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Pre-2008 Posts

The Religious Right and Daughters as Property

I was going to post this as a comment to the 2007 Weblog Awards thread, but decided to go ahead and create a post for it, although I almost hate to for various reasons, including how toxic this information is.

The following excerpts of an essay written by a young woman offer insight into what happens to girls raised in fundamentalist  homes, reconstructionist or dominionist (theonomist) Christian homes in particular.  The essay offers insights into why these girls think and behave as they do once they become women.

What follows is disturbing and might be triggering to women from this type of background.  In fact, what is here might be more disturbing than almost anything you have read so far from the Quiverfull reconstructionist writers.  One reason is that it is quite well-written.  The young woman who wrote it is clearly highly educated and intelligent.  I saw this all the time in my old world, bright young women, completely controlled by their fathers, convinced that this is what they — the daughters — wanted and that it was best for them.  My own daughter who is now 31 and who, of all my daughters, spent the most time in this world at my side, sent a link to me in abject revulsion and disgust which included a link to this article.  She came across the link looking for a girl who was her friend in our old world and who, she learned, still shares the views of the young woman who wrote this essay.   I knew my daughter’s friend’s father as a colleague;  I sometimes shared speakers’ platforms with him.  He ruled his family with an iron fist and was brutally controlling in ways it would be hard for outsiders to believe. When feminists castigate and mock girls women in these groups, calling them names, stereotypyping them, treating them hatefully, they are failing to take into account what girls and women are subjected to in this world. 

The article excerpted below is said to be wildly popular in my old world.  Sarah Schlissel, the writer, is in her early 20s.

Daddy’s Girl: Courtship and a Father’s Rights

I’ve been Daddy’s girl from Day One. My first word was “Dada.” I’ve always wanted to do what Daddy was doing, go where Daddy was going, read what Daddy was reading, say what Daddy was saying. We have the same sense of humor, preferences, pet peeves, strengths and weak-nesses–even the same allergies. Little wonder people call me “Daddy’s Little Clone.” I mean, take a look at the picture heading this column! No wonder that, for fairness’ sake, in family votes, our two are counted as one.

But does this exhaust the ways in which I might be reckoned “Daddy’s girl”? Beyond being an X-chromosome donor, may we think of the “-‘s” in “Daddy’s” in the possessive sense, and affirm with legitimacy that Daddy is my owner? That “my heart belongs to Daddy” is certainly true. But do daughters, per se, belong to their Daddies?
 
The answer to this question will bring us the answer to the propriety of courtship as a model for a daughter’s pre-marriage relationship with a prospective suitor. For the crux of the courtship question is not empirical, but principal. I define courtship as the discovery of a life-partner for a daughter under the direct oversight of the father. Any man seeking to beg, borrow or steal a daughter’s hand without her father’s endorsement is seeking to gain, in unlawful ways, “property” not his own. Daughters are Daddy’s girls in the objective sense, and this particular daughter rejoices in that truth. I am owned by my father. If someone is interested in me, he should see him.

…Yes, it is grating to our ears. However, let’s not dismiss the idea without examining its merits. The Christian worldview, informed by Scripture, functions as our spectacles. Through the Bible, we see the world as it is; and no part of life is exempt from God’s governance. We want to live in accord with his law even if it means living in (uncomfortable) opposition to popular culture. Everyone committed to advancing God’s kingdom must be prepared to live against the norms of unbelief. Culture and custom which begin with God’s word will inescapably conflict with culture which begins with the word of man.

And the word of God teaches that progenitors have certain rights. Let’s use that as our major premise and construct a syllogism. Major premise: The creator of something is sovereign over that which he created. Minor premise: God created all things. Conclusion: God is sovereign over all things. This agrees with Scripture: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it, for [i.e., because] He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers” (Psalm 24:1). God created it; therefore, he has full authority over it.

<snip>

Proud independence is no noble goal for a woman, and the spirit which pursues it is no part of a godly girl’s trousseau. Of course, those who exalt independence, denying headship to a husband, will certainly deny it to a father. Thus, they find the idea of courtship offensive. But those who acknowledge that God’s way is right (Luke 7:29, 35) find the idea of “authoritative stewardship” quite pleasant!

<snip>

Well now, isn’t that the whole issue? We don’t want to feel like we’re owned, because we want to do what we want to do. It’s as simple as that. We know that whoever owns us has authority to determine our comings and goings, and each of us wants to be his own boss. It is thus no wonder that sinners cringe at the concepts involved in courtship.

<snip>

Simply put: No. As strange as it may sound, in the peculiar relationship of the father and daughter, God, as it were, takes a back seat. God has created a hierarchy such that the daughter is directly answerable to her father, and her father then answers to God. This doubles the father’s responsibilities, because he must account to God for the way he raises his daughter.

<snip>

So I really am “Daddy’s girl.” And no man can approach me as an independent agent because I am not my own, but belong, until my marriage, to my father. At the time of my marriage, my father gives me away to my husband and there is a lawful change of ownership. At that point and at that point only, I am no longer bound to do my father’s will. Instead, I must answer to my husband. If you read the rest of Numbers 30 you will see that this is the case. Notice that there is no intermediate point between Daddy and Hubby. There is no “limbo land” where the girl is free to gallivant on her own, “discovering herself” as she walks in fields of gold, apart from any defining covenant head, doing whatever she sees fit.

Source: Sarah Faith Schlissel – The Chalcedon Foundation

Link

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuwS64j5GNc]

Above is one of several videos included with an interview with Sarah Schlissel’s father.  Again, it might be triggering to those who were part of this world (or still are and cannot find a way out). These men are deadly serious and their influence in society should not be underestimated, including their influence via the children they control from the time of their births.

Note that Steve Schlissel,  this father — who taught his daughter that she and all girls are the property of their fathers — “is the Director of Meantime Ministries (an outreach to women who were sexually abused as children). ”

Heart

Discussion

197 thoughts on “The Religious Right and Daughters as Property

  1. Wow, what brainwashing – or, more accurately, brainfilthying.

    Posted by Branjor | November 14, 2007, 9:32 pm
  2. No Branjor, this is much, much deeper than brainwashing.

    When you take as the centre of your life a teaching principle – one that has been with you since babyhood – then what follows may be logical, may not necessarily be encouraged in the ‘outside world’.
    We get used to people telling us we’re crazy, or brainwashed.
    But it takes much more than that to change a way of thinking that we know is just as true as the existence of gravity. God the Father. The Bible his Word. And our Law.

    To me, this post is completely logical. Whether it has ‘real’ application is another thing.

    Posted by Sophie | November 14, 2007, 10:00 pm
  3. Absolutely logical – and I will say that one thing that did, does, and always will drive me a little nutso in dealing with this mindset in women is the belief that gut-girding is a sufficient substitute for more meaningful (not that I’m biased) ideas about responsibility.

    As in, if you can just exercise the discipline to stay within the protection of these men (father and husband), look how easy it is to avoid virtually any other kind of moral, ethical, etc. culpability.

    In that sense, it’s the smart women in fundamentalism who cause me to go a bit bonkers, because I know they know they’re taking the easy way out. When considering the women who don’t have the resources/reserves/energy to really think this all through, I get the sort of instinctual grasping at whatever bare protections one can find. But if you do have those resources – if you CAN afford to think critically about it – to revel in the “easy” (simplistic) fact that at all points someone else is responsible for you is just…aaaaaaaaaargh. Crazymaking.

    And I’m not SO recovered from fundamentalism that I won’t say you know what? You’re morally responsible for that. If you consciously and with a clear gaze see how simply playing the game (not that it’s simple, and not that it’s a game of your design) but if you see that by playing it you can neatly end-run *life* – the gritty, scary, sometimes-nasty dilemmas that make you a *person* and not, I don’t know, logistical support to someone else’s real life…bah. Being able to SEE that and deciding to be COMFORTED by that lack of participation just strikes me as so cowardly and I hate hate hate it.

    To whom much is given, much will be required, dammit!!!!

    :p

    Posted by funnie | November 14, 2007, 10:31 pm
  4. Yeah– but we have to factor in what it is going to cost to leave this world for these girls and women.

    If they depart from “the truth”, they will:

    [*] Be excommunicated and shunned by family and friends;
    [*] Receive no material or financial support from anybody;
    [*] In most cases, they will have no job references, housing references, or references of any kind with which to move forward and build a new life;
    [*] Be publicly shamed in various ways; excommunicated publicly in the church and gossiped about all over the country. This is a fairly small world.
    [*] Until and unless they “repent” they will receive no business from anybody in their old world, if they’re business persons, again, no references. They will have no network of any kind including from family.
    [*] Their communications with their family, if there are any, and friends, will be limited to discussions of the weather and other mundane topics and exhortations to them that they can still repent and turn their lives around. They are treated as infidels.
    [*] They leave knowing their leaving may disqualify their parents for ministry in the church (because in this world, to hold certain positions, people have to have “believing children not accused of riot or unruly.”
    [*] Lose their best friends, sometimes from infancy.
    [*] Have difficulties getting into college or trade school if they have been homeschooled or have gone to private schools, because those who have been charged with their education can refuse to provide references, again, and/or transcripts, iow, can refuse their support.
    [*] Struggle because girls in this world often have their educations centered around “home arts” and family. They are often not prepared for university, professions or working life.
    [*] Lose their home businesses, if they have one.
    [*] The work they have done will not translate to the outside world because of its religious focus.

    The girls and women who leave are usually like me– they were so battered and abused that all of the above was still better than what they were living.

    If they have the misfortune of growing up in a family where there is not overt abuse or violence — or they didn’t understand the violence to be abuse, i.e., spankings, which this world believes in — to have to face all of the above in order to leave is HUGE. Many try to make the best of things, carve out spaces for themselves which are, at least in some ways, satisfying.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 14, 2007, 11:14 pm
  5. And of course if they are women with children, they will have the fight of their life over visitation and custody.

    Posted by womensspace | November 14, 2007, 11:15 pm
  6. “Yeah– but we have to factor in what it is going to cost to leave this world for these girls and women.

    If they depart from “the truth”, they will:

    [*] Be excommunicated and shunned by family and friends;
    [*] Receive no material or financial support from anybody;
    [*] In most cases, they will have no job references, housing references, or references of any kind with which to move forward and build a new life;
    [*] Be publicly shamed in various ways; excommunicated publicly in the church and gossiped about all over the country. This is a fairly small world.
    [*] Until and unless they “repent” they will receive no business from anybody in their old world, if they’re business persons, again, no references. They will have no network of any kind including from family.
    [*] Their communications with their family, if there are any, and friends, will be limited to discussions of the weather and other mundane topics and exhortations to them that they can still repent and turn their lives around. They are treated as infidels.
    [*] Lose their best friends, sometimes from infancy.
    [*] Struggle because girls in this world often have their educations centered around “home arts” and family. They are often not prepared for university, professions or working life.

    The girls and women who leave are usually like me– they were so battered and abused that all of the above was still better than what they were living.

    If they have the misfortune of growing up in a family where there is not overt abuse or violence — or they didn’t understand the violence to be abuse, i.e., spankings, which this world believes in — to have to face all of the above in order to leave is HUGE. Many try to make the best of things, carve out spaces for themselves which are, at least in some ways, satisfying.”

    The above describes my life from 18 on EXACTLY.

    Only to add, because of such upbringing, in which I was NEVER expected to be an independent person, I was never trained on the slightest matter on how to live on my own, so I ended up falling prey to every predator who encountered me along the way.

    Posted by Amananta | November 15, 2007, 2:27 am
  7. thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you

    This was me and this is my sisters: I sometimes have to be reminded that their logic (within their worldview) is infallible. I so often gaze at them in wonder that they can be so smart and not see the issues at play. Thank you.

    Posted by Miko | November 15, 2007, 2:52 am
  8. After 8 years in a group close to this one, I agree with what heart is saying. To leave is devastating to anyone, but particularly young girls. Being shunned by family is cruel and most cannot handle it.
    And after years of NOT thinking for oneself or taking responsibility for ones own spiritual walk, its very hard to begin.
    My 16 yo dd still shudders at the long hair and dresses she had to wear, and the lack of things involved in the world–Tv, movies, boyfriends etc,,, we walked away from this religion 3 years ago and i am so glad we did.i see a vibrant, happy, independent woman who loves life!!

    What is interesting is if we go some where and see the religious woman with many kids, driving a 15 passenger van, all my kids react… with joy that we no longer fit that mold.

    moongoddess

    Posted by wintermoongoddess | November 15, 2007, 2:55 am
  9. We are dealing with Cult brainwashing here of the creepiest kind. It’s been going on for a long time, and I think it will be worse with all the home schooling movements picking up such speed. We’re talking about millions of children now involved in these programs.

    But the irony is, sometimes the greatest radical feminists come out of these awful groups– think Heart here, think Sonia Johnson, and think any woman who broke out of a patriarchal marriage into freedom of her own design.

    We need to attack the right wing with law suits (yeah Heart), and publicity, and by alerting ordinary people to the dangers of cult tactics. There’s nationwide anti-cult reporting networks, and lots of books on the subject that are very useful.

    I often think we are all subject to the cult of all cults — patriarchal brainwashing of women worldwide. It’s something we all have to deal with and fight against.

    I know this blog gives me incredible strength to continue to see new truths almost the minute I am out the door and away from this computer! That’s how powerful this writing is for me sisters!

    Never lose hope, even with the above awful story, because the truth will make us stronger!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 15, 2007, 3:19 am
  10. Women will try to devise all kinds of ingenious theories and truths as to why their own degradation is holy, smart, beautiful, necessary for the world to go on–whatever survival technique or concept they most need to believe in or want to be identified with.
    It’s so sad, and I’m so glad, that I’m OUT of that, or at least, THAT that.

    Nothing makes me happier than knowing of other women who got the hell outta that particular dodge. In a similar vein, whenever I see women and girls in countries with glaring gender inequalities I feel similarly. Though people may want to be culturally sensitive to gender inequalities, and though the adult females in said countries may have made peace with their lots (b/c seriously, for the most part, what else are they going to do), who is being “sensitive” to these little girls? It’s very sad. :<

    “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” – Bob Marley

    XO!-Jeyoani

    Posted by Jeyoani | November 15, 2007, 5:18 am
  11. It’s definitely difficult for us to teach the “independence” factor in the shelter I work at. It’s difficult to explain why to outsiders.

    Posted by rchif0 | November 15, 2007, 6:10 am
  12. Some bizarre organization called Net Authority presumably affiliated with the Religious Right has decided freesoil.org is in violation of its acceptable use policy! I followed the link I found in my Referrers and found this:

    The Free Soil Party (next to a picture of the index page flagged ADULTS ONLY)

    Added: 11/11/2007 – 21:38:45

    This website has been investigated by Net Authority, and has been found to be in violation of the Internet Acceptable Use Policy by posting the following kinds of content:

    * Pornographic material
    * Hateful material
    * Blasphemy
    * Offensive political material
    * Bestiality and/or interracial relationships

    Be cautioned! This website contains strongly offensive material and is not suitable for young children. Click the link below at your own risk:
    http://www.freesoil.org/index.html

    I wondered, WTF are they talking about? Then I read their acceptable use policy, and it all made sense! Free Soil must be, to their twisted minds, blasphemous, hateful, and politically offensive! This blog here is also a recent addition to their database, with the same list of sins, though it is flagged BLOCKED, and someone left a nasty comment! I do not know whether I should laugh or scream!

    Posted by Aletha | November 15, 2007, 7:36 am
  13. *funnie – D&C 82:3 You guys pop up in the oddest places – or is there a Bible equivalent to that quote?

    Heck, well that bestirred me to go and get the books off the shelf. Does that mean I’m going backwards?

    While I’m taking up space on your blog Heart – it occured to me how the hierarchies discussed over in one of your other threads work here too – there’s a definite hierarchy within religion, but when you step out of that world, it’s inverted. So the less ‘good’ you are in the religion the more you’re accepted outside it, in a sense.

    Posted by Sophie | November 15, 2007, 8:49 am
  14. Heh, Sophie. I had to look up what “D&C” was. Yeah, it’s in the Bible – Luke 12:48

    Heart – yeah, I get it. And I really do agree with you.

    My experience, though, is different from yours in some substantive ways that color my perspective – the vaaaaast majority of the women I was around were *not* reasonably well-educated (self-educated or otherwise), were specifically *not* interested in a life of the mind, were *not* closet feminists, even in the most innocuous bonding-of-godly-women sense. They weren’t intentionally living simply. They were just irretrievably broke. They weren’t intentionally restricting themselves to their husband’s/father’s purview as much as they were completely unable to fend for themselves. And in that sense, yeah, if they’d left the abuse the toll it had taken on them would’ve virtually guaranteed big big pain. And I don’t blame them. And I know exactly what risks one takes by turning one’s back on the system: after all, I applied to an unapproved college.

    It’s just that the women I knew who were smart enough to really “get” what was going on, and high-spirited enough that they chafed at the restrictions rather than being comforted by them, were really very few and far between. The few who did fit this description therefore had the wherewithal, in terms of relative resources and skills, to really run the show, where women were concerned. They were the ones who set out the standards to be met. And for *those* women, the women in charge, to see their abuse, see the scam they’re in, and still decide it’s easier and more comforting to let another adult take charge of their lives.

    There’s the abuse of the brainwashing, which excuses this. There’s the abuse of abuse, which excuses this.

    But some women, some few women, were not necessarily either brainwashed or abused, as much as content to be apologists because it was easier. And sometimes I get cantankerous about that. Probably overly so, and just because I don’t take the advice of trigger warnings like I should. :p

    None but ourselves can free our minds, indeed, Jeoyani!🙂

    If only women on the inside were ALLOWED to listen to that music, heh.

    Posted by funnie | November 15, 2007, 5:34 pm
  15. Hey, Aletha, I blogged about that Net Authority thing, then learned it’s a hoax designed to show that no matter how preposterous is something the RR puts up on the web, people will have no trouble believing the RR really did that! Irritating though. I actually used my post, which I removed when I learned this was a hoax, as a comment in response to something else somewhere but I don’t remember the thread!

    Sophie, yes, re the inverted hierarchy and that it works with respect to our old world as well. It’s a huge disappointment to have our pasts in fundamentalist religion used against us by people who claim to be progressive/feminists especially, and particularly when it’s just bullshit. It’s a weapon, it’ll work, let’s use it. Sort of like the way conservatives, MRAs will use the fact of a feminist woman’s abusive/battering relationships in her past against her, “Well, there must have always been something wrong with you that you “chose” these batterers.” Oh fuck you. Same for religion. “Welllllll, I think you’re the kind of feminist you are because once you were a fundie, and a leopard doesn’t change its spots.” Oh fuck you.

    I am rather intense this morning, huh.
    🙂

    In fact, it is TRUE that my experiences of my old world do make me the kind of feminist I am; nothing like unapologetic patriarchy to teach a woman what it is to be female in patriarchy! And in fact, women in patriarchal religion are very much similarly situated with women in abusive marriages (aside from the fact that many marriages in patriarchal religion are abusive in and of themselves.) So, all who use our pasts against us should stick it where the sun don’t shine, especially when it’s just a convenient cheap shot. Nobody ever marries an abuser. Nobody ever chooses to join an abusive religious group. There was no sort of core weakness or character trait in us that we got involved in this crap. You get suckered in bait-and-switch fashion or you grow up in it and never have known anything else.

    Funnie, I know what you are talking about and have encountered women as you describe, particularly in conservative/Independent/Regular/Bible Baptist type groups, old Pentecostals, Old Order Amish, Conservative Mennonite/Plymouth Brethren women. Where there is a proliferation of young women like Sarah Schlissel is amongst the Reformed contingent of the Right, the theonomist/reconstructionist/dominionist sector, i.e., Calvinists, the extreme kind. These young women are usually highly educated, very mind-y and smart, extremely articulate, and convinced of the truth of their beliefs. That particular contingency of Christians views the Bible as an actual book of laws, and their approach to the Bible is attorney-like, all the way to the use of what amounts to precedents to shore up certain beliefs, sometimes in complicated, very academic-like formulas, i.e., if something appears in the Old Testament, but not in the New Testament, then you have to apply xyz to interpret it properly; if it appears in both the Old and New, then a different set of criteria/precedents/”case law” applies, if it is only iterated once, then apply xyz, and so on. They view the Bible as the “Law-Word” of God and God as, in essence, the Supremest Court of the whole universe, and how this works out so far as God being loving doesn’t concern them because to them Law=Love and Love=Law and they say so straight up. Their approach to the faith is like the approach of attorneys to the law — mind-y, cerebral, intellectual. These folks rarely err on the side of compassion, etc.! But they do approach the faith with a certain intellectual rigor that is attractive to really mind-y (also controlling) types.

    It’s interesting, I’ve learned that Sarah Schlissel and her husband have converted to Roman Catholicism. This is also not all that unusual. Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, even Anglican/Episcopalianism, these expressions of the faith are also — or they can be and often are — weighted to the mind-y cerebral side. Mary Daly, after all, got seven of her degrees from Roman Catholic colleges and taught in a Jesuit University. There was enough intellectual rigor there to engage her for sure and enough sexism and error to propel her forward! Which I think does, can and will happen to most women in these groups. After a while they will no longer be able to suspend their disbelief, they will have existential crises, they will experience deeper and deeper cognitive dissonance in attempting to reconcile their lived experiences, what they see around them, and their faith. They they will have to decide whether they will go through all that stuff on that list up there of mine in order to leave.

    It isn’t that there is NOT the potential for intellectual rigor on the Arminian side (Baptists/Pentecostals, et al), but the focus in those groups is different, and you’ve alluded to something that I’ve experienced as well, the Bapists et al, overall, are poor to very poor, i.e., few resources. The Reformed side is comparatively affluent, more resources, but they all belong to the men and whatever women have, it’s at men’s discretion (in the extreme groups).

    Amananta, yes, re predators, who zero in on people who are vulnerable, like those leaving our old world.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 15, 2007, 8:00 pm
  16. The other thing that should not be underestimated: when you come up in this world, you are beaten about the head and neck regularly with the verses of scripture which say that women are “easily deceived,” we are the cursed daughters of Eve who beguiled Adam into taking a bite. So once we begin to experience this cognitive dissonance, these existential crises, we aren’t sure that’s what’s happening. We think we are being deceived. We think we are being led astray, we are worldly, we aren’t praying enough, we need more Bible study, we have unconfessed sin, we have the “Jezebel” spirit, we’re rebellious, “independent minded,” etc. We are relentlessly taught not to “lean to our own understanding,” but to supplant our gut, our mind, our heart, our soul, with words, text, from the Bible *as it’s interpreted* by the “authorities” in our lives, all male, and to “humble ourselves,” to “submit”. (In the extreme groups, again.) So even when we “know,” our battle is, maybe we’re wrong. Who the hell are we to suggest everybody else is wrong and we’re right, we think. In the very very extremes of this lostness, you find the Andrea Yates’s of life. 😦

    Posted by womensspace | November 15, 2007, 8:15 pm
  17. Here’s an example of what I mean, from a blogpost written yesterday by a woman in my old world.

    When husband and wife are in agreement in spiritual matters, matters of how the house should be run, or how the children should be raised it is a wonderful thing. Our lives run smoothly and the oneness we enjoy is evident by a peaceful home. However, we can be easily deceived. The true test of submission comes when we analyze our reaction to areas of disagreement with our husband’s choices.

    For instance, what about when your husband informs you that he is going to allow your thirteen year-old-son to play a game that you feel is particularly dangerous? Or do you find yourself on the defensive when he speaks to one of the children in a way that you felt was too harsh? What happens when he wants to purchase something that you feel is a total waste of money! Does your sweet demeanor fall to the floor and shatter into a million pieces? I know I have to get a staple gun after mine at that point!

    Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that wives should not give valuable input and wisdom in these matters, but there is a respectful way of giving input and that’s probably where I struggle the most. I tend to respond with emotion and passion and it can come across as demanding and critical. I know I’m “right” and I want him to know it too—and admit it!

    My husband needs to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that his is the last word. Not only does he have the final say, but he has it with my total support and trust. Here’s the trial!

    Many people picture an unsubmissive wife as one who angrily stomps her foot and says, “No, I won’t do it your way!” May I present a different picture; one I am much more familiar with myself because I have sadly fit the image too many times? Imagine the wife who says with her lips that she will do as her husband asks, but then pouts, is disapprovingly quiet, whines, or even resorts to tears of frustration. All of these tactics are called, quite simply, “manipulation.”

    Many times, I deceived myself into thinking I was submissive. After all, I never said I wouldn’t agree to his decision. I never disobeyed or went against his wishes. However, my secret (or not so secret) unsubmissive attitude turned me into a contentious, rebellious, woman.

    It can happen to you too. Beware of a manipulative and controlling nature. The Lord will work mightily through your obedience to Him.

    You may ask, “What if my husband makes a foolish mistake?” Be in prayer for your husband’s decisions, but submit joyfully, trusting God for the outcome. Remember that God is right there in the midst of the situation, working things out for your ultimate good and His glory. It may not be the outcome you would have chosen, but again, remember that His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 58:8-9).

    “Let the wives be to their own husbands in everything….” (Ephesians 5:24) Not just those things in which we agree.

    A Challenge:

    Be on the lookout this week for manipulative reactions to your husband’s requests. If he asks you to do something (that is not sinful) and you get the urge to show your disapproval with a healthy dose of the “silent treatment,” repent right away and out loud. Confess to your husband right then and there that you were tempted to control him by ignoring him and ask him to hold you accountable.

    Ask God to show you other ways that you attempt to manipulate authority and repent to God, confessing and asking forgiveness from your husband. Let him know that your desire is to be submissive in action and attitude. Show him that you want to submit with joy and that you trust his leadership because you trust God. After he picks himself up off the floor, I’m sure he’ll forgive you—and it just may make him a better leader.

    You can see how this works. If you constantly challenge *your own responses* and view yourself as manipulative and prone to being deceived by nature, then trusting your gut, your intellect, your mind, your heart, i.e., *valuing yourself* — at all — is very difficult. You always think that you’re the one wrong and everyone else is right. And that’s what you are supposed to think. That way, the world remains a man’s world, with females as the servant class.

    Link

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 15, 2007, 8:33 pm
  18. Heart, I understand and admire your sympathy for these women, but my gut feeling is more like Funnie’s: there’s a certain cowardice here, something like we see in the totalitarian personalities discussed by Eric Fromme or Hannah Arendt. A love of submission to authority, an unwillingness to exercise independent conscience.

    My husband needs to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that his is the last word. Not only does he have the final say, but he has it with my total support and trust.

    The thing that strikes me about this is that it’s completely amoral. How could a mother–any mother–allow her thirteen-year-old to do something dangerous just because her husband tells her to? How could she live with herself if her child died because of this? Isn’t that an irresponsible act on her part? Isn’t it a form of suicide–a killing off of the conscience? She’s basically saying “I let my child get hurt because I was just obeying orders,” after all.

    I’m aware that it sounds like I’m being judgmental of people who don’t have the capacity to leave, but I’m not actually blaming the woman here–I’m blaming the patriarchs for this woman’s moral degradation, for encouraging her to be callous in the name of godliness. For teaching her that something completely wrong and even abusive is right.

    Imagine the wife who says with her lips that she will do as her husband asks, but then pouts, is disapprovingly quiet, whines, or even resorts to tears of frustration. All of these tactics are called, quite simply, “manipulation.”

    …so basically any display of emotion that your husband finds displeasing or even just different, any display of emotion that is not a reflection of him, is manipulation.

    That reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where a misogynist creates a fembot and programs her not to cry because crying is blackmail.

    How chilling.

    Posted by Lani | November 15, 2007, 10:17 pm
  19. Yes, it is chilling. And yes, women are placed in a position of killing off their consciences in order to be obedient to God and their husbands. When they tell their husbands they cannot bring themselves to do something, sometimes they get long sermons as to the weaknesses of the feminine character. This is especially true vis a vis beating of children (which this form of Christianity requires but calls it “spanking” or “discipline”). When women can’t make themselves do this, they are beaten about the head and neck with Bible verses about “and don’t let thy soul spare for his crying.” And “If you beat him, he shall not die, but you shall save his soul from death,” and so on.

    To call these women cowards or irresponsible is judgmental– even with the caveat that you aren’t judging them, and even though you say you blame the patriarchs. We could also call women in battering marriages/relationships cowards and irresponsible, as patriarchy does. We could say “how could she” stand by and let her batterer do what he was doing, in front of their children, or to their children. This is easy to say from the outside and sexists say it all the time. But if you are familiar with what happens to the minds and souls of battered women, you would mostly find them to be quite brave and as responsible as it is possible to be in a dangerous, even deadly, situation.

    The same is true as to women in this world.

    Remember, they don’t only think they are obeying their husbands, they think they are obeying an all-powerful God who will punish them if they disobey. They really and truly believe this.

    I do not have “sympathy” for these women; there’s a connotation there I don’t like and that doesn’t work. I understand what they are going through. I know what it is.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 15, 2007, 10:56 pm
  20. Note to all: If you are unfamiliar to me and don’t comment here regularly, for this thread, I will only approve comments which include a valid e-mail address.

    Thanks.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 15, 2007, 10:57 pm
  21. Me: When they tell their husbands they cannot bring themselves to do something, sometimes they get long sermons as to the weaknesses of the feminine character.

    Also, they sometimes are brought before the church elders for church discipline. I’ve seen women brought before the elders several times because they didn’t feel like having sex with their husbands.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 15, 2007, 11:04 pm
  22. This has been a really interesting thread. I’m shifting the topic a bit, but I am thinking about how all of us, devout or not, can better raise our children so that they are not as vulnerable to religious extremists and cults.

    A professor of mine who had grown up in some branch of extreme Christianity said, “Imposing your religion on your children is child abuse.”

    He thought parents should be extremely careful about even taking their children to church voluntarily, much less forcing them to attend. Basic morality and good behavior can be taught and modeled at home. Only later should teenagers and young adults be invited into church to hear what are essentially lectures and from there out read philosophy, theology, hear sacred music, study exegetical texts, etc.

    All the rest of it — including Sunday school, he believed was imparting a whole belief system to young minds unable to evaluate it. Then later, those same children as adults would be burdened with a lot of undigested ideas that they felt guilty about questioning, modifying, or discarding. I’ve seen this with friends who keep searching for the “right religion” for them, not realizing that maybe they don’t need any and can still be whole.

    I think my prof was onto something, and were I ever to raise children myself (a distinct possibility), I think I would do so without religion and without any guilt that I was depriving them of something. Only later would I invite them to explore it when they felt ready and interested.

    Posted by twitch | November 15, 2007, 11:51 pm
  23. I didn’t get the reinforcement of women as inferior at home, but I was sent to a fundie school and I saw a lot of this attitude. Women were never, ever to be in authority over men even if they were more qualified in the subject.

    Sometimes I envied them. It seemed such a SAFE way to feel and be. Once when I was worrying over something I’d done, a friend told me comfortingly that I should “Stand tall. Remember you’re the daughter of a King.” That was it for her. She was safe and secure and sure of her place.

    Sometimes I still envy it. It must be peaceful to not doubt or question, to be able to literally place everything in the hands of God. I can see where the idea would be very seductive, especially if the male in the earthly hierarchy isn’t at least overtly abusive.

    Posted by Miranda | November 16, 2007, 12:31 am
  24. In reference to raising children in the patriarchal way I have to say with 9 children its been interesting to see my first half of the kids raised in a religiously oppressive home and the other half raised with a free spirited, hippie-goddess, rock worshipping, tree hugging, woman centered witch and single mom.
    All i can say is WOW- to not try to mold a child according to religion but instead just watch them unfold their own selves is far better and for those who have raised kids in that before atmosphere will understand when i say Much EASIER!!!!!!
    Its honoring, individual, respectful and loving.
    My older kids sometimes make reference to their own strict upbringing and the younger ones getting away wit uppitiness but i think even they realize its better.
    Its hard for me to understand myself at the time…but ido remember my feelings of being uncomfortable with so many of the beliefs but keeping it hidden deep and far away from my own thoughts.

    moongoddess

    Posted by wintermoongoddess | November 16, 2007, 12:59 am
  25. That’s interesting, Heart – the divide between the Arminians and the Reformed people; I’ve only had one brush with the latter. A roommate of mine got involved with a reformed-focus presbyterian church because she grew up Baptist (the very easy, Baptist-lite kind) and was so! excited! about “all these really intelligent women who talk about Kant and Hegel during Sunday school!!!” I never liked any of the bunch – they sat wrong with me, and I them, but we all chalked that up to my general anti-churchiness. But eventually, bad things started to happen, the creepiness settled in, and (luckily) she left town and the group of crazy meddling-in-her-life in order to pursue better things around better people. But now that I’m picturing that group, I know *exactly* what you mean with the mind-yness! I’d forgotten about them. They were so far from what I’d known (and yet so familiar), I almost just thought they were a really unique phenomenon and blamed it on the university-town atmosphere. Oh, and they actually had (have, I guess) a place in the woods they call The Compound. Niiiice.

    In contrast, the school I was sent to was Indie Baptist, because I’m too indie for my shirt. :p The kind that proudly proclaimed in its own marketing that it was most definitely “an independent, fundamentalist, Bible-believing” church. I didn’t realize what a signal that word “Bible” was for a long time. Bible Baptists, blech. ptooey ptooey ptooey.

    Also, anyone reading: if you ever encounter the word “Berean,” run like hell.😉

    Posted by funnie | November 16, 2007, 1:05 am
  26. This is an interesting post. I’m new to this sight–I actually got here via a post on Daylight Atheism about the Quiverful movement.

    The agency of these women is an interesting issue. It’s clearly very limited. On the other hand, when I think of what their daughters go through, it’s hard not to be angry at them as well, even remembering what they go through. And many women undoubtedly feel like they’ve made an informed choice to join the movement. It’s hard to know how to avoid BOTH patronizing them and treating them like pure victims AND blaming them and acting like all this is free choice on their part.

    My question is this: what resources exist for women and children who want to leave these communities? Legally, the issue that comes up with non-mainstream communities (Quiverful, Amish, etc.) is the idea of a “right of exit.” Can a member of the community leave if she wants to? What is involved?

    As strange as it may sound, in the peculiar relationship of the father and daughter, God, as it were, takes a back seat.

    I would dearly love to know what this girl would do if her father ordered her to shoot someone in the head.

    Thank you for this post.

    Posted by Viola | November 16, 2007, 1:06 am
  27. But the assumption that these women are somehow comfortable, is the very thing that helps the fundies recruit in the first place. The men are really with each other, not with a woman.

    From what I read, these communities are not much different from remote rural communities in Britain up to fifty years ago. The men have got the police, the doctors, the church, and the punishment for a woman who fights back can be very severe. When every official is a member of the club, sudden heart attacks, car accidents, and other neat cover ups, can occur with ease. Even the neighbours need not know.

    Then there is the brainwashing, often reinforced with pain, if it didn’t work the patriarchy would not use it. Human biology, is subject to exhaustion, especially over many years. Or, as my grandfather used to say, “you have only got so many battles in you, chose them well”. These women are simply all out.

    Trying to assess individual responsibility under a repressive system is kind of pointless . They used to say the that slaves were lazy and immoral, and peasant classes were uneducated thieves. We have to remove the repression, before we can see who’s who.

    Margaret Atwood’s, A Hand Maids Tale, nails it. Whenever the women are asked if they are content, they smile and assure everyone that they are, they have no choice.

    Posted by helzeph | November 16, 2007, 2:26 am
  28. And as far as judgmentalism goes: I’m sorry for the women in this situation insofar as they don’t help to harm others.

    In that they try to infringe on the rights of others, such as gays or women who choose to abort, or when they help in harming their children, I do not sympathize with or support them.

    I’m not talking about women with obvious post-partum depression mental illness. I’m talking about people like the Pearls, who advocate beating kids with PVC pipe, and about all people who follow those teachings. Culture only goes so far to mitigate.

    Posted by Miranda | November 16, 2007, 2:54 am
  29. ***no matter how preposterous is something the RR puts up on the web, people will have no trouble believing the RR really did that!***

    Heavens, now why would that be? It even fooled somebody with extensive experience in right wing religion. They might try giving *that* some thought.

    Posted by Branjor | November 16, 2007, 3:18 am
  30. ***My husband needs to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that his is the last word. Not only does he have the final say, but he has it with my total support and trust.***

    By this logic, if her husband told her to boot the kid off the roof, she would either obey or it would mean she had “defects of character.”

    Posted by Branjor | November 16, 2007, 3:25 am
  31. Branjor and all, note that there is one qualification in what these women say: “If he asks you to do something (that is not sinful)“. The view in these circles is, if a husband/father asks a wife/daughter to do something that is sinful, then she is not required to obey. Sinful, of course, is taken to mean what is clearly understood to be sinful in that world– asking a wife/daughter to hurt someone, kill someone, have sex with someone outside of marriage, etc. Women still have to obey if it is a “gray area.”

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2007, 5:04 am
  32. Heart, I found your comment where you lambasted Net Authority, in one of your entries about Iran you posted a week ago Tuesday. I thought it sounded familiar! One thing though, you said there it had 121 sites in its database? It now has 128 pages of sites, each page with 15 sites, going back to March 2005. It even lists Google!
    https://womensspace.wordpress.com/2007/11/06/mother-of-ronak-safarzadeh-imprisoned-iranian-womens-activist-beaten-by-officials/

    More on topic, I am so glad I never got involved with these folks! I got my fill of patriarchal religion growing up, then got interested in Wicca, never looked back.

    Posted by Aletha | November 16, 2007, 6:30 am
  33. These entries are extremely thoughtful.

    I look at the entire world population of women as trapped into a belief in male supremacy. All the assumptions here, need to grow larger.

    We do have a history of women’s resistence to all kinds of oppression worldwide, and then we have to consider that human beings often divide into two distinct personality types: those who are comfortable with “rules” and an authoritian world, and those who are comfortable with freedom and individual initiative.

    This is the great challenge women face, because I see dependency all over the place. It’s why I very adamently oppose children, and think that women have got to get out of that business period, or we will be doomed forever in this regard.

    I express this extreme view, because women very rarely say it outloud; it is just too out there. I hate all the deference to children, and don’t want to spend my time with them. Some women have got to be free of this heterosexual “familyism” and go into different territory.

    Motherhood is not sacred, it is not superior, it is another job, and a dangerous one for women to “choose.” We have a very strong system in the world constantly telling women to have children, and this creates terrible traps, especially for young women.

    What about the children, what about the family, what about what about! The truth is, freedom is a very hard thing for all human beings, and to break out of this serving/service mode, women have to move hell and high water to do it.

    Fundamentalism is one of the most toxic forces out there. Churches are the most dangerous places on earth — and women who attend them with men do so at their peril.

    For women to say WE COME FIRST is a radical statement. No I don’t serve others, no I don’t work to “support” children, no I don’t deny myself the full power of my mind and talents. NO NO NO! Lesbians like me stand in solid opposition to these doctrines that chain women throughout time! Children are simply used as a weapon of patriarchy against women.

    To break free and to chart a new course takes raw courage.
    It’s why we have feminism in the first place — the radical uncompromising kind, to help women break free from the curse of servile niceness!

    We don’t have enough resources so that women really do have valid economic choices outside these “families.” It’s something that must be done!

    Any woman who has to depend on the majority of wages from a husband is in danger. Any woman who puts off her own economic future because of a husband’s or child’s needs is also in grave danger.

    Women, with their “support structure” economy help the masters get away with this. It’s easier to see this as a lesbian, because I don’t deal in this system at all, and I don’t deal with children at all.

    Fundamentalism has gone hand in hand with male abuse of power, and men will do this to the extent that women let them get away with it.

    It probably is something we like to think — that women are the victims, or that they are trapped. If you don’t hold out the hope for a radical individual self within women, then you are saying that women can’t turn against these oppressors.

    We can turn against this evil system of male supremacy. We can reject the poison of these so-called “religious” communities, but like fascism and communism and totalitarian states in general, the spell breaks, and freedom comes.

    Now more than ever we need to hold those church’s feet to the fire. We need to stand our ground as radical feminists and speak up and out.

    And we really need to speak out against this albatross of children. As a radical lesbian feminist, I declare my independence from the child propaganda machine, just as I say that all women need to push so much harder for freedom.

    There are always going to be these evil men who come up with every trick in the book for keeping women in place, and these isolated fundamentalist nut houses can be invaded, and information can be provided on how to leave cults, how to avoid the economic traps of children, and how to focus on liberation 24-hours a day.

    There’s always an excuse for not wanting freedom, but I get annoyed at the excuses. I get tired of women being so cowardly that they never seem able to take up the sword of freedom! But really, do we mean to be free beings or are we forever doomed to have excuses as to why we won’t take on full adult responsibility, and grow up.

    Utimately we are alone in the world, and adulthood means letting go of dependency in all its forms.

    The women who are the foot soldiers in fundamentalism are doing everything in their power to turn back the clock to a world I hate. They are a part of that totalitarian system that has so ruined the world.

    Lots of women “obey husbands” and refuse to make even the simplest of life decisions. This makes me crazy sometimes, and I always push women to make decisions on their own, and to stop asking for the approval of husbands. Every day in every way, I challenge straight women to stand alone, to not give in one inch.

    When will it end? Well we have to stop making excuses for women, and we have to have the courage to go against our enemies as if our very life depended upon it.

    To break the spell requires considerable effort. I have spent my entire life on this one project — the absolute and unconditional liberation of women. I have had one idea — the feminist revolution. I had this idea when I was a small child, I had this idea when I had to face that bastion of straight girls and all their idiotic “peer pressure” in high school. I had to face great odds to gain this uncompromising freedom.

    It was the one thing I always wanted, and I just won’t cut women slack so much anymore. We have a lot of information out there, but you have got to study, you have got to rise.

    Or we will be doomed when these fundamentalist idiots take even more power than they have now. And I don’t want those handmaids aiding and abetting the very people who will no doubt delight in executing lesbians as part of the great crusade in christ! I see a greater danger to me personally every time I see fundamentalist women getting off too easily here.

    I just have a more aggressive view of this whole thing, and far less patience after 40 some years of feminism! Geez, this subject has got me really riled this evening, but there you have it!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 16, 2007, 8:04 am
  34. I apologize for straying off topic, but I wanted to thank you, Heart, for this post and others like it. You often remind me that we are all just doing what we can to get by in the patriarchy, and that I need to embrace my sisters instead of judging them, because we’re all in this together.

    It is easy for outsiders like me to criticize and even have contempt for women like Sarah Schlissel for espousing these kind of views. Sadly, it took me a long time to realize that instead of blaming other women I needed to check my privilege and realize that my relatively comfortable life is thanks to luck, not a reflection of my superiority, and could be taken away at any time simply because I am a woman. There was a time when I called myself a feminist yet scorned women like this as well as sex workers, victims of DV, etc., because it was easier to blame it on their bad choices than to confront the pain and terror that comes with acknowledging the worldwide oppression of women, which leaves so many of us no choice at all. I am ashamed now to admit that I could be such a bigot, but it’s something I have struggled with and coming here has really helped.

    Posted by ashley | November 16, 2007, 11:30 am
  35. I think the issue of these women’s agency/accountability/responsibility/culpability is pretty gnarly. Women who have commented here, including me, obviously, left this world. We found the courage to, we took the risks, we lived through (and are still living through) the consequences, we lost a lot, we suffered and still suffer, even though we’re glad we got out. I think that there are some women who wonder often enough about continuing on in that world but keep staying in it anyway, with logic something like that maybe everything that world teaches/believes is actually true, and if they left they’d be in big trouble and might go to hell, but even if it isn’t true, better to be safe than sorry. (I think a LOT of Christians are in the church because of this reasoning!) I think some women, like Helzeph said are too old, or sick, or exhausted, or scared and beaten down, to let themselves go there. And I think some are way too invested in that particular world to go there. They’d lose it all. And yeah, it’s a temptation to judge this latter group harshly.

    It’s like what Andrea Dworkin wrote in Right Wing Women, which I still think was her best book:

    Right wing women have surveyed the world: they find it a dangerous place. They see that work subjects them to more danger from more men, it increases the risk of sexual exploitation. They see that creativity and originality in their kind are ridiculed; they see women thrown out of the circle of male civilization for having ideas, plans, visions, ambitions. They see that traditional marriage means selling to one man, not hundreds; the better deal. They see that the streets are cold and that the women on them are tired, sick and bruised. They see no way to make their bodies authentically their own and to survive in the world of men. Right wing women are not wrong…Their desperation is quiet, they hide their bruises of body and heart, they dress carefully and have good manners, they suffer, they love God, they follow the rules…They use sex and babies to stay valuable because they need a home, food, clothing. They use the traditional intelligence of the female– animal, not human, they do what they have to do to survive.

    I think Viola asked a definitive question:

    My question is this: what resources exist for women and children who want to leave these communities? Legally, the issue that comes up with non-mainstream communities (Quiverful, Amish, etc.) is the idea of a “right of exit.” Can a member of the community leave if she wants to? What is involved?

    Viola, members of community can leave, but they go through some, most, or all of what I listed up there as a consequence. There are no resources for women and children who want to leave these communities, beyond battered women’s shelters, many of which are ill-equipped to take in a woman with 6-14 children, and the ex-cult-member movement, which, with the culting and fundamentalizing of the entire world (!), is not much of a resource to struggling individuals anymore. Most of these women would not think of leaving without their children. We can say (and believe) that a woman should put herself first, that is a radical statement and I wish millions more women would take it to heart. At the same time, if we say women should leave these groups without their kids, we are saying lots and lots of little girls and young girls should be left with these men and in these groups, with all that that means. Boys, too, of course, with all that *that* means.

    We really need an organization to which women leaving this world can turn for help in exiting and building new lives for themselves.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2007, 11:52 am
  36. So disturbing. I often feel that these women, women like Sarah, are the ones that got left behind. Like, they are in enemy territory, bleeding on the battlefield, starving in the POW camps. The beautiful women that we couldn’t bring with us. I know that they are not *just* victims. Some pieces of themSelves are still surviving against all odds, despite the smothering and suffocation of the church, their daddies, their jailers, torturers, rapists.

    wintermoongoddess, my family was very similar. My mum had seven kids: three of us were raised within the church, the other four outside. None of us have turned out christian but not all of us are feminists. But yes, I think my mother had a much easier time without the religious jailer/torturer husband and the pentacostal cult.

    Heart: I think it is so true about the intellectual attraction of the scripture. My mother, who didn’t finish highschool, was nevertheless a thinker. She thrives on intellectual debate. I remember prayer meetings and such my mum used to love to talk and debate all the aspects of religion. I think the reason that she got so frustrated with her life and the church was because she outgrew all the women and men in the church, including my father. She was frustrated by how static the church was. She wanted to move forward but the church and my father were pretty content to stand still. She is an incredibly intuitive and intelligent woman but her experiences have left her disappointed. I’m trying really hard to get her involved in feminist politics because I really think she would love the spiritual aspect. In her head she clings to the god of the bible but her heart sings to the goddess.

    Anyway, this post motivated me to dig through some of my old writing in order to post this:
    http://spinningspinsters.wordpress.com/2007/11/16/lot%e2%80%99s-wife/
    I wrote it about two years ago while trying to sort out some stuff.

    This post was saddening and triggering but makes me more determined to continue to work towards our liberation. The Sarah’s of this world do not deserve their stifled lives. They did not choose them, they never wanted to be owned, they are not naturally ‘daddy’s little girls’. They are whole, intelligent, possibly even radical women, trapped behind enemy lines, surrounded by razor wire and men, men, men. They deserve our support not our condemnation.

    Posted by allecto | November 16, 2007, 2:15 pm
  37. What you posted, heart, and all the comments have cut so deep. It brings up so many thoughts and feelings that I’m incoherent and I don’t think I could write a post long enough to express it all. So I’m just going to start in the middle and say only a couple of random things.

    I cried. I felt this huge wave of grief and rage swelling up inside me. It wasn’t just me. I thought of my mother and my sisters, and even my daughters who I couldn’t completely protect from the religion of the fathers. It hurts so much to know the depth of the harm that has been done to us through so many years.

    Here’s what hurts worst of all: knowing that they couldn’t have done it to me if I hadn’t cooperated. I was raised in a conservative Roman Catholic family and I was a teenager in the sixties. I was the oldest of four. A lot of the actual parenting my siblings got came from me, because my parents, while they believed in having as many children as possible, couldn’t cope with us once we were here. They would have had more kids–my father was the oldest of seven–but my mother nearly bled to death miscarrying her fifth pregnancy, and that scared my father, so mysteriously there were no more pregnancies.

    My two sisters and my brother totally rebelled against my parents’ crazy rules and my father’s insane rage and abuse. So all through my teens there was chaos and people running away from home, and drugs, and alcohol, and yelling and beating and threats. I prayed and obeyed and tried to protect everybody–and got married at 20 and went to live in a weird Catholic “charismatic” community, sort of a semi-commune, where we stayed for 10 years and had three children.

    So I know what it’s like to be in fundamentalist religion, and Sarah Schlissel’s article just gave me flashbacks and made me panic. We used to hear that kind of stuff constantly. Our leaders were big into the “shepherding” movement, which basically runs a chain of authority down from God, through male leaders, through male “heads of household” who obey those leaders and speak for God to “their” women. Of course the Schlissels have converted to Catholicism. Catholics like to say they’re not like those bad fundies, but they founded this whole thing.

    Anyway, the one thing I wanted to say right now is what heart said and satsuma said about the lack of an alternative. Where can women go to escape the Church of the Fathers? I think so many women feel as if there is protection in the church, because the church gives lip service to respect for women, creating community, and stopping harm. They think if they go into the church, they’ll get protection. Of course they’re fleeing right into the arms of their abusers, but how can they know that? When the whole world is full of this, how do you know where to flee? It’s not as if there’s a visible society of women we could choose instead.

    satsuma, you are right. Of course there is a society of women, created by people like you, but it has not been visible to most of us. It is hidden from us and it is made to appear evil, or at the very least, ridiculous and futile. I am 56 years old and only now waking up.

    I grieve for myself and I blame myself, but for that very reason I feel compassion for all the women who are serving the Church of the Fathers. They started in on us when we were so little! I always thought that I was a bold, assertive girl who made up my own mind. That’s what I was always told, anyway–that I was too bold, too independent! The family stories all said that I was a BAD little girl–one who always wanted to go her own way. Headstrong. And look how I ended up. Trying to prove I was good, trying so hard to be good enough that people would see I was a person and stop hurting me. And thereby tightening the bonds with my own hands.

    That’s the other thing I wanted to underline: the fear. When you’re a girl raised in a patriarchal religion, there is so much fear that you don’t even know how much it is until you try to go against it. I can’t emphasize and agree enough with what satsuma said, that this is a universal world-wide cult and people like me are brainwashed into it before we can even read. You can look at a woman like Sarah Schlissel and see the word-smartness, the apparent sophistication, and her seeming calm, snide attitude toward other women, and then you want to ask why, as an adult, she can’t make an adult decision and see the truth. But you can’t see inside her to the terrified child clinging to any kind of rationalization that will keep the fear at a distance. It is possible for a woman to just shut down half her mind, to keep on the “good side” and not feel the fear. I’m sure there are other reasons why women stay in fundamentalism, but I know from the heart that this is one of them.

    Thank you, allecto. Thanks to all of you for talking about this with so much fire and compassion.

    Posted by anuna | November 16, 2007, 4:59 pm
  38. Lot’s wife, that’s a powerful piece of writing, both wounding and healing.
    Great comment too. That’s how I see, sex workers, cult members, women suffering silently under domestic violence, and at times in my life myself ” trapped behind enemy lines”.
    Thanks allecto

    Posted by helzeph | November 16, 2007, 5:35 pm
  39. What powerful posts! Thank you so much, Allecto and Anuna, for what you’ve written here. I was nodding silently to everything both of you said.

    When the whole world is full of this, how do you know where to flee? It’s not as if there’s a visible society of women we could choose instead.

    This is just it and is what Andrea Dworkin was getting at. Women can be abused directly by one man (and indirectly by others) or directly by many men– boyfriends, husband, male bosses, male teachers, male professors, men walking down the street, men in the public world, johns, pimps.

    Feminism should be that visible society of women to which women can turn, and yet how can it be if, when women turn to it, they see women like them called names, mocked, insulted as happens too often (thank god, not here), accused of all sorts of complicities and selling out and worse. Lord knows, those of us who have survived that world don’t need anybody to tell us how wrong we were to be part of it! Like you say, Anuna, we blame ourselves, do we ever, those voices are powerful, too. A huge part of my own taking up of responsibility for, not only being part of that world but being a leader of sorts within it, is this, right here, my feminist activism, work and commitment. Via my work on behalf of, and commitment to, women, as a feminist, I take responsibility for my own complicities with patriarchy and for healing the world, making it a better place for women and for all people. If women who want out of that world could see that there is another, like you say, anuna, “society of women” to which to turn, they could also redeem their lost years. If they turn to feminism and hear insults and recriminations — well, where is there to go, then?

    It is possible for a woman to just shut down half her mind, to keep on the “good side” and not feel the fear.

    Yes. This is what people don’t understand. It’s akin to the traumatic bonding that goes on in abusive relationships, where the woman focuses on the good times — however few — and refuses to feel the fear, “shuts down half her mind.” It’s like what happens to kidnap victims and prisoners of war as well.

    Twitch, you brought up the good point about raising children. One reason I entered into this world was, I had seen just enough of it as a child to only have seen the good parts. My folks were liberal Democrats until I was gone from home, basically. But I would walk to the neighborhood church on my own, and sometimes my evangelical/conservative Christian aunt would pick us kids up and take us to her church, especially when the evangelists would come and do “revivals,” and then it would be all about the “end times,” and the “rapture,” and it would be all very powerful and moving and everybody seemed so sure that this was true and right. There was a certain “shape” to their worlds that there was not to mine. They had community, a shared vision, and I didn’t have that and longed for it. As a teenager I got involved in a Baptist church, and that was bad, too, because the people there were very, very sweet, good people, kind and loving, and since I was on the outskirts, in that my parents didn’t attend, that’s all I saw of the church– the goodness of the people there. So as an adult, when I fell on really, really hard times, I turned to the church which had comforted me in my struggles as a child and young woman because it *had* comforted me, in that, again, all I saw was the surface– the smiling people, the nice, welcoming people. I, too, was “headstrong”, independent, always described that way by my family as though that made me really, really trying and difficult and wrong.

    For this reason (and many others) in my workshops on the RR, I always urge women NOT to let their children “visit” RR churches! Don’t let them go with their little buddies to the activities and the youth groups and so on. Because this world is SO misleading. It’s even tricky letting kids go to open and affirming churches, progressive churches, which are active in anti-war, pro-lesbian/gay, anti-poverty work, not because this is bad in itself, but because kids may get the idea that ALL churches are like this, with good people who care about other people, and they might unwittingly get sucked into these devastatingly authoritarian, cultish churches which destroy people’s lives.

    Thanks again, so much, for that powerful writing, Allecto and anuna!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2007, 6:13 pm
  40. If you are attracted to the traditional, you will have major difficulties in the world as a woman. The traditional to men is male supremacy, and they have no problem with this at all.

    You have to take a hard look at the traditions women subscribe to, and you have to do everything in your power to tell women everywhere that they have moral agency, that they can do anything they want to to advance themselves in the world, and they don’t have to settle.

    Sometimes, I think it is easier to pay this price up front, so that later in life you will be stronger. Read as much as you can, get an education.

    I believe that men have never wanted women to be free, and that racism and sexism are linked, but racism in no way comes close to sexism and male supremacy.

    Again we have the problem of the unpoliced private sphere where all this brainwashing goes on.

    Back in 1980 or so, I was very concerned about Jerry Falwell and the beginnings of the “moral (moron) majority,” but people trapped in fundamentalism were unable to see his danger. Mel White was once very much connected to fundamentalist christianity, and then he finally broke free. Long ago I confronted him on his work in the NAZI (I mean christian party) and I hold him accountable for the damage he did to lesbian power in the world.

    Of course we reward these people with leadership, but if he had been a member of the klu klux klan, I don’t know if he would have gotten such an easy ride.

    We are contronting daily the complex idea that women find it very hard to carve out free spaces for conversation in the world, and also we have a lot of difficulty building institutions for the sole benefit of intellectual women.

    I know I get frustrated that we don’t do more to create an intellectual tradition that has our own sacred texts — Dworkin, Daly and all the women out there who provided concrete blueprints to freedom.

    It is very hard for women to see that working with and marrying men is not the answer. Yes, the work world has its challenges, but I know for a fact that there is a renaissance of women creating businesses all over the place. Half of the graduating class at Harvard is now women. We are getting this expertise.

    But more important, we have to create a culture of women’s intellectual agency in the world.

    I often notice in social/business settings, that women will talk about serious issues, if they know men aren’t listening. The minute a man comes near, they nervously change the subject to some domestic non-threatening issue. This is a fascinating transition to watch; a perplexing one too.

    This proved to me, that even the strongest women actually don’t have these kinds of conversations at all with men. They are living in a quiet fear of the very power of ideas themselves.

    Whether you are a fundamentalist christian woman in one of these fanatic woman hating cults, or an ordinary business woman at a networking event, the same bottom line seems to hold — the underlying fear of displeasing men in some way.

    What I know, is that there is no pleasing these people. Men understand force of will, but they will never grant women freedom unless the women themselves demand it. When the power of women reaches critical mass, these patriarchs give in and back off.

    We can help create the world of freedom for women by doing what we are doing now: staking out strong intellectual territory, not dumbing down or nicing up… As a lesbian, I can share my thought process with straight women, so they can see how my mind works. Even lesbians nice-up way too much around straight women, for fear of offending them.

    This pathological fear of offending people makes me nuts. I don’t see why women live in this fear, when ideas are supposed to challenge. Lesbians by their very existence are threatening, and we do have a great deal of contempt for oppressive heterosexual anything. That’s how some of us are– we hate heterosexual oppression with a passion, and we come out swinging at the hetero platitudes that I just HATE!

    Well geez, we will offend people when we demand freeom, and when we get angry at people who stand in the way of our freedom.

    It’s just going to be a part of the picture of freedom.

    Maybe we need to get anthologies of the liberating messages of Daly and company and hand them out to women on the streets, or we need to challenge the cults and the cult leaders in courts of law. Or we can show up at school board meetings and demand the right wingers get out of the education system — with their creationism and goddess knows what else they want to teach.

    We need to take heed of how women escaped– the brutal husbands, the evil cults, the deadening jobs, and how women got educations, and read and studied and achieved.

    I know I spent my whole life reading biographies of great women, and talking to elder lesbian and feminist activists worldwide. I know I spend a great deal of time locating women who are the doers and changers of the world and learning from them. I also share my knowledge with as many women who seem interested.

    This is my contribution to women’s greatness.

    When we show this love and intellectual passion, we will save the lives of women everywhere.

    We do have great power now, and great thinkers who really went out on a limb for all of us. The least we can do is build on their legacies and get serious about our freedom.

    The least we can do is say that when straight women really wake up, we’ll all be in better shape. Lesbians can tough this out forever; I know I can. But the straight women out there have to deal with the real patriarchal evil in their own homes.
    This intolerable situation really horrifies me at times, but there you have it.

    We are free, we are becoming free, and we will prevail. The patriachal house of mirrors is in deep trouble: they know it, but sometimes I think we don’t know how close to the cliff that structure is. Together we can push that patriarchal structure right off the cliff and into the ocean. Then just to be sure, we can call on the sea goddess to send sharks to eat the survivors!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 16, 2007, 6:13 pm
  41. It’s so crazy, too, those of us who have left that world and turned to feminism. We are accused of “swinging” from one thing to the opposite, and it doesn’t occur to people that the *feminism* is our response to the brutalization of religion, that this is how we are making amends, taking responsibility, not only to and for ourselves, but for all women. Feminism isn’t just some choice on the banquet table of life, after all, it is the reponse, the *answer* and the *solution* to what happens to women in patriarchal religion.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2007, 6:19 pm
  42. Which is why the Religious Right views us as public enemy number one! From their standpoint, that’s exactly what we are.

    They say it like it’s a bad thing. 🙂

    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2007, 6:29 pm
  43. Or we can show up at school board meetings and demand the right wingers get out of the education system — with their creationism and goddess knows what else they want to teach.

    YES. This is something I also teach in my workshops. For god’s sake, don’t ignore what is going on in your local school district! The RR has managed to get it’s “character curriculum” — totally fundamentalist Christianity — into school districts across the country by removing direct references to God. But the teachings are fundamentalist Christian teachings and, in particular, they stress *obedience to authority.* This curriculum is something the RR has used in churches, homes and private schools for decades and now it’s in public schools, not only in the U.S., but all over the world! In the same way, the RR has anti-reproductive choice, fundamentalist speakers speaking across the country to high schoolers under the guise of sex education, i.e., “abstinence education.” Our taxes pay for the schools. Fundies have been on this for decades, are on school boards, making these decisions, and for this to change, people have to take an interest and challenge what is being done, raise a sand, cause a commotion. All these guys have to do is refrain from specifically mentioning their religious affiliation. They can basically preach a sermon at the local high school and get away with it so long as they are careful what words they use.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 16, 2007, 6:39 pm
  44. As a woman i love and still love the whole pregnancy and children..as a midwife i am awed by the raw primitive power needed to birth and how it reaches out to embrace the women in the room and time and time again it is so obvious it does not include the men in the room. they feel out of place even if they cant figure out why.
    I dont think its a matter of women not having children but women who want children and women who do not.. loving each others choices and supporting them. Not putting any woman down for choices she makes.
    now granted in the RR its not a choice.. but i think in the feminist movement i think it should be an honored choice. I think we should celebrate and honor and respect the ability that only women have.. birth…Not that we need men around us all the time to have children🙂
    moongoddess

    Posted by wintermoongoddess | November 16, 2007, 8:46 pm
  45. As a lesbian, I can share my thought process with straight women, so they can see how my mind works.

    Strangely, my thought process didn’t change whether I was thought to be celibate, straight or lesbian. My sexuality didn’t have a thing to do with how my mind worked. Probably cuz I don’t think with that end.

    As my mom always said, experience is the best teacher. So what experience do you have with men that you think straight women can learn from? I mean, isn’t that a little like me telling you all about broccoli without ever having tasted it?

    I don’t know. I just think you’re being a little patronizing and hard on straight women. I mean, do you really think they’re stupid and don’t know what deals they’ve made with the devil? Who would know better than they what deals they’ve made? Can we, as lesbians, offer them any better deals?

    We all live under patriarchy. We all make our deals. There’s rewards, as well as a price that we pay, no matter what we decide to do or not do.

    One more question. Do you really think that you and I would be lesbians had we been born and raised under the Taliban?

    Posted by luckynkl | November 17, 2007, 10:00 am
  46. Brava Lucky! 😀

    Even lesbians nice-up way too much around straight women, for fear of offending them.

    Well, if that is lesbians’ *nice-upped* (both in your continued divisive sentiments, and some of my RL experiences years ago when I identified as bi), I don’t really want to see the unniced-upped. Hardly the A1 recruitment plan.

    Satsuma, some of what you say has merit. However, that is sadly offset by a whole pile of bigoted crap, primarily against het wimmin.

    If we are to get anywhere to overturn the misogyny in this world, it will be through unity, not (artificial) devisiveness.

    Posted by stormy | November 17, 2007, 2:45 pm
  47. So, hear me out.

    You know, Stormy and Lucky, I love you both, but — I don’t want to do the defend the heterosexual women thing. I’ve approved your comments, with a heavy heart, I’ll say more about it, but I don’t want to continue along the path your comments might take us. The whole world is always, apparently, “defending” heterosexual women all of the time, including against all of those predatory lesbians out there, those “howling wolves” like reporters called the New Jersey 4, or did they call the women a “lesbian wolf pack,” and you know, it’s not as though there is any need to defend heterosexual women against lesbian women here. I don’t believe it to be possible for lesbians to be “bigoted” against heterosexual women. Women can mistreat women, and they do, in all sorts of ways for all sorts of reasons, and it always hurts us all and I wish it would end. But bigotry is something the more powerful do to the less powerful. It doesn’t work for this discussion, or for the women here, for so many reasons.

    The timing of your comments is, I don’t know, poignant.

    I’ve been sitting here crying my eyes out this morning, in front of my computer, in the dark, outside it’s rainy, the house is quiet, the kids are still sleeping. There is only the noise of the cats playing, chasing an empty box around downstairs.

    I got misty at first when, looking for something else, elsewhere online, I came across two heartbreaking bits, written this week. In one, a teenage girl, a member of a community I’m also a member of, she’s 15-ish, describes how her dad has just thrown her out of the house. He yanked her out of bed in the middle of the night, screamed abuse at her, told her to get her things and get out. Told her she had been brainwashed, as her mother had been brainwashed, I suppose by hanging out with all of those lesbians she is always hanging out with, because as it turns out, the young girl has a girlfriend and is desperately happy. The girl details a litany of abuses she has suffered just now at the hands of her dad. She swings precariously wild between hurt and rage: now she is longing for him, she is missing him, wondering why he is doing this, why, why? She is saying, he didn’t even say he loved me, we were going to do this together, we were going to fix this, go here, do that. She worries about his ulcers, she worries she will never see him again, what if he dies, what if it’s her fault because she upset him and made his ulcers bleed. Then she is raging at her dad, at the universe, at the impossibility of what has happened to her, that this beloved father she has trusted, admired, has… thrown her out of the house. In the middle of the night. He drives her to her mother’s, he opens the car door, he says, get out, he drives away. Because, she thinks, of who she loves. She doesn’t know yet that her dad is abusive, and there is no reason, he needs no reason, men abuse because they can.

    The mother doesn’t know what to do. She is doing what mothers do, she is saying it will be all right, she is saying no worries, we’ll get through this, remember the stars, the trees, the sun, they continue on, we’ll continue on, and the daughter is saying, my mother is saying that, but she doesn’t know what will happen, she doesn’t know if we will get through this after all. The daughter is saying I’m scared. The mother is scared, but she isn’t saying.

    This is a man the mother loved, thought was a good man, thought treated her well, trusted, spoke well and highly of. The mother is a Defender, or has been. She’s argued in the past (including with me, and she and I don’t speak anymore) that men are not less safe than women, not really, she’s argued the not-all-men kind of arguments and the not-all-women kinds of arguments, she argues we should take each person as he or she comes and is and not make judgments because someone is a man or a woman. And yet the mother has been battered by men, in a way women have never and will never batter her. This “good” man had followed a really bad, dangerous man from whom she fled to save her life. The good man is the bad man now. I’m sure he says and believes it is all the mother’s fault and all the daughter’s fault and the community’s fault and those lesbian brainwashers’ fault and had they not done what they did, he would not have called the mother a whore, he would not have said they were brainwashed, he would not have thrown his baby girl out of his house in the middle of the night, and he’ll prove it, they will see, he’ll move on and find some other woman, a good one this time, and be the good man again, the very good man to her, and the mother and her daughter will see and know it was all their fault.

    And meanwhile I cannot talk to the woman and I cannot talk to the daughter and I hate it, it cuts me, in the end it is because of the men and the loyalties to men and the love of men and the defenses of men and the way to talk about what men do, what they really do, estranges sisters from one another.

    So I left those paragraphs and the world they contain to, as I do, every so often, visit the blogs of friends I haven’t heard from for a while. I went to the blog of a friend, a beautiful, brilliant friend. She is not so far from my age. She has grown children. Her blog writings seemed strange and were infrequent. I saw that she has a myspace page now so I went to it. Her writing had changed. She is, or has been, an eloquent writer, beautiful prose, passionate, powerful, insightful. She had been a feminist, had loved and served women.

    But here she is writing in the myspace style, cool, fashionable, trendy, come-hither, not overly smart, just smart enough, not too powerful, don’t be afraid, she has fun too, there are flashes of skin and breasts, the things she loves now are not what I remember. My accomplished, gifted friend who did so many things so well; she doesn’t speak of them here now, she is presenting as flesh, she is presenting as charming and alluring and seductive and not too political, not political at all, really, she’s a lover, she says, she is safe and lovely.

    Her daughter, 11-ish, is “friended” on her page. The daughter’s photo is waifish, almost hidden, we cannot see her face. Her daughter lives far away now, not with my friend, with her dad. My friend is living with a young man in his 20s, not so much older than her oldest child and the same age as my fourth child. I went to her new love’s page. The wallpaper is swords and dragons. He likes to watch cartoons, he says, and when he reads, he reads fantasy, like Aragon. I searched for something that tells me he is smart, he reads, he thinks, I found one quote, conservative, about fairness and accountability. His page is male. There is nothing on his page that is not male.

    And so I am crying this morning for all of us all of us all of us who have settled in with men, settled for men, defended men, believed in men, believed in love and romance and fairy tales and Cinderella, left our sisters, abandoned the fight, left the work, passions, brilliance, keenness. I am crying for the smoke that gets in women’s eyes. I am crying for the way women run from themselves and the way men want them to run from themselves. I am crying for the motherless daughters. I am crying for the work not done, for the women not loved, for the minutes and days and months and years lost.

    I don’t want to go down this path of defending it, any of it, because sometimes it works, some women say. I don’t believe in it. It hurts me and I am so tired of it hurting.

    Posted by womensspace | November 17, 2007, 4:19 pm
  48. I don’t want to do the defend the heterosexual women thing.

    I don’t feel like it has been done yet. If anything Satsuma is the queen of Women’s Spaces and hetero women are the trash. Protect Satsuma, she can talk trash talk trash and talk trash…..At least you could tell her to use phrases like “the hetero women I have met”……but she frames as ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL Hetero women.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 17, 2007, 4:59 pm
  49. Perhaps I should say King, because it feels like how a KING would attack, would dismiss, would belittle.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 17, 2007, 5:00 pm
  50. Okay.

    So, have heterosexual women been defended yet?

    Posted by womensspace | November 17, 2007, 5:24 pm
  51. When will it all be set aright? When everyone someone thinks deserves to be told off, gets told off? When everyone someone wishes were gone, is gone?

    Then there won’t be anyone left. And this place will be as boring as 95 percent of the feminist blogosphere is already.

    Posted by womensspace | November 17, 2007, 5:27 pm
  52. And as dead.

    And as lifeless.

    The angel will leave the room then. Under my watch, I don’t want the angel to leave the room, if I can help it.

    Although I am weary and cynical enough today to doubt that I can keep that from happening.

    Everybody wants my blog as they want it, squeegeed and shoehorned neatly within the paramaters and boundaries of their comfort zones. They want me to moderate my blog the way they think it should be moderated and what the hell is wrong with Heart when I get it “wrong.”

    Except that, they all disagree. I can’t moderate it the way everyone thinks I should for that reason alone. I guess I could take turns; one day I could moderate thus, the next day I could moderate yay, the third day, and so, and so on, and that way the infuration and aggravation could also take place by turn.

    Like the guy I won’t name — antifeminist/misogynist — who every day posts excerpts from what Satsuma has said that day to his blog. That’s all he’s got to blog about, evidently.

    The latest time, he threw up his hands in frustration and wrote something like, if only Satsuma’s mother had believed what she believes about having children, we wouldn’t have to read this stuff everyday!

    LOLOLOLOL!! If it weren’t so ludicrous and preposterous!

    As though I control his mouse and his pointy finger via remote such that I can force him and anyone else to come here everyday to read Satsuma’s latest!

    Posted by womensspace | November 17, 2007, 5:35 pm
  53. E. Kitty Glendower,

    I notice that on your blog you have a classification tag for privilege.

    http://egarooo.blogspot.com/search/label/Privilege

    Have you every thought of writing an article for it about heterosexual privilege? Lesbian oppression?

    No?

    Have you read the extensive posts here on Heart’s blog about lesbian oppression and heterosexual-female privilege, written by women who are both ex-het ex-married and mothers ?

    No? Just couldn’t be bothered with them? You didn’t like them? You don’t have to if you don’t want to?

    Are you enraged at me and Heart for being witless Satsuma apologists, and not rising to your defense?

    Have you ever figured that privileged folk *always* get to figure that they’re entitled to whine, pout and tonguelash anybody who doesn’t give them the usual suck-up?

    That maybe you’ve even done that yourself, from other positions of privilege, ‘cuz I sure have.

    That maybe that’s what you’ve been doing here?

    Just wondering.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 17, 2007, 7:39 pm
  54. Oh honestly. Women you have got to grow up.

    Straight women, stop your whining. Have you never really talked to radical lesbian feminists at all? Geez.

    Let poor Heart run her blog the way she wants to run it.

    I’m ok with what everyone says on this space, and we are certainly not going to all agree on everything. That’s the way the world is; there is no agreement on some issues and I’m fine with that. Just don’t ask me to pretend I have no opinions on straight women out there who really keep feeding the beast.

    You really want this world to be different, then you have to evaluate the things women automatically do decade after decade without thinking how this will impact women’s freedom.

    You can call me a bigot or whatever, but these are my opinions, which I have arrived at after thinking about the miserable state of affairs for women worldwide. And it’s pretty bad sisters, pretty bad indeed.

    We all deserve better than this. How will any of you ever wake up unless you really get a radical lesbian feminist opinion that isn’t sugar coated. My goddess, think of the rapists our there, the parents who throw their lesbian children out of the house (not as uncommon as you might think), and the explosion of unwanted and abandoned children worldwide.

    You’ve got to get this stuff or you will be doomed to just keep agreeing with the men out there, and you’ll keep on protecting them, and you’ll keep on keeping on as they say.

    I’m not the problem — heteronormativity and male supremacy are the problems. Lesbian feminists aren’t the problems, believe me we are a very small group. We work hard, we challenge, we write with honesty and integrity about our lives.

    Now I am giving you all the benefit of the doubt here. You can have your opinions, and I will have mine. And that’s ok. Now let Heart do her job properly, and stop stressing her out.

    She does know what she’s doing. I’m ok with everything people say here. Of course I don’t like heterosexuality because it really is problematic for women. And hey, it’s my opinion, so just chill!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 18, 2007, 1:44 am
  55. It began in the beginning.

    I’m not sad, more astounded and confused. During calving, everyone understands that my cows come first. But today required a return to pretence and being late, I spent half an hour in a quiet room reading Genesis 3 and trying not to fall asleep. (Nothing to do with the reading material, more my lifestyle)
    For the first time of the hundreds I’ve read that chapter I realised that Adam’s jurisdiction over Eve is *exactly* the same as that he was given over the animals – to name and rule over. In every instance, the wording is directed primarily for the attention of the male.
    It would be lovely to think this was entirely due to paternalistic translation – but it’s so consistent, across every piece of advice, literature and teaching. Our lesson today was about the revelation that extended the priesthood to *all* worthy adult males, and several times it was quoted that all blessings were made available to all persons, all male and female – in those words.
    But that’s not how it worked. Non-white males were given the authority of the priesthood and their female partners and children presumed to benefit from that – they, directly, were given no official power.

    Feminism *is* the number one enemy of the churches, because it is impossible to not see the glaring inequalities when you’re no longer commited to the patriarchal structure. I knew the first time I discovered – and read – feminist blogs that I’d ‘strayed outside the boundaries’.
    I think it’s much harder if you’re heterosexual, and tied into the system through alliances with males. Some of what Satsuma says (even the undeniably offensive stuff) resonates with me too, because being ‘not-het’ has always created a disconnect, even if you’re not out. You already know that the patriarchal system has nothing in it for you – no protection, no *place* even. Selling out isn’t an option, unless you’re prepared to sell out your entire identity and exchange yourself for something acceptable – devoted wife and mother to a male.

    Continually I hear justification for the glaring inequalities I see, all very reasonable and logical. It’s such a huge barrier, to even acknowledge thoughts that are divisive to what is taught in church. I don’t think there’s much that can be done from ‘outside’ to help women in patriarchal religions. From within, a little more – but a lot of it would come down to reducing the bigotry or backlash against those who leave, or express original thought. Making a safe space to ‘not-conform’. Being a safe person to be ‘different’ around.

    Posted by Sophie | November 18, 2007, 4:33 am
  56. I’ve just stumbled across your blog by happy accident this evening and I am SO glad to have found it!

    I feel like I could vomit after reading the article you included in this post. I was raised in a mostly literalist protestant church (before coming out, and then eventually finding myself choosing, oddly enough, the Catholic Church, and now, even more oddly, religious life as an out lesbian. Godde, indeed, does have a wicked sense of humour, does she not?), but I never knew anyone to take things *this* literally.

    Alas, I do, increasingly, recognize this need for absolutes and set black and white answers among, for instance, peers of my younger sister, in their early to mid-20s. It just gives me the creeps, I think especially because the article was so eloquently and intelligently written. It’s quite literally making me nauseous to think that an otherwise thinking young woman could not only swallow this stuff whole, but make such a sincere attempt to convince others of its rightness.

    Thanks for sharing it, though, and thanks for all the passion and energy you’ve put into this entire site!!!

    Posted by Natty | November 18, 2007, 7:44 am
  57. Note

    The loud noise in the background is the incipient trainwreck in my moderation queue.

    My alternatives:

    (1) Approve the comments as they are, with the knowledge that the trainwreck will no longer be incipient and the noise will no longer be in the background;

    (2) Reject the comments to stave off the trainwreck and approve only the non-trainwreck commentary;

    (3) Edit out the trainwreck elements of each comment and approve the nontrainwreck portions;

    (4) Close the thread to all further comments.

    I am going to do number (3). My reasons are:

    (1) Trainwrecks hurt women and hurt feminism as do comments which contain gratuitous insults and unnecessarily inflammatory rhetoric.

    (2) Letting the non-trainwreck comments through while editing out the trainwreck comments unnecessarily stifles the discussion, silences women whose opinions matter to me, and creates the false impression that everybody was either done or voluntarily stopped arguing. I become the censor iow, over-controlling the comments, and I don’t want to be that or do that.

    (3) Closing the thread would artificially end a rich, powerful, insightful and thought-provoking discussion of women in the Religious Right and would mean I had allowed the discussion to be derailed by the trainwreck in my mod queue.

    So, although it is the lesser of all evils and is far from an ideal solution, I’m going to approve the comments with the trainwreck aspects edited out. I will also not be approving comments which are *only* insults/inflammatory, etc., i.e., they are not really responses to the discussion, they are just women being pissed. Before I edit or do not approve, I will save the original comments in full. If any member of this community would like to read the original comments pre-my-edits, e-mail me and I will send the comments to you, so that you can see for yourself what I edited out and argue with me about my decision if you like. By “member of this community,” I mean, you post here at least sometimes, or you read here regularly and I know you from participating with you in other online communities or because we have e-mailed in the past for some reason. In other words, I know you to be a feminist, a person of good will and genuinely interested in this discussion.

    I would like to ask all of you to please exercise restraint in your postings from this point forward. Please do not just dash off angry replies because you’re pissed off! I am asking you to avoid saying things you know are going to increase heat in this thread and not light.

    I would also like this thread to at least move in the direction of getting back on topic.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 18, 2007, 1:19 pm
  58. Heart, I apologise. I did go too far with the term ‘bigoted’.

    Although you completely misunderstand my point. My point is not to *defend* het wimmin, simply to stop the (continual) *attacks* on het wimmin. Entirely different.
    I think that was also the direction that Lucky was taking too, with the do you really think they’re stupid and don’t know what deals they’ve made with the devil?. Truthfully, most radical feminists in het relationships are aware of their ‘deals’. Certainly many het wimmin may not be. But what is going on here by Satsuma is a continual attack on het wimmin regardless of whether they are in a relationship or not.

    Another point is that some of these wimmin, who may in fact be bi, will naturally gravitate towards wimmin-only groups (and lesbian circles). They have come from het-world where the contempt from menz is pervasive, then seek the sanctuary of the womyn-only (or lesbian) community. Being greeted with “you tainted jezzabelles” attitude isn’t really a warm welcome, and it is an attitude I have experienced in RL lesbian circles. Lucky makes the point that defecting from the enemy gives one intimate insight that lifelong lesbians don’t have (the broccoli thing).

    For the record, I do not identify as ‘het womyn’, as I am a separatist (without qualifiers; perhaps “radical feminist separatist activist”, which denotes nothing of sexual preferences). Certainly I too dismay at (particularly the younger) het wimmin caught up in patriarchy-approved practices, but telling them “you stoopid grrrrl” will NOT get them to see ‘the light’.

    I call it as I see it. Satsuma’s posts continually contain references denouncing “het wimmin”. Yes, I got mad and fired off the comment above. True feminism dictates that one defends the rights of all wimmin, be they lesbian or het, and not create some kind of artificial hierarchy or division. Lesbians by virtue of their sexual partners are not automatically a superior breed of womyn.

    I find my own comment/attitude here quite surprising, as I am more of a political activist rather than a hand-holding feminist. However, I think that *not attacking* (not the same as *defending*) is a basic radfem principle.

    Actually, if I want to bring this comment back to topic, the exact parallel would be to chastise wimmin fleeing the RR for the situation they were trapped in.

    Posted by stormy | November 18, 2007, 1:20 pm
  59. Yes it is Heart’s blog although the space is titled Women’s space. I will not make that mistake again.

    I’m spit on here as a heterosexual woman. Have you read Red Azalea? Try it sometimes. See what happens when intimacy is denied. Yes, in the lesbian separatist world what should the heterosexual woman do, be forced to have sex with lesbians. Or should they be denied intimacy. Wow. How exactly is that different from lesbians being forced to partner with men in a heterosexual dominated world? Hmmm…. As I said same male tactics.

    I have pointed out several times how DIVIDED this shit is here. I don’t have to write about lesbians because guess what, I’m not a lesbian. But I am a woman. Which means, I should not be shit on by another woman weather she is a lesbian woman or not, nor should I shit on a woman for being a lesbian or not.

    Good women, smart women have repeatedly tried to state here as politely as possible the division that Satsuma have brought but for some reason she is owning the place, free reign. I guess all the women who have stated their voices in oppositions are just wrong, stupid, immature.

    But let’s count the number of lesbians in this world, even the ones who do not feel as if they can live a lesbian life. Let’s compare that number to hetero women. Then let the lesbians spit on the hetero women and see how well the revolution goes. Good luck with that. Right on.

    This comment has been edited by Heart per my comment of 1:18 today. If you are known to me, are a woman and a person of good will, and you want to see the original comment and what I have edited out, e-mail me and I will send it to you. — Heart

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 18, 2007, 1:21 pm
  60. And some lesbians demand that heterosexual women blog about the lesbian plight in order to prove that heterosexual’s commitment to feminism, yet those lesbians are free to ramble on and dictate the discourse on other people blogs, all the while refusing to get their own damn blog. What’s really going on?

    Note, this comment edited by me, Heart, per my comment of 1:18 today. If you are woman, a person of good will known to me, e-mail me and I will send you the original comment. –Heart

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 18, 2007, 1:22 pm
  61. “I think it’s much harder if you’re heterosexual, and tied into the system through alliances with males. Some of what Satsuma says (even the undeniably offensive stuff) resonates with me too, because being ‘not-het’ has always created a disconnect, even if you’re not out. You already know that the patriarchal system has nothing in it for you – no protection, no *place* even. Selling out isn’t an option, unless you’re prepared to sell out your entire identity and exchange yourself for something acceptable – devoted wife and mother to a male.”

    “If we are to get anywhere to overturn the misogyny in this world, it will be through unity, not (artificial) devisiveness.”

    -Well let’s see here– a lot of material to work with. It is indeed harder for women to be heterosexual than lesbian in my opinion. I think lesbians helped to create a better world for themselves through all our writing and activism over the years. It was an energizing time for us. How could we overturn the misogyny in this world? Well, as I’ve said hundreds of times, lesbian feminists are a very small group of people worldwide. Very small. This tiny group of women could not do this, but we can provide the ideas that will at least say that there is an alternative to the male-stream out there.

    One more question. Do you really think that you and I would be lesbians had we been born and raised under the Taliban?

    I would have killed the Taliban, and been a part of the resistance. Or like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I would have left the country.
    *** **** *****
    Heterosexual women are the majority worldwide — over 52% of the U.S. population, and majorities in a variety of countries. Heterosexual women have the numbers, but the one thing they don’t have is freedom from a system they are too enmeshed in. They don’t have the daily challenges of lesbians even in liberal parts of the country. In general, they take for granted that they can move just about anywhere with their husbands and will be welcomed without much comment in a small town, for example.

    I, on the other hand, have to figure out that the people next door are being mean as mean to me for what reason? a) I’m white and they don’t like white people b) I don’t speak Spanish well and it’s a cross-cultural issue c) They are homophobic idiots who can’t stand the fact that a lesbian couple lives next door to them or d) none of the above.

    Is this a big problem? No, they haven’t burned a cross on our lawn or poisoned our dog. Also, my partner is blessed with a diplomatic nature, and is reaching out to the 12-year old boy who doesn’t know how to train his little dog. We don’t know why the parents give us a mean look when we say hi.

    Unity you say, and not devisiveness. Hmm, once upon a time, straight women thought feminist unity was shutting my damn mouth and staying in the closet. I believe Betty Freidan invented “don’t ask don’t tell” way before the Clintons came down Pennsylvania Ave.

    Unity, with whom and at what price? How can patriarchy flourish, if women are the majority in America? How does it go on and on? Why do women still believe these “sacred texts” which are clearly written by human men are the word of god? Especially when the texts go on and on about Eve being at fault? How can you read that stuff and not feel sick to your stomach?

    Why did I question this state of affairs even when I was a very young girl? Why was I so fed up so quickly, while so many women couldn’t see that there was something terribly wrong about the male religions of the world? How is that?

    Unity? Does that mean I as a lesbian don’t have a right to criticize the majority out there for aiding and abetting my bitter and hated and detested enemies. The church is the enemy of women, and yet women flock to these places. I don’t get it!

    We all were once kids in the world, and we all got taken along to our parent’s various worlds. It took me a very long time to learn how to read and how to do basic math — age 10 to be exact. So in this illiterate world I lived in for so long, I had time to observe and think. If school was too strange a place for me socially, I did have this enchanted life watching the squirrels scamper up and down trees in the forest across the street from my school. I could listen to the sermons in church and the Rabbis in the temple, and undistracted by literacy, I heard something wrong. I wasn’t sure what I would do about it, but I knew something was up, and that later, once I finally did learn to read, all would be revealed.

    “One more question. Do you really think that you and I would be lesbians had we been born and raised under the Taliban?”

    Had I been born in Afghanistan, I would still be a lesbian. No culture or oppression would ever change that. I used to beat up those oppressors from a very young age. The boys would harrass those girls, and the girls would do nothing to defend themselves, absolutely nothing. My rage was my weapon, because I did smash those brutes in the face! I would have taken up arms against the Taliban, had I been born in that place. Read Ayaan Hirsi Ali, if you want to read about a real heroine who escaped to Holland from an evil patriarchal society that was a living nightmare for her.

    No I didn’t bow down, I got angry at my oppressors. I studied martial arts when I was a child. I studied boxing when I got older. I went into the ring to smash men in rounds. I meant business.

    That’s what it takes sometimes. It seems like some women can’t even take minor lesbian truths, and that’s ok. But I am saying, how will being heterosexual work to overthrow this system? I know you’re all doing good work, I assume this.

    But all I can say, is I’m waiting for women to stop reading “god’s word” and to stop marrying men who are 200 pounds heavier than they are. I’m waiting for the majority of women in this country to throw those bums out of office one by one.

    All I can do is talk about how I fight the enemy, and how I battle the rapists, the patriarchs, the stupid bosses, and the pathetic sexist comments that come flying out of men’s mouths daily, while other women listen to these “little jokes” in silence! That’s right silence. I’m the one who usually speaks up, and I’ve come up with a variety of tactics for making life harder for these men. It is a daily battle sometime, but well worth fighting.

    I would like straight women to do something about those damn straight churches who are making my life a political hell! Burn the Bibles in the school yard, take a picture of your favorite patriarch to the shooting range, and fill that picture full of bullets. The picture — not a real human being– for the record.

    Sophie is absolutely right, it is a hell of a lot easier to be a lesbian than to be a straight woman in a fundamentalist church, for example. That world might seduce straight women, but it is so alien and dreadful, that I see nothing in that world that is all that attractive.

    Why do some here think I am being patronizing or mean? I am just reporting how I see the world of heterosexual women. I see women’s silence daily. I see all these women marrying all these really awful men.

    An educated lesbian lives a charmed life in many of the cities in this country. In Boston, we pack more radical lesbian intellectuals into colleges than factories pack sardines.

    Lesbian couples often out earn a lot of heterosexual couples out there. Not all, but this is becoming a small national trend. Lesbians will not rely on men to get things done, so we usually have a lot of skills that we use in the world.

    Since many of us have no children at all, we have more time to network, and get to know neighbors.

    Those of us who were lucky to have discovered an inner core of resistence to all things heterosexual at a young age, took this knowledge to higher and higher levels.

    We are waiting for the majority of women in this country to take charge, and to make the face of the world different.

    I get suspicious of feminists out there who don’t want to hear what lesbians have to say. I know, some of us are caustic and not very nice. I want to understand why so many heterosexual women do the self-destructive things that they do.

    Men are pretty easy to bowl down — think of that bowling ball crashing into those patriarchal pins in the bowling ally. Think of Judith beheading Holofernes — some Bible stories are pretty good now and then🙂

    Unity of all feminists, usually translates to me as ‘lesbians shut up and be nice.”

    I’m ambivilent about the whole issue of gay marriage, but I’ll tell you, when it was making headlines, no straight woman I knew ever mentioned that maybe they should speak up, and that maybe my relationship deserved defending. Not one woman.

    Straight women often strike me as so oddly silent in the face of aggressive lesbian feminist polemic. Some of us love polemic and love challenging this sleeping majority to wake up. We’re all waiting for this great event to occur.

    I can do my best to be the pirate in the midst of male worlds, plundering their stolen secrets, passing them on to women, silently getting women to open a savings account with their own name on it for the first times in their lives.

    I wonder if lesbians never tell you what they are thinking? Are my words just too shocking? This is “mainstream” radical lesbian commentary.

    I don’t know what the state of diplomatic relations is between lesbian land and straight woman land out there. The straight women I know seem to want us lesbians to be added to their groups, and they want to stir us up in their structures.

    I have a plan of my own. I want women who are the majority of America to act together, and show up and vote all those right wing idiots out of office. I want women to stop going to those damnable churches and get out and learn how to make a living on their own. I want women to stop depending on “liberal men”.

    Why do women serve men so slavishly sometimes? Why do they do it?

    You have to admit, we’ve had a long long time for feminism, and still we’re going round and round on these issues. I don’t get it at all!

    This comment has been edited by Heart per my comment of 1:18 today. If you are known to me, are a woman and a person of good will, and you want to see the original comment and what I have edited out, e-mail me and I will send it to you. — Heart

    Posted by Satsuma | November 18, 2007, 1:25 pm
  62. Heart,

    This is just a quick note to tell you once again how wise and wonderful you are.

    {{{ Thank you }}}, for being here with us, doing all this stressful, time-consuming and labour-intensive work for us.

    I honour you and your purposes.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 18, 2007, 2:51 pm
  63. “Good women, smart women have repeatedly tried to state here as politely as possible the division that Satsuma have brought but for some reason she is owning the place, free reign. I guess all the women who have stated their voices in oppositions are just wrong, stupid, immature. “

    That’s why I stopped commenting here. If it continues as it appears it will, I’ll stop reading here, too. Why read here to be insulted when I can conform to the patriarchy, go malestream and be insulted in the usual ways?

    I mean, there’s a whole (patriarchal) world of people out there who believe that I’m wrong, stupid and immature simply because I was born a female. Those same sheeples also support and promote the division of women (good girls vs bad girls, mothers vs childless, married vs single, and, yes, even lesbians vs hets). Why should I play these games in the radfem world when I can play these very same games in the larger, patriarchal world? After all, there are many, many more patriarchal sheeples who are willing and eager to punish me for not conforming to their rules than there are lesbian separatists and radfems combined to dole out punishments (even if insults are their only form of punishment), for not playing by their rules.

    It’s so much easier to float downstream than to swim upstream. Why do it the hard way if the result or payoff (being insulted and divided from my sisters) is the same?

    It’s a no-brainer. There is no reason.

    Posted by CoolAunt | November 18, 2007, 5:10 pm
  64. Thanks, Mary, hugs back. 🙂

    Just a few thoughts. Stormy, that was a great comment, many really good thoughts. I like this rare glimpse of your hand-holding side! I realized reading your comment that you’re right, many women may be reading what Satsuma is saying as an attack because she uses “you” language, i.e., “you heterosexual women should.” I haven’t read that as an attack because I haven’t read her as speaking directly to the women here but more as speaking generally to the women she has seen and to behaviors she has seen in her life. I’ve been reading her as musing “aloud”, not accusing anyone here of anything.

    I have also witnessed and heard the sort of het women as “tainted”attitude you are talking about amongst RL lesbians. I agree with you, that attitude, even if it is understandable, is hurtful and unnecessarily rejecting.

    I think what Lucky and you (and Satsuma, early on) and I have said is important– that we all have important contributions to make based on our lived experiences. What we have experienced and endured is what is available for our use in making feminist knowledge. I have had more intimate relationships with men than by far most women in the world and certainly than the women here, not just because of being married to men, etc., but because I’ve given birth to five sons and four I have raised to adulthood. I’ve watched them grow up, seen what happens to them as boys and males in patriarchy, watched their friends and their interactions in groups of men, watched so painfully close their interactions with their dads. I do have many many insights for this reason, and I think my insights are valuable and no less valuable than any other woman’s, definitely, but no more valuable either. I wish we could approach one another in this way, to add each woman’s lived experiences and knowledge to our own and make feminist theory out of it, devise strategies for activism and feminist work out of it.

    The divide you mention amongst separatists is interesting, Stormy, and very old. There have always been radical feminist separatists who didn’t declare themselves one way or another so far as who they would partner with or who they have or are partnered with, for that matter. This is true going way back. The logic or rationale for this is, for women to define themselves or to identify on the basis of who they love, their intimate partners, is still to identify in relationship to men. (I know that you, Stormy, and most women here know this, this is for those who haven’t thought about it yet.) I see that logic and appreciate it.

    At the same time, I understand lesbian resistance to the no-identifiers position as well. For one thing, in my experience, anyway, this is usually a position which is taken by women who were once partnered with men (or who still are partnered with men, who may identify as bisexual or who may be poly and have partners of both sexes, for instance). While I believe, and have seen, that it can be a position taken genuinely, for valid feminist reasons, and while the motivations for taking the position can be above reproach, it can also sometimes (again, in my experirence) seem to be an attempt at an end run around acknowledging the significance and meaning of having partnered with men, a way of putting the kabosh on the discussion we are having here, in other words.

    The other thing is, it can seem dismissive of the significance of lesbian culture and of lesbians as a valid people group throughout history. Whether they were partnered with women at any given time or not, or even forced into religious orders or convents, or even into unwanted marriages to men, there have always been lesbians who knew themselves to be lesbians and whose orientation toward the world and life, just in general, was woman centered from their earliest moments. Of course, some, many, were severely punished or executed for this. To take the no-identifiers position can seem like erasure of lesbian history and lives and can also feel like a refusal to recognize what lesbians have historically accomplished and created which benefits all women. It feels, too, like too much of a focus on lesbianism *as* a matter of traditional ideas about relationship intimacy, sex, or partnering with another person, when for many (not all, definitely, none of this is about “all” anybody!), sex, intimacy, partnerings are only one facet of a woman-centered life. Lesbianism is a standpoint, a frame of reference, a reordering of patriarchal standards and priorities, a lens women can use to view all of life, and so, it is infinitely more than specific persons someone loves, has sex with, or partners with.

    By the same token, radical feminism is the same thing, minus the specific, and long, herstory. It is a lens through which women can view all of life, relationships, intimacies, partnerships, in a way which is woman centered. It is obvious why these groups — radical feminists/lesbian separatists — find each other, are drawn to each other. I think the points of disagreement and potential for conflict and division are also pretty obvious. Radical feminists can sometimes be viewed as the johnnie-come-latelies, behaving as though we’ve discovered all of this stuff for the first time, whereas lesbian feminists might respond with something like, hello, took you long enough, where’ve you been? And how can you say all this stuff when some of you have been/still are partnered with men (i.e., Andrea Dworkin), what’s up with that?

    Satsuma: Why did I question this state of affairs even when I was a very young girl? Why was I so fed up so quickly, while so many women couldn’t see that there was something terribly wrong about the male religions of the world? How is that?

    See, to me, this is a really good question and one I wish we could think deeply about and try to get to some answers or at least ideas. Why is this? Why do some women see this so young and so clearly? Why do some women know they will be lesbians from very early ages, even when the whole world is set against them (i.e., as in the past, even more than it is now)? Why do others — like me — never see this at all until decades of life lived in the school of hard knocks, brushes with death, in my case, batterings, and every kind of abuse? If we could tear this apart and look at it closely, we might be able to come up with some theories or ideas that would be valuable in our relationships with the young girls and young women in our lives and with our daughters and granddaughters.

    Satsuma: I wonder if lesbians never tell you what they are thinking? Are my words just too shocking? This is “mainstream” radical lesbian commentary.

    I think that it is rare for heterosexual women to have this kind of discussion with lesbians of the type you are talking mostly about, Satsuma, lesbians who have always known themselves to be, and always lived as, lesbians. I am not at all shocked by what you have written because I’ve heard it a number of times by now, from lesbians, in real life, in meeting places and online. I’ve had lesbian women who didn’t know each other and were not at all part of the same communities (other than the not-many-degrees-of-separation that characterizes lesbian community just in general) say just what Satsuma has said here, in pretty much the same words, asking exactly the same questions (of me) as well.

    The internet allows for all of the regular levels of relationship and communication between people from different worlds and backgrounds to be stripped away in an instant.

    When we meet a woman in real life, usually we go through a relatively extended period of being casual acquaintances, along the way we decide whether we want to get to know each other better, and if so, we make overtures and respond to one another, or not. It might take *YEARS* before we got to the kind of nitty gritty discussion which is being had here amongst women who are strangers to each other. And where there are important differences we discovered between us, we probably would never have this discussion, it is just too fraught. Here online though, all of that gets swept away because we don’t have to see each other or interact tomorrow or next week, or whatever, we can just decide not to read and comment here anymore. I think that’s really great in certain ways — because I think it is good for us to know how women different from us perceive us and life and the world — and I think it’s bad in certain ways, in that we don’t have the real life connection, many times, which would motivate us to approach one another carefully with an eye towards the future.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 18, 2007, 6:06 pm
  65. Cool Aunt, hopefully you’ve read the recent comments?

    You know, it almost sounds like you’re saying conflicts with patriarchal culture are preferable to conflicts with feminists. Or maybe you’re saying, you are going to have the former and you can’t avoid it, but you can avoid the latter, and at least that way you’ll just have one kind of conflict and not two. I understand what you’re saying I think and am working hard to move this conversation in the direction of being less hurtful and damaging.

    The bottom line for me is, I’m a feminist come hell or high water, whether feminists are nice to me or mean to me. I have and have had and will have plenty of both in my life, I’m very sure! But I do my feminist work and live my feminist life because it’s the right thing to do and to be. The rest I’ll figure out as I move along in life, I’ll take it as it comes, learn whatever there is for me to learn in it, make feminist knowledge of it, make feminist theory of it, redeem every last bit of it. That’s what feminism is to me– an opportunity to make knowledge out of every interaction, relationship, community I’m part of, whether the experience is difficult for me or easy for me. I’m no masochist and I don’t hang around with people who are mean and ugly for no reason. But a certain amount of conflict and difficulty are to be anticipated among passionate women who are involved in politics. I’ve come to appreciate what I’ve learned in times of trouble as well as more peaceful times.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 18, 2007, 6:16 pm
  66. I would have killed the Taliban, and been a part of the resistance. Or like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I would have left the country.

    1. You should know that the Taliban ruled Afghanistan (although, as a movement, it has strong ties to Pakistan as well – I believe). Ayaan Hirsi Ali is from Somalia. Getting out from a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was harder than getting out of Somalia back when Hirsi Ali was growing up (I do not wish to trivialize Ali’s horrific experience, but a fair comparison should be made) – especially since women could not travel alone. At all.

    2. “I would have killed the Taliban” – The U.S. Army has been in Afghanistan for a number of years. Can they get rid of the Taliban? No. Can the rest of the Afghani people? Well, they’re trying.

    3. You do realize that “killing” the Taliban, or otherwise getting rid of them, would involve forging alliances with straight men and women, right? If you’re an Afghani woman who wants to learn how to shoot a gun, who do you get to teach you? A man – probably a male relative. Women-taught defense classes are around, but only in Kabul, as I understand it, and only for the lucky few. Who do you buy guns from? Men.

    4. Afghanistan is an incredibly fragmented society. The majority of people born in this society are more worried about getting through the day alive and keeping their loved ones’ safe. Political theorizing, on blogs and otherwise, is a luxury. So making statements about what you would have done as a lesbian under the Taliban, while admirable in theory, is not exactly an answer to the question that was posed. Neither is this particularly fair to Afghani women who have died – both as the result of a struggle for basic rights, and as the result for simply being female.

    The original question was, meanwhile, a legitimate one – I believe.

    Posted by Natalia | November 18, 2007, 6:34 pm
  67. It is definitely a hubris-y, ovaries-y thing to say you’d have been a lesbian under the Taliban and would have taken up arms against the Taliban. That kind of hubris is roundly admired in males, of course, under male heterosupremacy and is praised as evidence of manly pride, self-confidence, courage, guts, uncompromising, unswerving commitment to principles, and so on.

    The same kind of sentiments are roundly punished in women, of course, by men and women (including feminists). Who the hell do these women think they are, anyway, talking like that. They’re supposed to be humble, deferential, circumspect, and always aware of their limitations. Pride, hubris, ovaries– nah. Only in the service of hearth and home where women are allowed to be “mother bears.”

    Be that as it may, no, Afghan women, any women, do not need men to teach them self-defense or anything else. And political theorizing and strategizing are not only not luxuries for oppressed people, they are absolutely essential to the making of revolution.

    For evidence and inspiration here, we can look to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

    RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, was established in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1977 as an independent political/social organization of Afghan women fighting for human rights and for social justice in Afghanistan. The founders were a number of Afghan woman intellectuals under the sagacious leadership of Meena who in 1987 was assassinated in Quetta, Pakistan, by Afghan agents of the then KGB in connivance with fundamentalist band of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar . RAWA’s objective was to involve an increasing number of Afghan women in social and political activities aimed at acquiring women’s human rights and contributing to the struggle for the establishment of a government based on democratic and secular values in Afghanistan. Despite the suffocating political atmosphere, RAWA very soon became involved in widespread activities in different socio-political arenas including education, health and income generation as well as political agitation.
    Before the Moscow-directed coup d’état of April 1978 in Afghanistan, RAWA’s activities were confined to agitation for women’s rights and democracy, but after the coup and particularly after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in December 1979, RAWA became directly involved in the war of resistance. In contradistinction to the absolute majority of the vaunted Islamic fundamentalist “freedom fighters” of the anti-Soviet war of resistance, RAWA from the outset advocated democracy and secularism. Despite the horrors and the political oppression, RAWA’s appeal and influence grew in the years of the Soviet occupation and a growing number of RAWA activists were sent to work among refugee women in Pakistan. For the purpose of addressing the immediate needs of refugee women and children, RAWA established schools with hostels for boys and girls, a hospital for refugee Afghan women and children in Quetta, Pakistan with mobile teams. In addition, it conducted nursing courses, literacy courses and vocational training courses for women.

    Demonstrations against the Soviet invaders and their stooges and later on against the fundamentalists, and unrelenting exposure of their treason and heinous crimes has been a hallmark of RAWA’s political activities. It was in consequence of its anti-Soviet occupationist struggle and agitation that RAWA was marked for annihilation by the Soviets and their cronies, while the Islamic fundamentalists vented their wrath on our organisation for our pro-democracy, pro-secularist and anti-fundamentalist stance. Our uncompromising attitude against these two enemies of our people has cost us dear, as witnessed by the martyrdom of our founding leader and a large number of our key activists, but we have unswervingly stood, and continue to stand, by our principles despite the deadly blows that we have been dealt.

    For the purpose of propagating our views, aims and objectives, and to give Afghan women social and political awareness in regard to their rights and potentialities, RAWA launched a bilingual (Persian/Pashtu) magazine, Payam-e-Zan (Woman’s Message) in 1981. Publication of this magazine is on-going and by-issues in Urdu and English for non-Persian/Pashtu speakers.

    Since the overthrow of the Soviet-installed puppet regime in 1992 the focus of RAWA’s political struggle has been against the fundamentalists’ and the ultra-fundamentalist Taliban’s criminal policies and atrocities against the people of Afghanistan in general and their incredibly ultra-male-chauvinistic and anti-woman orientation in particular. Apart from the political challenges facing RAWA, tremendous social and relief work amongst unimaginably traumatised women and children lie ahead of us, but unfortunately we do not at the moment enjoy any support from international NGOs or governments, therefore we can’t run our humanitarian projects as effective as we wish due to lack of funds..

    The US “War on terrorism” removed the Taliban regime in October 2001, but it has not removed religious fundamentalism which is the main cause of all our miseries. In fact, by reinstalling the warlords in power in Afghanistan, the US administration is replacing one fundamentalist regime with another. The US government and Mr.Karzai mostly rely on Northern Alliance criminal leaders who are as brutal and misogynist as the Taliban.

    RAWA believes that freedom and democracy can’t be donated; it is the duty of the people of a country to fight and achieve these values. Under the US-supported government, the sworn enemies of human rights, democracy and secularism have gripped their claws over our country and attempt to restore their religious fascism on our people.

    Whenever fundamentalists exist as a military and political force in our injured land, the problem of Afghanistan will not be solved. Today RAWA’s mission for women’s rights is far from over and we have to work hard for establishment of an independent, free, democratic and secular Afghanistan. We need the solidarity and support of all people around the world.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 18, 2007, 7:03 pm
  68. I don’t understand the point of the question at all. This is not Afghanistan and we are not under the Taliban and Satsuma wasn’t talking about Afghan women when she wondered why women take up with men, go to churches, etc. She was talking about the women she had met in her life right here in the good old US of A, why they had done what they’d done.

    Posted by Branjor | November 18, 2007, 7:12 pm
  69. Lucky asked the question originally in 45 above:

    One more question. Do you really think that you and I would be lesbians had we been born and raised under the Taliban?

    I think women have been lesbians throughout recorded history, sometimes in the face of grave danger. Sometimes they got by, and still get by, able to do some of what they want to do in their lives, by dressing/presenting as men, living as men. Sometimes they have entered convents and religious orders to avoid having to live with men and to lead woman-centered lives to the degree they were able. The question that interests me, again, is the one Satsuma asked and I have heard other lesbians ask: why did they know they were lesbians and live as lesbians, knowing they would never partner with boys or men, from very young ages? Even in the face of danger, huge obstacles, and so on? Whereas this doesn’t enter most women’s minds at all, even as the most remote possibility.

    I think it’s important to acknowledge the bravery ALL women show under male heterosupremacy, all the many ways women find and have found to survive, to make it in the world. I think it’s inspiring to seek out all of the ingenious ways throughout history that women have found to survive in the face of huge obstacles, whatever those ways might have been.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 18, 2007, 7:24 pm
  70. I like this rare glimpse of your hand-holding side!

    Just don’t get too used to it!😛

    Yes, one of the reasons I identify as ‘vanilla’ separatist is throw focus off the genitalia. Patriarchy does enough of that, particularly the porn issue.

    I don’t like to see a division put in place by wimmin, that doesn’t need to be there. Whilst some wimmin may know themselves to be *born lesbians*, others take some time making that discovery because they have been indoctrinated in heterosexuality. There are others that are bi (frankly, I think that 80% of the population would be bi if left to their own devices). Only a small percentage of the population is ‘absoultely lesbian/gay’ or ‘absolutely het’.

    Simple fact that being *born* lesbian, does not make one automatically superior or *chosen* (for feminism) in any way. I had a lot of feminist thought as a child, constantly being drowned out by the white-noise of patriarchy. Doesn’t mean I was a born-lesbian, means I was a born-feminist.

    Let’s not forget that for the longest time, lesbians identified with gay men, not wimmin. Sorry, but that is not the ultimate in feminism. Hell, some were/are honorary menz. It’s only been in the last 10 years or so that the association is not an ‘automatic’ one.

    So when I hear, what I define as rhetoric, that lesbians are the ultimately superior feminist, I say ovaries to that.

    What I find objectionable about Satsuma’s posts are the constant one-upwoman-ship going on, either personally, or via lesbians (as opposed to lesbianism). Nor is separatism (ungenitalised) on her radar either. I know quite a few wimmin who want to get away from menz, but don’t necessarily want sexual relationships with wimmin.

    The personal ‘you [het wimmin]’ tone in the posts does indeed speak to het wimmin, like CoolAunt et al and who have taken offence. For the few that have spoken up, there will be many more who did not, and have turned away from this important radfem blog.

    I doubt that Satsuma can change the tone of her posts (although I note a watering-down just above). She has enough intelligence to present her feminist message without the attack on other wimmin. It is acceptable to attack those wimmin who actively uphold the patriarchy, and promote its wares, but not the collateral damage (wimmin caught up in it; becoming aware; even ignorant of the full extent).

    I want *numbers* for The Feminist Uprising(TM).
    This just isn’t the way to go about it.

    Posted by stormy | November 18, 2007, 8:07 pm
  71. I see that I have cross-posted with Heart above.

    Posted by stormy | November 18, 2007, 8:08 pm
  72. “I’ve been reading her as musing “aloud”, not accusing anyone here of anything.” Good work Heart, you’re getting it.

    My discourse is on heterosexual women as a peculiar species. Since I don’t know any of you personally, I don’t know who is a lesbian and who is not. Well some lesbians are here, because of their distinctive languaging (an Iyanna van Sant quote that I’ve always loved).

    It is up to us to overthrow this system. I’m merely asking questions and commenting on this self-defeating culture known as women in the wrong places at the wrong times.

    Lesbian identity has very little to do with who you are partners with. It is a state of being, a way of knowing. It’s how a little girl of average intelligence sat in churches and synagogues and knew very quickly that “the word of god” was nothing but male supremacy — in the same blinding light that Malcolm X knew that all white people were devils.

    It’s the same thing. Only racism will get you kicked out on your white male butt, and sexist comments will land you multi-million dollar contracts.

    A lesbian self will instantly rebel at all male supremacy. My arguments with catholic priests at the age of nine or so were fierce, and I’d pin them to the wall, and accuse them of blatant discrimination against women. I’d ask them why dumb boys could become altar boys. That was always a good one, because boys really are pretty dumb when they are young. Slow to learn social skills, very bad conversationalists and bullies. Boys were always acting up in classes I had to attend with them! Always pushing shoving being idiots. I hate studying with men if I can avoid this.

    The heterosexual woman really is caught in contradictions. I look at heterosexual women very much the way political scientists look at the effects of colonization on peoples throughout the world — American Indians come to mind, Aborigines also come to mind here.

    Heterosexual women are simply doubly colonized if they are the colonized politically and in marriage to men.

    Many lesbian groups did have to deal with bisexual women, transgender women etc. These types do like to hide in sacred lesbian space, and our laid back west coast sisters don’t make much of a fuss about this. A lot of younger lesbians don’t care about this stuff anyway. Born again feminists are the ones who will get the most outraged at transgender women at Michigan, hell they go to Michigan and whimpy me can’t bear the thought of camping out, and waiting in line for food.

    The questions I ask are simple: why do women in general put up with womanhating churches? Why do they often take so long to figure out the nature of institutional womanhating?

    I don’t pretend to know about having boys or raising them. I know nothing about what a heterosexual family is really like today. I only see the public face of heterosexuality, and I don’t like it a lot of the time. All women have valid life experiences. I simply am a woman who is impatient with the slow progress of women’s freedom worldwide, a woman who has no desire to watch heterosexual women dominate feminist spaces, because they are the majority, not me.

    No doubt the Sophie’s of this world need to hear a strong message of the evil of woman hating churches. You really can’t couch these words in WASPish dog whistle English!

    Do men give up as much of themselves as women do in “traditional marriage”?

    Just a few questions to throw out there. Rhetorical if you will.

    All women can write on this blog. I’m not the hog here. I do have some rhetorical advantages, and a lifetime of work in this area. Some may be relatively new to this, or haven’t been connected to lesbians much at all. Some simply have a fear of radical feminism and what this really means.

    If you are a radical heterosexual feminist, what could that really mean? I personally think it is quite a contradiction, but that’s for radical heterosexual feminists to figure out.

    My musings are simply that; my observations of heterosexual women. I watch them day in and day out in complete amazement. I see them make choices that will have disastrous consequences in 20 years, and still they make those choices. I see them totally afraid of radical feminism, and basically afraid of offending anyone.

    A lot of women have a fear of offending that is pathological.

    What we are talking about is the profound and dangerous lives women lead. We are talking about women trapped in right wing cults, listening to men degrade them day in and day out. We’re talking about young women who can articulately argue for their own slavery within patriarchy. This would be bizarre if African Americans argued that slavery should return as a solution to black unemployment, for example.

    It would be outrageous for non-white people to accept white supremacy as the word of god, and yet women accept male supremacy as the word of god.

    Lesbian self instantly sees through this self-serving lie of men. We perceive men to be the incredible liars and con artists of history. It is legitimate to wonder if having sex with men does compromise thinking capacity in women, because this is the result. Otherwise you’d see legions of African Americans signing on for white supremacy as the way, the truth and the light.

    Do you understand what I’m saying here? Substitute black for woman, and then think about why blacks would rebel, and women would knuckle under.

    It’s the same instinct in women that causes them to not be able to really debate in full on this site, or to consider strong and harsh words a train wreck, when to me it is simply women attempting to be honest.

    I get annoyed when straight women think that lesbians are this poor oppressed species. We may be annoyed, but we most certainly have more power and privilege than most straight women in the world. I’m only speaking for Europe and America here and perhaps Canada.

    What I’m talking about is revolution of a creative kind. I don’t see any of this discourse as particularly surprising, nor is it train wrecky to me. It simply is.

    I don’t subscribe to the codes of conduct drummed into straight women. I don’t have much social interaction with them. I am a minority surrounded by a very strange majority. I don’t know if I like or dislike you. All I know is that many many straight women are flocking to conservative ideologies… The very world radical lesbian feminists helped create, was then used by straight women to advance politically in a conservative agenda. Imagine that?

    You don’t see lesbians by the gazillions running over to the Log Cabin Republicans, for example. You don’t meet many lesbian feminists or lesbians who voted for Bush I & II, and yet I often meet gay men who have voted for Bush and who do support the war! Yes, they do.

    You don’t ever hear black people calling in to white supremacy radio shows and agreeing that blacks are inferior, but you do hear this every day when straight women call in womanhating radio shows and actually AGREEING with the host! Now that is really something to hear. It happens every day in every way!

    Feminism opened career doors for all women, and then conservative women then turned feminism into a dirty word.

    Men have hated feminism forever. Of course they would. Men want to hang on to their slave labor (women caring for children at no pay or benefits and no set work hours). Men want women to fear feminism and lesbians. Men turn lesbians into pornographic objects on the Internet all the time. Many women have no idea that the men are into S & M chat rooms or that they visit sadistic pornographic web sites on their own.

    Even last night, I was watching a delightful special about Carol Burnett, and a little 12-year boy asked her what she thought of “Women’s lib?” She turned the question back on him and asked what he thought of it. He hated it of course, but then she said, “oh you’re a boy, what do you expect?” A great humorous retort that I thought amazingly clever. Would a 12-year old white boy get on national T.V. and say he hated civil rights for black people?

    I am not interested in heterosexual women’s relationships to men, or bisexuality, or poly natures. This relationship stuff is something women get stuck in, trapped in, glued to. It is as the Great Sonia used to say: The Ship That Sailed Into the Living Room.

    What is extraordinary is when women finally start getting at an ideology and philosophical position that truly liberates women. All women. It will not come at my expense as a patriarch hating lesbian. It won’t be at the cost of my silence, because I will never be silent again, and I will never cease writing. I have endless energy, the energy to write about the liberation of women since I was very young indeed.

    That’s almost 30 years of writing, activism and thought, risking my life in ways, standing up against men in ways very difficult. Those are my credentials, and yes, I am exceedingly proud of these accomplishments. I didn’t get much help from heterosexual women when it really counted, so I have very low expectations now.

    There are probably lesbians visiting here too afraid to stand up to the lesbian silencers too, but hey, women are often like this. Silent in the face of opposition, silent in the face of patriarchal attrocity, silent in the face of getting the hell beaten out of them by men.

    I hope to see you rise to the debate in a language I can understand. I will not speak in straight dialect, I’m using the language of polemic. I am not even speaking about women here, I am speaking to the larger world.

    Heterosexual women have always said this kind of thing to radical lesbian feminists. They said it 30 years ago to keep us in the closet, they said we had to have men in our groups, they supported men over us, they betray the cause of women by supporting right wing causes, they take advantage of the right to abortion and then try to deny it to the next generation.

    By “You” I mean the colonized woman of the world. Not the “you yous here” or the famous cellist’s name. Not all women. But day after day, I see women in the world all the time, and I see what it is they do and how they live. I see the kind of straight women who see us as tokens, and they’re trying, but we are tokens in their shows. It’s ok. I support women who celebrate the success of women. I celebrate older women who escaped the nightmare that is marriage to abusive, battering men. In my book, they get medals of honor, because they really have suffered. I may experienced complete and utter social ostracism at the hands of straight women, but they never hit me.

    This kind of eternal hated of the lesbian feminist intellectual, which is how I see myself, is routine. This is why I have little sympathy for the talk about mean lesbians. I decided that the best revenge against all the oppressors out there was to live well.

    I share my knowledge and tactics with women who ask my help, and I am very generous with my time.

    I support this blog, and all the women on it. All of you! Just don’t expect me to speak the language of hetero-woman politeness speak. It’s a language I know nothing about. I really mean it when I say I know next to nothing about the personal lives of straight women. I only interact with straight women in public spheres. I’m simply not close to straight women in terms of my deepest opinions and strongest beliefs, because they would not know what I was talking about at all.

    It’s hard to get a woman under the age of 40 to even read a mainstream newspaper like the NYT, or even to be able to talk about Islam in modern Iran and its impact on feminists there.
    Young women are very afraid now, and very conservative. Hatred of lesbians is out in the open now, and my enemies are definitely your enemies! It’s hard for heterosexual women to see men as the deadly enemies of women, very hard indeed, but that is why women are in such a sorry state worldwide, and why there is a need for radical lesbian feminism, now more than ever.

    It’s why I feel a real urgency to document my beliefs and life before my generation dies out, and women all fall back into the pit of patriachy yet again. Mary Daly tells us again and again about erasure. And yet so many women, because of their supreme discomfort at lesbian critique of heterosexual existence do want to silence this message. It is indeed uncomfortable to read, but liberation has never been a tea party. It’s far uglier than women would ever imagine.

    The YOU here is the large YOU — the big world of heterosexual women who are taking over the world🙂 Taking over the department stores with expensive make-up displays🙂 Taking over lesbian space🙂 “Experimenting sexually with lesbians” yes, a young 18 year old woman actually said this to me. What do you expect, she was already doing drugs, having babies, yikes, it was scary, but that is what she really said to my face. Straight women say all kinds of things to me that you would not believe.

    No doubt the poor liberal men out there are going crazy at us bashing them. Yes, we bash men — we bash rapists, we bash sexists, we call them on the carpet for all the evil men do in the world. Men don’t like it when women condemn them here, and some straight women don’t like it when conventional radical lesbian discourse shows up here.

    Lesbian Nation rose up, we changed laws, we put presidential candidates on the spot. We held heterosexual women’s hands in the first rape crisis centers ever created. Remember who started a lot of those places? So soon the younger generation of heterosexual women forgets, and perhaps the older women never knew, because these lesbians may not have even been out to them back then.

    We are a very hardy species.

    We are the women who somehow don’t swallow the poison quite as much. We are the women who as girls showed up in classes only boys were in. We took a different road in life. We were detached from the male-stream world that other women never questioned, but we questioned everything.

    Edited by Heart per my comment at 1:18.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 18, 2007, 8:46 pm
  73. I find satsuma’s comments invigorating, I don’t agree with them all, but I don’t think she would mind that , it’s kind of the point to make each other think. I thought lucky’s point valid, we do live with different realities and possibilities, depending on geography, and many other things.

    I have been so impressed by all the women who regularly contribute here. Heart is trying to keep everyone on board, surely she’s right, lets have the conversations, then, lets pulverise the patriarchs.

    Posted by helzeph | November 18, 2007, 8:51 pm
  74. P.S. I am well aware that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali woman.

    I simply point out that women of courage can escape very bad situations, and I honor and love this great feminist. She is a heroine to me. Ali has more guts than most of us, and when you read her books, you know she is speaking a great truth. We need women who have lived under the tyranny that is male religion Islam to speak out boldly against it, just as we need former fundamentalist christian women to do the same. I respect the critique coming from women of that particular culture. I actually don’t like to speculate about the Taliban, even as I oppossed them VERY vocally back in 1996. What were your opinions BACK THEN?

    How many of you wrote to the U.N. complaining about the attrocites and human rights violations against the women of Afghanistan in 1996? How many here?

    The question equates the lesbian self with “having sex with men.” Even if we were forced to do this abomination, we would still be lesbians. Thanks Heart for pointing out this small detail to the beginners here.

    As for killing Taliban. I am just speculating about what I’d do on a day-to-day level as a lesbian feminist in Afghanistan. You can’t kill all the Taliban, but I was thinking that I would attack them one at a time. I would fight back, just as I fought against straight boy bullies in my life, just as I went into the boxing ring to learn how to fight against men, should the need arise.

    I simply took self-defense very very seriously. I defend myself, and this allows me to go places that most women are too afraid to go. It’s my right as a human being to be strong, to defend myself against enemies, and to advocate that women learn these skills as well.

    I wasn’t speaking of Afghanistan in my posts, only what I know best, day-to-day life in the U.S. My observations on why women backed away from radical feminism.

    It was my question of why U.S. women, who do have educations and do have advantages slink off to right wing churches. Perhaps it’s for their superb child care facilities🙂

    Branjor, once again 5 stars for “getting me” you rock and don’t you forget it. Must be a lesbian🙂 right?

    Edited by me, Heart, per my comment at 1:18 above.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 18, 2007, 9:08 pm
  75. Heart,

    You continue to amaze me and to inspire me with your insight, eloquence, patience and love.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 18, 2007, 9:14 pm
  76. P.S.S. Thanks for the info on Afghan women’s liberation.

    Great detail and education at lightning speed! Lighting, amazing, superwomen out there! I’ve always wondered why even “super woman” was made into an insult against high achieving women? Hmmm.

    I’d like to comment on my international work here, but I don’t want men to use this information against women.

    Suffice it to say, we are doing our best for our international sisters, and that’s always been a world I’ve worked in.

    Feminism has always been global for me, and the work goes on and on!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 18, 2007, 9:14 pm
  77. Women Freedom Fighters

    Hannah Senesh: Jewish Hungarian poet and anti-Nazi fighter who parachuted behind enemy lines to help Jews escape in Nazi Germany. She parachuted in with two men, both of whom turned back and abandoned their plans because the mission was too dangerous. She continued on alone. She was captured, interrogated, and tortured by the Gestapo, gave them no information about her comrades, and was executed by firing squad in 1944 at the age of 23.

    Mary Fields: (1832-1914) Born into slavery, an orphan, never married, had no children, an African American pioneer of the West, no formal education. At the age of 50 she was the second woman to drive a U.S. Mail coach and the first woman in Cascade, Montana to be granted the official privilege of drinking in the town’s saloons, normally off limits to women. She hauled freight and did heavy chores, driving eight horses, pulling two wagons. She single handedly fought off a pack of wolves, shot a man who insulted her, started a restaurant that went broke because she insisted on feeding the poor, and when bill collectors came she knocked them flat into the streets even when she was in her 70s. She stood six feet tall, smoked cigars, often had a jug of whiskey at her side and armed herself with a rifle and revolver.

    Rosa Robata (1921-1944): Auschwitz underground saboteur who organized the smuggling of dynamite by concentration camp laborers from the munitions factory. The dynamite went to young woman partisans outside the camp and was used on October 7, 1944 to blow up Birkenau (Auschwitz II), one of the four crematoria. Afer being sentenced and tortured, Rosa scrawled a note that was smuggled to her comrades. It read, “Be strong and brave.” She was hung by the Nazis in 1944, at the age of 23.

    Annie “Bessie” Delaney (1891-1995): Second African American woman to practice dentistry in New York who dispensed free dental care to members of the black community. Her office was a meeting place for activists and intellectuals. She once said, “When people ask me how we’ve lived past 100, I say, ” Honey, we never married. We never had husbands to worry us to death.”

    Lakshmi Bai, The Rani of Jhansi (1827-1858): Revolutionary leader of India’s War of Independence against the British in 1851. Bought by a local ruler, she became a queen at his death. She ran her government and army without bias for class, caste or creed– highly unorthodox for her time. She supported the arts and literature and had an open court where anyone with a grievance could walk in and present their case. She fended off threats, attacks and incursions to her throne by other rulers. She was a wrestler, boxer, athlete, and gave special attention to the training of women as troopers and gunners in her army. These “amazons of Jhansi” fought side by side with the men, took on watch duties, ran ammunition, relieved gunners and cared for the wounded under the fierce and unceasing fire of the enemy (the British). During this time practically every woman of Jhansi was taught to ride, shoot and fence. At one point, while encircled by the British, her troops slaughtered, she broke through, rode on horseback for 24 hours, covered 102 miles with a 10-year-old boy on her back, covered in armor in 120 degree temperatures in the shade.

    Trieu Au, the “Vietnamese Joan of Arc” (3rd Century): She said: “I will not resign myself to the usual lot of women who bow their heads and become concubines. I wish to ride the tempest, tame the waves, kill the sharks. I have no desire to take abuse.” Trieu Au organized a thousand troops to free her country from China in 248 A.D. She and her army fought and won more than thirty major battles against the Chinese before she was twenty-one years old. She then set up her own administration in the freed territory which she kept independent for several months. When going to a battle, she lead her troops wearing golden armor while riding an elephant and with a sword in each hand.

    Ana Nzinga: Queen of Ndongo (1582-1663): Resisted Portuguese domination and the slave trade. Led the African resistance for nearly 50 years, uniting the Ndongo, Matamba, Kongo, Casnje, Dembos, Kissama, and Central Planalto peoples, forging a great alliance in the battle against colonialists. She declared that all slaves who reached Angola would be freed. She is said to have had 50-60 husbands who were allowed to consort with other women, but if a baby was born, the child would be put to death. She preferred her men to wear women’s clothes.

    Joan of Arc (1412-1431): Born to a poor farmer, she led 6,000 men to free France from the British. She was sentenced to death as a relapsed heretic, her only convicted crime being wearing men’s clothes. She was burned at the stake.

    Helen Joseph (1905-1992): White South African anti-apartheid militant. She was repeatedly arrested for treason after becoming secretary to the non-racial Garment Workers Union, one of only 2 whites amongst 100s of detainees. She was listed in the Suppressions of Communism Act, detained without charge and put under house arrest for 10 years.

    Nabawiyya Musa (1886-1951): “I hated marriage and considered it dirt and had decided not to soil myself with dirt. I had believed that marriage was animalistic and degrading to women. I preferred to live as the master of men, not as their servant.” Militant Egyptian nationalist/feminist leader, fought for Egyptian independence from Britain in 1922, a pioneering feminist educator and outspoken advocate for girls’ education and literacy. She led campaigns against state-licensed prostitution, spoke out against violation of the national rights of Palestinian Arabs, organized the Egyptian Feminist Union. In 1909 she unveiled. Fired from her position in the Ministry of Education in 1926 for her outspoken criticism of sexual harassment and misconduct by male teachers in girls’ schools, she then founded and ran two private girls schools. In 1942 she was arrested and jailed for opposing government compromise with the British.

    There are thousands of such stories. Of course, they are not taught in the schools. I wonder how different things would be if girls and boys grew up hearing these stories.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 18, 2007, 9:29 pm
  78. Marriage has been condemned and hated by lesbians throughout all recorded history. We’ve always hated the slaves and the women who aid and feed our enemies. Always!

    The marriage resisters of China was a huge movement of 19th century women, who refused to marry, and set up sworn sisterhoods throughout the country. We’re talking about a giant movement numbering thousands. They held great wealth, and you can see their dwellings today in contemporary China.

    Women samurai in Japan carried the Naginata, the long-handled sword to defend their property against male invaders. They were so feared in Japan, that men who had to face them in battle were said to just run away– it was no contest.

    Even today, when radical lesbians do battle against the male oppressor, we are known for our fierce take no prisoners attitude. In Japan, radical lesbian feminists marched over to a home where a man was heard beating his wife for months. They kicked the living hell out of that man within an inch of his life. It was all in a day’s work for these non-conforming butt kicking lesbians.

    Radical lesbians grabbed men off subways in Tokyo when we caught them pinching and gropping women during rush hour and other crowded times. We dragged them down flights of stairs, spit on them and hauled them off to police stations. We ripped pornographic advertising from the walls of subways.

    I jumped out of my car once with a giant walking stick and ran down the street chasing a man who had hit his girlfriend in public. He ran like hell, and I had fully intended to cripple him for life. Other woman stood and just looked on. I told the woman to leave that man and never ever date men again unless she learned karate or some other martial art.

    A man had the temerity to steal a cookie off my tray at a college dorm. I bashed him with a bowl of steaming hot chicken soup, and stomped on his foot hard. He never came near me again.

    When I was younger, I didn’t think twice about going after the bullies and the pigs out there. I hated those jerks, and believed all women have a right to attack and beat enemies if necessary. We’re not the sit around and let things happen to woman out in public types.

    I believe that my focused contempt for those dreadful men actually gave me more physical strength. I’ve used the power of the mind to make men walk off sidewalks and around me. I’ve grabbed collars of men who cut in front of me in line.

    One teenage boy walked down the isle of a bus in San Francisco spitting on each and every empty seat. People just watched him. Needless to say, I grabbed that boy and twisted his arm behind his back until he was screaming in pain. I just busted his chops and threw him hard off the bus. Women will sit and watch incredible public behavior by the pigs and the oppressors out there. You’ll just do nothing! You could rule the world, but instead women often settle for a pathetic fear based existence that is incomprehensible to me.

    I get sick when women live with men who have pornography in their homes! I hate the garbage women settle for. I hate the worldwide enemy of women, and I don’t believe in giving these idiots one iota of the benefit of the doubt. They are either the oppressors of women, or they stand silently and let other men get away with womanhatred, and then they have the bloody hell nerve to think we’ll just take it. You have got to be kidding!


    Edited per my comment at 1:18. Heart

    Posted by Satsuma | November 18, 2007, 11:49 pm
  79. Allecto’s post #36 in this thread, with its “spinning sisters” Lot-revisionist click on her poetic story, is worth a backward look.

    The updated story may be healing for anybody raised on “the word” of man-made bibliolatry.

    It shifted some old “stuff” around and out of me that I didn’t even know was still there.

    From what psychological experts have indicated in the gestalt of reported literature, before the “age of reason” kicks in (around age 5 for most kids), if a girl is both indoctrinated in male-dominant hell-fire fear-based religion and punished (rape, incestuous spanking, harshness, a continuum of harm that affects individuals differently depending on personal emotional sensitivity to a variety of external and internal stimuli), she may not be able to break free of patriarchal dominance on her own. Sonia Johnson is a notable example among the second-wave radical feminist writers, now living as apart from “menz” as possible on this planet after having 4 children in a Mormon marriage.

    Glad we’re all here, sharing perspectives and deciding to hold the cause of womankind dear in our lives.

    In Gratitude, & Tough Love,
    JB

    P.S. Current events — It appears that the women in the family of Stacy Peterson, the 4th “disappeared” wife of the cop whose last wife was found, dead, in the bathtub, have imposed enough pressure, face to face and where they live in their own community, that the last wife’s body has now been exhumed with an investigation occurring beyond “male cop privilege.”

    The imagery of the words in the AP story (Queen of Heaven) fascinates me, mystically speaking, based on the patriarchal efforts by Judeo-Christianity to usurp the Queen of Heaven as Goddess from Her role .

    [from the AP — “A crane was used to hoist Kathleen Savio’s casket from a plot at the Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery west of Chicago. Authorities were at the scene supervising, said Charles Pelkie, spokesman for the Will County prosecutor’s office.

    Savio, who was found dead in her bathtub in 2004, was the third wife of Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson. State’s Attorney James Glasgow has said evidence suggests that someone killed Savio and tried to make it look like an accident…”]

    Posted by JBSproull | November 19, 2007, 12:22 am
  80. This stuff gets my scalp tingling.

    I’m too old and tired to be able to fight any more. I just want to *live* in an all-female world.

    N-e-x-t planet . . .

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 19, 2007, 12:35 am
  81. P.S. to my last post:

    The internal program for dominance-submission, violence-and-overpowering — the hateful hierarchical essence of patriarchy, whoever or with whatever genitals is practicing it — has (at the first initiation of some violent men about 7,000 years ago) infected the minds of girls, boys, women, men, however the labels get applied.

    We’ve all experienced male cruelty and “token torturers” among women, to use Mary Daly’s term. We all know about externalized and internalized cruelty (dominance and submission, B&D, S&M, so-called “sex positive” whips, leather and sexual enslavement) among the heterosexually “married,” the “bi-sexual,” the “transgendered,” the “lesbian” and the “gay populations, whether we call these populations “straight,” “het,” “queer,” “LGBT” or the more commonly used term, “GLBT” (men one-up and first, as usual for their gender class).

    If as feminist women we really intend to put the cause of womankind first for the good of our lives and this earth, we will be wary of theories which posit some women as being a better subclass than other women. We can remember that many women are the mothers of sons. My experience is that the majority of women hope for the best for all living creatures, boys and men included.

    I find physical violence, except in necessary defense, to be inherently patriarchal. My daughter’s a Quaker. My kindly uncle desegregated schools. My dad was a patriarch’s patriarch, and somebody I’ve spent too much time getting over. I honor women’s space, and prefer the company of women, yet I personally know men who seek peace and with whom I can have reciprocal conversation. It is honorable feminist theory, as Barbara Deming held forth elegantly in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, to hold a non-violent metaphysics of spiritual feminist overcoming which includes all people. Deming, a lesbian who experimented with intimacy outside dyadic bonds, wrote eloquently about the common overarching bond of sisterhood among us all (including pro-feminist men), whatever our other identifications as lesbian, bi, gay, straight or celibate might be.

    I’m not going to debate this. I’ve said my peace and my piece on this thread.

    Strong Love,
    JB

    Posted by JBSproull | November 19, 2007, 12:58 am
  82. P.P.S. Barbara Demming; the other Barbara Deming is a still-living artist.

    Posted by JBSproull | November 19, 2007, 2:33 am
  83. From what psychological experts have indicated in the gestalt of reported literature, before the “age of reason” kicks in (around age 5 for most kids), if a girl is both indoctrinated in male-dominant hell-fire fear-based religion and punished (rape, incestuous spanking, harshness, a continuum of harm that affects individuals differently depending on personal emotional sensitivity to a variety of external and internal stimuli), she may not be able to break free of patriarchal dominance on her own.

    This makes so much sense, JB.

    It is honorable feminist theory, as Barbara Deming held forth elegantly in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, to hold a non-violent metaphysics of spiritual feminist overcoming which includes all people. Deming, a lesbian who experimented with intimacy outside dyadic bonds, wrote eloquently about the common overarching bond of sisterhood among us all (including pro-feminist men), whatever our other identifications as lesbian, bi, gay, straight or celibate might be.

    As does this! So much sense!

    For those who don’t know, which I think most here do, but just in case, I completely agree with Deming here. I do not see violence of any kind as good strategy for building a new world or as in any way positive. My list of examples of freedom fighters up there was meant as a refutation of the idea that women need men to teach them self-defense or that they cannot resist without or apart from male allies. I think the historical evidence says otherwise. The flip side of that, of course, is that a careful theory and strategy of, as you say — love it — feminist overcoming is essential to moving beyond our own schooling and indoctrination into might equalling right and dominance behaviors as an appropriate path to liberation. Women’s participation in war, or defending themselves and others, has occurred within the context of male supremacy/patriarchy in which women were not liberated and were participating in the systems and machineries created by patriarchy to perpetuate male dominance and supporting hierarchies of all kinds.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 3:07 am
  84. “My discourse is on heterosexual women as a peculiar species.”

    WTF

    Bigot n. One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

    Edited because one sentence was in response to a sentence from an earlier post which I intended to edit out and which I have now edited out. — Heart

    Posted by thebewilderness | November 19, 2007, 3:26 am
  85. thebewilderness, to be fair, in the same comment you are referring to, Satsuma said:

    “I get annoyed when straight women think that lesbians are this poor oppressed species.”

    and

    (Referring to lesbians) “We are a very hardy species.”

    So the “species” language wasn’t applied to only heterosexual women but to lesbian women as well. I don’t think it was meant to objectify any group of women, in other words (although I had the same reaction you did when I first read the sentence you highlighted).

    I know that’s how the dictionary defines “bigot,” but I think the dictionary is pretty androcentric and doesn’t take power relations in society into account, just in general.

    If we agree that that definition stands on its own and is complete, then we’ll have to agree with the men’s rights guys and anti-feminists when they call feminists “bigots” against men or white racists when they call persons of color who are members of anti-racism groups “bigots” against white people, for example. I think the word “bigot” doesn’t work without taking power relations in culture and society into consideration.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 3:40 am
  86. Well, Heart, the key in the definition is the intolerance of those who differ. The definition does stand on its own.
    One can hardly be considered a bigot for objecting to being oppressed. Your conflation of white racists and white people makes no sense to me.

    The quotes I pulled were examples of dismissive and demeaning language used by a woman about women. I was shocked to see such a thing on this blog. A bit too authoritarian for my tastes. I will step away.

    Posted by thebewilderness | November 19, 2007, 4:52 am
  87. I dunno, the bewilderness. Is it useful for women to call women bigots (against women)? I am asking the question sincerely, not rhetorically. Can women be bigoted against women?

    Can persons of color be “bigoted” against white people, whether they are racists or not? Can women be “bigoted” against men? Again, I am interested in your (or anyone’s thoughts). My questions are not rhetorical. I don’t think persons of color can be “bigoted” against white people (or persons of their own racial group), that women can be “bigoted” against men, or that women can be “bigoted” against women *as* women (disregarding issues of race, disability, class, and other marginalizations for the moment.) I would classify the resentments and anger I believe you are classifying as “bigotry” and intolerance as understandable anger and resentment.

    What I see in what you are describing as dismissive and demeaning is what I believe is more likely a reaction or response to having been dismissed and demeaned. Sort of like when persons of color lash out at white people, or when women lash out at men or when poor women lash out at rich women. I don’t think we are being dismissive or demeaning or intolerant or bigoted when we do that (speaking now of women lashing out at men). I think we are reacting to being targeted by men. Feminists at times say things like, “Men are a strange species” and although men’s rights/anti-feminists classify that as intolerance and bigotry towards men, I would not. In fact, I’m recalling a Mary Daly quote where she says exactly that speaking of men, in an interview. She says, “There is something wrong with that species,” talking about men. Is that demeaning or dismissive or bigoted? I don’t think so. I think it is an expression of frustration and anger.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 5:11 am
  88. Lesbians, het wimmin; different species?
    For the love of…

    Heart, it does not matter from which direction Satsuma makes the ‘species’ reference, it is equally offensive and unnecessarily devisive among all wimmin.

    You have quite a number of your old commentators saying similar things about Satsuma’s language, and you still make excuses for her. By all accounts she is a womyn of intelligence, and should get the point herself. However, her hatred of ‘het wimmin’ seems so ingrained, she cannot help herself.

    There is a point where an oppressed person just has blind hatred of a group, or groups. Satsuma seems to have almost equal hatred of menz and (het) wimmin, hardly feminist, and certainly not radical feminist. I have only known on the blogosphere one WOC with the same level of hatred towards whites (you know who that is). There is understandable mistrust, dislike, etc., and a point where it does indeed become blind hatred, even towards those fighting on the same side FFS. That is the point of bigotry.

    For the record Satsuma, it is NOT just lesbians who choose not to marry men, and the assumption that all those wimmin in China/Japan etc., were all lesbians, has no basis. Economic independance is the deciding factor, not sexual preferences. Historically in my own family, a very significant percentage of wimmin chose not to marry, as they were able to live off trust funds.

    Posted by stormy | November 19, 2007, 6:30 am
  89. ” I’m recalling a Mary Daly quote where she says exactly that speaking of men, in an interview. She says, “There is something wrong with that species,” talking about men. ”

    Yes, of course it is dismissive and demeaning, and she meant it to be when she said it. Does that mean she is a bigot. Not necessarily, but she was using the masters tools for sure.

    As I have said before, I am a member in good standing of the recalcitrancy. As a radical feminist I understand that I am considered an enemy by most men. Now you have this young woman speaking for all lesbians declaring me, and anyone like me, responsible for my own oppression and an enemy because only women born lesbians are the true feminists, and the sub human het women must submit, or die.

    Too many subdivisions already exist for me to have patience for this self serving harangue. Enough.

    Posted by thebewilderness | November 19, 2007, 6:42 am
  90. Stormy, with respect, while I do my best to pay heed to what my commenters say and how they are feeling about and responding to what is commented and posted here, when they deeply disagree with one another, as now, I can’t make decisions on that basis. I have to do my best to act according my own feminist principles, ethics, gut, I have to think as clearly as I can, I have to take the risks of calling things as I see them, of acting in ways which might be criticized or condemned or used against me. There is, in fact, no way for me to please everybody, including all of the women I care about. I can’t act on that basis, make decisions on that basis, i.e., out of concerns about who will be angry or offended. When women are deeply divided on an issue, no matter what I say/do/decide some women will be angry or offended, including women I deeply care about.

    I think I know the WOC you are talking about, and that person is indeed difficult, spiteful, vindictive, even hateful. But I don’t think she is a bigot or intolerant towards whites– that’s not how I would characterize her words/acts. I think she is coming out of an entire lifetime of feeling silenced in certain ways, of feeling as though her life, reality, experiences have been erased, as though she is invisible. There is a rage that accompanies those feelings which, while it can be and become destructive, no question, is qualitatively different, I believe, from bigotry or intolerance. I may have to shield myself from people like this because they can hurt me, they will hurt me, they have hurt me, and they will justify and excuse doing it, even to themselves. But I can shield myself and protect myself while at the same time recognizing that the motivations for these destructive words and behaviors are really not intolerance or bigotry. If I’m hurt by what a person like this does, it hurts regardless, no question. But the reasons for how the person thinks/talks/behaves matter to me as a matter of my own analysis of patriarchy/male heterosupremacy. It’s important to me, speaking of myself only now, to make these distinctions for the purposes of, again, making feminist knowledge, understanding in deeper and deeper ways the way all people are affected by their treatment in a world dominated by white, male heterosexuals and those who support them.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 6:55 am
  91. Heart, I understand, and you are the eternal peacemaker. But what we are seeing here is a number of radfems, whom you have cyberly-known for quite a while, saying very similar things. It’s not a disagreement in the usual sense either.

    Your vision for Women’s Space is that it is a safe space for wimmin, all wimmin. However, for the ‘het womyn’, this space is currently not warm and fuzzy.

    I have been putting forth my points on Satsuma’s language from a dispassionate standpoint, as at no point, did I really take it personally. However, I do see her comments in the overall context, and it is from that position I make my stand. (And now the truth comes out, it wasn’t actually hand-holding at all, it was political strategy — all is right with the world once again!)
    🙂

    Posted by stormy | November 19, 2007, 7:06 am
  92. Stormy, you are calling me the eternal peacemaker? Right now? Maybe you get the eternal optimist award, not me! 🙂

    Your writing about my vision of this space as safe space for women reminds me of something I remembered, and wrote about, in my article about the Feminist Hullaballoo for off our backs. One of the speakers, a cool Australian woman, did a sort of satire/humorous presentation about the Second Wave, Second Wave history. One thing she said at the very end was very beautiful, she said Second Wave radical feminists had a vision, it was a beautiful vision, but broken people cannot always accomplish their vision. If you think about it, creating a safe space for women that will always, in every case, be perceived *as* safe by each one of us is probably, practically speaking, an impossibility. I sometimes have not felt at all safe myself in the women’s spaces I have created. We can do our level best, but the results are not immediately within the control of any of us, no matter how deeply we might wish they were.

    So yes, there are long-time commenters who are critical of my moderation right now. And there are long-time commenters who are not critical at all, some of whom I have walked alongside online for seven years or so, some of whom I have met in real life. I think commenters here are deeply divided. I think that when that is true, the place is not warm and fuzzy for anyone, including me. There is no easy resolution when things go down this way. I can do my best, that is all I can do. Beyond that, all I can do is trust women, trust the process, trust the Goddess, trust.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 7:15 am
  93. I actually like the word “species.” Don’t know why but I do. So I refer to different groups as species, and I’m sorry that you all read this wrong. But you can see that I did refer to myself as a species as well. Partly out of affection I think for my dog and cat, and how I interact with those two different species.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 19, 2007, 8:23 am
  94. Although I don’t consider freedom fighters of any stripe bigots, I suppose this is a common reaction majorities have to the critiques of minorities.

    I am sure Mary Daly has been called all kinds of names by men, and her critiques of women as token torturers didn’t go over very well in its day. The right wing is always accusing blacks of reverse discrimination, and straight women no doubt get irritated at the lesbians. Same old story.

    Usually majorities don’t get to hear this stuff often. Women hate men’s guts but don’t often act on this hatred. Women swallow the brutality of men, or sit in silence as men make the most outrageous sexist comments.

    Men reading this no holds barred blog will no doubt accuse many of the women on this site of being bigots. It’s because men never have to experience the kind of harrassment and disenfranchisement women experience. I am convinced they fear the day all women wake up. They are trying to put off this awakening as much as possible.

    It is always possible to get as much freedom as you want, because you really do have to push people to get it. It won’t occur to people to be just without some education. That’s just my opinion. I guess I have very little faith in justice or fairness; I don’t see the world as being fair. I see it as challenging, and there definitely are triumphs and satisfaction, but one thing I’ve learned is to never expect justice or fairness from anyone at anytime.

    And I stand by my opinion that the marriage resisters of China were indeed lesbians, and that women who have really resisted this institution are the lesbians of history. Maybe there were many more lesbians in China than in other parts of the world at that time.

    Women have always had the choice never to marry. It is an illusion that women have not been able to accomplish this level of independence. Since we know so little about women of pre-history or ancient times, we don’t know what they really did. Women who wanted freedom badly, women who were willing to kill for freedom and work against all odds to get it usually did. The first act of freedom is to know that your are oppressed and that you have a consciousness that this is wrong. You wake up one day knowing that men are pretending to be gods, and they are just slave masters, for example. You wake up one morning celebrating the fact that you are a free lesbian, and that you don’t have to give one inch to heteronormativity, not one inch, not one foot, not one millimeter! Give no quarter is a favorite pirate saying. Lesbians are pirates in a sense, sailing our ships under no national flag, and living our lives aboard ships as a kind of floating democracy. Read the true history of 18th century pirates and you’ll be amazed to learn about them.

    I suspect that lesbians have been the great resisters of history. Just recalled this when someone mentioned the late Barbara Deming — the lesbian activist, who often was the only white woman pictured in civil rights marches in the south in the early 60s.

    As for safe spaces for women, I regard all places as safe for women. I just don’t have much fear out in the world, or even writing for audiences far and wide. I don’t expect the world to be perfect, but I do expect great efforts intellectually from women. I do expect women to try very hard to come up with ideas and arguments and thoughtful commentary. That’s what I do demand of all women.

    Radical lesbian feminists are not about the cotton candy of “safety” and if you lived in our shoes, you’d know why this isn’t that important an issue. I don’t know why, it’s just that I don’t really know what women mean when they think of safety.

    It’s not that I don’t fear some things, it’s that most of the time fear doesn’t interest me all that much. I am largely indifferent to a lot of things women fear, because maybe I have had the kind of confrontations and battles with men that women are always fearing. The women who have been beaten by men realize that they won’t be safe until they get the hell out of Dodge. And even then…

    Playing it safe or being safe in the words of women here will simply not protect you. I believe Audre Lorde once said “your silence will not protect you.”

    I think as I move in the world, what makes me feel safe is my own true sense of self in the world. Uncloseted, never passing as straight, and never really caring much about the social manners and mores so important to the majority. The majority is not my liberator, I am my own liberator.

    It’s hard to get used to liberation, but it is an interesting project. The whole point of a lesbian nationalist stance is about freedom, freedom from every oppressor on the face of the earth. That’s the whole point of life. Ask for less, and you’ll get less, dream big and you’ll go far.

    Dreaming big and stepping out of heteronormativity was a great adventure. At first, it was fearful long ago, but then I realized those women who have pleased men, will continue to do so till the end of time. It is their lot in life to do that, until groups of women come along to challenge this state of affairs.

    We are about freedom here I would hope. The freedom to take your mind and throw it as far as it can go. — another Mary Dalyism I believe. Don’t get distracted by the things that don’t matter in life. Be alive to that freedom, and certainly don’t blame radical lesbian feminists for the quality of our anger and our determination never to bow down to any god or any good intention if it doesn’t serve the cause of our liberation.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 19, 2007, 9:00 am
  95. I’m a het woman, happily married for 17 years. I go on record as unthreatened by Satsuma. I don’t agree with her, and consider her statements to be wildly exaggerated, but she isn’t upsetting me.

    I haven’t posted anything to this turn of the discussion because I don’t have anything to add other than ‘Not all het women are like that!’ Of course some (or even most) aren’t, but that’s unprofitable. It’s like having a conversation about men-as-a-class then having individuals pop up with “But I’M not like that!” Ok, fine. You aren’t like that, so it doesn’t apply to you.

    And no, I’m not comparing the posters here to men.

    I also go on record as being uninterested in defending my choices, my life, or my marriage. I lead my life, according to my personal sense of ethics, and that’s all I account for. I might do things differently now. I mostly got married to hush up my family, and at 24, the idea of the ceremony was more important to me than it is now. That does not mean that I regret my marriage or that I plan to change it.

    As for modding issues, it’s Heart’s board. I don’t always agree with her views or decisions, but she gets to make the call. She shouldn’t have to spend all of her time defending and second-guessing herself. She’s gone to a lot of trouble to make this space for people to post, and has taken a lot of crap that I certainly wouldn’t put up with.

    And now, I have to go to work.

    Posted by Miranda | November 19, 2007, 11:37 am
  96. I’d just like to add that I personally have no problem, have never had any problem, and in fact rather enjoy Heart’s moderation here. I think she’s always been point on.

    Posted by Kiuku | November 19, 2007, 4:29 pm
  97. I did not go online this weekend, and it appears I missed a great deal! First, my personal disclaimer: I am so technically unsophisticated that I read various feminist and progressive blogs for quite a long time before I even got up the nerve to TRY to post a comment on any of them. My first posting was on this blog a very short while back. This is all to say I know I am new to the feminist blogosphere, and I am regularly humbled by the brain power here and elsewhere. I do, however, recognize the names of some women whose blogs I have read (such as Stormy and Kitty Glendower) and some whose measured and valuable comments I have read on feminist blogs (such as CoolAunt and Branjor). These are credible people who have earned their right for a hearing, and I agree with a number of the objections they have–and would hate for them to go away from here. I said in a posting under a different thread that I really hope for women to all hang together, and I do hope for this with all my heart. We have all been through hell in this world, even if we have been through different kinds of hell because of our varying stations in life and/or differing sexual orientations. There is a huge need for kindness and acceptance for one another and for it to be reflected in our communications here and elsewhere. Again, I find myself resonating to words posted by JBSProull: “If as feminist women we really intend to put the case of womankind first for the good of our lives and this earth, we will be wary of theories which posit some women as being a better subclass than other women. . . .It is honorable feminist theory, as Barbar Deming held forth elegantly in the 1950’s and ’70’s, to hold a non-violent metaphysics of spiritual feminist overcoming which includes all people.” I feel among the feminist blogs more at home here because of Heart’s unapologetic earth-mother pacifist principles, and it would be a terrible loss for those of us who read here if her commenting base were to be decimated. I want us to return to being a unified, mutually respectful front. Patriarchs love it when women splinter instead of bond. Peace to all.

    Posted by Level Best | November 19, 2007, 4:33 pm
  98. Great thoughts, women, and thank you for the support and honest feedback.

    The following was posted elsewhere on a private forum in the context of a longer post by someone who is a radical feminist and is from my old world, having escaped, basically, with the clothes on her back. She writes:

    I have het privilege in this whole situation because I can choose to ignore Satsuma’s comments and it will have no negative affect on me to do so. I am not forced to listen to her or feign agreement with her for fear retribution. This is just like when I was called honky and white trash in the neighborhood where I grew up. There is no power or history of oppression behind the words because the ones who wield them are the disempowered. I can afford to let them roll off my back.

    It does not escape me that those who are asking or hoping that Satsuma be banned by me (or that she be forced out in some other way) are heterosexual or have spent much to most of their lives partnered with men.

    I say this not deepen the division or add to the difficulties, but because it is my observation, and there is meaning to be made of it, and I think the quote above has to do with the meaning which is to be made.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 4:52 pm
  99. Miranda, I wasn’t really trying to make Heart ‘second guess’ herself as such, but felt she had overlooked the context and impact of posts of that tone. As you say, it is Heart’s blog, and her modding decisions are ultimately hers.

    I have basically said my piece on the matter.

    Level Best, stormyblog has been an ex-parrot for most of this year, whilst I took a blogging hiatus (RL gets in the way, and I am happy to say that some of that RL stuff was forming two activist groups). The activist groups will be my focus in 2008 as well.

    For the record (Satsuma), we welcome all wimmin into our activist groups, including lesbians(!), rich/poor, WOC/white, separatists, het wimmin, old/young. Yep, all represented. Primarily we need numbers to make an impact, so unity is the key, not division.😉

    At this point I would like to thank the pro-pornies and their MRA buddies for harrassing me off the blogosphere — I am far more dangerous to the patriarchy working on protests and demonstrations. *big kissy* I love it when the best laid plans of mice and menz backfires…😀

    Sorry to drift OT Heart xox

    Posted by stormy | November 19, 2007, 5:12 pm
  100. X-posted with Heart, but just to say Heart, no, I never called for a banning of Satsuma, just that she tone down the attacks on non-born-lesbians!

    Posted by stormy | November 19, 2007, 5:14 pm
  101. Now let me get this right, Satsuma. You’d just kill the Taliban and beat up all the oppressors? And then what? Would your alarm clock go off? While that bad ass super hero legend you are in your own mind may be amusing and entertaining, I have little interest in how life is on fantasy island.

    And yeah, Heart, I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I’m a RF lesbian separatist. Why would I support patriarchal heteronormativity? You know better than that. I support no such thing. But I do support women. The people of women, as you would put it. Regardless of their sexuality.

    I just think it’s counterproductive to feminism and not in the best interests of women to buy into the constructed patriarchal hierarchies. I am so many different things. My sexuality plays so little a part in who I am. I resent how the patriarchy reduces women into a sex class. I resent being categorized by my sexual relationship to men. I resent how society then expects my whole world to revolve around it. Which perpetuates my status as a member of the sex class. I’m expected to eat, sleep and drink it 24/7. Sex, sex, sex, sex. How much do I weigh? What kind of clothes do I wear? How do I look? Who am I sleeping with? How fuckable am I?

    Who the hell cares?! I mean, I like avocadoes and all, but I don’t spend 24/7 thinking about them! It would seem pretty silly if we started grouping women by the fruits that we eat. Well, I feel the same way about sexuality. I think it’s an absurd construct. So I’m trying my damndest not to get any more wrapped up in it than I do with fruit.

    Now anyone that’s gotten past Feminism 101 knows damn well that women are a product of their conditioning. We know why women behave in the ways they do. And we also know that women are not the ones driving the bus. Women do not have free will and agency under patriarchy. If we did, you wouldn’t have a blog and we wouldn’t be here. Because feminism wouldn’t need to exist.

    But feminism does exist. Because we are an oppressed people. You don’t blame people for being oppressed and doing what they have to in order to survive and get by. That’s a blame the victim mentality. So while I might get frustrated with women and their choices, I also know they’re not to blame. I put the blame where it belongs. I blame the patriarchy. (Hey! Sounds like a cool name for a blog! :P).

    The point of feminism is to conscience raise. To be aware of the deals we make and understand why we make them. So if given the opportunity, we can make better choices while resisting the ones that aren’t, in the long run, in women’s (and thus our) best interests. A lot of this insight is 20/20 hindsight. It’s not as tho we’re born knowing everything.

    And I certainly don’t believe that gay people are born with some kind of “gay gene” and that we would be gay no matter how extremely different our conditioning and environment was. That’s why I asked that loaded Taliban question. Because it’s such a patriarchal construct and so dangerous a way to think that I don’t know where to begin. Human beings do not live by instinct. We’re all as programmed as Pavlov’s dog. Sexuality is learned. So why do some women have an understanding of their sexual orientation earlier than others? Well, here’s some of what I’ve observed:

    1. Some women align with men’s power and protection through het means.

    2. Some women think that if they distance themselves from het women and behave more like men they won’t be treated like women. That way they get to do the objectifying rather than being the objectified. They get to be on the end that dishes it out instead of the end that receives it. In the hierarchy, it puts them in a position above het women. What they know is that shit runs downhill, baby.

    3. Some women have been raped and abused and traumatized by men and find it’s much safer to be with women than men.

    4. Some women just fall in love with souls rather than with sex. So it wouldn’t much matter if that soul was a woman or a man. It just so happens that it’s a woman. And if it’s a good relationship, they might just start associating those good feelings with women.

    5. Some women are combinations of or all of the above.

    Patrick Henry once said, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” There’s a few people around that are willing to go that far. But very few. Not everyone wants to be Patrick Henry. Nor can we expect them to be. Because most people would rather be live cowards than dead heroes and will do what they have to in order to survive as best they can in the here and now. It’s called self preservation. And that’s the rub, now isn’t it?

    Posted by luckynkl | November 19, 2007, 6:16 pm
  102. “I have het privilege in this whole situation because I can choose to ignore Satsuma’s comments and it will have no negative affect on me to do so. I am not forced to listen to her or feign agreement with her for fear retribution. This is just like when I was called honky and white trash in the neighborhood where I grew up. There is no power or history of oppression behind the words because the ones who wield them are the disempowered. I can afford to let them roll off my back. “

    Good enough. But I sure as hell won’t venture into neighborhoods where I don’t have to go and am apparently unwelcome if I know that I’ll be verbally abused because of my supposed privileges while I’m there.

    Posted by CoolAunt | November 19, 2007, 6:37 pm
  103. Lucky, many good thoughts.

    Here’s something I thought about reading your comment.

    Do you recall a discussion some of us here (and some long gone) had about, oh, five, six years ago now in which one woman compared pretty much all of the other women in the discussion we were having with “trained seals”?

    Do you recall what happened after that for, oh, say, about a year? =:-O Maybe two years. Maybe moving into the third year, off and on? And how long it took for things to settle down and be okay again, not only because of that, of course, but because of the series of related events which followed that unfortunate comparison?

    I think that discussion — trainwreck, actually, and a long one at that — had a lot to do with the way we spoke our minds back then on the internet, not realizing how what we were saying might land. Once it had landed, of course, things snowballed bigtime. Lots of people called for the head, metaphorically, of the person who compared women with “trained seals.” I was one. I called for the head of that woman more nicely than others, but still, I called for the head of the woman who said that really, really insulting thing, and other insulting things, to women.

    We have all, those of us who have been talking feminism together, had years by now to think about these things, process through them, talk about them, move past them, figure out what the heck, try different approaches, and so on. I would like to see us incorporate what we’ve learned over the years into our analysis of what has gone on here with respect to Satsuma’s participation.

    You had to learn. I had to learn. We all had to learn. One reason we did learn was, feminism meant so much to us, we had no real choice but to hang in with one another and figure things out. I don’t think the “beatings will continue until the morale improves” approach to feminist discourse works any sort of way, when used by any woman, against any woman, for any reason. I am completely with you there, as you know. We’ve known each other a long time and you know how I am that way. I also think women have to learn that for themselves for it to have any meaning at all, and that it is worth it to give women a little time and patience while they are processing and figuring out the lay of the online radfem landscape. If they step up the rhetorical beatings in response to women’s honest, negative feedback, that’s not good. (That is what happened with the trained seals saga, if I recall correctly.) But if when they receive this feedback, they step back, work a little harder to communicate without offending or insulting women, if it’s apparent they are trying, then that is good. And I see that happening here. One thing that was really depressing and disturbing in the years following the trained seals thing was, every time the woman who lobbed that unfortunate grenade (and similar grenades) tried to change her communication style, she got smacked down. For a lot of reasons, including anti-radical feminist agendas/views/feelings, personal vendettas and ill will, other stuff, she was not forgiven, she was not allowed to come back, for a long time, if at all, in certain cases, from making those very inflammatory and insulting statements. I would hope that having gone through all of that together, we would be willing, given our lessons in the school of hard knocks, to be more forgiving than so many feminist women were (and in some cases continue to be) about that particular episode. I see that Satsuma is making a good faith effort to focus on ideas and communication in her more recent posts. I did not feel I had to edit anything out of the most recent, even though if I had written them, I’d have said things differently. To me, that evidences someone who cares enough about communicating with women and who wants to participate here enough, that she is willing to pay attention to what she has heard from women and modify her comment content accordingly. To me, it’s important to acknowledge that I see her doing that as part of incorporating what I’ve learned as a feminist over the years about talking to one another in our online community.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 6:49 pm
  104. Here’s something I noticed, too, about the trained seals saga. The feminist women who were hardest on and most relentless towards the woman who went off about women being trained seals, tended, themselves, to be about as hard on women in their own way, or even harder on women. My experience is, that’s kind of how it goes. Women often seem to be harder on women who demonstrate or evidence weaknesses they also share than they are on women whose weaknesses they don’t share, who are kind of a mystery to them.

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 7:09 pm
  105. I wanted to add, as well, that Satsuma has not once objected to my having edited her comments, and sometimes I have edited them substantially. To me, that all speaks volumes about where she is coming from.

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 7:14 pm
  106. Perhaps because of the ‘trained seals’ saga, you have over-reacted (more accurately, over-protected) the situation?

    The request was for Satsuma to tone down anti-womyn sentiments on a radical feminist blog, not ‘calling for her head’. That I think is a very fair request, and not vindictive.

    Yes, I have noted some softening of recent posts (a few more notches down would be ideal !) 😉

    One problem is that we are judged as a group (primarily by idiots, but still…) and when one radfem starts attacking other groups of wimmin, then we as a bunch are lumped in with it as proof(!) that “see; those radfems don’t really care about all wimmin!”. See blogwars 2006-7. It could also be damaging to your political aspirations, on the ‘womyn platform’ to be mixed up in it.

    It is more acceptable (although not encouraged) for someone to express such strong views on a private board, rather than a widely-read public blog. Even though, if I was a member of that hypothetical group, my language and requests would be more than a tad heavier, lots of expletives for starters (trademark of stormycorp). Just saying that this is not the place to find one’s approaches when surrounded by such intergroup controversy. My personal view is that this is well beyond ‘finding one’s approach’. We need to present a united front, not a fragmented one.

    Just sayin’ is all….🙂

    Posted by stormy | November 19, 2007, 7:18 pm
  107. CoolAunt, yeah, I hear you and do not disagree with you. None of us deserves abuse. There are some, in general, very good blogs I virtually never read because of the abuse that sometimes is dished out to women there, me included, maybe me especially! I might recommend the blog to others, even, on occasion, but hell no, I won’t go, you will not find me participating there or reading there. Screw that.

    Stormy, I want to learn from all of my experiences in feminism. One thing we struggle with, as feminists and just as women, is, each generation seems destined and determined to reinvent the wheel, having forgotten the lessons of their foremothers’, hell, not even their foremothers, their big sisters 10, 15 years older than them! Women so often show *so* little interest in learning from our own mistakes, and our foremothers’ mistakes. So when this situation happens, I don’t want to knee-jerk and do the same thing that didn’t work or caused women a lot of hurt last time, I want to be thoughtful, more circumspect. I don’t think I over-reacted. I think I would have been over-reacting if I’d banned Satsuma summarily, as I would have, had I had the power to, probably banned the woman six years ago who compared me and other feminists with trained seals. (That woman did get banned finally, not by me.) I think to have over-reacted in that way would have amounted to “over-protecting” the women who think Satsuma should not be allowed to comment here.

    I cannot make my decisions based on what the anti-feminists might do next or how something might affect my political aspirations. I’m a different kind of political person. I don’t operate the way the boys do, I never have, and I never will. My focus is never going to be on my “image” or radical feminists’ “image” at the cost of my own deepest values, integrity and commitments to women. I don’t think image is the most important thing and what is true and real the necessary sacrifice to preserve the image. To me, that’s patriarchal, that’s defunct, that’s messed up. I think the most important thing is what is true and real and dealing with that straight up. If it has to be in the presence of a watching world because of the way things unfold, then that’s where it has to be. Those reading who are decent, of good will, who don’t have their own disgusting and despicable and dishonest axes to grind, pro-porn/pornstitution agendas to promote, anti-radfem agendas to harp on, will like what they see and will hang around. As a practical matter, I can’t stop the despicable from doing what is despicable. All I can do is trust that good and decent women and men will see right through that shit and will reject it as the pile of crap that it is.

    I agree with you that it’s better to have this kind of discussion on a private board, but that’s not how things played out. They played out the way they played out, and so we go with what we’ve got and do the best we can.

    As to presenting a united front, while that is ideal, love to think about it and imagine it and dream of it, if that’s not what’s real, then it isn’t real. If we aren’t united, then we aren’t. Might as well not tell lies and make shit up and pretend, because inevitably, our collective slips will show and there will be plenty of adversaries around more than happy to point that out to us with plenty of fanfare. If we’re honest and up front and do not pretend, well, sure, assholes will make all sorts of shit up about us, but when people of good will check things out for themselves, it will be evident to them what is true and what is made up.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 7:36 pm
  108. Reiterating that I did not at any time call for a banning (or beheading!), just a little be-nicing (made up word).😀

    Posted by stormy | November 19, 2007, 7:55 pm
  109. Yeah, Stormy, understand. I was talking more generally.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 7:56 pm
  110. Trained seals, eh? LOL. Of course I remember the “trained seal” remark and the bedlam that followed. Because I was the one who said it of course. **grin**

    Yeah, we’ve both come a long way, baby, since those days. But interestingly enough, my views haven’t changed much about “trained seals.” I just say “we’re as programmed as Pavlov’s dogs” now instead. 😛 I’m talking about conditioning, of course. But I’ve learned the hard way to tone it down and say it in a different way.

    Live and learn.

    And yeah, it did of course occur to me that Satsuma might remind you of me from long ago. I was a real bad ass back then, no? I was so above all you mere mortals. 😛 Until I learned of my own mortality and realized I was but a grain of sand in the face of a tidal wave and gravity affected me too. **sigh**

    So yeah, of course I can see the similarities between Satsuma and I and it did occur to me that that’s what you might be up to and where you might be coming from. You protected me like all get out back then too. Until you finally wanted to wring my little neck. But eventually, I learned. I’m all grown up now. And look how fine a radical feminist I turned out to be. 😛

    So take heart and hang in there, Satsuma. Who knows? Maybe you’ll grow up to be just like me! 😛 (But if that’s the case, you’re going to have to learn to be really, really funny, cuz I’m a radical feminist — the fun kind! :P). Cripes, that’s all the world needs. Two of us. I wonder if the patriarchy would stand a chance? **impish grin**

    Ok, Heart, I get your point and will try to cool my jets. Which even cooled can be somewhat of a sonic boom. But I’ll try, ok?

    Posted by luckynkl | November 19, 2007, 8:07 pm
  111. Yeah, Stormy, understand. I was talking more generally.

    Phew! It’s only Monday. I don’t normally schedule calls for beheadings until Thursdays! 8)

    [Take *that* Lucky, you aren’t the only ‘fun’ radfem around these parts]

    Posted by stormy | November 19, 2007, 8:35 pm
  112. Well Women, this is always welcome critique of feminist writing. An old joke way back then revolved around a radical lesbian feminist who was just hell on wheels (not me unfortuntately). But suffice it to say, she was a holy terror.

    I was a little young feminist with my first big job out of college, and although I considered myself a very natural and “born” feminist as it were, I certainly had never heard this kind of discourse.

    Amanda was one of my great personal heronies of all time. She was the first true radical lesbian feminist that I had ever met, and to this day I honor her. She died around age 50, as many radical lesbian feminists do, but in that short period of time, she was amazing.

    She got everyone mad at her 24/7. It was my first experience of seeing someone defend me, and take down the homophobes big time. I admired her courage, and her energy was incredible.

    Then one day, Amanda started writing short stories; she was also a very good writer. She contributed to an anthology on lesbian eroticism, and a friend of mine back then made the hysterical comment that she “preferred Amanda’s pornography to her polemics.” Somehow, I just laugh and laugh at the memory of that comment. We never did tell Amanda about it, and sometimes I wish I had had a chance to talk to her about those times before she died.

    I think her spirit is definitely here. She taught me to listen and talk through all opinions and points of view, and actually I accept all opinions and points of view on this blog. Every woman is welcome to comment about anything, and it’s fun to read the contrasts.

    Amanda was the first woman I knew who stood up to straight women and challenged them on the out and out lesbian phobia. She took no prisoners at all. She had a power all her own, and it was women like that who really did get so much going.

    These heroines are always erased from history, I think because the cause of women gets stuck often in the pit of “what would the men think, what would the world think, what would the neighbors think…” and on and on it goes.

    As women we are not unified at all. We are collaborative and we share different issues and work on different projects together, but we certainly have no unity. Unity is largely an illusion.

    I think women might long for unity, but I think the true value of feminism is for women to simply get their feet wet in terms of discourse and ideas. A lot of women (not all) but a lot of women really fear conflict and they really fear ideas. Women still are discovering the power of the mind and ideas in my opinion. It’s not that women haven’t had this, it is that they haven’t had the public square to themselves to discuss the ideas for much of recorded history.

    This blog is the public square of feminism. I would never ever object to having my comments edited by Heart, and I would never ever object to one thing women wanted to post in this radical lesbian feminist vein. I like the things you say. I certainly don’t think you know me all that well, and many of you are not professional writers, so you might miss the nuances of what I’m talking about. But hey, we all miss things, because this is a new technology.

    In the past, it would take women forever to get at these big issues. Now we can just jump in, and have the thrill and challenge of pure ideas. We don’t know what we all look like, we don’t know anything at all other than the quality and the clarity of the ideas themselves. That is true liberation, because even thought there will be fights here, and there will be the usual horror of Satsumaisms, we are trying to get to freedom.

    We won’t reach freedom until we are honest, and it is hard for a lot of women to be honest. Not all women, mind you, but a lot of women.🙂 All my friends get annoyed at my “all” or “nothing” writing style. I see so few shades of grey that if an elephant walked into my living room, I would not see it🙂

    There are a lot of historical reasons for this. Women tend to take things too personally oftentimes, and they get upset at honesty. It just goes with the territory.

    I myself am a different type of feminist. I’m not all that interested in pacifism, I am obviously not an earth mother type, and I don’t have much interest in getting along and going along. What I am interested in is the cosmic question of “What will it take for women worldwide to get their freedom?” What will it take? What will cause this to happen?

    What will it take for women to reject ideologies that enshrine womanhatred and “original sin” and any other kooky idea the boys seem to come up with from Augustine (the inventor of the original sin concept– a man thought that up, not god FYI)… well run on sentence here that I can’t seem to get just right… but anyway, what will it take?

    What is difficult for women to believe is that it is a lot harder than any of us, me included, ever imagined.

    I still find it hard to believe that women sit in womanhating and degrading churches, or that they listen to “woman as sinner etc. etc.” at christian conferences, or that women believe their battering husbands love them. I can’t believe this, but it is true.

    I can’t believe the massive attraction fundamentalism holds for women in this country. I can’t believe that the majority of catholic church goers are women. Male priests lecture on those male inflating podiums and women listen to them. Men talk all the time everywhere, and yet I bet men who visit this site whine away that “they” can’t have their say here.

    We can say many things about women being conditioned from childhood to do this or that. But there is something in the human spirit that will rise above all social conditioning. Give me liberty or give me death is a valid saying. We will never know if we have the courage to die for our beliefs if the time comes for that. Most heroines don’t think about the act, they do things often without thinking.

    Sometimes I am very brave, other times I am cowardly, and other times I am clueless and miss the whole situation.

    Courage is surprising to me, and I have risked my life to save others now and then. But then there are other times when I was silent, and I often regret that years later. I try to get over regret, but I still feel it.

    There are many things that women think they are: non-violent, open minded, loving, equality loving etc. But women are and are not any of these things. Women are a species that is oppressed by men worldwide. We may have our islands of freedom, depending on the nation we live in, but we control no governmental majorities in any country that I know of.

    This is an outrageous situation, and yet, women worldwide are the majority, and this still is the case.

    We have to examine what it would take for women to gain freedom, and to own their part of the world. We have to seriously consider what it would take to prevent women from going into poverty at a younger age, not when it is too late.

    We have to consider why straight women are so lesbian phobic, and why heterosexual women are so touchy at being critiqued. I know, I know, don’t be so mean or demeaning… this is a problem I have and I am well aware of it. Even me **THINKING** I am being nice is not always how it looks to others.

    You may think I am a clueless being here, but actually I’m not.
    I am just blunt and this never goes over very well in women’s groups. It just doesn’t, but hey I am attempting to reach out here. You can ignore my words, you can skip over these posts if you want, and I will attempt a more civil tone. However, I will call women on the hetero-superiority, and despite everything heterosexual women say, they almost always believe they are superior to lesbians, and they think oftentimes that lesbian self is about sex or who we sleep with.

    Straight women often try to justify the “conditioning” of women to do this or that. And we are all conditioned. Conditioned by the nation that forms us, conditioned by DNA, conditioned by eraly childhood training, conditioned by the education we do or don’t receive. I was surprised to discover how typically American I was only when I lived abroad for many years. I was surprised to experience what racism really feels like from the receiving end of it — a white person who as a young adult chose to live in a very non-white place.

    This American conditioning was not evident until I left America, and that’s one reason I did this. I simply needed to know more. Then there were parts of my character that were just me, my own unique personality, which the new culture loved. These parts of myself were never really known to Americans, because this culture doesn’t value these things at all. So there you have part of the story.

    Lesbian is a political category to me, it is a self that demands more freedom than most women can tolerate or want. I have a larger desire for freedom than most people in the world. I need freedom the way a lot of people need food and water. It is a necessity to me, not a luxury.

    I won’t agree to a heteronormative feminist agenda. I’m not interested in this. However, I will agree to work collectively with any woman who wants the same things I want — freedom, work place freedoms for women, an image of spirituality that uplifts and empowers all women, and spaces where men don’t exist. I want male free zones, and I want the conversation of women about serious issues. If women are serious about feminism and serious about freedom count me in. All of you are very serious about feminism and very serious about freedom. I love that!!! All my detractors, I respect you too! I respect all women, but I won’t bow down to heteronormative worlds. Heterosexual women who have never lived as life long lesbians don’t have the faintest idea of what this is all about, just as I don’t have the faintest idea of what sex with men is like or what raising children is like.

    The idea of sex with men and having children is so horrifying to me that it just causes me to overreact. It is just awful. I don’t like the thought of having to be around children at all really. It colors my thinking, and makes me overreactive, just as radical lesbian feminism will drive a lot of heterosexual feminist nuts. It really is like oil and vinegar at times, and that’s ok. It just is.

    My words have helped energize and motivate you to write more. That is good. Your words have told me to tone it down a bit, to lay off my beloved polemic a bit. And that’s wonderful.

    I respect every woman here. I am interested in what each and every one of you has to say. I applaud your courage in speaking up for what you want, and I applaud the courage of those women sophisticated enough to see that homophobia still is in our movement.

    There are so many posts here, but I’m not sure what to say next. Well I do have a lot of ideas, but right now I am thinking how lucky I am to bump into all these sisters. Even when you’re mad at me, I still regard you as a sister. Even when I give my hetero sisters a hard time, I think it’s just being me being shocked that women still struggle with men in such intimate ways. I don’t know what to make of this, and so I am still surprised.

    Maybe I was overly optimistic when I really believed that we would have overthrown patriarchy by now. I know, I’m a lesbian utopian dreamer still. I love this dream of freedom, and I write about it to will it into being. I believe thoughts ARE tbings. It is my spiritual path to want this freedom. It is not an impossible dream to me, although Cervantes is an author I have always loved. Don’t all lesbians resemble Don Quixote a bit?

    Posted by Satsuma | November 19, 2007, 9:32 pm
  113. Oy vey, another post floating off into the mists. Aren’t all radical lesbian feminists a creation of Cervantes?

    Posted by Satsuma | November 19, 2007, 9:35 pm
  114. Trained seals…that must have been a good one. Hey, I love seals trained and otherwise. Ever see Mary Daly do an imitation on stage of a seal clapping its flippers? Not to be missed.

    Luckynkl — just a couple of smiles. We’re the only movement in the history of the world that keeps on wanting to disarm the freedom fighters just as the male monsters are crashing at the gates🙂🙂

    We’re the only movement in the history of the world that ________________. Aaark aark, the sound of a seal on a beach in Malibu. Upscale seal, what can I say?

    Posted by Satsuma | November 19, 2007, 9:39 pm
  115. Eh, I am sure it is in the spam queue, and in a bit, I will go find it (your post, that is. :))

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 19, 2007, 9:41 pm
  116. Ah the Spam cue…. this term just cracks me up every time.
    The hunt for spam October…
    I’d rather cue for lobster!🙂

    Hope you can find this post in the mists of spam and time, but if not, I’ll try something else.

    I have now become used to the word “threads” — 21st century progress I guess.

    And my new favorite animal of the week: the star-nosed mole.
    This creature has 22 sensing tentacles attached to its nose, and it can eat a worm in seconds! The thing just burrows and burrows and makes a delightful snorting sound. Just think if all feminists could consume ideas at this rate, we’d take over the world in no time!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 19, 2007, 10:18 pm
  117. Spelled queue wrong too. What’s a star-nosed species to do?

    Posted by Satsuma | November 19, 2007, 10:19 pm
  118. Oh, I forgot. Stormy is really, really, funny too. So she will be joining us in the revolution. So move over in your seat a bit, Satsuma, and make room on the bus for Stormy. She’ll be joining us on this ride in which we tell the bus driver to kindly take a seat in the back cuz we’re taking over the bus. Do we have any good drivers here?

    Trained seals…that must have been a good one.

    Oh no, no, no, it was not a good one. It is not fun to have 10,000 women pissed off at you and turning their flame throwers on you. I love women. I do not want to be alienated from them. I’d miss their delightful sense of humor and their quick wit and their wiseness and intelligence and the warmth of their hugs and the way they kiss my boo boos when I hurt and make me feel all better.

    We’re the only movement in the history of the world that keeps on wanting to disarm the freedom fighters just as the male monsters are crashing at the gates

    Yeah, but we’re insane, they’re not. See, they get that the boys have fighter planes, tanks and nukes. I don’t know about you, but my roundhouses and flying sidekicks don’t seem to work very well under a hail of bullets fired from AK-47’s.

    We cannot take on the army, navy, air force and marines, ok? So we’ve got to counter that with something smarter. Better.

    I advocate that we stop producing males. No boys. No patriarchy. We can do that without a firing a single shot, without spilling a drop of blood, without a single confrontation or a single act of violence. Hey! Let’s all just start producing girls! And we fully expect y’all to name them all Stormy, Satsuma, and Lucky so the patriarchy can’t figure out who the real culprits are. 😛

    Posted by luckynkl | November 19, 2007, 10:49 pm
  119. I advocate that we stop producing males. No boys. No patriarchy. We can do that without a firing a single shot, without spilling a drop of blood, without a single confrontation or a single act of violence.
    🙂

    I’m in.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 19, 2007, 11:19 pm
  120. I advocate that we stop producing males. No boys. No patriarchy.

    It would certainly work as a plan.😉

    Posted by stormy | November 20, 2007, 4:19 am
  121. I had a better idea about the place of men in the new radical lesbian utopia — shoe shine experts, bartenders, and computer repair people. Maybe a chef or two and a valet to light my cigars! Ah the end of patriarchy.

    Edited by Heart. Please no commentary which includes references to AK 47s, even joking ones!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 20, 2007, 4:55 am
  122. 10,000 women angry over a statement about trained seals! I’m very impressed indeed. Just think of what that anger at 10,000 patriarchs would have done.

    Guess I’d better stick to my own species and never call any woman a star-nosed mole🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | November 20, 2007, 4:57 am
  123. Oy vey, another post floating off into the mists. Aren’t all radical lesbian feminists a creation of Cervantes?

    So I just got home from work, having stopped off at Maximiliens at the Pike Place Market to drink a couple of martinis with my friend, Heather. On the way home I picked up a free dog crate that I got via the local Freecycle. I love Freecycle. Does everybody here know about freecycle? 🙂

    And I am going to look in the spam cue to see what I might find. It will probably forever be the spam cue from now on.

    But first, say more about this quote of yours up there, Satsuma. I’ve been thinking about it. It is a bit troublesome, not meaning to be suspicious, but it’s been a rough week. How would radical lesbian feminists be a creation of Cervantes?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 20, 2007, 5:14 am
  124. Martinis are just great this time of year! And I’ve never heard of Freecycle, but it sounds like a great concept.

    I hope going through a Spam queue isn’t too taxing! Sounds scary to me…

    How are radical lesbian feminists a creation of Cervantes?🙂

    I often think that radical lesbian feminists are the most romantic of creatures, and that one of my all time literary heros, Don Quixote, just had to have been one. To dream the impossible dream, to tilt against windmills, to boldly go into battle with our ancient Spanish armor and those incredible helmets. We go out on our quests with a faithful companion, out into the world we imagine, but doesn’t quite exist.

    Our work is the ultimate imaginary expedition; we create our own existence and meaning in the world.

    So that’s why, in a metaphoric way, I believe we are the creation of some great author’s imagination.

    I love literary allusions.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 20, 2007, 8:29 am
  125. Unity is a loaded word to me. I have always been suspicious of unity. I think I prefer diversity.

    Satsuma, I have not read what Heart edited out, though I suppose I will ask for the complete version. I have never been one to think I must agree with another woman 100% in order to work with her. I have never encountered anyone with whom I agreed 100%. I have profound disagreements with you, but I have also learned from you. What all that may mean, I do not know; I am reserving judgment. I have a pretty thick skin, so perhaps it is easier for me not to take things personally. I also have a problem with heterosexual women colluding with the system. I may be more likely to make allowances than you, but I certainly agree the world could change overnight if women were to develop the nerve to revolt. I think it has not happened for many reasons, but those reasons could quickly become obsolete, once the tidal wave of consciousness raising reaches critical mass.

    I also feel I must say to Kitty in particular, I understand your frustration, but there is no royalty here. Nobody I see here wants to rule this blog, and Heart would never allow it. Satsuma has her own perspective and way of expressing herself. Somewhere she called herself a curmudgeon. I think that fits. Speaking as someone whose writing style has been ridiculed, I have to say, I think this blog can survive and benefit from a curmudgeon speaking her mind.

    Posted by Aletha | November 20, 2007, 9:28 am
  126. I think she’s referring to a work by Cervantes, “Don Quixote”, from which work the phrase “tilting at windmills” derives.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Quixote


    . . . their series of famous adventures begin, starting with Don Quixote’s attack on windmills that he believes to be ferocious giants.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 20, 2007, 9:47 am
  127. Ah the Spam cue…. this term just cracks me up every time.
    The hunt for spam October…
    I’d rather cue for lobster!

    Cool! You’re catching on fast and becoming really, really funny! 😀

    I had a better idea about the place of men in the new radical lesbian utopia — shoe shine experts, bartenders, and computer repair people. Maybe a chef or two and a valet to light my cigars! Ah the end of patriarchy.

    Oh no. I am not giving up my computer repair. So scratch that.

    And I don’t have any shoes to shine. I wear sneakers! They make me run faster and jump higher!

    And I like to cook. My grandfather was a chef at the Basilica in Rome. My brothers are also excellent chefs. I’m Italian. I think it’s some kind of law that Italians, if not in the Mafia, or not too busy painting women with mysterious smiles or feeding Christians to the lions just for sport, must be experts in the kitchen! We do food with style. Pizza ain’t the #1 favorite food in Amerika for nothin’! So nah, I don’t want non-Italian men in the kitchen serving me beer and something blue growing in the fridge and asking me, “Is this good?”

    The truth is, I don’t want servants. I don’t want men in the house at all. They leave the toilet seat up and the next thing you know, you’re falling in and kerplop! taking a bath. Yuck.

    So this is no radical feminist utopia. Because radical feminists aren’t into hierarchies — whether they be patriarchal or matriarchal. We eradicate hierarchies and use our labrys to axe them both. Because this is how the whole mess got started in the first place. In short, men have dumb ideas. I’m no monkey. I have no desire to imitate them.

    Aren’t all radical lesbian feminists a creation of Cervantes?

    Nah, Cervantes was a guy. And his silly characters were delusional and chased windmills.

    Radical feminists aren’t delusional. Women’s oppression is very real.

    But every once in awhile, RFs need a little R & R. But rather than chase windmills, we chase rainbows! We catch them too. And put ’em right on the bumper of our cars!

    Posted by luckynkl | November 20, 2007, 11:04 am
  128. Arghee, you women are too prolific. 🙂

    Satsuma: We go out on our quests with a faithful companion, out into the world we imagine, but doesn’t quite exist.

    Our work is the ultimate imaginary expedition; we create our own existence and meaning in the world.

    This is beautiful and I so agree with you– radical feminists are romantic, creative, visionary.

    I asked because at times, this is an allusion that has been used against us or to characterize us dismissively and cynically in ways I’m betting you can easily imagine. But then, this is online where misogynists run amok and haters are everywhere working hard to to ruin or at least taint anything that is inspiring, creative, beautiful, particularly anything both visionary and beautiful (and a woman’s idea!). The word “necrophilic” must have seemed extreme to some when Mary Daly used it in in her early work. Of course, it was prophetic and is an apt description of most of the (masculinized) interactions to be found on the internet.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 20, 2007, 1:59 pm
  129. The hunt for spam October was fruitful and produced 112 above. 🙂 I wouldn’t have needed to ask you about your reference to Don Quixote, Satsuma, if I’d searched the spam cue first! Lots of really good thoughts in there.

    I sometimes cannot bear to go hunting around in the spam, of which there is thousands. Here is an example of what I have to look at while I am looking for comments women have spent their good time and energy writing:

    Note: Caution, may trigger

    Hot Women Treated. Young dolls in porn and spread pussies. Cat Hardcore sex . Drunk girl fucked by boyfriend on the bed 20 pictures. Cat Teen sex 1186039s incest photos father son incest pictures !split! incest pics stories of incest free free little girl incest stories free young teen girls having sex Secret Teen Video middot Only Young Teens middot Teen Sex Picturesmiddot eXtreme Young Nudie middot 7 Dog middot Tiny Russian Teens middot Shy Teens middot YoungTeen Models Young teen incest royal family sex scandal dutch family incest. Incest stories for free hot amatuer family sex. Son mother incest pics erotic free sex binaries nudism !split! young teens nadia nyce mudist nudism spain . www resourcenow com nudism free erotic sex incest stories upscrit teen christian nudism

    This is one of thousands and thousands of paragraphs in thousands of comments complete with links and lots of them are worse than this if you can imagine that. It is the ever-present reminder of the world as created by men.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 20, 2007, 2:20 pm
  130. Satsuma posted:
    “10,000 women angry over a statement about trained seals! I’m very impressed indeed. Just think of what that anger at 10,000 patriarchs would have done.”

    The same nothing that the anger of 10,000 women did to you. Of course, you already knew that or you’d be somewhere else, directing your condescension and insults toward patriarchs instead of het women. At least you get a rise out of us.

    Posted by CoolAunt | November 20, 2007, 9:21 pm
  131. “I advocate that we stop producing males. No boys. No patriarchy. We can do that without a firing a single shot, without spilling a drop of blood, without a single confrontation or a single act of violence.”

    Then we’re back to either the end of the human race or a class of women whose purpose and fate is that of breeder. Besides, women can be, and sometimes are, the strongest supporters and perpetuators of hierarchy and all the rest of the worst of the patriarchs’ rules.

    Posted by CoolAunt | November 20, 2007, 9:26 pm
  132. Thanks for the advanced warnings about all the contamination from porno spam. We’ve had a lot of problems with this at another lesbian site I have supported.

    The woman who founded that site thought this was evidense of violence against women — men posting this dreadful stuff.

    What’s useful about it (always turn the tables on the patriarchs, always reverse their reversals) is that it is evidense. Evidence of the inherent evil in all men who encounter unbowed and unbought women’s space. When women speak out of their full power, uncensored by men, uncontrolled by men, this species will feel cornered and threatened and it will attack with everything its got.

    Pornography is the weapon men use against women. So they use it all the time.

    A lot of “pro-porn” feminists are completely unaware of the conditioning power of pornography, and the danger it poses to women. Maybe they have not seen what it is all about.

    I don’t read it. The first line of the post was enough. So thanks for cleaning it out. I suggest saging the computer and surrounding yourself with protective light if you have to do this clean up Heart. Keep the toxic waste of patriarchy out and bring the goddess energy in!

    Now who up there mentioned being Italian!? Luckynkl– Italian women can do no wrong. I know this is lesbian feminist heresy, but I don’t worry too much about hierarchies. They will exist naturally no matter what anyone does. We can strive for more egalitarian ways of relating, but natural talents and interests will drive the ambitious to achieve, and it will keep the unambitious or uninterested in lesser categories.

    To me equality with men is really about sinking to their low standards, and I want much more than any heterosexual man could ever want. Men in my opinion have pretty pathetic social imaginations, pretty primitive brains, so they contaminate the earth with their insecurity, and resent any world that doesn’t include their primitive natures in it. They are hopelss in my opinion.

    Early radical lesbian feminists derided achievement and excellence. I don’t go along with this; I always say be as smart as you can be, work as hard as you want to, soar with poetry, fly with metaphor, sail with allegory!

    In fact, I truly love allegory and think it has a lot of potential for lesbian feminist creative endeavors.

    As for Cervantes being used against radical feminists, well, men will try anything. The literary, the musical and the poetic is a powerful lesbian feminist device. We can take our minds to new heights, and really dream a bit each day. Once you experience what this is about; through trial and error, it will take you to a place that is outside oppression, and outside the world as we know it.

    I once had a very interesting discussion with Harold Bloom, whose book on the western canon I really admire. He is a virulent anti-feminist, and goes on needless tirades against Alice Walker for some strange reason. Anyway, I said that I had read all the male classics and a good part of the feminist canon as well. Why couldn’t he read everything the way I did?
    This question caught him off guard. “You’re just lazy Dr. Bloom, a lazy man who doesn’t want to revise his lecture notes!” I gave him a copy of Andrea Dworkin’s wonderful essays on literature. “This will really challenge you!” and he was amazed.

    Many of us forget, but radical lesbian feminism was once born of visionary utopian novels of the early 70s I think. Joanna Russ may have written her groundbreaking science fiction in the late 60s– someone here would probably know the answer.

    Needless to say, what I am about is the visionary. All the things women think they need: unity, no hierarchy at all, some sort of agenda for all women… well what I hope to discover here as I read along on this blog, is what everyone out there believes works best for them.

    I have a great deal of clarity about what works best for me. Just thinking about the word “best” is empowering.

    What has elevated your life? What are the great gifts that a radical lesbian feminist critique has brought to you? Are radical feminists romantics? Are they cynics? Are they neo-Stalinists.

    Creepily, as I read a biography of Joseph Stalin awhile back (In the Court of the Red Tsar), I found a lot of similarities between radical feminism and Stalinism. In the early days, radical feminists were accused of being Stalinists. There was a whole socialist wing to feminism, which always made me suspicious, but it was out there.

    It made me think that it would be very hard to take over the world, and NOT want to kill your enemies. I know I’d have to excersize self-restraint when it came to Hugh Hefner and company, for example.

    Just some musings here.

    My point, and I do have one (thanks Ellen for that one), is that the visionary is very much a part of lesbian self in the world. Developing a powerful imagination is very helpful in navigating the straight world. We have to empower ourselves, and stake out territory outside the confines of heterosexual norms. We have to discover what social relationships work best for us, and we have to identify that which makes us uneasy, or oppresses us.

    We have to know why we feel uneasy. For example, the holidays are always a mixed blessing for lesbians and gay men. My partner and I once worked with another woman to set up a lesbian workshop called “Getting Through the Holidays.” This was back in the 80s (1980s not 1880s🙂 ).
    At the very last moment, the woman who was to lead the group called us in a panic, “I can’t do it, I’m not getting through the holidays). We discovered that this uneasiness was pervasive in the lesbian and gay community, and for years I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Now of course, the answer is quite simple — it is the time of year when toxic heterosexual family propaganda goes into high gear.

    So I try to envision different images, I turn to lesbian visual artists who create new spiritual images, and new ways of looking at things. I try to understand that there is a big lesbian and gay family out there, and that all of us need to connect at this time of year. We need to provide room at all our tables if we are able, and welcome the stranger, and be aware of people’s live circumstances.

    We are not and have probably never been normal people. A lot of radical lesbian feminists simply withdrew from the political frey. They died young. Even our dear pioneers (goddess women) felt unappreciated in their lifetime. They had done so much work, only to have women not support the very things they had worked hard to create. My mind can never comprehend the worlds straight women live in. I just can’t imagine such a life at all.

    Lesbian worlds got contaminated by pop culture to a degree that’s shocking. They got contaminated by the toxic sexual environment that gay men bring everywhere with them. And they weren’t suspicious enough in my opinion.

    What have we learned in the last 30 years?

    What I’ve learned is that alliance, without my issues discussed front and center is a tactic straight women often use to co-opt lesbian rights. Just as men try to co-opt women by saying our issues aren’t as important as “poverty” “war”– whatever excuse they use not to fight against male supremacy within their own worlds.

    We need to define at what cost an alliance will be, and how long lesbians will have to discuss exclusively lesbian issues.
    We need to be mindful that even lesbians have different subgroups– for example, lesbians who have never married men are a distinct category. Lesbians who have never had children are a distinct category.

    What are the life experiences that are very similar, and how can the unity of experience itself be powerful?

    Our world is highly literate and very visionary. I personally found that turning radical lesbian feminist writings into technology (applied knowledge), surprising things happened.
    Daly gave us the tools to easily identify the tactics of patriarchy. You could use these very tools in brilliant analysis. I found her thought highly effective in analyzing power relationships at work, in building investement strategies for women, and starting companies.

    Daly, who was the most adament advocate of women I have ever read from a lesbian perspective has ideas so powerful, that if you fully engage them, they literally transport you across oceans.

    It took a long time for the enemies of women to get her fired from Boston College, and still she is writing and going strong.

    I’ve always wondered how possible it would be to distribute a collection of her lectures worldwide to women.

    I believe the strongest idea we possess as feminists is to determine what we want, and then pursue this relentlessly.
    I am relentless, and I know that my enemies will not be able to keep up with me. They don’t have the will to freedom that my mind demands. This will is so furious, that it will make a conventional world uneasy, and yet it is my greatest and most powerful gift.

    We each have gifts to share, and discoveries to make.

    I hope to learn many new things here and apply them to daily life.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 20, 2007, 9:49 pm
  133. Just sent another post to the big old spam line in the sky.
    Remember that old song “Spirit in the sky” Going to the spam line in the sky… dah dum…

    Quick hello to Luckynkl– for the record, Italian women can do no wrong!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 20, 2007, 9:52 pm
  134. I think the term reproduction is an iffy one. It just isn’t a part of my life or world, and it never really was. Even as a child I was bored with children, so this feeling of wanting adults around me all the time has been there forever. This distaste for children and heterosexual families of course puts heterosexual women on the defensive, but it is my real opinion about my real life. We have these taboos out there: you can’t say you dislike children, you can’t say heterosexual families drive you crazy, you just can’t say these things. But someone has got to state a personal opinion on this sacred and taboo subject.

    Believe me, there will be no shortage of women who have children in this world. There are plenty of countries that just enslave women through childbirth, and plenty of countries that kill off unborn girls by the millions.

    Now we have to suffer with lesbians having children and living in the suburbs! A positive nightmare if there ever was one in my opinion. Ah, my sacred species going over to the dark side🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | November 20, 2007, 10:03 pm
  135. This is the kind of language that I have a problem with Aletha:

    I also have a problem with heterosexual women colluding with the system. I may be more likely to make allowances than you, but I certainly agree the world could change overnight if women were to develop the nerve to revolt.

    I’m not playing the game of disclaimers, that is not what this is about, what I have a problem with is the automatic default position that implies the assertion is an all encompassing absolute. Heterosexual women colluding with the system implies that a heterosexual complies with the system simply because she is heterosexual. Therefore, to validate her experiences, her activism, her ideology, her anything she must become a lesbian or she is colluding with the system. That is the shit that pisses me the fuck off. Basically it is saying that I’m too much of a conditioned idiot to possibly juggle my sexual life with my ideologically driven agenda life. How would a lesbian like it if I forced her to become heterosexual in order for her to be considered a credible ally. I don’t think that would go over so well. But I am to become a lesbian or I am inferior to lesbians, because I am colluding with the system. My sexual practices, desires, whatever has nothing to do with what I want for women. If the goal is to annihilate men, I’m in the wrong place. Because the fact is the annihilation of men will be the annihilation of the human race. In addition, the condescension with making allowances. What kind of allowances will be made for my horrid heterosexual self? That I’m not a lesbian. Can I fight the good fight with women and then sneak off to have my sordid heterosexual affair? Heterosexuality does not uphold the patriarchal structure. Patriarchal ideology does that just fine. Patriarchal ideology dictates the abuse of women but I don’t see anyone here crying about how there are women who abuse women. No, let’s just pick and choose which elements of patriarchy we will demonise. How convenient those elements put some of us in a superior position than others.

    As far as royalty, I will reserve my opinion for now. Last time when my class was insulted and I was called a rapist, it was by a lesbian, now a lesbian is insulting my heterosexuality. If I added those two lesbian incidents with the lesbians betrayals I experienced in the military if I was not a true feminist I could rationalise a disdain for lesbians. But fuck that. Fuck my effort of actively defusing division, —if I am a heterosexual, I am colluding with the system so everything else is null and void.

    MY FUCKING SEX LIFE DOES NOT DICTATE WHO I AM! My heterosexuality does not mean I practice patriarchal ideology. But just like true patriarchs, I bet some women here can sure splinter, pick the splinters out, tear apart to find justification to keep that hierarchy of I’m better than you going forever. Which to that I would say, “How patriarchal of you!”

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 20, 2007, 11:16 pm
  136. If you buy anything in the USA or pay any taxes you are colluding with the patriachy. But having sex with a man is worse than financing the patriachy. Go figure.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 20, 2007, 11:40 pm
  137. I just wanted to sneak it in here that:

    * I have no interest in annihilating men. I do not think evil, violence, destructiveness, rape, malevolence or any other destructiveness inhers in XY chromosomes or male bodies.

    * I know for absolute certain that partnering with men does not keep committed radical feminists from their feminist, woman-centered work.

    * I know for sure that being a lesbian does not make a woman a feminist or woman-centered.

    * I don’t think feminist hierarchies are useful.

    I do think there is value in women talking about our own experiences, including with and of one another.

    This will not be a place where we write about women abusing women. The whole world, all misogynists and sexists, love to focus on that, so that gets plenty of airtime. The fact that I don’t focus on it, and will not, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, isn’t serious, isn’t horrible, doesn’t need to be dealt with. It does. But this blog is not going to be about that. There are seventy-bazillion blogs that all of the time like to focus on the way women mistreat women. Not me.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 20, 2007, 11:51 pm
  138. Kitty, I think you’re right, all of that is collusion and we all participate in that collusion no matter how much we don’t want to.

    We all know that, too.

    So why get all fired up about it?

    Posted by womensspace | November 20, 2007, 11:52 pm
  139. Kitty, I think you’re right, all of that is collusion and we all participate in that collusion no matter how much we don’t want to.
    We all know that, too.
    So why get all fired up about it?

    Why get fired up about it? Because depending on what one is perceived as colluding, it is being used by some as ammunition to elevate one group, sect, individual, and way of life over the other. Clearly, the colluding with the patriarchy through heterosexuality has been demonised through the recent threads more so than financial colluding, or other forms of colluding, hence the initial insult. That is my point. My point is why does someone get to say one evil is worse than another evil (and not get called on it), if we are in agreement that both are evils? But it is done to hierarchize, which is to elevate one’s way of life over another’s way of life. But that assertion has been dismissed because the one doing the hierarchising is a member of a minority group, so, it is a-okay. Which in my opinion is just a new abuser taking over for the old abuser. It didn’t work the first time but it is being used again. What sense does that make?

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 21, 2007, 12:34 am
  140. Kitty, I let women say all sorts of stuff on here, you included. Stuff I wouldn’t say. Stuff I don’t agree with. Stuff I don’t believe. Stuff I think is wrong. Stuff I think is destructive. Stuff I think is hurtful.

    If I am only going to approve comments I agree with or endorse 100 percent, why bother to have comments. I’ll just blog and not have any comments and be the last word on everything. I won’t have to trouble myself dealing with people who disagree. I will just put on my blinders, filter my e-mails, full speed ahead, the only views that matter are my own.

    The point of allowing divergent views — even when I heartily disagree with some of them — is to provoke discussion. Stimulate thought. Move us out of our comfort zones.

    Who *cares* if someone here believes some feminists are somehow “better” than other feminists? (Which I don’t think has actually been anybody’s point, but anyway.) I don’t. You don’t. A lot of people don’t and have not been shy at all about saying so. The assertion has not been “dismissed because the one doing the hierarchicalizing is a member of a minority group.” The assertion has simply been *allowed* as a comment. And lots of women — you included — have vigorously denounced the assertion. Which I have also allowed.

    Posted by womensspace | November 21, 2007, 12:44 am
  141. Then we’re back to either the end of the human race or a class of women whose purpose and fate is that of breeder.

    Ok. You lost me on this one. Why would there be a class a women whose purpose and fate is that of breeder? Have you lived with men so long that you can’t imagine a world in which women aren’t bred like animals?

    I have to question why you speak so negatively of and despise something that is so authentically female? Because men do? I’m sorry. But men’s opinions don’t mean squat to me and I don’t share in your self-loathing.

    Women are a little bit like a country that been’s invaded, enslaved, colonized and conquered. People that once so loved their land are now forced to toil it and yield its crop for the master. Until they eventually begin to despise and hate the land that they once so loved.

    Would you tell these people that they’re doomed without the master? That he’s necessary? Do you really think these people would continue to despise the land if the master were driven out and it were given back to them?

    Well, this is what I hear you saying to women. That we’re doomed without the master. That he’s necessary. And after he’s gone, whoa is us. Cuz we’re going to enslave our own people and force them to toil our land. I say, nonsense. I think people will go right on back to loving their land again.

    And yes, there is an analogy. Because women’s bodies are that land.

    And why would it be the end of the human race? Are you thinking reproduction wise? Well if that’s the case, it would probably be in your best interests to stop listening to pappa and his tall tales about reproduction being 50/50.

    See, that’s a big part of what the patriarchy is all about. Men convincing women that men are really, really necessary and important. Men’s greatest fear is that we’re going to find out that they’re not.

    Well, shoot, now I’m gonna feel a little like telling you that there is no Santa Claus. I hate to break it to you like this, but sorry, but men aren’t necessary.

    Besides, women can be, and sometimes are, the strongest supporters and perpetuators of hierarchy and all the rest of the worst of the patriarchs’ rules.

    Of course they are! Women are a colonized, oppressed people! What, you don’t think the slaves on the plantations didn’t do this? Do you think the Jews in the concentration camps didn’t do this?

    Damn right they policed each other. Hoping to keep the upstarts quiet. Because woe was them if they pissed the master off. He might be indiscriminate and bring his wrath down upon all of them. After all, they all look alike to him.

    As an added bonus, the master might grant them more favor. Give them a less grueling job. Put them in charge of other slaves and Jews. And even throw them a biscuit or two. And sometimes it bought them just a little more time…
    ….so they could escape death.

    Posted by luckynkl | November 21, 2007, 12:46 am
  142. Thanks for validating my feelings of being abused here. Next time when someone wants to bad mouth lesbians, let’s see if it is allowed as —-just a comment.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 21, 2007, 12:54 am
  143. Kitty, would you say any commenters here in this thread have badmouthed lesbians?

    Posted by womensspace | November 21, 2007, 1:05 am
  144. For what it’s worth, because I think asking questions like that can seem kind of “gotcha” like in heated threads, I do see a lot of badmouthing of lesbians in here. It is unintentional, I believe, but it’s here. And I’ve allowed it.

    Posted by womensspace | November 21, 2007, 1:10 am
  145. Just throwing in a cheer here for your latest post Heart, and yours, Lucky.

    Huzzah! Huzzah!

    Mary, the original pom-pom girl

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 21, 2007, 1:36 am
  146. I don’t have anything kind to say about A LESBIAN in this thread who came in here unapologetically dividing women and bragging about war and fighting and crap. But see you are fishing for that already aren’t you? Apparently if I take up for my heterosexuality I am in your opinion stepping on the necks of all lesbians. Which is not the case and if my words are read properly you will see that I simply don’t think a lesbian (or any woman) should put down heterosexual women in order to feel validated. She did it, don’t believe, take off your rose color glasses and read the comments from beginning to end. She wrote her hatred in black and white, my alleged insult toward lesbians in general is projected by an imagination that wants it to be projected. Fuck all the women who have seem the hatred written here just divert and say we must hate lesbians. Typical ploy.

    Why can’t we all be validated as women fighting against the patriarchy? But we can’t because there are people determined to feel superior and you, HEART, or enabling it right here by allowing someone to not at the very least apologise for insulting us stupid heterosexual women over and over again.

    Just like Mary Sunshine cannot bother to have her own blog but she can criticise what others blog about. Oh Mary, next time why not use your own name when you want to be snide in my blog? But no big deal. I am through with this shit. Enjoy the revolution; I am sure your numbers will be astronomical. You will rationalise my exit.

    I regret the day I was foolish enough to think this was a sanctuary for all women. Next time, perhaps you will post the sign, front seat for lesbians, heterosexual women in the back seat. Maybe that will make up for all the discrimination that lesbians have experienced at the hands of those god awful equal to men heterosexual women in the past.

    Nice job Satsuma!

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 21, 2007, 2:41 am
  147. Whoah, Lucky. I don’t know how you got all of that from one statement but it sure didn’t come from me.

    If there are no human males then there will be no more humans at some point. Except in Satsuma’s Utopia, the one she described in one of her first comments at this site. (I’d go wade through the bullshit to find it but I don’t have a hazmat suit.) In her ideal world, women will have nothing to do with men. Still, we wouldn’t have to worry that the human race will end because, while the majority of females will live lives free of all males, there will remain that small population of females who will volunteer themselves for male oppression. That is the class of females whose purpose and fate will be that of breeders.

    Equality and liberation for most females at the low, low price of a few sacrificial women for breeding purposes. That’s a really fucked up deal, if you ask me.

    Or maybe you meant no more males. Period. In which case there will be no class of women whose purpose and fate is breeding as there will be no more breeding. That means, of course, no more humans. I suppose that won’t matter much to you or me after we’re dead but geez… As ol’ what’s-his-name said in Slingblade, “You ought not kilt my lil’ brother. He might’ve had fun sometimes.” I kind of feel that way about all of the humans who would never be once we died out. They might’ve had fun sometimes.

    Posted by CoolAunt | November 21, 2007, 4:57 am
  148. ***Heterosexuality does not uphold the patriarchal structure. Patriarchal ideology does that just fine.***

    Heterosexuality, esp. for women, is a Crown Jewel of “patriarchal ideology.”

    Posted by Branjor | November 21, 2007, 5:03 am
  149. Lucky, I was so blown away by the tirade that my first comment produced that it was only just now that I was able to digest the second one.

    You don’t need to go to plantations or gas chambers for examples of women supporting and perpetuating the rules of the patriarchs. Just scroll up and re-read the comments on this very page. Hierarchies are a product or rule of patriarchy and here we have the hierarchical ordering of women, lesbian separatist feminists at the top and stupid, inferior, massah’ lovin’ heterosexual breeder-women at the bottom. Well, not at the bottom as the soon-to-be-dead males would be just below them.

    How’s that for perpetuation and support of patriarchal rules by women, this time by lesbian separatist feminists? Who’da thunk it?

    Posted by CoolAunt | November 21, 2007, 5:42 am
  150. Kitty, your response to me completely baffles me. Did you think I was referring to colluding with the patriarchy through heterosexuality? Satsuma may be, but me? Did you miss my comment accusing Satsuma of being totally clueless about heterosexual women? I have slightly revised that opinion, but still, I have to wonder, how did you manage to interpret me that way? As strange as it may seem given the recent comments, I do not consider heterosexuality or men hopeless. I am quite happy with my current significant other. My best friend Mona has been happy with her heterosexual relationship for over twenty years. I do not think either her or my relationship is about colluding with patriarchy, at all. I actually see these relationships as part of feminist revolution, because they are non-hierarchical heterosexual partnerships. I know some here may think I am dreaming, but she and I have also had rotten relationships and can tell the difference. However few and far between they may be, some men do understand reciprocity!

    All I can think is, you made some mighty big assumptions, and leaped to concluding the opposite of what I meant. Perhaps I misunderstand you. I am really puzzled by your take on what I said.

    Posted by Aletha | November 21, 2007, 6:31 am
  151. Heterosexuality does not uphold the patriarchal structure.

    Of course it does. It goes to the very root of it.

    What is the patriarchy? What is the literal meaning of the word, “patriarch?” Does it not mean, “father?” Does the word “patriarchy” not mean “the rule of the fathers?” So tell me, how does one become a father?

    Posted by luckynkl | November 21, 2007, 8:17 am
  152. I do see a lot of badmouthing of lesbians in here.

    Lesbians as a class? Or of posters who happen to be lesbian?

    And ‘unintentional’ is one thing. Anyone can accidentally put her foot in it, and may well apologize or at least re-think if the error is pointed out to her. I don’t see anything unintentional about the comments that have been made regarding heterosexual women.

    Posted by Miranda | November 21, 2007, 11:36 am
  153. Miranda, I am referring to, for example:

    In the lesbian separatist world what should the heterosexual woman do, be forced to have sex with lesbians.

    Nobody has suggested anything like this, and the suggestion is hurtful. Who has suggested forcing anyone to have sex with anyone, least of all heterosexual women with lesbians! It’s like reducing critiques of apartheid (trying to find an example somewhat removed), and how apartheid affects both persons of color and white people (regardless of how they felt about apartheid) to some desire to force white people to be friends with black people. I don’t believe the badmouthing was, though, like I say, intentional.

    Posted by womensspace | November 21, 2007, 1:12 pm
  154. Notice

    I will approve one more comment from each person involved in this discussion (or anyone else wanting to contribute in good faith), and then I am going to close the thread to further comments. I will approve comments tonight, after 7-ish p.m. Pacific time.

    I had hoped for productive engagement and discussion in this thread. I did not want anyone to be hurt and that was not my intention. I have been married three times over three decades. I had my first boyfriend at age 11. I certainly do not take issue with women partnered with men! Not as people, as women, as feminists, nor as radical feminists, as I have repeatedly said. I would not willfully or intentionally hurt any woman here, make her feel wrong or bad about herself, hierarchicalize her compared with any other woman, or anything like that. I had hoped all women’s insights and understanding around issues of compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian lives would deepen and expand. I thought it was possible that this might happen, though I was not overly confident, because I’ve participated in these discussions in the past and I know that they are hard to have, even best case. As is my practice, as is consistent with my own temperament, I believed and hoped for the best.

    If you would like to make a summation of your views, add something or address something you haven’t addressed yet, clarify, respond further, whatever, I will approve your comment later tonight. I’m waiting until tonight in the event someone comments early and then thinks about it through the day and wants to change her comment later on.

    Again, I will approve one more comment from any woman who would like to add her comment to this thread, and I will review comments tonight, after 7-ish Pacific time.

    Then I will close comments to this thread.

    Thanks to all of the women who have continued to contribute your thoughts even when you were really upset and felt hurt or made to be wrong. Thanks for not going away and for caring about this discussion. Thanks for giving my own intentions here, those who have been able to do this, the benefit of the doubt, and thanks for understanding what I’ve been attempting to do here.

    I care about all of you and have no interest in seeing anyone hurt or made to be wrong, or in being hurt or made to be wrong myself.

    I think we all did the best we could on a topic and in a situation that is and was difficult, for the usual reasons and for some somewhat unusual reasons as well.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 21, 2007, 1:32 pm
  155. Thinking about it, I don’t know if that hurtful comment I pasted in 153 was intended to be hurtful or not. Maybe it really was intended to be hurtful. Maybe that was the intention. If we take the position that Satsuma was intentionally insulting heterosexual women as a class, with the goal of being hurtful — despite her many disclaimers that she was not talking about all heterosexual women — then why would it be a foregone conclusion that this particular statement and similar statements in this thread were not also intentionally hurtful, meant to insult lesbians as a class by invoking male heterosupremacist fears of, and lies about, lesbians as predatory or wanting into the pants of heterosexual women or as interested in forcing heterosexual women to have sex they do not want to have. Last time I checked the feminist dictionary, that was rape. I think either we give every woman here the benefit of the doubt, or we don’t give anybody the benefit of the doubt.

    I do work very hard to give radical feminist women — those who post here in particular — the benefit of the doubt, even when they appear to be badmouthing women. I figure they didn’t intend it, they are just pissed and venting, they didn’t realize how it would come across to others, they will chill out and take it back, give them time, they need to process, whatever. So far I have not regretted giving radical feminist/lesbian separatist women the benefit of the doubt, even though sometimes they have deeply and seriously betrayed me (and other women) or mistreated me (and other women), with serious consequences at times.

    It’s interesting though. This is the daughters as property/religious right thread. Why does anybody think an entire institution and worldwide religion — Christendom — (others, too, but here we’re talking about the RR), enduring now over thousands and thousands of years, was created in the first place? A church in which the core imagery is male heterosupremacist: the church cast as the “bride of Christ,” with Christ is the “bridegroom,” and the return of the faithful at the end of the world, the end of the age, after the apocalypse, called the “marriage supper of the Lamb,” the “Lamb” being the conquering Christ, the supper participants being the faithful? All of the infidels, of course, those who did not participate in or agree with this very male, heterosupremacist imagery, cast into the lake of fire, there to burn for eternity? Marriage between a man and a woman is made to be the metaphor for the church’s relationship with God Himself. And any marring of, or threat to, that imagery, that metaphor, is of course, specifically punishable, including by death, by command of Christendom’s holy book. This is the enshrining of, institutionalizing of, men possessing women as central to the very heart of the Divine with all of the obvious ramifications. Millions and millions of people believe this, worship at the feet of this ideology, and those millions have great power in this world. We have not really strayed so far afield as it might at first appear from the post which began this thread.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 21, 2007, 5:03 pm
  156. I don’t know that the question was intended to be harmful. Maybe it was a query as to how the world would be set up. My understanding of ‘forced’ isn’t ‘forced by another person’, but ‘forced because there isn’t an alternative’.

    If a heterosexual woman wants sex in a lesbian separatist world, she either masturbates or has sex with another woman.

    I mean, I can sublimate my desire into knitting and beads, but not everyone has reached my zen-like state of being yet😉

    Posted by Miranda | November 21, 2007, 9:43 pm
  157. That was actually a bit more frivolous than I intended. In a lesbian separatist world, the choices for sex are sex with another woman or masturbation. Those aren’t bad choices, but they are the choices that exist.

    On a broader scale, it asks what is the place in such a world for feminist women who love their male partners?

    Posted by Miranda | November 21, 2007, 9:52 pm
  158. Ah summations. My philosophy is simple: women could become completely free overnight if___________. It is our job to figure out how we all intend to contribute to this goal.

    Since I battle two fronts: patriarchy and heteronormativity, I of course see contradictions. So my bias is completely and utterly lesbian centric. I make no apologies for this, it is the secret of my supreme happiness in the world. The happiness that comes from knowing I was a part of this revolution, and I contributed to lesbian freedom worldwide. It’s what I did, and I’m put my little old rainbow flag atop the mountain, and am crowing a bit!here women are coming up with these silly things like straight women having sex with lesbians. I would never ever advocate such a thing, and have never ever said this in my entire life!

    I don’t believe the human race is about to be whiped out by lesbians, and I know that women will continue to have children. It doesn’t mean I have said that those women are at the bottom of some hierachy, because women will do what they want to do. Now I have ideas about the economic situation straight women put themselves in, and so I often advocate that women stop having children altogether and focus on something else.

    For centuries and centuries, forced childbearing was the lot of women, now we are somewhat free of this here and there.

    If you want freedom for all women, then obviously, you have to look at what actions women can take to make this happen.

    These discussions will help in the cause of one very important freedom: the freedom of women to have an intellectual life with each other without men butting in and ruining our thought processes.

    We are getting used to this. I still believe that most straight women have yet to really have a totally honest conversation with radical lesbians. Unless you are in very rarified groups, you won’t even have this access.

    In my utopia, women are free. This freedom is important to me on an intellectual / spiritual level. I believe we start with the dream or an idea. Remember I believe thoughts are things, and that ideas are real. It’s why men do everything in their power to prevent women from talking like this to each other. It’s why they invade this site with their pornographic minds and scare tactics.

    The rule of the fathers is what it is all about. How do we distance ourselves from these homebound terrorists? That is the question.

    I know the answer I have crafted for myself, and I am very happy with the results. I have seen the tactics I have used within these oppressive systems to drive around them the way you would orange cones on a highway.

    Outwitting patriarchy and giving women alternatives to the usual systems women often settle for is what I’m about.

    I’m not interested in the sexual lives of women or men, never have been, never will be. I am interested in women’s liberation. I’m interested in the deadly serious life of the mind, and I have a right and a duty to critique the things men and women have done to oppress me. I have a duty to point out how the world looks from my viewpoint, and I believe my point of view and the hard line lesbian feminist point of view always gets short shrift in “mainstream” i.e. non-lesbian feminist discussions.

    It’s as simple as that.

    I get sick of the knee jerk: “well then the human race would end if women didn’t have baayybiieess.” Goddess of 10,000 arms and powers, this will never happen, so why is this red herring always dragged out. You women on this blog who say these things should know better. Stop invoking the red herring and the lavender menace to straight women.

    We’re talking about a social structure that has been in place long before I was even born. It has customs and enforcement mechanisms. A lot of these mechanisms are a tiny bit easier for me to see, because I’m not in your world except on a limited basis. I don’t do the rituals of heteronormativity much at all anymore. You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m just not very interested in this culture, and it is slowly fading with the mists of time.

    I get stuck in it when I have to deal with the confiscation of my tax money for this structure. I get stuck in it when ill behaved children are out in the streets at night terrorizing our town. I get stuck in it as I watch these same ill behaved children spraying graffitti and killing grandmothers who try to stop them. (True story by the way).

    I get stuck in it knowing that my social security benefits are paying for surviving heterosexual spouses, and I and my partner will get none of this! If you add up the dollars confiscated to support hetero-patriachy, well you don’t want to know how much this is costing us collectively as lesbians. Suffice it to say, it is one heck of a lot of money.

    All of these things have never, no my knowledge ever been mentioned by the supposed straight allies of lesbian feminists.
    Not on this blog, and not anywhere outside LGBT.

    I’m just using this as a specific example.

    Don’t tell me that heterosexual marriage does not benefit my oppressors, or don’t tell me not to complain about this, because I am going to complain, and I am going to ask you to start writing to your representatives to do something about this.

    One thing that I did for many many many years, is I fought to have non-working spouses get access to individual IRA dedections and contributions. I met with members of the banking committee in congress, I lobbied for this benefit, and the people who now get these deductions are largely women who stay at home and work (aka taking care of children). That’s one thing I believed stay at home moms deserved.

    I want you all to get bloody damn serious about lesbians resisting this damn system the best way we know how, and I don’t want to have my intelligence insulted yet again by these sexual comments about lesbians and straight women. Whoever said that, stop it!

    Feminism is about questioning structures from a woman at center stage perspective. That’s all it is. I believe myself to be number one, and I will put myself and my concerns to the head of the line, just as heterosexual women will do the same.

    I know that no one but lesbians know what we want, and I assume the same is true of my heterosexual sisters. That goes without saying daring women!

    You get so riled up about these things, and it’s beyond me at times. Why shouldn’t it be noble to see oneself in the strongest and most steadfast light. Of course I long for a world lesbians command and lead– I want a lesbian world that we lead for ourselves, and for our greatest good.

    This doesn’t mean each group of women here can’t have their worlds and their greatest goods. It’s what I say about myself, and what inspires and fires me up the most.

    If you haven’t figured all of this out by now, then you’ll never never know me… quoting a song I like!

    So happy Thanksgiving everyone. I know I’m going to celebrate yet another year of accomplishment and education.

    And I’ll talk to you all soon!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 21, 2007, 11:40 pm
  159. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

    I just sent another “final policy statement” into the Spam queue— it’s to the right of the turkeys and to the left of the wild rice! Cheers!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 21, 2007, 11:41 pm
  160. Namaste to all..and thank you for all the words and thoughts. I truly learned a lot and stretched my thinking quite a bit.
    Being a “het” woman who centers her life around women as a midwife and a holistic health care provider, i can only say I am a feminist in every way and just doing what i need to do to subvert the patriarchy and upset the status quo.
    Thanks again and you women all ROCK

    moongoddess

    Posted by wintermoongoddess | November 22, 2007, 12:52 am
  161. A fitting conclusion, wintermoongoddess!

    Namaste,

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 22, 2007, 5:19 am
  162. Okay, I had to re-open (then re-close) comments so everyone could read Amy’s Brain’s response to all of this which she posted on her own blog. As usual, it is great.

    An Open Letter to Satsuma

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 22, 2007, 1:39 pm
  163. Note

    Here is where I am posting all of the comments from the End Human Suffering thread which actually belong in this thread.

    I am not going to moderate anybody’s comments.

    I am just going to post the things.

    I will give every woman here, including the authors of the comments which will follow, one opportunity to pen yet another “final” magnum opus response to the issues raised in this comments threads. You have until 7 p.m. tomorrow to compose ONE, that is ONE more response to issues raised in this thread. I will approve only ONE comment from each woman AFTER the posting of the comments to the other thread. I will write a comment at the end noting that after that comment of mine, each woman is allowed ONE additional comment.

    Then I really am closing this thread and this discussion.

    End. Done. Fini. No more.

    Posted by womensspace | November 27, 2007, 4:51 am
  164. Thanks Amy for that very thoughtful open letter to me. I tried to reply via the links to Amy’s Brain, but somehow it was ping and pong all the way.

    It was very fairly written, and I always appreciate it when I hear from my peers — other radical lesbian feminists.

    I understand a lot of what you’re getting at, and women are always juggling the results of their actions.

    I am very sorry you had to go through all you went through in your life. It is awful, and I hope no other lesbians have to go through that. I was blessed by a supreme indifference to both sex and public opinion. I wanted my freedom, and I defined this for myself, so my path was very different from yours.

    Perhaps my very bookish nature simply kept me out of the fray long enough, so that I could concentrate on my education, and could strategize over money in a way that so few women want to try. It just was a part of my nature since earlies childhood for some reason. Maybe I just wanted results through numbers that I could measure.

    It was my lesbian self that wanted complete and utter economic independence from men, and I was VERY driven to this goal, with a singleminded passion that I suppose few women engage in.

    I don’t have a huge critique of capitalism, because I’ve traveled widely, and I can see what women go through in other parts of the world. Poverty destroys people, it makes women overwork, it puts entire societies at risk.

    Every system out there does not give lesbians an advantage. There is no country in the world were we exist as a completely free and open species in day to day life. Since I am a very aggressive and uncompromising person, my anger over this is greater than 1000 atomic bombs dropped on the heads of Taliban. It is an epic anger over the outrages against lesbians, and it drives me and fuels me. There is a part of me that does believe that living very well is the very best revenge imaginable.

    Any straight woman who dares to critique me only drives me more. You might say my patience has completely run out in this department. I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain in my fight for freedom.

    So my enemy is male supremacy. It is a global system, and I get very frustrated when women aren’t attacking this with everything they’ve got.

    You can be very careful with investments of all kinds, and it is usually the stereotype that women who don’t study markets or don’t do this economic research usually believe that money and its proper and profitable use is bad. It is about thinking and research.

    Lesbians who own homes are in the strongest position of all the lesbians I know. This is the one thing that separates the incredible poverty of so many lesbians from economic viability.
    You don’t want to have to worry about landlords, and even bad straight neighbors tend to leave you alone, because ownership trumps a lot of guff that straight people routinely dish out to lesbians. Money will buy almost everything, including the deference and obedience of normally offensive straight people. They will shut up if they know they will be paid. I love to see men shut up this way. I know, it’s perverse, but they are meek as lambs when they see green.

    So I always advocate a very strong economic stance for feminism. We have a lot of writers in our movement, but very few business people that really can grasp international markets, interest rates, and capitalism in all its strengths. I assume the shortcomings of capitalism. This is an assumption women, so don’t go off on this. If you want to critique capitalism, then you have to point to a society that is better for lesbians than non-capitalistic societies– and I don’t mean subsistence living, and I don’t mean some non-urban existence. It has to include access to art, libraries, fine restaurants, and antique shops… It has to be viable and interesting.

    Male supremacy and capitalism are not one in the same. Male supremacy can exist anywhere on the planet, and its worst abuses are in societies where women don’t have access to money in their own right.

    In the developing world, once women start earning money, the hold men have over them plummets. So that’s why I talk about it, because I know what women say about it all the time.

    Unlike a lot of my feminist sisters out there, I wanted a lot more in life, and I didn’t want to survive in a subsistence sort of way. I wanted work that would intellectually challenge me every day, and work that would give me access to incomes at the top 20% of all Americans. I just looked at the census data, and thought this would be a good objective.

    I have been an out lesbian in large corporate environments for a very long time, and I’m aggressive in confronting oppressive men. Some would call me foolhardy in demanding that they retract their anti-woman statements, but I am an aggressive fighter, and I win. I win because I don’t care what they do. They have learned to leave me alone as I do my numberical work. You don’t have to be a meak or “straight looking” lesbians to be fully yourself in those worlds. Only the fear of imagined attacks keeps lesbians in line. It’s why I could care less what anyone thinks about any idea I have. But I do care that the few will really get what I have to say.

    Since I am a minority of minorities, I am always alert to the needle in the haystack. There weren’t many radical lesbian feminists studying world markets in 1980, for example. But I was. I read Marilyn Waring, and U.N. reports, and all kinds of strange documents to get at truths that would be useful.

    It’s how I came to the conclusion that children spell poverty for women worldwide, and out of control childbearing and a lack of a strong critique against it is essential. Someone has got to say this stuff, so it might as well be me. Unpopular you say! Well hell yes. Everything I say should be wildly unpopular out there or I am not doing my job. Popularity is for weaklings or cheerleaders, it is not a useful intellectual tool, and it is not good for feminism!

    Women will cry and scream over my drive to achieve this wealth in the world, but I didn’t want to be as vulnerable as a lot of straight women seem to settle for. This wasn’t at all acceptable to me in any way.

    Women should pull together. I believe in this. But I also know, after over 30 years of feminist activism, how dreadful straight women have been to lesbians, and they need to know about what it is they do in the world.

    Perhaps women buzz about my bluntness, but there is no more stubborn a species than a long term, in it for life, come hell or high water radical lesbian feminist. We are indifferent to any criticism, and we celebrate no holds barred truth telling.

    I enjoy reading a report from women I respect, and I respect radical lesbian separatists as the greatest of the great. You will always be the best of the barley in my opinion, and I know that my words are very disturbing to a lot of people.

    My life depends on making people very uncomfortable! Very uncomfortable to a degree that is minor compared to what I experience day in and day out in the world. I put women’s feet to the fire, because we are up against an incredible enemy out there. I want women to wake up. I want women to stop placating these rapist animals out there. I want women to gain their freedom.

    But we won’t get it, if we’re still too afraid of blunt and relentless words on blogs. We won’t get there unless every woman’s truth is written down here, and then read and used by everyone for the betterment of all.

    That’s the whole point of feminism: for women to finally get over their silence and their timidity in the face of evil. That’s what male supremacy is: evil. There is no greater word to describe it.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 27, 2007, 4:53 am
  165. Well, where to begin. What I have to say in response to your comment, Satsuma, I would probably need to write a whole library to say! So with that caveat, I’ll say what I can say within this comment space and the time I have available this morning, when I have all sorts of running around to do, in and out, argh.

    A lot of what you have said there takes me back to the old questions and issues of what my responsibility might be to myself as a woman and human being compared with what my responsibility is to other women and other people in the world as well as creatures, animals. On another level, it gets to questions around the usefulness of the individual solution to systemic, institutionalized oppressions and hierarchies. Then your comment raises questions about human values, about what women want in their lives, what makes them happy, satisfied, fulfilled, what makes, in other words, for “the good life” for a given woman.

    I own a farm (which is quite lovely). I love living here. I bought it for many reasons, some of which are along the lines of what you’ve detailed there but with some important differences because of my different situation. There’s no WAY I could have rented a house or apartment with 11 kids! Not legally, anyway. The laws forbid that many people living in one regular-sized rental house and no apartment in the world is big enough for that many. Of course, we all know that people do live that many to an apartment or rental house — poor people, immigrants. They do this at great risk and if someone complains that they have added additional occupants to the two or three they claimed, they get the boot. I sure did not want to subject my family to that kind of treatment and instability if I didn’t have to, and I was particularly vulnerable because nine of my children are biracial, and two of my exes have been black, so people were watching us anyhow. If we managed to even GET an apartment or house rental in the first place — we are lucky to live in the Pacific NW where there has always been, comparatively, acceptance of biracial couples, nevertheless, I have been denied apartments in the past because of my ex’s and children’s race — we would always have to watch our backs because we had to many kids for the apartment or house. And it is no small feat to move when you have 11 children. So home ownership has been crucial, just for my own and my children’s stability and security. Like you say, when you have your own home, you are somewhat protected from invasive, intrusive buttinskis, complaining about whatever when in fact, their issue is, they are racist, classist, anti-child, or whatever.

    At the same time, I am under no illusions about what home ownership means to others. It means I have a mortgage which is going to be, and has been, bought, sold and traded around for profit by people and institutions I do not believe in whose values and politics are completely at odds with my own. Same with my 401(k). I have some limited ability to direct where my 401(k) is invested, but my choices are all choices between various evils.

    And that’s just one part of the much larger picture of the way capitalism works. You get yours, under capitalism, to the degree that you have enough money to ensure that people with more than you get theirs and people with less than you stay poor.

    This is especially true under the current reign of Bush Republicanism. We now have millions of people working two and three minimum wage jobs just to survive– barely. There was a horrible situation in my area not long ago where a woman had an accident coming home from work. Her husband didn’t even know she didn’t make it home because they both worked two (low-paying) jobs and the way their schedules were, he just assumed she’d come home and gone to work again. He didn’t report her absence for 24 hours or more, leading to all sorts of speculation that there was foul play. In the end police found her car down the side of cliff in blackberry bushes where it lay for 8 days before they found it. She survived.

    I know from talking to people that companies like Wal-Mart are working hand in hand with homeless and DV shelters of various kinds in ways which essentially ensure what amounts to a steady supply of indentured servants. This is the way it works. A person becomes homeless. (Most of us are a serious illness or accident or job loss or flood or hurricane or other natural disaster away from homelessness, within a few months.) She goes to a shelter. Or maybe she is a DV victim and she goes to a shelter. The shelter has all of these rules and regulations about her stay, one of which is she has to have a job and turn over a third of her pay to the shelter. So she gets a job at Target or Wal-Mart of Starbucks, making, if she’s lucky, 12 dollars an hour, if she isn’t, minimum wage. Maybe she doesn’t get more than 30 hours a week. So she gets another minimum wage job, perhaps, or works as a caregiver of some type. But a third of her meager earnings are going to go to the shelter. She still has to feed herself, etc. What this means is, she is never going to amass the necessary first and last month’s rent and deposit she needs to rent an apartment or house, and home ownership is completely out of the question. She’s not going back to school, not with two, three jobs to get to. And this WORKS for the system we all oppose. Wal-Mart keeps paying employees chump change and working them less than full time to avoid paying benefits, the shelters stay full and their staffs stay paid, all so people who own homes, make a little bit more money than the woman in the shelter, can buy everything cheap at Wal-Mart or wherever. All so people who are healthy don’t have to be concerned with the actual care of people who need caregivers and whether it is decent care and so on, just let them make theirs and somebody else can take a second or third job at chump change to care for people who need care.

    On an international scale, the system we all oppose — white male heterosupremacy — also reaps the benefits, because the Wal-Marts et al buy the goods they sell for chump change from China and Southeast Asia and other places where people, including women, including children, including girl children, are virtually enslaved. They toil for 16 hours or more per day and make barely enough to eat and stay warm, if they are lucky to make that. And the stuff they make gets shipped to our Wal-Marts and people are all happy because it’s “cheap.” All it costs is human lives, after all, of people none of us is seeing every day.

    This makes people vulnerable to the abuses we all abhor and are dead set against as feminists — prostitution. Pornography. Sex trafficking. If your choices are amongst sweatshops and Agribiz farms working 16 hours a day while your children run loose without care, and someone offers you some good-sounding job, you might go for it and end up prostituted, trafficked and enslaved with no way out. Your pimps or procurers will tell you they will “advance” you your airfare or expenses or whatever and once you’ve turned x amount of tricks or done whatever degrading horrifying thing, served as a slave for rich people, whatever, you can pay them back and be free. But that never happens. When you try to pay them back, they tell you, no, you still owe them this, that and the other. You’re poor, you’re trafficked, you might be in violation of immigration laws and other laws, you might be prostituted, the people who have pimped/procured you have all the power, you have no way out.

    And so the guys on top, who are reaping the benefits of our having mortgages and 401(k)s and stocks and bonds and investments, who are running Wal-Mart and whatever megacorporations, are also able to travel to the Phillipines or to Southeast Asia, there to enjoy their “sex tourism” vacations unhindered.

    The system works for them. It works for them because of the way capitalism works. Capitalism needs a continuing and steady and huge *underclass* of people who work for subsistence wages, who are very poor, so that a comparatively small number of affluent people can enjoy their luxuries. Sexism needs a continuing and steady and huge underclass of prostituted persons who are enslaved, because their “choices” were no job, two or three subsistance wage jobs, or being prostituted/enslaved. There are millions and millions of people who live like this, suffer these things, throughout the world in order that some of us in the U.S. and a few other places can make capitalism work for us.

    The reason having children ensures women’s poverty in capitalist societies is, once again, capitalism requires a continuing underclass of unpaid servants, and that includes mothers and caregivers. Capitalism needs a steady supply of people to buy what is produced or imported, and so we need the mothers and the children and more and more of them to buy all the stuff that people need to survive, like clothes and food and cars and carseats and homes and so on. But it tells mothers that if they “choose” to be mothers, that’s on them. Mothers will be valued as consumers, to buy products, to raise laborers, but their caring for this next generation of consumers/laborers, will go unremarked, unnoticed and uncompensated.

    So when you say having kids makes women poor, yes. But we have to go deeper than that, I think, and I’m not talking about debates about being “child-free” and whether or not someone hates or loves children or any of that. I think we have to dig deeper to take a good look at the way the very few at the top echelons of society so far as money and power goes, mostly men, benefit from the unpaid caregiving of women, not only mothers but other caregivers, teachers, daycare workers, nannies, etc., and the way our economy is dependent upon these children mothers are raising, while at the same time refusing to acknowledge this dependence and blaming mothers for the poverty this failure of acknowledgement causes.

    When we get into these issues we are getting into the deeper issues of what will actually *make* for revolution. While it might well be revolutionary on an individual level for a few women to make it in capitalist cultures, and while I do not fault women *for* having decided to get theirs, go for it, because nobody else is going to see to it that they do, I do not see this as any path to true revolution, because again, whatever a woman manages to amass for herself, and perhaps a few others, in a capitalist society, she is only going to be able to amass by virtue of the thousands and millions of people, including women and girls, who are essentially enslaved by that same system and will not be able to find a way up and out of their enslaved situation. Even women who don’t have children. Even women wh o work really, really hard. Even women who go to college and get degrees and set their sites on lucrative careers.

    So far as nonurban settings and the greater desirability of restaurants, antique shops, art, etc., this is totally about values. I work in downtown Seattle every day but I live way out on a rural peninsula where I’ve lived since 1990. If I could quit my job in Seattle, 60 miles away, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I would not feel any compulsion to drive to the city more than I felt like driving to the city, and that would probably be only a very few times a year if that. I think that a lot of the time, people love the city in direct proportion to their need not to face themselves, their own issues, their own lives. You (rhetorical “you”) can completely lose yourself, escape, in the city, with the lights and the noise and the crowds and all the stuff to buy and consume and the fancy restaurants and the cars and buses wizzing by and the bars with plenty of alcohol and music to numb the senses. Out in the country and in rural areas where it is quiet, like at my place, you are face to face with yourself, with who you are, with your own life. You are also in a situation in which you are not going to call the doorman, call the cab, summon the housekeepers, call the waiter to attend to you, you are going to learn real self-sufficiency. You are going to learn to rely on your own strength, insight, intelligence, resourcefulness, creativity to make a good life.

    Money is a kind of power, but self-reliance, self-sufficiency are also power. I can and have, for years, grown my own food from the ground. It is organic, it is delicious, it is fresh. I have raised chickens for eggs, sheep for wool, I know how to live without electricity or running water for weeks at a time. I know how to fix all sorts of stuff. When the pump on the well stops running, I know how to fix it or I know who to call to fix it. I know how to keep warm without electricity, how to have lights without it, cook without it, and I do not need to call and raise a ruckus and flash around my dough in order to get someone to come out and fix whatever it is, turn on whatever it is, take care of my needs. I know and appreciate nonurban values of facing the elements as it is necessary to and being a good neighbor in times of difficulty and disaster.

    In the meantime I am surrounded by beauty, peace, quiet, and within my home by thousands and thousands of books, beautiful music, growing things, creatures. I don’t need to be in an urban setting in order to be highly educated, to appreciate art, music, to make music, make art, and so on. In fact, in my own home, out here on my farm or wherever I am, I have complete control over the art and food and music I appreciate. I don’t really care much about the music/art/literature males bow and scrape before and elevate and ohmygod, we are just too TOO. A lot of it is crap. A lot of it is so overrated and so unintelligent and downright stupid and above all SO sexist. I don’t need to rub elbows with people in fancy restaurants in order to eat well or to live well (though I do like going to restaurants, of course, especially to chill with women friends.)

    Country people, ime, are as smart and educated and intelligent as the day is long, sometimes in ways which are different from what our mainstream culture values, but so what? Who really cares what is valued by a male-dominated, sexist society? Not me.

    And country people are often engaged in the grass roots, nuts and bolts work of revolution. They are the pioneers of sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy sources, alternative economies, sustainable living structures. Their work is absolutely *crucial* to the building of a new world, because this one we are living in is falling apart, it is running out of what everybody needs in the cities, wars are being fought to maintain control over these limited resources, when catastrophes come, like Katrina, millions suffer for lack of water, sanitations, food, electricity, heat, shelter, medical care, when the infrastructures fail. This is not so where people are creating alternative societies away from the cities. A story we often told in my old world was about the Amish person who, when asked how she survived the Great Depression, asked “What Depression?” Because her life was not all tied up in and dependent upon an infrastructure dependent on nonsustainable energy sources, imported foods and goods of all kinds, imported power, and especially, huge amounts of cash to buy what a person needs. That cash does you no good at all where there is no power, no water, no gas, no sanitation, no fuel and nobody to call to attend to all of this for you.

    There are all sorts of ways to create wealth and the best ways are ways which involve doing what we love to do. I started a zine at my kitchen table in 1989. I had 17 subscribers. Via word of mouth, no advertising, after five years I had 50,000 readers internationally and was publishing a full-color glossy magazine 11 times a year. I learned as I went every step of the way. I didn’t have training in journalism, had never even worked on the school newspaper. But I loved to write. The last year I published, the magazine grossed almost $500,000. This before the Religious Right took me out. But of course, when I sued, the jury’s award was based on the value of my business which had been destroyed. I used my earnings to care for my family and to buy my first five acres.

    I did this with 9, 10, 11 children and while bearing children. I did it with no traditional training, apprenticeship or education in journalism. I did it without advertising and without getting loans. I did it because I loved writing and loved what I was writing about and I loved making a publication. It *thrilled* me, honestly.

    And, I was put out by powerful institutions run by white men. As can and has happened to many to most successful women. Sooner or later we bump up against the glass ceiling, whatever that looks like for us. And we see all the feminist work that remains to be done.

    I am just saying, it isn’t necessarily true that setting one’s sites on not having kids, or going to college, or picking careers that earn the big bucks is the way through or forward to a satisfying life, career, or even to material wealth for women. And in my opinion, given the fact that in order to play it this way, we have to play by rules established by male heterosupremacists, have to agree that millions of people throughout the world are expendable, it’s not really all that admirable to advocate for it. It’s a deal that women can cut, sure. Just like the other undesirable deals which are available to us to cut. Whatever deal we cut, there will be downsides which include some amount of selling out, some amount of compromise with sexism, misogyny, capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and a whole host of uglies that we dare not ignore in our zeal that women have some of the things men have always had, some of the money and power men have always had.

    I don’t fault any woman for getting hers. At the same time, let’s talk about what that actually *costs*. And all of the ways it costs. And what it means.

    To me, the fact that capitalist societies are the ones in which women fare best is not a persuasive argument for capitalism as a good or moral or ethical structure. Yes, it makes sense to do the best we can with what we have, but always with an eye to the way others, including women, are harmed by our participation, and also, especially, with an eye to how we can *change* the system, make new forms that will benefit all women.

    The other thing is, all sorts of different things make people happy. I despise shopping. I hate antique shops! Especially when they gouge! I don’t care about male art, male music, male literature. Cities, bah. Noise, exhaust, inefficient skyscrapers which get people driving in their cars and polluting the air to get to work, overcrowding, nah. I don’t mind visiting but I wouldn’t want to live there, and especially in these days of gentrification with rich white people buying up or building apartment buildings formerly occupied by the urban poor who then get displaced to who knows where, homeless shelters, tent cities, to work at Wal-Mart and turn over 300 of the 900 they make a month to the shelter, and it goes on and on. That is not for me, and while I understand that amassing money and power in traditional ways is attractive to some, I do not see valuing all of this stuff as particularly feminist or as part of any overall agenda for the empowering of women as a class. I see the valuing of money, power, antique shops, fancy restaurants, city life, culture as it exists incities, etc., as a desire to have what men have always had and not be denied it. Okay, I see that, and I will not begrudge any woman getting hers. At the same time, I’m going to, again, critique that. I’m going to say there is nothing revolutionary about getting hers in that way. There is nothing feminist about it. There is nothing in it that addresses human or civil rights or that challenges injustices.

    Well, like I say, I could write a library about this stuff. This is enough for now.

    Posted by Heart | November 27, 2007, 4:55 am
  166. Well Heart, you and I am very different people. I would not like to live outside a major city, and am a completely urban person. I have found I am most at ease with very large and very diverse populations, and in cities which were settled in more of a wild west tradition. I like to hear seven or eight languages each day, for example. I like to greet and talk to people from all over the world on a daily basis. I am at home in places where there are lots of new immigrants!

    All of your critiques are valid. I don’t disagree with any thing you have said about capitalism. It is what it is, and no doubt will continue to evolve. We need to critique everything on earth in my opinion, and then we have the great challenge of living our beliefs in the world.

    However, I disagree that all people are doomed under capitalism or any other ism for that matter. This is simply not the case. It was not the case for me when I had very little. I just lived very differently for the first 26 years of my life or so. I did not live the life most women live, never have never will. I can easily see all the dangers that heterosexual lives pose for young women. It is a time filled with danger in my opinion. Danger to the mind, danger to the soul.

    I do preach learning the art and science of business for lesbians. There are all kinds of ways for lesbians to deal with a hostile world. As for investments, you can be very careful what companies you support and what ones you don’t. There are all kinds of ways of weeding out the bad apples. Amy Domini in fact pioneered the concept of socially responsibile investing. She was the one who also got thousands to push U.S. companies and universities to divest South African investments during apartheid.

    Yes, poverty will always be with us. No matter what we do, people will struggle and fall or stay in poverty. I’m really not sure what causes either self-made wealth or self-made poverty, but I rather suspect there are forces out there that we can’t imagine at work. You can’t see inside people, so you have no real way of knowing what causes persistence and what does not.

    I think, as a lesbian, I grew adept at tuning out all the hostile social messages aimed at both me and women who don’t want to settle for the crumbs at the master’s table. I did not want to settle in any way at all.

    My best teachers were new immigrants to America. I work with several generations of immigrants, and have devised business plans for the street vendors to the small shop keepers. That was one project. I get these ideas simply by observing people doing business, and then coming up with a plan that will help them do a little better. It’s always about figuring out how one thing can become something a bit better.

    When I went to college, I also did something very different. I went to college only to get the very best education I could. I was not interested in wasting my time at a boring business school. I knew that I could learn business out in the world, and learn computers out in the world too. I wanted art, history, politics and literature. I wanted music. I wanted to sit outside the music school and listen to the great musicians practicing. I also wanted freedom for women, and I knew it would not be easy. I studied the economic mistakes women often make, and steered clear of those things.

    I wanted to live in a foreign middle class culture, so that I could see outside of America. I looked at what countries fit this, and what places would work for me. When other women were dating boys, I was in the library studying. When other girls were too fearful of those “all male dominated” classes, I took them, and battled sexism and homophobia. I studied my enemies at close range, and learned to outwit them. I saw men as road blocks to drive around, or clay pigeons to shoot at in my spare time. They saw me as formidable, someone they should not triffle with. My anger and my raw aggression made them very weary, as well they should be around an ax weilding man hating lesbian warrior!
    ****
    Years later…..
    ****
    One of my favorite things is to coach waitresses on how to earn 20% more in tips. This is free advice I give if a waitress is interested in hearing what I have to say on this subject. I always ask if they are interested. It’s not what you’d think.

    Any job can be made more profitable or better. And if one job doesn’t work out well, you can read and study and try other things. Suzie Orman was once a waitress and she writes amazing stories about this.

    I think the hippie generation has a horror of investments the way I have a horror of recreational drugs and hard rock music. We come from very different cultures.

    So these are the words I say to lesbians out there, or other women who might find some of this of value. It’s not for everyone, and there are endless issues to deal with. There are always difficulties for women.

    You have 11 children and have to find a big home for them, I go nuts listening to children and find them a distraction. So we have different values vis-a-vis children. I moved to a neighborhood with no children at all, because I found this kind of place the least overtly homophobic. Believe it or not, straight people are at their very worst when they have children for some reason. They believe they are morally superior, and that lesbians who 60% of the time don’t have children, are some sort of threat to their existence. And perhaps we really are!

    The best places for me as a lesbian are as far away from children as possible. And as far away from teenage boys as possible. I always want to kill them!

    A large urban area isn’t necessarily noisy either. My neighborhood is exeedingly quiet and filled with trees. It is a lovely place, simple, but perfect for two lesbians and their two lovely pets. It took us 15 years to save up the downpayment for the house, and this included my partner’s work as a very low paid activist worldwide for lesbian rights. We brought lunches to work, we didn’t own cars for a very long time. We both worked for low wages for years, and we kept studying.

    We actually don’t like to buy a lot of things, and live very simply. I find the very best things in life are just the delight of study and commentary. Sharing ideas on a blog is delightful to me. Reading books checked out from a library is heaven for me. I especially like to think of my tax money going to libraries that all people have access to. Somehow I feel better with this idea, because I’ll boil with anger at the thought of paying taxes to support the “heterosexual lifestyle,” and heterosexuals are very expensive to maintain 🙂

    But one thing I was very stubborn about, I would not settle, I would not cease in trying to do things more and more efficiently. I wanted control of my time, I wanted a lot of time to think, and I wanted a lot of freedom.

    These were very important things to me.

    There will always be things that do and don’t work for people. There will always be societies that do one thing better than another. There will always be women who don’t want to have as much freedom as other women. Freedom entails a lot of responsibility. It is hard to say that responsibility begins with you, no excuses, and I believe in no excuses. This is a harsh mirror that I look in.

    One thing we can definitely agree on is that women deserve better than they are getting. There is a very clear divergence between the rich and the poor in America. I do everything in my power to make access and knowledge; to make women’s lives easier and better in this department. It’s what I know how to do, and I believe this knowlege should be made more available to a wider variety of people.

    Finance is often thought of as an elitist intimidating profession, but that’s only the way people with no imagination treat it. You can use numbers to count bombs or to count geese at sunset. You can invest in good things or in bad things. Since I have no real connection to a personal lived experience as a heterosexual woman, I can see things that most women don’t see. I see possibilities for freedom, because I have chosen to focus on some things, and completely ignore others.

    I wouldn’t have wanted to have 11 children or marriages to men. This seems like hard work to me. I’m a lazy person by nature, and I like to think of easier ways for me to do things. I can’t say why it is that I dislike being around children. Maybe it’s because of the morally superior air heterosexuals with them behave around me — as if they are entitled to my resources because they had these creatures. Maybe, since my expenses are higher than heterosexuals who get all these discounted items, I get a little bit annoyed at this unequal distribution of social security benefits, for example. I talked about this earlier.

    I know how bad straight people are. Some of it is purely unintentional, they know nothing of lesbian lives, and have no interest whatsoever in learning either. It’s just the way they are. Some of it is deliberate out and out homophobia. Most of the time, I just think it is a clueless sense of entitlement that straight people have — their culture is better than lesbian culture, their children are holy, our lives are inferior, they have a god that loves them, and their god is going to kill us.

    Who knows what their problem is with this tiniest of minorities. I guess Heart when anyone stands up for their rights, the rest of the gang hates this. Men don’t like women standing up to them, straight people don’t like it when lesbians stand up to them, the cat doesn’t like it when the dog rules the living room, and on it goes

    I am ultimately an advocate of the concrete. I believe the ideas of lesbian feminism provide specific answers to an oppressive anti-lesbian world. As I get older, I find straight people less bothersome.

    It is the weakness of feminism not to deal in the nitty gritty of economics for some reason. Maybe because there are very few lesbian feminists in my line of work, who knows.

    I personally thought that I would stand a better chance if numbers were on my side in my daily battle with male supremacy. I could see there were lines of work that were very limited, and I didn’t want to be there. There was no growth potential, nowhere to go. Even to this day, there are young women out there who will pay a vast fortune to get a Masters Degree in something that will pay them nothing later on. They don’t consider the economic impact of this at all, and I am often confused by this.

    Women’s choices, if they really are choices, are often strange and disconnected from an economic analysis. I can’t say why I always thought about this, but I did. No one in my family had any connection to the world of finance. None of my neighbors or childhood friends. Maybe this knowledge came to me when I got my very first savings account at a young age. I had asked to get one, because our little city bank gave free balloons to children. When I looked at the little book, I could see small amounts of money being added to it — interest. Other children would get a bit of christmas money from a grandparent and spend it on candy. But I was very excited about saving it for some perverse reason. It was a world I discovered quietly for myself.

    A lot of things I did went beyond the behavior of most girls my age. I was somewhere else mentally, and I am still somewhere else mentally.

    I could see that women often have harried and overworked lives, and are chronically tired. Workaholism among women is epidemic, and that was not for me Heart.

    So I simply thought about different things. I had my own dreams outside the usual dreams of lesbian feminism or even radical feminism. Very few women on this blog ever mention these things, so I thought it useful to mention them.

    I want other lesbians to know that they don’t have to settle for low wages or bad circumstances. I want all women to know that they don’t have to do anything that holds them back or wastes their time. They can choose a world, and build one thing at a time.

    They can fight to change things, and to make things better for successive generations of women. I guess when you’re the pioneer, like I often was, you simply march to your own drum. You stop listening to people who try to hold you back. You stop giving credence to a heterosexual ideology that is inherently degrading to me as a lesbian.

    Women should get very mad at poverty, and very mad at a world that holds women back from their greatest achievements. Lesbians should refuse to give any quarter to blatant anti-lesbian propaganda.

    You can be rich or you can be poor in America, either way, you are right. There is a point in life where we all choose an economic circumstance in life. This usually is a very slow thing. Women often don’t know that they are not really paying their own way, and they often don’t know the value of things. Men shield women from economic responsibility because to them women are things to own, nothing less and nothing more. So women are still not getting the true story on the cost of living they themselves will have on their own without this male income.

    With divorce among straight people going on 50-60%, it’s a very big risk for women to have children. They will have to pay for these children on their own. “Divorce” among lesbians is just awful too. While you may have straight married friends Heart, every single lesbian couple I ever knew since 1979 has split up. That’s right, every single one. Now sometimes, you really should leave, just as women lesbian or straight should never ever stay in abusive relationships. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the average.

    This is a clear indication of the hostility that lesbian couples face day in and day out. Blantant in your face terrorism on the part of straight people against little old me and my partner.
    You wouldn’t believe the insults, the rejection, the meanness, the hostility, the threats, the attacks, the name calling, the this and the that.

    One time, I was in a parking garage at night with a colleague. We had justed finished teaching a financial seminar, and were heading back to our cars. Suddenly I spotted a car filled with teenage boys (I’d gladly have them wiped off the face of the earth). Trouble was coming, and my colleague was completely unaware of the danger. They yelled ‘dyke” at me, and my colleague, who was probably never yelled at in his life, didn’t hear what they’d said. “Get down, we have got to get out of here, get down,” and I grabbed my colleague and we hid between several parked cars until we spotted a security guard and I yelled for help. The boys then fled the garage, and my colleague was just dumbfounded by the entire situation. I told him what the word was that they yelled, and I could see the utter shock on his face. “Does this happen to you all the time?” he asked. “No, not as much as it used to. My business suit and briefcase usually keeps those damn boys away from me, the older I get the more intimidated they become of an older adult,” I said. “Now you know why I think all teenage boys should be hanged in the town square!” and with that I started laughing and couldn’t stop. Somehow, laughter is my way of dealing with the realization that once again, I had barely escaped alive.

    Then there was the time I was walking with a gay guy buddy of mine, and a group of boys, it is always boys who do this around me, started yelling at him. He was paralyzed with fear, but my emotions were very different. I wanted to kill them, and chased after them yelling. It’s why I own no guns. I know my anger is so explosive dealing with those piggish boorish boys that I really would murder them in cold blood at the wrong time and the wrong place. It’s always best to run and hide or counterattack by yelling loudly and inducing fear in the cowards, which is what homophobic boys really are, the worst kind of coward!

    You know Heart, I just even hate telling these stories. I want to forget them. I don’t even like straight people to ever know how evil they are oftentimes. Why bother right? You probably get so tired of racism and in-your-face hate your mixed race children… It sure gets tiresome.

    Despite all of this, I have found places where my partner is treated with the utmost respect, and I do insist on the very best tables. Wealthy people in Hollywood do not act as boorish to lesbian couples, maybe because Ellen is big here.
    But you can bet this won’t be the case in the neighborhood where those stupid gang banger boys live. Think of the smart girls going to high school and having to deal with those pigs day after day, the way I did. Think of the terrorism of stupid boys, who should be beaten within an inch of their lives for even “thinking” a sexist thought. Think of the parents who raise these boorish children!!

    You come to have an incredible hatred for these people, a kind of contempt that I think straight women have no concept of.

    *** ****
    Since I am aware that I don’t want male income messing up my bookkeeping, I steer around the cones of illusion as best I can. I calculate a wage higher than the average to compensate for the lack of institutional benefits straight people take for granted. I have to play a guessing game to see if I really am getting a fair deal most of the time, with the most mundane things. Shirts at the laundry — $1.85 for a men’s shirt, $2.25 for a women’s. A haircut that is $40 for me, and a lot less than that for men. But then I calculate that my haircut lasts longer than a man’s haircut, and then I am the one who pays less. I do the math of male and female in the world. Now there are those people out there who are going to scream– oh that Satsuma… there she goes with an expensive haircut, but then you would not know that I support a woman owned salon, and I give free financial advise to all the hairdressers, and I coarch them on increasing tips.
    A lot of this new money goes to help make their lives as single parents easier, just as I help married women there plan on their own in case their charming husbands turn them in for a better “model.” Men are now talking about doing this three hours a day on talk radio women. The male ownership of women is coming out of the closet. Married women will be the last to know when their major breadwinner walks, and they get a poor attorney, well you know the drill….

    I suppose a lot of straight people think lesbians should be poor and should suffer. I don’t want this type of life. I want more out of life. I want to strive for things that interest me, and I won’t settle for second class citizenship at the hands of really evil straight people, and really evil men. Then there are the “liberal” straight people, and that is another story entirely.
    Let’s not even go into that!

    The world will not be free of inequality in my lifetime, but I am very happy that I was not born in India, China or North Korea.
    I am very happy that I never was in a fundamentalist church, and that lesbian feminism came along when I was very young.
    I was lucky to have come across volume one, number one of Ms. Magazine. I was very happy to have stayed away from drugs, and that I never ever dated men. Never ever. Perhaps my social life in high school was very limited, but later in life triumph was my reward for all that diligence, of which I am exceedingly proud, and no one will take away this sense of accomplishment! No one! I get to crow just the way straight women endlessly crow about their charming children! Beliefve me, they can’t seem to contain themselves, and I rarely crow. I do it here I think, because lesbians should crow, and not always be the poor the down and out and the last in line!

    I am happy that I enjoyed numbers and statistics and all those fun subjects most people are bored with or even hate.
    I was happy that I stuck it out in classes where only men were my classmates, just as Mary Daly had to do to get her degrees in Europe.

    Mary Daly and I went into worlds most women simply avoided. I feel such a strong kinship with her. She became my role model of the perfect lesbian feminist. I know, I don’t know the real Mary Daly, and have only heard her lectures three or four times. She is often a not very nice person, just as all great lesbian feminists tend to get mean over the years.
    Mary Daly does not take questions and answers from her audiences, at least not the times I was there. She’ll keep women waiting for over an hour before she begins a lecture.
    There are a lot of things about her that are not great, just as we all have a kind of strange attitude toward life as radical lesbian feminists in an oddly hostile world.

    Mary Daly described herself as the pirate plundering patriarchy for knowledge that was stolen from women in the first place, and that’s how I often see myself.

    I try not to be a big meanie, but sometimes my anger gets the best of me. It takes a lot of self-restraint sometimes not to write straight women off completely, and to try to stay in dialogue with all women. I get fed up sometimes, but hey we all get fed up.

    Both Mary Daly and I grew up with very modest means. She even grew up near my Mom! They didn’t know each other, but maybe they met. We’ll never know because that was way before Mary became famous.

    Mary Daly’s books spoke to me, and her ideas had great power in a business context. I don’t think most women would think of radical lesbian feminist philosophy as a financial tool, but I saw it that way. I wanted an applied feminism. I wanted a results based feminism.

    I believed that one day women really would wake up, and the world would change overnight. I still believe this. Even Judy Chicago, another goddess to me, had very wealthy women financial backers, who have now enshrined her “The Dinner Party” at the Brooklyn Museum. Just opened this year! A lesbian stock broker was one of the first women to purchase one of her works of art way back when! A lesbian stock broker! When I read that in her biography, I was so energized. Little things like that make me smile Heart. I am proud of my lesbian artistic heritage — Gertrude Stein… a woman who helped usher in modernism, as did a lot of lesbians in Europe at that time. The arts are very much a place of lesbian creativity and power.

    My role models when I was very young were those fabulous lesbians of Europe between the two world wars. My lesbian community was thriving in 1910! My lesbian heroines are the literary greats, and the writers and poets. They were artists like Romaine Brooks. They were the Una Trowbridges and Naltalie Barneys of the world. When men went off to world war I, lesbians took over Paris. Imagine that!

    How did they do all this? The answer is very simple, they all had independent means. They all had economic viability. That set them apart from most women of that day, and it made a huge difference. I wanted to be like Gertrude Stein.

    To do all this first and formost you have to give up the one thing that women cling to: the fear of being unpopular and disliked. You have to give up all attachment to being understood or even listened to. You have to take your ship and sail it into the mists with only your wits to guide you. When you do this with persistence, you do reach dry land. You may sail the seven seas for seven months or seven decades, but you will get to where you want to go.

    You know this Heart and I know it. It’s why we are both exceedingly good at what we do in the world. It’s why we both win. It’s what moves the cause of the souls of women forward. We each have our own lamps to light, and our own sail boats to pilot!

    Just don’t tell me as a lesbian to settle for a substandard living. That I will never do! I will always aspire to the world of Paris between the wars and after the Great War. I will always have as my model the most successful lesbians in the world.
    My model is the lesbian ideal to me. I will not follow the model of straight women at all. They are not me, and I am a separate species I think. Yes, I even believe my DNA is not the same. I am this sacred species born on earth to live a very different life. This sense of spiritual destiny and rarity is my most empowering thought. It is the lesbian who reaches for the highest of intellectual dreams, and who is in spirit a part of those lesbian communities in Europe.

    That world is my spiritual home. That home I created for myself. No straight woman will ever understand my life, and I most certainly have no comprehension of your life.

    We can appreciate the good work we do in the world. That’s what we can do, and I will continue to celebrate the triumph that women often hate. They want me to believe that poverty can’t be conquered or that women can’t rise to great heights through shrewd and complex work strategies. Most women will never know that they don’t have to marry or have children or do any of that ever if they don’t want to.

    When women have real social choices, then you might see a world where 45% of the world’s women become lesbians. It’s why the heterosexual world does everything in its power to derail us, to kill us, to make fun of us, to tell us what to do, to make cities such harsh places.

    I am simply the hardiest of species, the most aggressive of freedom fighters. Who but the most imaginative could have survived the isolation of heterosexual hell known as high school, who else could have dreamed of things that no one had dreamed back when I dreamed them?

    There was no lesbian community out there when I began my solitary journey in life. It’s why I never give in to group anything. I hate the low standards of radical lesbian feminism; what lesbians settle for, when we could rule our lands. We could take our lands and create a world or a town of our own making. No doubt men and transgendered MTF would try to invade our lands. Then what would we do?

    Would we take up guns and kill every invader? Then what would we become? It’s a sad thought, but I do want my country someday. I want a place where women can go who have never ever had sexual relationships with the monsters. I want to see what that would look and feel like.

    Why would I like to see this place? I don’t know really. Maybe because I think it would be different, or it would finally be home for me. Or maybe, it’s just a creation of a great novelist — somehow I always come back to Cervantes, who must have been a lesbian. Why do I keep thinking this as I write on this blog? Don’t we all come of with the oddest things as we attempt to be radical feminists together?

    Posted by Satsuma | November 27, 2007, 4:57 am
  167. I think is thread is fascinating.

    I am interested in the urban/rural division.
    I think it is right to say that much of the fear of the countryside, is the fear of having to face yourself. I. personally, find too much quiet scary for my thoughts bring up things that I wish I didn’t know. I can get overwhelmed. Although, I love the countryside, I do not understand the rules of living in it.

    Because of my past, I like to know I has an exit wherever I am. Sometimes in the countryside, I can feel trapped.
    Part of my abuse as a child happened in the countryside. There my stepdad would threaten to make me “disappear. Often he would point out fields to bury me in. As at the same time, he making look at torture porn and photos of sex murders, I believe him. He would say that if he kill me in the countryside, no-one would find.

    Although I know logically that cities are as dangerous as the countryside, when confronted by such hate. For, much of my life I had a terror of the countryside. I know I am wrong, but it is hard to fight.

    When I read Andrea Dworkin, I admire so much that she spoke with the voice of the long silenced. Her courage and honestry made a space where women who felt they been forgotten get a voice.

    When I first read Andrea Dworkin, I found I was not alone.

    Posted by Rebecca | November 27, 2007, 4:58 am
  168. Wow Heart. That is simply amazing! I’m passing this comment along to friends.

    This dialog here reminds me of my Empowerment class at the University of Houston College of Social Work. One of the groups in class had a project on happiness. Not everyone achieves happiness in the same way.

    Posted by April | November 27, 2007, 4:58 am
  169. I always appreciate it when I hear from my peers — other radical lesbian feminists.

    So, am I to assume that this, too, has nothing at all to do with me, or any heterosexual woman posting here? I should extend a generous reading of this statement such that I understand it only as an expression of affinity between two specific women, and in NO WAY a repudiation of certain other, unnamed, non-peer women?

    Sorry. I’m for generous readings of provocative statements, really! But I’m just not this generous; I’m no longer willing to take on the responsibility of decoding where I’m supposed to write myself into the peer group and where I’m supposed to understand I’m not a peer but that it shouldn’t offend me. Even when it’s a feminist woman doing it, rather than a textbook-writer insisting that he-singular construction is the only grammatically correct way to go or an author discussing man’s inhumanity to man, or whatever.

    Sometimes the conveyor of an idea has the responsibility, plain and simple, to communicate exactly who it is she includes in the sympatico category. That way, there can be no mistake or ambiguity over whether or not certain people constitute peers and equals. That way when we talk about “men” it is understood that we mean MEN, not human beings. And when we say our peers are radical lesbian feminists, it is understood that we mean radical LESBIAN feminists, and not radical feminists.

    Particularly where other women have clearly communicated that it’s been an issue for them, it should be easy enough to write a way that resolves this question of whether or not non-lesbian radical feminist women constitute peers and allies.

    If that’s difficult, there’s a problem. And it may not just be with straight women. It may have something to do with the speaker.

    Posted by funnie | November 27, 2007, 5:00 am
  170. I’m trying to understand the reasons women’s responses differ so much to statements like the one you pasted.

    Using myself for an example, because I think this particualr issue is too fraught to use what (I might think) anyone else has said, I don’t see myself as a peer with Amy’s Brain and Satsuma so far as radical lesbian feminism, even though I could probably make a fairly convincing or persuasive case (in favorably-disposed ears) that I am their peer. I don’t share their history, my life has been much different in so many ways. I believe them to be my peers so far as radical feminism goes, but I think radical feminism and radical lesbian feminism really are different kinds of feminism, and though I would place myself inside of, as being part of, both communities, so far as the latter, I just haven’t been part of the world Satsuma and Amy’s Brain and other radical lesbian feminists, particularly separatists, have been part of. So, to me, that’s just the fact. It’s not a diss to me, iow, I don’t feel excluded. To me, a peer is just someone who shares a similar history, community, and political perspectives.

    You seem to be hearing that word as meaning equals, and I guess I can see how you would be insulted if you thought that meant you were being told you were not equal. I don’t see, again, that there’s a value judgment there. I’m not “equal” with Amy’s Brain and Satsuma so far as their shared experiences of lesbian radical feminism. But… so?

    I think possibly the problem is not recognizing the differences between these two kinds of feminism, radical feminism and radical lesbian feminism. They overlap, but they are different.

    Posted by Heart | November 27, 2007, 5:01 am
  171. They overlap quite a bit. But, yes, they’re different and I do recognize that. And I can see why it would be nice to receive feedback from someone very similarly situated in particular respects – radical lesbian feminism, for instance; in other words, I have no problem with Satsuma valuing Amy’s post especially high. And, not being a lesbian, I don’t see myself as a peer wrt radical lesbian feminism in particular.

    My point is simply to press on why the “peer” designation was so necessary – why draw a line in the sand regarding which women you consider peers, and define it as those who are radical lesbian feminists? Why not, given the other thread’s events and your processing of them above, simply state that you really value receiving feedback from that perspective, or from women who share a background with you, and keep it at that?

    I don’t think I’m the only person to read “peer” and think “group I consider equals.”

    Certainly we can pick apart this word and women’s interpretations of it and find a way to synthesize them such that Satsuma a)didn’t mean to imply that het women were lesser OR b)she meant to consider het women unequal but that’s okay because we ARE unequal when it comes to radical lesbian feminism.

    And there isn’t anything wrong with doing that…once or twice, or where words are static and the author can’t clarify them, or where women aren’t already of the opinion that the different interpretations of who/what is a “peer” constitute a leitmotif of ill-will (whether on the part of Satsuma or on the part of her readers).

    But where those things exist, I think we have to press a little harder than asking why women react so differently to what she says. That is one question. There are others. Like: if it is hard for women to tell whether and when they’re being included in the group you consider equals, do you have some responsibility to make that clearer, after this has repeatedly been communicated to you? That’s not an unduly burdensome request for change in communication style, or an ultimatum regarding theory-shift or nitpicky or otherwise pain-in-the-ass-with-no-upshot. It’s just a request for clarity: where do heterosexual radical feminists fall? Should we write ourselves into “peers, whose words I appreciate” or into “heterosexual women do thus and so”? Both? Neither?

    Maybe that’s happened and I’ve missed it. But I’ve seen you spend a lot of time and energy trying to translate and mediate, Heart – and while I do, really, respect your efforts at helping women to understand each other, I think there’s a point at which the women involved in this argument need to be able to understand each other directly (or it’s just plain at an impasse, I guess).

    I, for one, need to know whether or not there’s any use in my engaging Satsuma’s comments directly. I can only do that if I know how she views me, and (frankly) I have gleaned from her comments to date that she views me as someone who does not exist and/or does not matter. That you glean something else doesn’t change that, and your alternate interpretations of her comments MAY change that, but at base, I need to know how SHE sees me, not how you would receive her comments. You know?

    So, Satsuma – I would like to know what you mean by the comment that I quoted. I would like for you to respond to my comment there.

    Posted by funnie | November 27, 2007, 5:03 am
  172. Argh. In my moving stuff all around, etc., I inadvertantly deleted ekittyglendower’s response to funnie of 3:18 p.m. today and Satsuma’s final response to funnie of, I think, 5:00 p.m.

    I am sorry! It was completely unintentional. I’m not even sure how I managed to delete these comments. This took talent. Anyway.

    From this comment forward, each woman here is allowed ONE more comment to this comments thread. ONE. Then I am, again, going to close the thread. Please get your one comment in before 7 p.m. tomorrow.

    Again, I’m sorry, Kitty and Satsuma, for having deleted your most recent comments.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 27, 2007, 5:49 am
  173. Never mind. I found Kitty’s and Satsuma’s comments. I’ll post them.

    Posted by womensspace | November 27, 2007, 6:12 am
  174. Funnie, you are not a peer, you will never be a peer, you are beneath the lesbians here. King Satsuma is in charge and in her kingdom you (and I) are the shit on her shoes. Heart supports this King. LONG LIVE KING SATSUMA!!!!!!!!

    Posted by ekittyglendower | November 27, 2007, 6:13 am
  175. Sometimes, Funnie, you are just oversensitive about everything. “So, am I to assume that this, too, has nothing at all to do with me, or any heterosexual woman posting here?”

    I’ll have to look up an exact dictionary definition of “peer” and “equal”, but my understanding is the two terms are different. So see if the below makes sense.

    I don’t equate the word peer with the word equal. Straight women are my equals but not my peers. It is actually a very rare thing that I read any discourse between radical lesbian feminists online or at all. We are exceedingly rare creatures on earth, so any one that shows up with the kind of political consciousness Amy has will get my respect and admiration.

    A radical lesbian feminist separatist is almost a household deity to me. I revere their work, even as I don’t feel able to live up to their highest standards of daily lived feminism. I know we are not supposed to have hierachies out there, but hey, they are the best in my book.

    They are the most exaulted of lesbians on the planet in my opinion, so high up there, that when you converse with them, you know you have encountered women who have made their life… well something we could all learn from.

    I search for my peers, those women who call themselves radical lesbian feminists, because we are very similar to radical feminists, but yet, we are very different in many interesting ways. Most straight women out there never get to know us, because we tend to not mix well with regular feminists, and we are too tough and uncompromising to get along well in the world. There is something about our species that can really make straight women nuts. We give all feminism a bad name, we make every woman look bad, we’re not nice to have at Princess Diana’s wedding… l you won’t score points, get promotions or make your first million hanging out with us.

    And yet here we are in the world. We have written the brilliant books, founded the first rape crisis centers, opened battered women’s shelters and risked our life for a cause that we never give up on. We have the academic and political production to prove that our way of life has great power and integrity to it. Why are we like this? I don’t know. Even if I was the only radical feminist on earth, I would still be one, is the famous Mary Daly quote. We are a cognitive minority of one if we have to be — another Dalyism… I could quote goddess Mary day and night…

    We are the warrior class of feminists, and often times we have done actual battle with men. We don’t talk about justice, we meet it out to them when the need arises.

    When you read the works of Mary Daly, and especially her autobiography “Outercourse” you will see the greatest radical lesbian feminist of the 20th century. You will see the height of the woman as pure intellectual, someone who literally willed her way into another dimension. This is not the same as a woman who has led a more domestic existence. She is not the same as a straight woman. There just is no comparison possible. She has more PhDs than any woman alive in America today. Not that that is the only measure mind you, but hey I never got beyond a four year degree, and even that was a modest production.

    I think what straight feminists tend to forget is that they have all the space in the world, and they pretty much control “gender studies” and academia these days. Straight women can and will write radical lesbian feminist out of existence, you just wait and see. I actually expect you to do this.

    But lesbian feminists barely have enough territory to call our own, and we certainly don’t get much respect at all from straight women, who typically can’t stand us. I think it’s because we don’t bow down to much of anything, and in our stubborn ways, we live outside a system that is heterosexual, and thus an abomination to us. That is the heterosexual system of government worldwide, not individual heterosexuals in it. The system is not the same as the individuals.

    You can hate American foreign policy, but you know that hating Americans is not the same thing. Even many Iranians really love America, they just hate our foreign policy, for example. I heard this very comment last week at a lecture on feminism in Iran, and it was sincere.

    I celebrate all that is the radical lesbian feminist mind here Funnie. This is not about you really at all, this about this select group of warriors; the women who fought battles and did work that I think would scare the living hell out of most straight women out there. We can work with you, but we know you are not going to do certain things that need to be done. We just know that based on over 30 years experience with the different political systems of radical feminist vs. radical lesbian feminist.

    These distinctions are very important to us, because we are not at all a part of mainstream feminism. Mainstream feminism trashes Mary Daly every chance it gets. Women who are university professors steal Daly’s ideas without attribution.

    You’ll have radical feminists dismissing Daly as racist, or having students read Audre Lord’s “Open Letter to Mary Daly” but not her original works. A long dispute that finally Daly was able to prove in her favor— read her newest book for the updates. I’m even afraid to open that can of worms here!

    This is arcane stuff, but real to us. We have our sacred texts, and we have the people who can understand them.

    Sometimes we are quite generous; we know most women won’t join our struggle, and won’t defend us, and that’s ok. Just coming out as a radical lesbian feminist on any campus will get you into a lot of trouble with straight women who call themselves feminists.

    It’s very complicated. It is the deepest part of who I am, so when I read Amy’s post on her “Brain” — even her use of “Amy’s Brain” as a title for her blog is classic lesbian feminist. We revere the minds of women. We know that the freedom we will for ourselves will always be other than that of the rest of the world.

    I don’t hold out much hope for this dialogue with radical feminists and radical lesbian feminists. We’re just different species– kind of like Flying squirrels and Ground squirrels. Both are squirrels but one can fly and the other cannot. The Flyers can see the world differently than the Grounders, and I am going to be very careful here not to choose what squirrel is us You can claim to be a Grounder or a Flyer, but I’m going to keep my choice secret for now

    Posted by Satsuma | November 27, 2007, 6:14 am
  176. Okay, one more time.

    From this comment forward, each woman here is allowed ONE more comment to this comments thread. ONE. Then I am, again, going to close the thread. Please get your one comment in before 7 p.m. tomorrow.

    Heart

    Posted by Heart | November 27, 2007, 6:15 am
  177. 9. If men keep harrassing you, you can haul off and smash them down. I used to do this with any man who kept bothering me. Teenage boys I made quick work of. Tell them to shut up in a loud voice, give three warnings and then bash them! Get some practice fighting back and knocking the wind out of a man at least once in your life in self-defense.

    Miranda:
    9. If you attack without physical provocation (and even with, sometimes), you stand a very good chance of being arrested or sued.

    Not if *making quick work of* means ducking and hiding behind parked cars until security comes to rescue you.

    Satsuma:
    One time, I was in a parking garage at night with a colleague. We had justed finished teaching a financial seminar, and were heading back to our cars. Suddenly I spotted a car filled with teenage boys (I’d gladly have them wiped off the face of the earth). Trouble was coming, and my colleague was completely unaware of the danger. They yelled ‘dyke” at me, and my colleague, who was probably never yelled at in his life, didn’t hear what they’d said. “Get down, we have got to get out of here, get down,” and I grabbed my colleague and we hid between several parked cars until we spotted a security guard and I yelled for help. The boys then fled the garage, and my colleague was just dumbfounded by the entire situation. I told him what the word was that they yelled, and I could see the utter shock on his face. “Does this happen to you all the time?” he asked. “No, not as much as it used to. My business suit and briefcase usually keeps those damn boys away from me, the older I get the more intimidated they become of an older adult,” I said. “Now you know why I think all teenage boys should be hanged in the town square!” and with that I started laughing and couldn’t stop. Somehow, laughter is my way of dealing with the realization that once again, I had barely escaped alive.

    Satsuma is both fearless and fearful, powerful and oppressed, plain-spoken and misunderstood, esteemed and disrespected, concerned and indifferent, caring and disdainful, part of the great movement and left behind by it, loved and loathed, conqueror and survivor, abuser and victim.

    Perhaps the root of Satsuma’s duality is that she was spawned by The Enemy. Or maybe Satsuma’s blowing smoke up the asses.

    Posted by CoolAunt | November 27, 2007, 6:27 am
  178. I think this is the right place to post. We’ve moved here for a discussion of “peers” and “equals.” And other things on the previous blog thread threds.

    I think I answered the question about peers and equals in another post. The one that ended with the two species of squirrels. This shouldn’t be so hard to understand. We don’t have to explain anything at all to each other, but we can if we want to.

    As for you Funnie, I actually have no opinion at all. I can’t quite get a sense of you at all yet. Some women on this blog I do have a sense of, or a delight in their complexity. And some women make no impression initially, but then in time I come to some understanding.

    I just write, and see how the ideas flow. I don’t tend to get stuck on one vocabularly word or another, and I tend to ignore my critics unless they are really really good. Good writers and clever phrases will charm me, but bad writing or swear words will tend to make me uneasy.

    If you think of me as an 18th or even early 20th century European lesbian — with flourishes of phrase — that is close to my inner feeling. Hope that helps Funnie.

    Please feel free to comment or ask questions if you want to, or if you are too confused by my words, just dump them in the spam can🙂 To paraphrase Henry Ford: “Either way, you are right.”

    Posted by Satsuma | November 27, 2007, 6:37 am
  179. ekittyglendower– the things you say are simply not true.
    I must have missed your post somehow, but managed to see it above.

    I did not in any way say that all the heterosexual women here were… I don’t use swear words sorry. This is not about you at all. I will not quote your offensive language here, but people can look above and see it for themselves.

    This whole thing is a misunderstanding, as I was just being polite and responding to Amy’s Brain, and couldn’t find a way to do that on her blog. Otherwise I would have!

    I even overlooked the link in the first place, because the typeface “Open Letter to Satsuma” was almost the same color ink as the rest of Heart’s post. Then somehow, I figured this out a few days later. I thought she would see the post on this blog, and she did. Amy’s commentary showed a very precise understanding of lesbian life, something that straight women just can’t see and don’t experience. People who are in the same category really are peers. This will annoy people, maybe because all women here think they are peers, but they really aren’t.

    There are simply degrees of similarity. It is not in any way intended to be an insult to other women here. It was a direct statement to Amy’s very long letter. It was a complement to her. Now you have just got to stop saying these things like King Satsuma. This is insulting. I am not in charge of this blog.
    I can write a lot because this site is about something I have been involved with for 30 years. When you’ve been this active for this long, you just have a lot to say.

    Amy was kind enough to write a rather lengthy open letter to me, and this effort and complexity just moved me to complement her by calling her a peer. Because that is how it felt to be so addressed. Now other women get mad, just because I actually said a nice thing to a woman! Yikes, you can’t win sometimes.

    It’s about nuance, it’s about connection. It is no specific reflection on anything other than what I felt personally about that detailed and well written letter. We have a long tradition of open letters in lesbian feminism; some are quite famous and have been alluded to for decades. It is a rhetorical device, a device from another era. I was charmed by a reference to my specific period in herstory. Some of this may be herstorically obscure, but we are all people of our times.

    I am the life and times of a lesbian feminist who helped create the world we live in today. I paid my dues, and I give honor to other lesbians who paid much higher dues than I. You’d think that this honor would simply be seen for what it was: one old warrior celebrating another. That’s what I often do, because many of you probably don’t even know this world even existed. So this is my way of documenting this, and celebrating it. Oy vey…

    Posted by Satsuma | November 27, 2007, 8:23 am
  180. Heart didn’t move my earlier response, but I’ll post my final comment here.

    Satsuma stands by her list. I stand by my response and add this:

    Many of her suggestions are irresponsible and have the potential to be dangerous.

    I also notice that, according to Satsuma’s story of when she was threatened in the parking garage, she behaved much more intelligently than those suggestions would indicate. She hid and sought help, which was smart, instead of attacking, which is what she advocates.

    Posted by Miranda | November 27, 2007, 12:42 pm
  181. The best laid plans…

    Ack.

    Miranda, I wanted to move only the discussion of Satsuma’s posting style here. I felt like the discussion of rape was a different discussion and on topic for the other thread, so I left it there.

    I will now move your comment back over there.

    Please, everyone– one more comment only. Just one. I won’t approve comments *to this thread only* until after 7 tonight and then one for everybody.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 27, 2007, 1:27 pm
  182. Now you have just got to stop saying these things like King Satsuma. This is insulting.

    I don’t have to do a damn thing that you tell me to do. Talk about insulting, what about “Whimpy women” in direct response to Miranda only last night. Are you going to say that did not include her? Or should that just be general whimpy women that just happened to be a response to Miranda’s response?

    I will tell you this, KING SATSUMA, you are a liar with all of your bullshit tales. I believe you cower in fear when a man approaches you yet you brag here and insult other women by condescending, by making a lesbian superior, hetero inferior scale. But I want you to know this, listen carefully, I am through here, I mean honestly this time, no lurking. YOU, SATSUMA, with Heart’s enabling have destroy a space that once felt safe. I FEEL SECOND CLASS IN THIS PLACE. Back seat. Tasha was ran off for insulting women, but you get a free pass. At least Tasha talked about her mother and the women she ran into, she never made it a general.

    But for some reason Heart will talk in circles and take up for you. You, have done that here, not anyone else, but you, and your bitter abusive language. You think I have insulted you, guess what little girl, you don’t know verbal abuse yet. You want to insult but not get insulted. DUH! That is what happens when people are abusive, others respond with abuse. And you have not seen abuse from me yet.

    THANKS HEART. You once said you would not betray women, but that was a lie. You allow this abuse and made excuses for it. Now Satsuma is a poor innocent abuse victim who feels insulted because she is called a King. Well I’m just calling her the title that her words have advocated. I’m part of stupid hetero whimpy women, but King is an insult? HA!

    FUCK OFF!!!!! Call this place what it is really is, LESBIANS WELCOMED ONLY!

    And Amy you are full of shit. Hetero women never give hetero women money. WTF? Always the pecking order with you people. Tell that to every dime I ever gave a hetero woman.

    Posted by Kitty Glendower | November 27, 2007, 2:38 pm
  183. Sorry to have helped re-open the topic, Heart.

    ekittyglendower, I understand your frustration, but I think you overstate the case.

    Satsuma – yes, I can tell you have no sense of me. Or of the other radical feminist nonlesbian posters here. You tell us what we will not do with no appreciation for the fact that some of us have done it, and are doing it. Sure, that’s because you don’t know us. To me that means that after the tenth protest you ought to reconsider telling women what they don’t do. To you it apparently means something different – maybe “challenging” women to differentiate themselves from the broad-brush patriarchal norms you use to describe all hetero women. And in the world at large it’s okay to expect feminist women to prove their loyalty to the concerns of lesbian women.

    But this point that you have missed over and over: Heart’s blog is not the world at large. It is woman-centered space. The women who comment here are expected to be woman-centered…and so we largely ARE.

    Upon entering a space full of women, for women, centered around women, you persist on sorting women into different categories, assigning them different goals, telling them they do different things, and that they care about different issues. Without having a clue whether any of what you say is true HERE – only that it’s true in the world at large.

    Heart is free to encourage what she wants to happen, but *I* don’t think this is an appropriate venue for screeds about what happens elsewhere unless you first recognize that you are *discussing* with *peers* and *allies,* not *lecturing* to *pupils* and *members of the opposing force.*

    I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt as someone new to feminist discussion on the internet and new to this space. But I think you owe the women here some benefit of the doubt. Yes, I said that you *owe* women here, even heterosexual women here. You owe them the assumption that they are women-centered women working for women. Because that’s ostensibly what each and everyone of us is here to do.

    We’re just different species– kind of like Flying squirrels and Ground squirrels. Both are squirrels but one can fly and the other cannot.

    Calling women different species is exactly the sort of oppositional framework that I think has no place here. Moreover, I think it’s womanhating. Like “peer” I’m sure “species” has some innocuous meaning I could choose to seize upon. But, see my comments concerning benefit of the doubt, above. I have extended that to you (believe it or not) and yet I read that I support heteronormativity and hetero marriage benefits and patriarchal norms…? Uh, no. So since your perception that we are “different species” seems to be built upon those misconceptions, I think it’s okay to say, “well, that’ s entirely wrongheaded” rather than continuing to labor to find a way in which it could be a benign remark.

    I don’t hold out much hope for this dialogue with radical feminists and radical lesbian feminists.

    Then why are you here? Maybe you should start your own radlesfem-only space? If there’s nothing at all to be gained from dialogue from nonlesbians, why engage us at all?

    It’s interesting, this opinion of yours. I appreciate discussion with radical lesbian feminists very much, and many of them seem able to develop enough of a sense about me to appreciate my contributions even when we don’t agree.

    I respect your right to live a separate existence, even to the extent that you want to prioritize interactions with radical lesbian feminists. I really think that’s fine. I understand the utility of creating intentional space and being among allies. I understand not-viewing most het women as allies to lesbians. Most aren’t. Because most women aren’t allies to women – they’re just trying to do what they can for themselves.

    But in this space, among these women, you should choose, in my opinion: either you’ll give women here the benefit of the doubt that they are allies, or you’ll decide that you only want to talk to lesbians. This haranguing middle ground really isn’t working out.

    In the meantime, I know what I need to about how you see me – as a het ally, I indeed do not matter/do not exist. That’s fine, but it does mean engaging you beyond this particular point of contention is not an effort I’m willing to expend, so now I’m done (again).

    And thus ends my final salvo.

    Posted by funnie | November 27, 2007, 3:39 pm
  184. I think my reply went to spam.

    Thanks for all your work moderating this; it’s too much for any woman. Sorry about anywhere I’ve added heat and not light.

    Posted by funnie | November 27, 2007, 3:45 pm
  185. Heart’s expression of the connections between consumerism and human suffering is an amazing essay in itself that connects the dots as well as some entire books I have read on the subject. Absolutely amazing summation, Heart, and with your usual eloquence. I rejoice in your ability to be self- (and other-)supporting in a consciously sustainable manner in the country, and I am happy to think of the children and animals you’ve blessed there.

    This and some of the other recent threads in your blog have shown the diversity of the women who read and post here. There has been represented here a wide range of circumstances, experiences, preferences, and perceptions for us to observe that illustrates some of the spectrum of the feminist landscape. I love, respect, and salute heterosexual, lesbian, celibate, and bisexual women; I wish we could all just BE women together and support one another without regard to these inadequate, unnecessary, male-imposed, limiting, differentiating adjectives. We are all equal in value and potential, and I hope we will all put our best efforts (yes, our “Level Best”) into improving the lives of girls and women everywhere. The Ghost of Violet at the Reclusive Leftist blog has recently posted a simple, and to me a beautiful, short definition of feminism: “Feminism is the belief that women are human; it is the movement to secure their full human rights.” I think that is something we can all share, even as we acknowledge that we have our differences.

    Posted by Level Best | November 27, 2007, 6:24 pm
  186. What, no more comments? I did not know Heart would reopen this thread, so I wrote something over the weekend as a response to Satsuma on my SILENCED! entry, here:
    http://freesoil.org/wordpress/?p=221#comment-8831

    Satsuma had previously commented there a month ago, but at the time I did not feel much like responding. Much as I disagree with some of her statements, I really do not get this idea of silencing her to make this blog feel safe. This is a blog, wide open for anyone to read. A blog can be made relatively safe by the moderator, as far as keeping nonsense off, but the idea of feeling safe on a public blog is beyond me. At some point the way Satsuma writes has to be taken in terms of what she says she means to say, regardless of how it could be taken out of context to mean otherwise. Women have done too much shooting down our strong voices. We can argue rationally about ideas without accusing each other of trying to lord it over the blog.

    I do not intend to censor or shut down comments on my blog, regardless of what may develop. I only censor meaningless crap, as a rule. If anyone wants to continue this discussion there, you are welcome to, though I have no time to approve comments during the daytime.

    Posted by Aletha | November 28, 2007, 6:41 am
  187. Aletha, as you can see there were comments. I just wasn’t up to all of this last night. Thanks for your great post over at your blog and for your comments here, of course, yours too, Level Best, and all of you women who have persevered, commented in good faith, worked towards deeper and better understanding.

    Posted by womensspace | November 28, 2007, 11:15 am
  188. I’m a radical lesbian feminist separatist too, Satsuma, so as a peer, I think it important that I speak up because I’m seeing radical feminism being compromised and co-opted by something else that you may, or may not, be aware of. I’m also a bit concerned the way Mary Daly have been co-opted to back up some of your arguments, which doesn’t jibe with the conversations I’ve had with her over the years. I can’t speak for her, but I think she’d support some of your arguments while she would not be so supportive of others. For example, capitalism. It would be very hard to convince me that Mary Daly supports capitalism. Mary Daly is very committed to the environment, and capitalism destroys that environment. It should also be noted that Mary Daly is very female-centered, not male-centered. So again, it would be hard to convince me that Mary Daly would be supportive of men’s values.

    If you’ve read Waring’s book, “If Women Counted,” (or have gotten your hands on the movie, which is hard to find), as you say you have, you’d know that mountains, streams, and land have no value in men’s world book of accounts unless they are mined and gutted. You’d know that 3/4’s of the world’s free labor is done by women, and in men’s world book of accounts, this labor, has no value, and it has been officially declared so by the U.N. IOWs, according to men, what women do is valueless and worth nothing. I guess part of male privilege is getting not to notice what women do — until it isn’t done any more. And finally, you’d know that capitalism thrives on war. In order for capitalism to continue to thrive, we must be in a perpetual state of war. That’s what the big boys wheel and deal in. War. Last time I looked, war wasn’t too good for women. 80% of the casualties in any war are women and children. It would be hard to convince me that Daly, Waring or any radical feminist would get behind that. Speaking for myself, I know I can’t and won’t.

    I can sum up capitalism in just a few words. So many die and suffer so that a few may live well.

    I think it’s also important to know what radical feminism is about, get some kind of definition of it, so that we all can see where we stand with it. So here’s my definition of it, summed up and taken from many sources over the years.

    Radical feminism focuses on the COMMONALITY of women’s condition, which cuts across boundaries of race, culture, and economic class. Not our differences. Interesting tho how this has all been reversed during the Backlash and feminists nowadays seem more focused with our differences rather than our commonality, no? No doubt the result of men’s fuckery. Divide and conquer is as old as patriarchal dirt.

    Radical feminism goes to the root causes of male domination, defines men as responsible for and gaining from women’s subordination, and focuses on sisterhood and women’s bonding. The personal politics of radical feminism emphasizes the sexual and reproductive exploitation of women and questions gender roles. Radical feminism attempts to draw lines between biologically-determined behavior and culturally-determined behavior in order to free both women and men as much as possible from their previous narrow gender roles.

    Radical feminism is non-hierarchal. IOWs, there are no ranks in feminism — no captains, generals, prime ministers or leaders.

    Radical feminism is based on Marxism, not Stalinism. Stalin was a dictator. Marxism is also in direct conflict with capitalism. According to Marx, all of history is a struggle between the classes and all societies have been torn by this conflict. Past societies tried to keep the exploited class under control by using elaborate political organizations, laws, customs, traditions, ideologies, religions and rituals. Marx argued that personality, beliefs, and activities are shaped by these institutions. By recognizing these forces, he reasoned, people will be able to overcome them through revolutionary action. Unfair institutions and customs will disappear when the exploited class revolts against the ruling class.

    Radical feminism took Marxism a step further. It views *all* of women as a class (the exploited class) and *all* of men as another class (the exploitive class) and applies Marxism to it.

    Radical feminists also include separatists. Who are unfairly and wrongly depicted as Lesbians. Not all separatists are Lesbian, and not all Lesbians are separatists. Separatists advocate separation from men, either total or partial, as a necessary first step to enable women to see themselves in a different context. Lesbianism puts a little more emphasis on active bonding with women than separatism does, in its emphasis on removing bonds with men.

    Hope this helps.

    Posted by luckynkl | November 28, 2007, 12:34 pm
  189. …Once a two day holiday, the most sacred stretches
    in the slow swing of the epicycling year;
    then a remnant, a half holiday for women,
    a little something to keep us less unsatisfied;
    then abandoned at enlightenment along with herbals
    and amulets, bobbe-mysehs, grandmothers’ stories

    Now we fetch it up from the bottom of the harbor
    a bone on which the water has etched itself,
    and from this bone we fashion a bird, extinct
    and never yet born, evolving feathers
    from our hair, blood from our salt, strength
    from our backs, vision from our brains.

    Fly out over the city, dove of the light,
    owl of the moon, for we are weaving your wings
    from our longings, diaphanous and bony.
    Pilots and rabbis soared. The only females
    to fly were witches and demons, the power
    to endure and the power to destroy alone

    granted us. But we too can invent,
    can make, can do, undo. Here we stand
    in a circle, the oldest meeting, the shape
    women assume when we come together
    that echoes ours, the flower, the mouth,
    breast, opening, pool, the source.

    We greet the moon that is not gone
    but only hidden, unreflecting, inturned
    and introspective, gathering strength to grow
    as we greet the first slim nail paring
    of her returning light. Don’t we understand
    the strength that wells out of retreat?

    Can we not learn to turn in to our circle,
    to sink into the caves of our silence,
    to drink lingering by those deep cold wells,
    to dive into the darkness of the heart’s storm
    until under the crashing surge of waves
    it is still except for our slow roaring breath?

    We need a large pattern of how things change
    that shows us not a straight eight-lane tearing
    through hills blasted into bedrock; not stairs
    mounting to the sacrificial pyramid where hearts
    are torn out to feed the gods of power, but the coil
    of the moon, that epicycling wheel

    that grows fat and skinny, advances and withers,
    four steps forward and three back, and yet
    nothing remains the same, for the mountains are piled up
    and worn down, for the rivers eat into the stone
    and the fields blow away and the sea makes sand
    spits and islands and carries off the dune

    Let the half day festival of the new moon
    remind us how to retreat and grow strong, how to
    reflect and learn, how to push our bellies forward,
    how to roll and turn and pull the tides up, up
    when we need them, how to come back each time
    we look dead, making a new season shine.

    — from At the new moon: Rosh Hodesh. by Marge Piercy, in Mars and Her Children

    Posted by womensspace | November 28, 2007, 12:35 pm
  190. I re-opened comments to allow Lucky’s because she missed the memo re the closing of the thread after one more comment each.

    I’m re-closing it now.

    Posted by womensspace | November 28, 2007, 5:32 pm
  191. A very good summary Lukynkl! However, I don’t think societies that engaged in war in the past were always capitalistic.

    I agree with you about capitalism, and about Marilyn Waring’s radical notion that clean air, water, and land should be counted as GDP worldwide, and last I heard, the U.N. still doesn’t designate this as an economic countable category at all!

    I guess my point is, where in human history or herstory is there a place where women aren’t oppressed as a class?

    We mistakenly think that one form of government or society is more this or more that, but war and the men’s love of it has been celebrated long before capitalism was ever born as an economic system

    And there are a variety of forms of capitalism that can break down into different categories — Asian ( Singapor, European and American). All of these function in different ways.

    If you go to another system : tribal societies or tribal chieftan places– Sudan, Ethiopia, Afgahanistan to name just a few, you have tribal male rule over women. They enshrine this in “custom” and in “Islam” but it is still patriarchy.

    You can look at 20th century communism as an economic system and evaluate just where women fit into this scheme of things. Cuban communism/socialism being a bit different than what took place after Czarist Russia was overthrown by communist men under Lenin.

    So everywhere you look under these systems is really about male rule, so you can’t single out one system as being worse than another, although I would prefer to live in America compared to Sudan or Afghanistan, for example. As a lesbian, I wouldn’t be caught dead in Cuba either.

    If you look at Denmark and Sweden, you can have other forms of government and systems that are socialistic or partly derivative of capitalism.

    There are a lot of choices out there.

    The thing is, what do women need to do to gain freedom in their own right and their own way. Mary Daly is dead on right about a lot of things, but she is also an academic and has no knowledge of economics or political science. She has never owned a business, and in fact, she was rather amazed when I told her years ago that her ideas did apply to business, and that you could apply academic feminism to real world business concepts.

    Again, I am not a defender of capitalism. I simply do the best I can in the country I happen to live in. I am a part of the solution by helping women make the best use of their skills and earning ability, and I coach women to increase their access through a wide variety of techniques.

    I am in favor of women doing the math for their personal and economic lives in creative and clever ways.

    Radical lesbian feminism has never been very good at this sort of thing, maybe because it is about critique, but often not enough about the solutions. I believe very much in solutions, and that’s what I think is best in the worlds I live in.

    We all appropriate knowledge and understand it differently. Appropriate is a loaded word that is insulting. So some things Mary Daly says really work for me, and other things are not as useful in a day to day way. I think the hatred of western capitalism is kind of the knee jerk response of many leftist era people, including the early days of radical feminism.

    You’ll have to go to other women with a more contemporary picture of all of this like the Sudanese feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who I find the most inspiring to read of late. She would not be as critical of the west and capitalism the way American lesbian feminists are. Don’t know if you’ve read her autobiography “Infidel” yet, but I regard it as must reading.

    The question is basic: what is the best life I can have as a radical lesbian feminist? What really works out in the world? What theories work and what theories are useless? We don’t even have the same strategies at all.

    I got very frustrated with the lack of practical economic solutions of radical feminism. I think it would be a good idea for this to be discussed as a real world scenario and not just left to the academics, women’s studies departments, or even the generation of the 60s that spawned a lot of the information.

    Because I come from a very different background than a lot of the writers here, I just see things a bit differently.

    The world I want is something that I can help along TODAY!

    What can I say to a hairdresser at a salon with two teenage girls, a husband that will help her increase her income of $14,200 per year? How can I use analysis of the options open to her, to help her learn to invest and have money in her own right for her own children if she chooses this? How can I be as much help as possible to make this happen, to share ideas and strategies for “working smarter not harder”– a phrase I have always LOVED. Hackneyed though it may sound, it is a working slogan for me.

    That’s my bottom line as a radical lesbian feminist in my service and support of women who do have skills, ambition etc., but who could do with an extra $5000 or so per year doing the exact same thing just a little bit differently.

    Is this capitalism? Well of course it is. Would this same woman be better off under a Marxist dictatorship? I don’t know. I only have friends who lived in Eastern Europe who have reported to me what daily life was like under these ‘socialist utopias” for example.

    Where would lesbian feminists want to live worldwide? Where is the most likely place to implement many radical feminist reforms? What can we do today, to make something better for women we know?

    With everything I say, that’s my bottom line. It always has been and it always will be. I’m not shy at challenging popular feminist wisdom, and I was not very thrilled with a lot of the 60s radical stuff. I was not of that generation, but came of age in the 70s. So I got to see the mess, and we’re still in it.

    As much as I adore Mary Daly, I do know that she hasn’t lived in my world at all. She inspired me to do things that I never would have considered doing, and she did incredible research.
    But I’m not an academic. And I like math as a tool. Numbers are sometimes more powerful at coming to solutions than words are.

    Daughter’s of Bilitus, for example, had a very interesting economic herstory. One wealthy closeted woman essentially kept that organization afloat for a very long time. That was the final truth of it. The women in it struggled heroically to make the very first lesbian organization in America work.
    Women and money is a radical feminist issue, and one I have been concerned about all my life.

    There was the popular wisdom that women do all this work, and get paid much less for the same work men do. I heard this maybe when I was in junior high or high school. So I told myself, that I had to think of a way around this, so that the math would work out better for every hour I put in. I reduced the truisms of feminism and the realities of what women face in the world, and thought about what I could do to change the math!🙂 I didn’t like the idea of working for low wages, or for being denied higher wages for working more. I simply hated this idea.

    It was a math problem that I wanted to try to solve, just because I regarded things said about women in the world as a challenge.

    As for the commonality of women’s condition, I’m not so sure we can come up with something that really empowers everyone equally. I don’t have as much faith in collective anything these days. I don’t like to be lumped in with a collective group known as “all women,” because I am not everywoman, I am my own woman.

    I know that getting beyond race and class and lesbian and non-lesbian is a tall order. I think this kind of thing happens in small groups now and then, with people who are willing to commit to this. But in my experience in women’s groups where only a few lesbians are openly present, this is just not the case. I have ended up doing a lot of “labor” on behalf of straight women, which I was very happy to do. I liked the cause of radical feminism and what we could all do together.

    Now this is my personal experience, but I just didn’t see the same kind of passionate reciprosity over issues I cared about as a lesbian. Again, there may be other groups where this is not the case, it is just what I saw.

    I’m not sure the ideology of equality will ever work for everyone, because it never wants to take into account varying degrees of ambition or talent. The key I think is to open as many doors as possible, so that as many women as possible can find their strengths and go after their dreams. Sometimes it really takes a long time to figure out what you are good at to begin with.

    I am deeply resentful at patriarchy for suppressing the gifts women have had! Just as it suppresses the gifts men have too. And there you have it Lucknkl! Thanks for your excellent post!! I really liked what you said!!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 28, 2007, 9:46 pm
  192. I can’t say one thing or the other. Some things women will agree with somethings women won’t.

    It’s just the way of the world. I can and do think that women are very different, depending on where they come up in the world.

    I’m a very particular individualist, and don’t like to be lumped into “all women.” I really do believe that lesbians and straight women are not the same in a variety of ways. Everything I see in lesbian community has a very different quality in a non-lesbian context. It just is.

    All of you women on this site may or may not “be different.”

    Lot’s of white folks I know swear on bibles that they are not racist. But women of color freak out at the things they say!
    Both the upset woman and the one claiming to have done no harm are equally ademant that they are both right!

    I find this sort of situation just fascinating. In one instance, I was there to witness the exchange, and to me, it was a very racist statement. I actually talked to the other white woman at length about it, and she still swore on a stack of bibles that she was not a racist. The problem is, she was! She just was.

    I get very frustrated when straight women say these sorts of things, and even here there is a lot of homophobia– not deliberate, but it is there.

    Since I live as a minority in a majority world Funnie, I’m just calling it as I see it. Don’t you think I have the right to define myself as very different from a lot of straight women, if not most out there? I do have the right to call the world as I’m living in it. It may not be to your liking, because all allies really want to believe that unity is grand.

    Unity is grand here, but it is an illusion. We are trying to connect and come together. I just want to make sure that a lesbian point of view is a part of the mix, and that it is overt and clearly labeled. I have a very low expectation of radical lesbians and radical lesbian feminists coming to complete agreement on anything. It doesn’t mean I have zero hope, but I am realistic enough to think that 3.5% is possible and 96.5% is impossible.

    You might say, that even in the most carefree moment of my life, I can think that I was brave, and still I had to feel that this was even necessary.

    Being out of the closet fully is never an easy existence Funnie. I know you can appreciate this intellectually, I’m just not all that sure how strongly you KNOW this.

    Everyone here can be VERY frustrated that men do nothing about RAPE — their 100% fault, but their pathetic little attempts to “work” on this issue often “feel” similar to what a lot of women here would also say as allies.

    It may be a nuance Funnie. I think there is a lot of nuance that is hard to get around as a writer on a Blog. Why would I be here if I had no faith at all in straight women as allies? Well why would I be anywhere in the world? Just where would you expect me to be in a homophobic dreadful world that you would not even notice? You would not be able to notice, because it is not happening to you. Just as white women can’t notice when we are being out and out racists, and then we completely plead innocense of the crime.

    All women here want to be given the benefit of the doubt. It’s not fun to have this sort of stuff brought up, because all women here are 100% free of racism, classism, homophobia, and other isms. Right? Of course we all are free of this!

    But the trouble is, we have baggage that we carry along. We know how rare it is for a minority to actually be heard by a majority ever! Ever! It’s what makes activist minorities with self-respect have a tremendous amount of raw aggressive, and blunt powerful in your face words! We yell all the time to be heard, yell and yell and yell, and still we hear these women say “oh, no not me!”

    It just is. I don’t know why we all have trouble facing up to our role in all of this. Since I don’t actually know any of you personally, I can’t say really.

    Reading is different.

    Have lesbians actually had their full say, till they have run out of wind? Has the African-American woman finally been heard from start to finish in a white lesbian feminist context?

    We can all do our best, it’s just that I don’t 100% trust or believe in straight women. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like you, and believe you are sincere. I believe you are completely sincere. Just assume I think that. But from my experience, you have not done a very reliable job in coming to my defense in the world. I can’t ever 100% trust you. Just as no white woman ever has the right to demand trust from African-American women. Trust is earned, and I respect the trust of straight women. I know they are committed and trying, but I also know how I live and move in the world.

    It is the social structure of heteronormativity that is overpowering and exhausting to be in. Funnie and Althea and others, it just is.

    You may be annoyed that I consider myself a different species, but I really believe I am one. In fact, I like being a different species, just as I like variety in all human beings.

    I think what I am saying elludes you sometimes, because I am describing my entire life and the interaction I have had with straight radical feminists.

    It can be a frustrating thing, because we believe we are doing good. We can believe this, but it isn’t always completely true.

    All majorities will get angry when minorities speak up, as I do.
    I have a very powerful voice, and I am very uncompromising.

    Allies shouldn’t always have to be pet on the head all the time, for things that are about common courtesy. Straight women in the world do not extend this to lesbians, they have always wanted us to “obey” them. They mistakenly believe that we are the same as straight women. But I don’t see this at all. My mind doesn’t feel similar, even my words don’t seem familiar to you at all.

    On a Blog, I think certain ideas can come out that won’t come out in a room full of women. First off, I can have my say without interruption, and this never happens in a straight environment of “feminists” out in the world.

    I have a rhetorical advantage, because I am talking about how I see straight women. Not you personally, but straight women in general, and I am going to comment on it now and then. You will not like it, and you’ll swear on a stack of bibles that it is not so, but then again, men do this all the time with women “oh I’m a good man, I’m not a rapist, I respect my wife, all women are equal etc. etc.” The men who are the allies of women say this with passionate sincerity. Do you believe them?

    I believe that they believe themselves to be this or that. I believe the woman who made the racist comments in her speech really believes herself to be a non-racist. And in her mind she isn’t. This is absolutely true of how she sees herself.

    I do this sort of inner work for myself. I know that I am an inveterate elitist and a classist through and through. I believe in the myth of hard work and upward mobility, and everywoman on this blog can see blantant evidense of classism. My classism and elitism is I think a defense mechanism to defend myself in the world. Elitism will keep certain types of people away from me, classism will give me an arrogant sense of superiority to counteract ever personal degredation I feel out in the male and female straight world.

    It is a kind of deep anger, and that’s the truth of it. It’s about the anger that builds up over a lifetime of incredible insults. It’s what Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice feel. It’s the kinship I feel sometimes with black conservatives. I feel sometimes that they get what I’ve been through, they got so angry, they did achieve out of this rage.

    It is dangerous to feel this way, and I’m taking a bit risk here sharing this with all of you, because you could jump on this and go on the attack. You could do this, and of course I won’t hold it against everyone for secretly thinking this🙂 You know how dogs look guilty when you say “FeeFee, I know what you’re thinking,” as FeeFee eyes the steak you’ve just dropped on the kitchen floor. FeeFee is a good dog and doesn’t just grab it, but she “thinks” about doing it.

    I got so sick of hearing lesbians say that women can’t, and lesbians are oppressed and can’t… women will be poor, we can’t be rich…. women can’t.

    I wanted to say that I can and will do whatever I say I’m going to do in the world. I will read any book or join almost any argument. I will speak my mind with very little reservation.

    All women are the same, all women are oppressed….all women. In my mind, I am not all women, and have never wanted to live the lives of 92% of the women worldwide ever.

    My straight women allies here can want sameness all they want, but that will not change the material circumstances and the social circumstances of my life. Does a white person have a right to get angry at Condoleeza Rice for wanting to rise as far as she could go? Can white liberals or civil rights activists ever know the mind of a Clarence Thomas? We can really criticize them, but we don’t know them.

    Not that I am either a conversative or not. My views can be very conservative about my own life, my own belief in myself, but have nothing to do with the outside world. On other sites I would be considered out and out puritanical — by other lesbians and other feminists! I have a real hatred for sexual display of all kinds! I hate this stuff, I hate pornography and I hate even women who talk about sex. I even hate women who use the F word and the S word here! Most of feminism would freak out over my opinions of pornography, so here this hasn’t happened yet.

    Or maybe I haven’t revealed my anti-sex bias. I get bored by sex being so ever present in America, for example. Even young lesbians these days drive me nuts with their pornographic selves out in the world. It makes me sick to my stomach, but they could care less. They hate feminists for being too much like their parents.

    But I was always like this. I always hated that sexualized world women were put in by men. I am very unchanged as the years go by….

    Don’t know if this post is helpful at all. It’s just me saying something and trying to make sense of things on this blog!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 28, 2007, 11:19 pm
  193. A late response but – Heart, I actually have read books by some people on how a good Christian woman should behave that say she should obey her husband with all meekness and a cheerful spirit EVEN IF he tells her to do something sinful, and that in reward God will make him change his mind. In fact, the book gave as an example a scenario that if she were pregnant and he ordered her to have an abortion she should sweetly and quietly make the appointment and then wait for God to intervene and save her child’s life.

    My anger upon reading this book was explained as rebellion against God, induced by Satan.

    Posted by Amananta | November 29, 2007, 12:23 am
  194. Satsuma, your comments hurt me because they smack of blaming the victim. I see you asking, why don’t those women just fight back, they are just cowards, I would have fought back, and if I could do it they sure could have!

    Satsuma, when I fought back or stood up for myself I WAS BEATEN. When I got older and tried to resist being forced to apologize for things I hadn’t done or didn’t believe were wrong, I WAS BEATEN EVEN WORSE. I was beaten nearly to death for “defiance” when I was 11 – this for merely APPEARING ANGRY – not even talking back or directly disobeying. Perhaps if your parents had done this to you, you would have stood up to them in the face of it all. Perhaps indeed you are braver, more clever, more resourceful than I. Or maybe you were just a bit luckier.

    I did not fight back for two reasons. 1: I FEARED FOR MY LIFE, literally. 2: I was BRAINWASHED from the time I was barely toilet trained to believe I would spend eternity – forever and forever and forever – in unimaginable, screaming, agonizing, unrelenting torment. This was not an idea to me, or a belief – this was the way the world was, and there was no escape, no where to run, no place I could go where God would not be watching me and tallying up all my sins, even those I merely thought about doing but didn’t actually dare commit. I lived in utter terror that I would be unable to quell my “rebelliousness” and would thus suffer eternally, and I prayed all the time for God to make me into a “better” girl. I was not allowed to watch any television, read any books, or talk to any people who may have told me differently. How was I supposed to just magically KNOW this was a steaming pile of manure? When I did what I needed to do to preserve my life, was I a coward, unworthy of regard? I contemplated running away, yes, I did. There was a major city close enough I probably could have made it. but I sat down cooly and examined my options realistically. I knew that girls who run away are frequently nabbed by pimps, and I figured that would not be an improvement on my life – also I feared that if I were caught, I would be returned home and things would get even WORSE. So I kept my head down. I obeyed.

    I believe the ONLY reason I was able to break out the way I have is that I am literally about twice as intelligent as my captor/father. Even so he had the advantage of money/power/size/experience in the world. He made my life very difficult for years. It was a constant terror to me, to think he might come kidnap me and bring me home. One way I coped with this was to live with male “protectors”. I am not the first woman to live this way and I won’t be the last. I feel you are looking at women who have a choice between a rock and a hard place and insulting them for their choices.

    Posted by Amananta | November 29, 2007, 3:59 am
  195. Althea, I just followed your link to Freesoil and read your long letter to me! Thanks. Sometimes you’re better at being me than me🙂

    Noticed the usual detractors, who apparently are afraid to write here for fear of ****SHOCK*** social rejection.

    What is it about women’s need to fit in? I always know there are women who love me and women who hate me and those who are silent and love me and those who are loud and hate me. But you know, I always love the love, and sometimes I just laugh at the rest. What a lesbian feminist with a sense of humor? Don’t tell on me or they’ll take away my free lesbian zone parking and peppermint candy placard🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | November 29, 2007, 5:51 am
  196. WOMEN

    I am going to send all of you to the corner!

    Kindly scroll up and review my comments number 154, 163, 176, 181, and 190 wherein I have vainly attempted to close comments to this thread.

    Yet here I am once again, approving comments. I just could not bring myself to move any more comments around, edit, or do anything at all to anything, I am exhausted by this thread. I can see that women still have things to say, and I honestly don’t like to end the thread prematurely. But I care about everyone, I care about myself, too, and I do not want to host comments threads which are more hurtful or counterproductive than they are helpful and productive and that has been my worry.

    Since I can see that women are not done talking about all of this, and since the comments are thoughtful and, I believe, well-intentioned, I am revising my plans for this thread.

    Each women may comment to this thread ONCE per day until women stop commenting. I will review comments in the evening, and approve the comments to this thread that have been posted that day, no more than one per woman per day. Please carefully consider what you have to say, say it as thoughtfully as you can, and include all of what you say within the confines of ONE comments box.

    I am thinking of adopting this one-comment-per-day policy for threads that get heated like this, just in general. I think when the comments fly too fast and furious, it is too easy to just let fly with stuff that is hurtful and increases heat and acrimony while diminishing light and communication.

    The one post per day idea was Mary Sunshine’s actually, so you should blame her for putting it into my mind. :p

    Anyway.

    One comment to this thread per day, remember. If you add more than one comment to this thread per day, I will select amongst your comments and choose the one that seems most comprehensive.

    Amananta, yes, you’re right. I’m thinking of that book, Me? Obey Him? Is that the one you’re remembering? There is also one written by Richard Fugate’s wife along the same lines, dear god.

    Amananta, thank you for your powerful comments. It is, I agree, horrifically frustrating to read comments along the lines of “why don’t women fight back” which evidence no understanding or knowledge of what some of us have had to live through because we DID try to fight back. Rapes. Beatings. Excommunications. The boycotting and destruction of our businesses. Cars being burned up or destroyed or stolen. Children being beaten or thrown out of the house. Pets being beaten, thrown against walls, killed.

    I am working on a post along these lines and this is all in the front of my mind.

    When you have been savaged for your resistance to brutality and violence, over and over again, it becomes not so easy to fight back.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 29, 2007, 5:01 pm
  197. I don’t have much more to say on this topic. Truth is, I am unqualified to talk about fundamentalism and women.

    The women who are subject to brainwashing of this kind drew the wrong card in the deck of life. There’s not much we can do, until women themselves somehow reach a critical mass of consciousness.

    There are very few revolutionaries in history or herstory.

    Even the American Revolution was brought about by a small group of colonists. Most of America at that time was completely happy with King and Country.

    King and country and shopping at the mall.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 30, 2007, 6:25 am

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