live as a black woman, it’s pretty much decided for her when she’s born. A woman has to at some point make the decision to only have relationships with women. This could happen at any age, whether it’s a small girl or a older woman who’s lived in a heterosexual relationship nearly all her life. But the fact remains, living as a lesbian is optional. Being black or a woman is not. This does not mean that lesbians deserve any of the harm done to them for being lesbians! But part of the point of privilege is that not everyone can access it. Every woman has default access to this heterosexual privilege, because we’re all assumed to be heterosexual, unless we indicate otherwise.

    I think an example might help clarify how I see this issue. Field Slave vs. House Slave was the example given earlier. I see it more as Runaway Slave vs. Slave Who Stayed. Every slave has the option to rebel, to run away. Running away means freedom, but serious consequences if caught. The law is against runaway slaves. Trust the wrong people with your status as a runaway and you might not make it, might be killed or sold back. Even if you make it to a relatively safe place there are still risks.

    Obviously runaway slaves have problems that slaves who stay do not have. But are slaves who stay privileged over runaway slaves? A privilege list for slaves who stay could read something like:
    I can expect not to be beaten for my decision not to run away.
    I can expect not to be killed for my decision not to run away.
    I can expect the law to support my decision to stay.
    etc.

    These things are true. But they’re not privilege, and wouldn’t it make more sense to talk about the fact that slaves are beaten and killed for running away, and that the law is against them? And the fact remains that whatever can (and should) be done to help runaway slaves while slavery still exists, the only thing that will really end their oppression is the end of slavery itself.

    Women are enslaved. We’re supposed to serve men sexually, reproductively, and as unpaid labor. Lesbians and other women who refuse relationships with men are rebelling against this enslavement, whether they’re doing it intentionally (as a political act) or not. This is why heterosexual women who do not conform to beauty standards are often assumed to be lesbian or are called lesbian as an insult. Part of serving men sexually is looking “feminine” or sexually attractive at all times, even for men you aren’t sleeping with. This is why lesbians are often prevented from having children or raising children they’ve already had – women’s reproduction is meant to serve men. Women who simply have children on their own without a husband or partner are also punished. These women are not being harmed as members of a separate oppressed class; they are being harmed as *women* who have rebelled, to keep the rest of us from also rebelling.

    The point is, lesbians are a rebelling group within the oppressed group of women, while het women are the non-rebelling group. The dynamic of rebelling group vs non-rebelling group within a larger oppressed class is different than the dynamic of oppressed vs oppressor, and a lack of specific punishment for not rebelling is not a form of privilege. We are all still harmed as members of an oppressed class.

    I hope that made sense.

    Posted by keen | November 11, 2007, 3:32 pm
  348. keen,

    It makes sense, but it’s not correct. It’s not applicable to lesbian oppression.

    Obviously you have never known any Lifelong Lesbians.

    For these women being a lesbian was never a choice – heterosexuality was never an option.

    What you have yet to come to terms with is that it is heterosexuality that is a choice.

    Of course women are enslaved. And of course women who have privilege within that system oppress women who do not share that privilege.

    No woman chooses to be oppressed.

    Many women choose to be privileged, and are able to attain *some* forms of privilege, e.g. heterosexuality, or education.

    What I am saying to you is that many lesbians have never had the option to attain heterosexual privilege.

    Those of us who have been able to successfully do so are in a position of oppressors with respect to that dimension of privilege and oppression.

    White privilege / racial oppression.

    Het privilege / lesbian oppression

    Education privilege / “uneducated” oppression

    What angers me about arguments like yours is the continued express need to somehow distinguish heterosexual privilege / lesbian oppression within the female population from “oppression”. Not all forms of oppression are manifested as slavery. Racial oppression in the USA, for instance, is no longer manifested in that way – it is manifested in a gajillion other ways.

    I’d be delighted to receive your thanks for my taking the trouble to educate you in this respect. You’re welcome. (I think …)

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 11, 2007, 4:40 pm
  349. Hey, keen! Thanks for that thoughtful and insightful post.

    Just a couple of many thoughts I have, for the moment.

    I wouldn’t say that heterosexual women are not rebelling compared with lesbian women being rebels, because I think think there are many ways to rebel. I think women can rebel in their relationships with men, can rebel by leaving men or refusing traditional sexist expectations, can rebel by insisting on being in the driver’s seat in relationship to the men in their lives. Whether or not this kind of rebellion is good for the woman who engages in it, over the long haul, is a different issue, I think, as is how much real change individual rebellions like this accomplish for all women, but regardless, I do think that plenty of heterosexual women who partner with men are rebellious, or at least can’t really be categorized as non-rebels.

    If we say that being a lesbian is a choice, and that therefore the consequences that flow from that choice do not equal downward mobility so far as privilege goes, I think that takes us places we do not want to go. Is being fat a “choice”? And therefore there is no such thing as thin privilege? After all, the fat person can work out and go on a diet and get thin, so in a sense, she is “choosing” to be fat and should not complain about the consequences she receives for rebelling against the American Cult of Thinness. She may have trouble getting jobs, she may have to pay for two seats in the airplane instead of one, she may have to pay hundreds of dollars for a single outfit that is suitable for the workplace, she may be the butt of endless jokes and targeted for horrible hatred. Does this get discounted somehow because if she had surgeries, say, she could get thin? Does the privilege thin women enjoy in the marketplace over her not exist as privilege because she could access the latest patriarchal medicine has to offer for those whose body size doesn’t meet patriarchal standards?

    I think this particular formulation — if “choice” is involved, then the chooser cannot claim to be downwardly mobile privilege-wise vis a vis those who did not make the same choice — does not take enough into account the regulatory mechanisms of male heterosupremacy and the construction of deviance as choice. It could be said that a fat woman is “choosing” to be fat because bottom line, it’s true, all fat people *could* make themselves thin for at least some amount of time, or with surgeries, possibly forever. But that doesn’t look closely enough at WHY fat women experience discrimination in the first place. They experience discrimination because men have decreed women should be thin. Absent that male decree, fatness or thinness as a matter of “choice” would be irrelevant and no privileging around body size would exist. It’s the male decree that constructs the deviance in the first place and calls it a “choice”.

    In a similar way, lesbianism is viewed as a “choice” only because of a patriarchal male decree. In a nonpatriarchal world, nobody would pay any attention to women loving women, it would not be punished, and “choice” would not be an issue. It is the male decree that constructs anything but heterosexuality as deviance, and as a matter of making a “choice” to “deviate,” in the first place. I’m afraid we buy into that decree, and those standards, when we agree that those who resist regulation, whether of their body size or who they love, as “choices”.

    Well, there’s a lot more to say, but those are my immediate thoughts!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 11, 2007, 4:40 pm
  350. Also, there are huge problems so far as issues of classism when we get into this area of privilege, or not, being about people’s choices. It’s far too close, for my blood, to the way conservatives say that people “choose” to be poor or homeless, for example.

    The other glaring problem is, we aren’t oppressed *because* of our sex or our race or our lesbianism. We are oppressed because men have decided to oppress us and they cooked up a justification for it afterwards. There’s nothing about being a woman that “causes” men to oppress us. Men oppress us because it’s in their best interests to and create a bunch of lies about us to justify what is in their best interests to do. Male dominance is the issue with oppression, with privilege. All the excuses patriarchy makes for its dominance and for its granting or withholding of privilege are just that — excuses.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 11, 2007, 4:59 pm
  351. Me: The other glaring problem is, we aren’t oppressed *because* of our sex or our race or our lesbianism. We are oppressed because men have decided to oppress us and they cooked up a justification for it afterwards.

    This is important, because it gets to this idea that we have any control at all, as subjugated people, over all the ways we *are* subjugated or privileged or not under male heterosupremacy. We do not choose to be subordinated and we don’t choose to be privileged either. We are or we aren’t based on what is most beneficial to the continuance of the patriarchal status quo. We can ratchet ourselves up or down somewhat within very narrow parameters, but whatever “choosing” there is exists only within those parameters established in a male supremacist world. And the next form of male dominance is always as close as the next thing that shores up male supremacy. The point of acknowledging or pointing out comparative privilege isn’t to blame anyone in marginalized groups or to set members of subordinated groups in opposition to one another. The point is to illuminate all of the many ways by way of which males make patriarchy work for them. When we see that in some way we have privilege compared with some other woman, we can challenge it, we can resist it, we can speak out against it as the stealthily divisive male maneuvering that it always, in every case is. That’s what standing in solidarity is all about, I think, resisting these ongoing incursions and violations and the way men set us against one another and privilege some of us as against the others.

    Posted by womensspace | November 11, 2007, 5:47 pm
  352. Absolutely fascinating reading. I did find heterosexual feminists exasperating to work with, and all the arguments above point out the reasons for this. Radical lesbian feminists were the pioneers worldwide on so many feminist issues.

    What you lost was my labor on your issues. I won’t do it anymore! Without the sword carriers and spear chuckers, you straight women are going to lose those rights you keep begging from master! You keep cooking and cleaning for my enemies, and then you get mad at me for pointing out that MEN are your enemy. Big time.

    What is it going to take I wonder for you ever to understand that one basic fact?

    And what will it take for you to get off your butts and support the issues radical lesbian feminists really want worked on massively right this minute!

    What do you intend to do right now for the radical lesbian feminists? Remember, I committed a large part of my life fighting for your rights!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 12, 2007, 9:46 am
  353. Satsuma

    You miss one point. Separatism works just as well as lesbianism.

    Historically, it hasn’t just been lesbian radical feminists making the greatest impact, many of the early feminists, esp pre-dating 2nd wave, were either het or separatists (even if they didn’t use the term).

    Posted by stormy | November 12, 2007, 7:01 pm
  354. Rain

    Its very painful to learn the hard way, ie – that your patriarchal privileges can mean SFA, when it comes to the crunch.

    I happened to say almost the same thing just the other day.🙂

    The privilege, is just an illusion.

    Posted by stormy | November 12, 2007, 7:11 pm
  355. Hey, Stormy!

    The thing is, any individual, including all men, could say that about any privilege they had. They could say (and do, of course) that their patriarchal privileges can mean SFA when it comes to the crunch, and they are dying in battle, or shot on the street, or murdered/raped in prison, or they are homeless, or men of color, or disabled, or poor.

    And that is very, very, true. As individuals, when catastrophe befalls us, or just when things go wrong for us, notions of privilege are pretty much irrelevant in those moments.

    But as I said way up there in who knows what comment (!), talking about privilege has to do with class analysis for the purpose of challenging comparative disenfranchisement *as a class*. It’s not supposed to be about individuals comparing battle scars or quantifying their relative privilege. It’s supposed to be about understanding how one’s membership in a class informs that person’s reality, relative to those who are not members of the class.

    I think when the chips are down, and someone is diagnosed with incurable cancer, or gets mugged in the street, or is diagnosed HIV positive, or loses everything, for whatever reason, or goes to jail, or is denied something that person critically needs, they might say and definitely believe that whatever privilege they have is an illusion. And they’d be right! Notions of privilege, or not, mean nothing to people suffering in whatever way.

    But for the purpose of politics, we have to consider how privilege works to create societal, systemic, and institutional inequalities in a broader, more pervasive way which informs all of our lives in ways we are not always immediately aware of. That really is the nature of having privilege — where we have it, it isn’t obvious to us. We have to be willing to take a look, to see it.

    Otherwise, we’ll have males, males and males popping up everywhere playing their world’s tiniest violin music on their own behalf and insisting that because of this, yay and that, their privilege is an illusion. But we know better. For them to know better, they have to be interested in thinking about class analysis as a strategy and tool for those who are, relative to themselves, disenfranchised in certain ways.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 12, 2007, 7:21 pm
  356. Mary Sunshine wrote this in 242 and I think it’s good and worth quoting:

    We’re already pinned in so many hierarchies of oppression within the patriarchy.

    Class. Race. Ethnicity. Education. Male-centred “progressive” discussions have given visibility to those. They have *not* of course, given visibility to the hierarchies induced within the female world by male-prescribed-for-female appearances and behaviours.

    Here’s a bit that I wrote about that to another group:

    Heterosexuality is a *status* within the patriarchy, by which males rank females. It’s not, and never has been, about females or our sexuality.

    It’s a status in the same way that “university graduate” is a status.

    Marriage is a status, yes? We see it on the legal forms we fill in all the time. It’s a way in which we’re branded, like cattle: heifer, yearling heifer, first-calf heifer, cow. Has to do with who (male) has owned us (yet), or disowned us, or has predeceased us, and left us as part of his property remains.

    Motherhood is a status.

    “Out dyke” is a status – one more fraught with danger, and disempowered than that of “closeted dyke”.

    I’m referring to a power structure here, not to whatever choices we may or may not have made that may have anything to do with where we find ourselves within it.

    Where we have been, or are now, within that structure (and of course, this is only *one* of the many power structures in which patriarchy has us pinned) will have a huge amount to do with the life experiences that we have as women at the hands of males.

    It will have a profound effect on the feelings that we have about other women, who are in different places in that structure.

    This is why the consciousness of this rank-ordering is an essential tool for us as we work to communicate within female and radfem circles.

    I don’t think of it as the way in which females differ from each other most importantly. Good grief, we have age, size, wealth, race, etc etc.

    Just that the het (for lack of a better word: maybe “male-pleasing” would be better) hierarchy is one not commonly addressed in our understandings and work with each other.

    What I’m trying to get at here, is that this is a power hierarchy (intersecting with all the other power hierachies) induced and enforced by males against us. Not to be confused with the concept of “lifestyle choices”, which obscures the glaring actuality of the power hierarchy.

    For instance, in terms of the class hierarchy: an owning-class woman may choose to live a spartan existence, sharing resources with other women. That is a lifestyle choice. It does not in any way abnegate the fact of her class status. That endures even the *loss* of her money. Her economic status may change ( *not* by her choice, e.g. her Enron stocks collapse ) but her class status endures.

    So, all other things being equal, a married woman with sons has a higher het (I keep going back to “het” because it means female connected to the world through males) status than a married woman with daughters and no sons. This is not a status that she claims or chooses. It is a status (a power position) awarded to her by males.

    Do we want this hierarchy acting on us in our female groupings? Some of us do, some of us don’t. But it acts on us anyway. Knowing that, we can hopefully exert our own psychic forces against it.

    I like this a lot because of Mary’s focus on the fact that this is a patriarchal ordering or hierarchy. It’s not something we do, or set up, it’s something men have set up. To talk about it is to acknowledge what men have done, to see it. It isn’t Mary or Satsuma or I or anybody else who is creating a hierarchy; we’re describing, talking about (and opposing) the hierarchies that men have created.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 12, 2007, 7:29 pm
  357. “Separatism works just as well as lesbianism.”

    BINGO !

    And that’s what Sonia Johnson’s all about.

    Women need to know that they don’t have to be a lesbian to be a separatist.

    And women need to know that separatism is *not* primarily about “reversing” the het hierarchy within our female groups! That has been a common, if not the most common, meaning attributed to “lesbian separatism”. It’s not pragmatic not to be aware of lesbian oppression – but neither is it pragmatic to make it into a reverse s&m game.

    Lesbian separatism is definitely one way of doing separatism, but I don’t see that being the way that females can and will ultimately remove a critical mass of female energy from use by males.

    I wholeheartedly support each female to pursue the form of separatism that she prefers.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 12, 2007, 8:15 pm
  358. I think we have all done an excellent job identifying the various hierarchies out there. But in practical reality, I don’t really see straight feminists ever much addressing them as operating prinicple.

    This identification and acknowlegement is not a part of the process of political change we’re attempting to get at here.

    I really believe that the massive change in social attitudes towards lesbians in the public heterosexually controlled sphere is largely due to a complete accident of history — the AIDS epidemic. Lesbians are always lumped in with gay men for just about everything, which amuses me to no end. But it is true.

    This blog is the first extended conversation I’ve read in years where straight women and lesbians are actually talking about lesbian issues. I know I know it’s difficult for straight women to do this. They like to change the subject almost as much as straight men like to change the subject, and usually no one holds their feet to the fire to actually complete the discussion, but there you have it.

    I believe that lesbian energy and all it stands for is very effective out in the world. What we produced in terms of political theory and critique is massive in the short amount of time we’ve been doing this.

    We know the power of separatism, we know the power of being free of any male influence under our own roofs, and we know the economic power of avoiding children — I think about 40% of lesbians didn’t take that route.

    You really can take these theories and put them to very good use in the world, otherwise you’ll waste your time persuading people — and I really don’t like to do that. I have written off men as hopeless and completely unworthy of a lesbian feminist dialogue, and I can see that the subject is incredibly difficult for a lot of straight women — not the many very brilliant straight women here, but all over the rest of the universe.

    I have been convinced that the best straight women can do is NOT freak out just having me be a part of the mix. Since I don’t assimilate in any way. The very best alliances I’ve found with straight women are business allinaces. We know we can really help each other and we do. But I am rather loathe to deal with straight women’s personal lives, because I don’t want to meet their husbands very often and I am not interested in their children if they have them.

    The best alliance is between a straight woman who is very independent and has never had children at all, and then there really are a lot of similarities between us. They may even be lesbians who have “chosen” not to act on this, but it’s hard to tell. It’s not an issue for me.

    I must admit this whole idea of “choosing” whether to be straight or lesbian seems rather fishy to me. Do straight women in their right minds actually CHOOSE to marry men? Especially police officers, or very domineering men with high profile needs and demands? That’s really asking for trouble in my book.

    Do straight women get the hard data on the men whom psychologists, social workers and sociologists can document are the very worst kinds of men out there? I’m mentioning the incredibly high rates of domestic violence committed by men who are career military or police officers, for example.
    What woman in her right mind would marry a 300 pound man who is over six feet tall–someone she could never defend herself against in a fight, for example?

    I call it the O.J. Simpson’s girlfriend syndrome, for lack of a better phrase. Women who date O.J. Simpson. Easy target I know, but this is just Internet case shorthand here.

    And then there is this whole idea of social ranking in patriarchy. I wasn’t interested in a high social rank, I was interested in a life filled with challenge and intellectual rigor. Whether life was more or less difficult for me out in the larger world, really wasn’t of much concern. I was very happy with the way my life turned out, and I accomplished a lot more than I thought I would.

    In fact, I simply outgrew a lot of the movements out there.

    Did feminism overall suffer when straight women refused to really get involved with lesbian issues? I think this may have been the case. Be that as it may, most young lesbians today won’t come across any radical lesbian feminist writing at all or even real live radical lesbian feminists, unless they wander into a women’s studies class– and then that class might actually be taught by a MTF transgender woman– I kid you not.

    Did we as a human species ever really change social class or hierarchies to the better of all? A lot of people have tried over the years, but we have never dealt with the idea of ambition and focus. Ambition, focus, natural talents and a whole lot of other things come into play. Even lesbian feminist circles get annoyed with the idea of excellence and talent and skill applied well.

    I’ve always enjoyed seeing the very best of human beings — in music, in the arts, at a poetry reading, or even in a retrospective on English music from 1900 to 1930.

    I use the 1900-1930 example because, English classical music was pretty much stuck on Purcell until Edward Elgar came along, and this brilliant composer then inspired a whole group of English composers all at the same time. I believe Mary Daly did this for a whole generation of radical lesbian feminists.

    Her life was my model for excellence. I learned about collecting fine art from Gertrude Stein, I learned about 20th century modernism from Virginia Woolf, Amy Beach, the Shakespeare and Co. book store in Paris, and that whole circle of brilliant expatriate lesbians in Paris early in the last century. That was my idea of lesbian mind at its height, just as lesbian mind emerged with such stunning force in the late 60s and the rest of the 70s.

    Reading “Orlando” is the longest love letter written by a woman to another woman in the history of western literature I think.

    So I look upon lesbian feminism, and the early history of complex lesbian life and culture, and the cabaret society of Wiemar Germany as part of our best and brightest.

    That lesbians don’t have a culture that is unique is one of the lies straight women actually believe… but we do have the longevity and the sophistication and the manners and mores that mark us as a distinct culture on the world scene. Small mind you, but very distinctive.

    I’m very proud of this herstory, and I love to read about it. It’s everywhere if you look for it.

    Look at the paintings of Romaine Brooks, or marvel at Rosa Boehneur’s epic paintings. The self-portrait of Romaine Brooks is a classic in lesbian portraiture. Think of the women artists who painted each other and themselves, and you’ll see an entire aesthetic that even a male art historian can’t decode, but I can instantly, even when I’m not familiar with the artist.

    I know the clear eyed lesbian gaze directly at the viewer, and this is a lovely portrait of the intense mind of lesbians coming right out of a painting. It’s direct, it doesn’t bow to any master, and the radience of this light is so powerful, that many women out there really are afraid of this kind of freedom in the world.

    This is what radical lesbian feminists see, and our challenge is to make sure we know and discover our own world culture, and make sure we preserve our letters and keep our archives well funded. My past and accomplishments are worth preserving, and even though most straight women have little or no interest in the rights or cultures of worldwide lesbian nation, we care about this.

    I know I never ever suffered because I worked to gain knowledge on a thousand subjects. Everything I looked at gave me the eyes to see new worlds, and to keep in line with this inspiration– a kind of muse of the ages.

    Nothing stopped me from finding my people all over the world, or even sharing all of this with straight women. It’s here for all of women’s freedom.

    If I could think of a crime straight women commit, it is their willful ignorance of lesbian culture, which is very available in hundreds of books, paintings, photos, films… you name it.
    You have such dumb ideas of “choice” you know nothing about the power of women who have never lived with men as adults, and you just go on your merry way thinking your concerns are mine, and that I should spend my time on your issues, when you can’t even show the courtesy of getting a good lesbian education.

    To me, you often seem lazy — lazy in terms of aesthetics, lazy in terms of what you don’t even bother to read, and lazy in your ability to sustain a lengthy and complex radical lesbian feminist analysis.

    If you want the rule of men to end, or substantially change the axis of the world stage, then you really ought to consider all of this.

    You should be able to provide lesbians with hard data of what the enemies do behind closed doors, what types of men are the most likely to attack women, and what men fear the most so we can turn the world against their tyranny.

    I just deal with this evil species in the work place, but I have no idea why these sexist idiots are so fascinating to straight women in a private sphere. If you really do want freedom, then you really do have to become self-supporting. It’s hard I know, but if your income is compromised by male earning power, then this economic analysis must be done somehow somewhere.

    Do straight women really choose to marry men because they fear freedom? Who would choose these people?

    Posted by Satsuma | November 12, 2007, 8:44 pm
  359. P.S. The “Men, Boys and Sons” heading to this thread is ironic don’t you think.

    Maybe we can get a new lable, “Lesbian issues and a dialogue between lesbians and straight women on the subject of lesbians… Not catchy like a Broadway tune but just a suggestion.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 12, 2007, 8:47 pm
  360. P.S. The “Men, Boys and Sons” heading to this thread is ironic don’t you think.

    Maybe we can get a new lable, “Lesbian issues and a dialogue between lesbians and straight women on the subject of lesbians… Not catchy like a Broadway tune but just a suggestion.

    What’s ironic about the title is how this thread is now being used compared to the reason it was first written. It was written on the heels of an attack, an attack that was launched on ALL WOMEN who were/are brave enough to write her story on line, not just lesbian women, and Heart wrote it to respond to someone she loves. Like the attackers attempting to splinter women, this thread has in fact (in my opinion) turned into splintering women. So yes we should rename it, appropriate it. I have seen that technique employed before, but I’m not sure where.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 12, 2007, 10:01 pm
  361. Satsuma,

    I suspect that most women who marry do so because they see, at that time in their lives, no other social options. This was true of a lot of women of my generation.

    A lot of women have, over the years, not seen any way to escape marriage at the time. No other paths were open to them.

    Believe me, the women who think and act as the “straw het woman” that you hold up to scorn in your post above, do *not* read this blog. So, your disdain is lost on them. And the het radical feminists who *are* here as readers do not deserve that disdain. So, addressing the straw-women with the second person pronoun doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    OK, I find it hard to imagine how a woman could be a radical feminist and remain het for very long – if she has the means to escape. But when she escapes, she can’t necessarily “become” a lesbian. She could try, and many such women have succeeded. But by no means all such escapees want to be lesbians: they just want to get the &*%# away from men, and heterosex.

    I admire you for achieving what you have achieved in your life, and for your extensive knowledge of lesbian culture, and support of it. Certainly there are no male or heterofemale supports for lesbian culture.

    Also, lesbian culture is just really bloody *invisible* to most lesbians, as well as to most het women. We are mass-media-ed out of our minds. I hide from the mass media to whatever extent I can manage!

    Being able to sleuth out those lesbian cultural treasures is a rare and valuable skill.

    Have you ever been concerned that males might seek to destroy those cultural artifacts, as they have done to the cultural artifacts of competing groups of males, or as they have done to the artifacts of heterowomen?

    I have known many dykes who have taken great care to prevent their artifacts from falling into the hands of men.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 12, 2007, 10:08 pm
  362. Yeah, Mary. Whenever I find these artifacts in used bookstores, for example, I buy them, if there is any way I can.

    Posted by womensspace | November 12, 2007, 10:31 pm
  363. I noticed that Satsuma said this:

    otherwise you’ll waste your time persuading people — and I really don’t like to do that. I have written off men as hopeless and completely unworthy of a lesbian feminist dialogue, and I can see that the subject is incredibly difficult for a lot of straight women — not the many very brilliant straight women here, but all over the rest of the universe.

    So I’m reading much of what she is saying as directed not specifically to commenters here but to people reading who don’t comment. That’s the tricky thing about the blogosphere/internet. You’re talking to your sister commenters on the one hand, but on the other hand you’re writing for a much broader readership, and you have a chance to get your ideas out there in a way you wouldn’t ordinarily.

    One reason (of many) that I am not getting my feathers ruffled over what Satsuma says is, I’ve heard this kind of thing before from lesbian radical feminists, privately, either in real life or in e-mail or what have you. Although at times, especially when I first heard a woman speak as Satsuma is speaking, or write as she is writing, I felt– oh, different things– sometimes dismayed, angry, offended, and so on. But especially over time, I also felt something like, wow, this is completely new to me and I want to know about this. I want to hear from women who have always forever lived woman-centered lives. I want to know how that has made their lives different from my own and what their unique insights and perceptions are. I think that’s the question — whether there is an interest in hearing/reading this. When Satsuma talks about the “clear-eyed lesbian gaze” I know *exactly* what she’s talking about, and honestly, it’s something I rarely see amongst heterosexual feminists, and it’s something I don’t think that I have, that “clear-eyed lesbian gaze,” but I’ll get there in time. It also goes deeper than the gaze with the eyeballs, to a sort of gazing with the heart that happens around woman-centered people. I have learned, being around these women, they will know certain things, they will be attuned in some ways that can be entirely disconcerting until you’re used to it. :p But I think that’s the question — whether there is an interest in hearing/reading this, knowing about this. Each women has to decide that for herself, obviously.

    Although I see what both Satsuma and Kitty are saying about the title, I dunno, I think the title is pretty apt! The thread begins with me, talking to a male person I care about. Not a few times have I been cornered in some way about caring about the comparatively large number of male persons in my life. I am the mother of five sons, two stepsons, and one grandson, after all. But you know, there are male persons I love, that will always be so, there’s no need of me telling lies, no need of me apologizing or getting defensive or whatever. I do know that this caring can be a source of conflict between committed feminist women, and in particular, between separatists and not-separatists. So it makes sense that the thread ended up here, with us talking about the way attachments to male persons play out amongst committed feminist women, the questions and curiosities we can have about one another’s lives. I think overall, we can only benefit by exploring that.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 12, 2007, 11:00 pm
  364. I’m glad you know what the serious lesbian gaze is Heart! I have spent 30 years looking for this special look in paintings, photos, lesbian conferences, and in the coffee house down the street. It is this delightful look that says I AM SERIOUS, and the word serious is sacred to me. I am a deadly serious woman, and I try to use my mind to the fullest extent possible in the world. I’ve never seen a straight woman who can have this same look on her face. I’m not sure what this is, other than the recognition that some women are of my species, and this lesbian feminist look is quite rare out in the male-stream world. It is just there!

    *** ****

    Well, there is always a danger that men will destroy just about anything women have produced, or they’ll hide the objects in basements somewhere in the British museum, or they’ll mislabel goddess images and turn them into “fertility cults…” the usual.

    And it’s also true that many lesbians have no idea what culture they have out there in the first place. Reading original documents has always been a passion of mine, and I love any new book about lesbians. Just having an intelligent conversation about something that happened 30 years ago, is over the heads of a lot of people these days.

    I don’t understand why lesbians often ignore their own language, culture and history in favor of the idiocy that is male-stream “entertainment.” Lack of curiosity perhaps? Your guess is as good as mine Mary Sunshine.

    There really is no short cut to freedom or knowledge. It takes an incredible amount of time, and I just thought the great tradition of lesbians through the ages was worth studying — a selfish reason perhaps, Rachel Carson was just so damned interesting. Lorena Hickok was amazing. These women were so fascinating to read about, and to get to know personally, that I just loved every minute in their company. I loved every minute of hearing and seeing an old lesbian feminist read one of her short stories to a room full of lesbians. No straight women, no men, just us in that enchanted room. It was magic and powerful.

    It was exciting to read about women who really made sense to me, and who had achieved greatly in the world due to their imagination alone.

    We don’t have to be so caught up in mass media images, which are largely worthless to lesbian self. I have yet to find a very interesting mass media image of a lesbian, but I am riveted to a letter some woman wrote in 1848, or I discovered the lesbian identity of a woman with an obit in a large metro daily. You could tell, she had a life that was so un-heterosexual.

    Do I believe straight women need to hear this truth from the mind of a lesbian feminist? Yes, I believe they do. Even now, they really will say very silly things about lesbians –“choosing” for goddess sake. Of course we would never choose to live with men, that goes without saying. They’d waste your time, you wouldn’t have the chance to achieve as much in terms of feminist scholarship, and men hold women back in so many ways, that if you really knew how this worked you’d die of shock.

    Do lesbians have an intellectual territory to share with the world? Yes, we have an elaborate and nuanced intellectual life. It is my personal passion to lead the life of the mind, and to persue knowledge in all its forms, from the girls who played Vivaldi at girls’ orphanages in 17th-18th c. Venice, to Vivaldi himself, who wrote his great works for all girl orchestras and quartets.

    Is it helpful to know that Dame Ethel Smythe wrote the “March of the Women” as a suffrage anthemn, and that she was a lesbian? Well, yes, when you hear that song, it really is quite remarkable.

    Will straight women wake up and overthrow the patriarchy one fine fall late afternoon? I don’t know. I can only overthrow the little patriarchies out there. I can’t overthrow the big patriarchy because we have to many collaborators behind enemy lines. We have too many women who think men are fine and dandy. We have many countries in the world that HATED colonial rule, including ancient Israel, but we don’t have enough women who can’t stand the colonizers in their own home.

    That’s the problem. I don’t know the answer to this contradiction of history. I don’t even know why men simply horrified the living hell out of me, when I was fascinated by ancient music and auto repair and wanting the answers to these questions.

    Somehow, I knew in my heart of hearts that men hated women. Men couldn’t stand to hear learned women lecture, they wanted to control all of recorded history. They wanted to control the entire government. They wanted to come up with big theories, and then return home to a woman who would cook that man’s dinner every night. They had children and then made women care for them. They sailed to France and left their wives and children behind for many years at a time.

    I don’t know why women put up with the petty dictators of the home. They seem to learn the danger after some man beats the daylights out of them and threatens them with literal death. And even then, women still date O.J. Simpson, go figure!

    I am well aware that these aren’t very pleasant realities out there. I have no idea who will or won’t read this blog, but the words are worth writing for their own sake, and because this really is what I think. It may be kind or it may be contemptuous, but it is my own mind and my own thinking process.

    And do I believe any woman can be a separatist? Well any woman can be anything she wants to be. We can choose just about anything, and pursue any avenue of knowledge or skill or art or madrigal. Women can and always could do anything they wanted to do.

    Maybe the lesbian in me just could step back a bit and observe the really strange behavior of boys who would hit girls because they “really liked them.” Or maybe girls actually could stand to hide their own brilliance to get along with these piggish idiots.

    If I knew the answer as to why women have not had their real revolution yet, perhaps it might earn me a medal or a tiny 12″ statue in Times Square. All I do is put my thoughts on paper, and see what kind of dialogue they may or may not generate.

    I hold women accountable and I never make excuses for women. We are strong, we have choices, and we do have moral agency in our life. I don’t see myself as oppressed at all, I see myself as free to the point of delight. Not a phantom of delight, just a pure and real delight!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 13, 2007, 3:12 am
  365. “So I’m reading much of what she is saying as directed not specifically to commenters here but to people reading who don’t comment. That’s the tricky thing about the blogosphere/internet. You’re talking to your sister commenters on the one hand, but on the other hand you’re writing for a much broader readership, and you have a chance to get your ideas out there in a way you wouldn’t ordinarily.” from a previous commentary from Heart.

    Yes, I am writing to a much wider audience than just the people who post here.

    What happens on these things, is many people come and read something, but only about 10% of the visitors ever comment one way or the other, for a variety of reasons.
    Since I don’t know if you keep count of the number of people who actually visit this site week in and week out, I don’t know if you’d want to do this math. It’s a useful tool, to analyze women’s input when they do have a space.

    We tracked this percentage, by the way, on another lesbian site, where we could count the number of visitors to each bulletin board, and then calculate the percentage vs. who visited and who wrote. — Geez that mess of a sentence just isn’t cutting it, but it’s the best I can do now.

    Women get easily intimidated by any intense or blunt political/social commentary. If you are referencing books that were written 30-40 years ago, on very complex and frightening subjects — aka radical lesbian feminism, the fear factor goes up even more.

    Straight women are not accustomed to this sort of discussion on the part of radical lesbians. I don’t think the two groups ever got along very well even way back when.

    A lifelong radical lesbian feminist simply can’t comprehend the choices straight women make. I can’t, and a lot of my friends can’t either. I almost think our brain patterns went down different circuitry as far as what we see and feel in the world.

    I recall quite clearly everything that was said of high school girls, when I was that age, and none of the commentary made any sense to me. I had a brutal temper, I believed in aggressive and very violent retaliation if boys got in my way, and I wasn’t interested in popularity or anything teen related at all. I was adamently anti-drugs, and was very concerned about my studies. This is not the portrait of a most high school girls circa 1972 in a midsized midwestern city!

    That dreadful heterosexual environment left a lasting impact on me. And even now, I just find the world most women take for granted god-awful.

    My primary purpose really was to create an intellectually vibrant radical lesbian world, and most of the time, this remains a literary dream. The women of the past often seem more real to me, than the women of today.

    The world of heterosexual families, and their never ending subsets of “children” “grandparents” aunts, grandchildren… and on and on it goes is just alien. Even the description of the emotional ties heterosexuals describe within these family units is bizaar, and too biologically deterministic for my taste.

    There is a horror in that world that is vivid, a horror and fear that I will be dragged off to some heterosexual prison and be subject to chattering and nattering for days on end.

    I know, it’s just a fear, it isn’t real… and yet I fear being trapped in a place like that, with no books, and no serious looks on people’s faces at all. Trapped in a stiflingly dreadful culture that rules just about everywhere I go in the larger world.

    Maybe it is that horror that always drives me to find my species and to stake out an emotionally real territory through the written word. My portrait of the world through the written word is almost as if I am willing that lesbian feminist world into being– an act of supreme mental concentration, a determined deadly serious endeavor that is almost a world that could really be…if only…. If only we took the words and went out and made it real. Thoughts are things!

    We had a dumb joke that we told in 1979 I think: I’m sure many of you heard it, but I can’t resist: “How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?” “Three, one to screw in the bulb and two to write about it🙂 Even I am capable of dumb jokes now and then…

    Posted by Satsuma | November 13, 2007, 7:13 am
  366. Ah, Satsuma!

    Your post makes my day.

    This place is a miracle in my life.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 13, 2007, 1:22 pm
  367. Too much to respond to and I have to go to work. But the easy part is, although determining blog readership is an imprecise science, the most readers I’ve had on a single day here is a little over 30,000. Usually, I have more like 3,000 or so readers a day. So there are quite a few more reading than commenting for sure!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 13, 2007, 1:33 pm
  368. 30,000 — Yahoo!!! (the exclamation of excitement not the corporate name)

    Posted by Satsuma | November 13, 2007, 5:59 pm
  369. Ha! Well, to be fair, the highest 30,000 day (days, really, there were many days around that number), happened when I got pissed off over all the hits I was getting of men looking for Britney Spears “crotch shots,” (because I had an old blog post here about Britney Spears which they were finding when they googled). In response, I created a post with that title, or something like that, “Britney Spears Crotch Shot,” except that the photo I posted was of the crotch of a beautiful old tree accompanied by a blog post where I told the men searching for these shots exactly what I thought of them. That caught on and pretty soon a bunch of radical feminist blogs had similar posts up “Britney Spears Crotch Shot,” etc. So these guys went looking for invasive, violating photos taken of Spears without her consent, and ended up at radfem blogs instead. HA. Poetic justice.

    But the readership spikes fairly regularly and I never know what is going to cause those spikes, what is going to capture people’s attention. No matter what it is, people coming here to read is a good thing. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 13, 2007, 6:53 pm
  370. MaryS @ 367🙂

    Posted by stormy | November 14, 2007, 8:54 am

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