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Pre-2008 Posts

Marilyn Frye on Being Disloyal to Whiteness and Me, Throwing Down

I have another blog, My Mother is White, which I began in May of 2006.  I haven’t posted there for a long time.  The abusive, racist comments which are routinely attempted there, combined with a consistently abusive, racist blogosphere — including racists who are self-identified feminists and progressive bloggers — are overwhelmingly de-energizing and demoralizing to me.  I don’t need it.  I am not really very interested in what racists have to say about my children or my family, to wit:

 X | nigglywiggly@hotmail.com | niggermania.org | IP: 128.241.45.133

I don’t see any reason for you to keep the half-apes around. Maybe you could donate them to a zoo?  [ View Post ]  

This kind of person regularly shows up there, having slithered out from underneath his or her rock to leave a slime trail.

Anyway, I visited my neglected blog to retrieve a Marilyn Frye quote which has appeared in the sidebar there since I began the blog.  It is part of a much longer quote which I used a while back in an article published in off our backs, (Motherhood as the Work of Revolution:  On Raising Bi-Racial Children, which you can find in its entirety here.)

Race is a tie that binds us to men: ‘us’ being white women and ‘men’ being white men. If we wish not to be bound in subordination to men, we have to give up trading on our white skin for white men’s race privilege. …if we detach ourselves from reproductive service to white men…the threat we pose is not just to their male selves but their white selves… “…for white women a radical feminism is treacherous to the white race as presently constructed and instituted in this country. The growing willingness of white women to forego the material benefits and ego supports available through connections with white men makes us much harder to contain and control as part of the base of their racial dominance. For many of us resistance to white male domination was first, and quite naturally, action simply for our own release from a degradation and tyranny we hated in and of itself. But in this racial context our pursuit of our liberation… is, whether or not we so intend it, disloyal to Whiteness…”

Marilyn Frye — On Being White: Towards a Feminist Understanding of Race and Race Supremacy, in The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory

I posted this because in a certain way, I am throwing down.  I will not be mistreated anymore, by anyone, no matter your race (there are plenty of racist persons of color), no matter your politics, and for any reason whatever.  I will not be mistreated by feminists, progressives, queer folks, GLBT folks, conservatives or moderates, men or women, on account of racial issues.  I will no longer quietly endure racist attacks by any of the above on me or on my children, no matter the form they take, no matter who it is who launches the attacks, and no matter whether they are launching the attacks out of a deluded sincerity or because they are malicious people or because they are bent and broken people.  I’m starting with this small post, and I will move on from here as the spirit moves me.

This begins my project of theorizing the unique standpoint of white feminists raising biracial children whom they have birthed from their own bodies.

Don’t bother commenting in a hostile, inflammatory, denigrating, racist, sexist, or otherwise creepy manner.  I will blacklist you or send you straight to spam, although if there is good mocking material in your attempted comment, I may first subject it to a sound public mocking.

Heart
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Discussion

33 thoughts on “Marilyn Frye on Being Disloyal to Whiteness and Me, Throwing Down

  1. Great post Heart! As always you are right on target. Keep being brave and doing the good work you do.🙂

    Posted by RowdyKittens | January 14, 2008, 10:58 pm
  2. I’m new to your blog but I just wanted to say that I do not understand this hatred. Why do people waste the time and energy leaving comments like this? It makes me feel so sad for our humanity.

    Posted by Jazz | January 15, 2008, 12:25 am
  3. Hi, Jazz, and welcome. 🙂

    I know your question is rhetorical but any of us who is of good will, who is a decent person, has wondered and asked it. The internet unfortunately is really the perfect medium for messed up people to lash out, vent, rage, attack. They can do it anonymously, they don’t have to self-censor, they know they won’t pay for it. People who have always felt life done ’em wrong get a chance to say so on the internet, and better still, they get a chance to say it to the people they think done ’em wrong, or just the people they resent or hate, or the people who make good stand-ins for those they resent or hate, or whatever. You really see the darkest side of humanity on the internet. There are beautiful people and there are beautiful writings, art, but sometimes I wonder whether having to slog through the ugly stuff is worth it. Usually I feel as though it is. Sometimes I really don’t feel as though it is. People really, really hurt each other people on the internet, and even though it’s “just” the internet, hurt is still hurt, hate is still hate. It’s so demoralizing to be reminded of how much hatred there is in the world.

    But thanks for saying what you said. It felt somehow comforting to answer.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | January 15, 2008, 1:45 am
  4. I always wanted to read that article and never got ahold of it. Thanks for linking to it – really great piece.

    Posted by funnie | January 15, 2008, 3:39 am
  5. Heart, I never take anything from anyone. I’m amazed at all the convoluted arguments about things I don’t think anyone would bother with in a normal feminist group. I tend to just write off people who go on and on about some little quote or some supposed insult.

    The whole point is about the ideas, and what ideas we can come up with that will really further the energy and the creativity of a changed world. So far, it’s been pretty weird all around.

    In my little lesbian world, I stopped paying much attention to straight women in a radical political context. So seeing all of this is very strange.

    The thing is, do we want to get a job done? Are there concrete ways of getting to the heart of the matter?

    Or are we still in the anger stage of political development? I guess I’m indifferent to anger, because lesbians have always been the naysayers in most feminist movements. Now I think we are even less likely to go along to get along.

    One thing I’ve learned, is that if it’s not about the ideas, and I can’t take it to the bank, so to speak, it’s just personal attacks.
    There has to be a solid political basis for the critique, so all of us can pay attention to that.

    Radical lesbian feminists who hate the living guts of every man on the planet are never the most popular people at any wedding reception, obviously white women who have bi-racial children get their share of insults too. It’s just too outside the malestream, too disturbing, too in people’s faces, and nobody can take this. But I do know that men are my enemy, and that I don’t want to work with them. I want a country women run. I want a city of over 100,000 women somewhere in the U.S., and I want us to build decent houses and create a world.
    And I’m going to be my usual Satsuma self in a politically correct world — cigars, the best cognac money can buy, and a very well prepared prime rib. If I can’t have my city where this can happen, I don’t want to be in the revolution period.🙂

    My politics works very well for me, and yours works for you. There was a thing the Borg used to say in Star Trek (one of the later shows in the 80s I think) the Borg was the all encompassing robot computer that took over human beings. Anyway, the Borg would say, “Resistance is futile.”

    I believe agreement among radical feminists is futile, but we can learn where to draw lines, and move on from there.

    I know in my heart of hearts that blogs can reveal very little about people. It is an artificial community. Every now and then a gem comes to the surface of the river.

    Lately, I couldn’t even follow who insulted whom. Usually I can figure this stuff out, but I must admit, in my narrow little world, I see my job as simply to gain as much territory and freedom as possible. Those who are willing to come down my street will go somewhere with me. Those going down your street will find something of value as well.

    It’s all in the telling. I must admit, I grow rather detached, because even the lesbian stuff doesn’t really speak to what I’m working for now. It’s not where my present and future is, it’s in my own life and imagination. It’s in all the things I now know, but unfortunately, when you get to this point, the search for peers is quite difficult. If you can find one or two real peers and inspirers every five years or so, you’re doing well.

    Isn’t it interesting that the heroines of the revolution don’t have blogs at all. Maybe they got bored with it all years ago?

    Posted by Satsuma | January 15, 2008, 7:51 am
  6. This is an outstanding article. Thank you for paving the way and making it so much easier to live and love in a biracial relationship with biracial children. Although there is still fear and hate toward the idea of biracial marriage, I feel safe sending my children to public school. I am not judged based on the fact I have a husband of a different race, nor do I have to worry about half the things your article mentions. Thank you for taking that step 34 years ago, and thank you to every other person out there who look beyond “race”, love with thier hearts and and know true beauty.

    I am sorry you have felt so much hate online. As one person commented, people are free to rant and say what they will without being told they are wrong with a look of scorn or without having to look the person they are attacking in the eye. Do not give up and remember what you have been able to give to the rest of us, as well as the children of those who still harbor fear of the unknown.

    Posted by Sommer | January 15, 2008, 8:41 am
  7. The thing is, do we want to get a job done? Are there concrete ways of getting to the heart of the matter?

    Or are we still in the anger stage of political development?

    I think the answer is, some of us are past the anger stage, and some of us aren’t. And some go in and out. I think the anger stage of feminism is a two steps forward, three steps back kind of a thing. We have problems when some of us are so past anger over certain kinds of things, or when we see that the anger is misplaced in some way, and so we won’t go there and then we are perceived as being dismissive or not caring or blowing someone’s anger off or whatever. Well, you know, we can’t not know what we know! If it’s very clear to us that someone’s anger or rage really is misplaced, or is indicative of deeper issues that have little to do with us or with feminism, or if their anger or rage is really inappropriately expressed, i.e., they’re talking about offing people (!) or about why certain people should be offed, well, I’m not going to be part of that. That, to me is someone else’s troublesome and even dangerous, but certainly destructive, issues. (I’m not talking about hyperbole or ranting here or being sarcastic, I’m talking about rage and anger that are destructive in groups of women. There is that kind of anger and it’s not going to do to ignore it or justify or defend it either.)

    I wanted to say that I would not mind joining you in a nice glass of cognac, nothing wrong with that, although I will have to pass on the cigar and I’m a vegetarian,🙂 so I will substitute, say, some imported truffles, not the candy kind, the mushroom kind. HA. I actually treated myself to a nice Tangeray 10 on the rocks last night which I thoroughly enjoyed (and, I believe, DESERVED!) 🙂

    It’s very true that blogs reveal very little about people.

    But.

    But. But. But.

    Some of us bloggers have met each other in real life. And of course, our world as radical feminists/lesbian separatists is small, with only 2-7 or so degrees of separation between any of us at any given time, those of us who have been around for a while anyway (especially if we’ve met, and especially if we are Festies) so we know things about each other that bloggers outside of our group (because they are new or whatever) don’t know. And those of us who have been blogging or yakking on boards on the internet for years know each other pretty well too.

    This factors in to our online discussions and debates and, yeah, fights. We know each other. We’ve seen each other in action. We know people’s histories.

    That’s what makes it tricky whenever there are problems. There’s a whole lot of stuff “underneath” which only some know about and which no one is talking about. It’s defunct and disfunctional as ALL fucking hell and I am so very very VERY very DONE with it.

    I blog to present a woman-centered, woman-specific perspective on news affecting women, something that almost NOBODY in the mainstream media EVER does.

    I blog to highlight stories of importance to women which the mainstream media ignores or gives short shrift.

    I blog to make the concerns of women, feminists, lesbians, separatists, girls internationally visible.

    I blog to give a voice to those who have no voice otherwise.

    I blog for the purpose of feminist analysis and critique.

    I blog to organize and mobilize women to respond to specific crises in the lives of women.

    I blog to make connections with those who share my sensibilities and politics.

    I blog to promote sisterhood globally.

    I do not blog to be pulled down into the defunct mire of anyone’s unresolved issues or to be attacked or harassed or stalked. This last is going to come to a severe end. I am not going to allow it or be part of it or let it play any part in my life any more, ever.

    So. Where’s my cognac. 🙂

    Posted by womensspace | January 15, 2008, 7:51 pm
  8. Sommer and funnie, thanks for the compliments on my article! And best of luck to you, Sommer, and thanks for your kind words about my struggles in the school of hard knocks. I sincerely hope things are so much better for you and your children than they have been for me. That’s what it’s all about.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | January 15, 2008, 7:56 pm
  9. ** passes Heart the cognac **

    Oops, it’s Grand Marnier … can you stand it?😉

    Really great articulation of what’s happening, Heart, as always!

    xoxo

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | January 15, 2008, 8:06 pm
  10. Gran marnier and cognac– I think they call it a French connection. Anyway, here’s cognac to all of us!

    I think it’s very useful to get the feminist news here first, and then read the news from the malestream. Very revealing, especially when you have the time to think it through with feminist analysis first!

    Posted by Satsuma | January 16, 2008, 4:35 am
  11. I spammed some cognac over to you all…🙂

    How many clever ways can you refer to spam🙂 Got my work cut out for me this year🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | January 16, 2008, 4:36 am
  12. Satsuma, I have no idea why some of your comments get spammed and others do not. I am going to pose that question in the WordPress forums, the heck. I thought it might be that your long comments were spammed for some reason, but this short one got spammed as well, though the note that you were spammed did not. The heck?

    Anyhow, a toast to all of us.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | January 16, 2008, 5:20 am
  13. I’m so sorry you’ve had to be subjected to this, Heart. It’s totally not fair. Course, what in life is?!

    As for myself, I’m done blogging. I always get scared that my very public household computer will be sniffed out somehow and I’ll get caught blogging my true feelings. So I have just given up.

    Now I just read and comment on other blogs when the mood hits. Then clear the history on my puter when I’m done. I don’t consider myself a feminist anymore… I’m too waffley. I don’t deserve the title of feminist. Feminists are much stronger and dedicated than I am.

    I am a lover of women though. I have given what I have to give, to women in my own family as well as women in my church and women I don’t even know. That much I *have* learned. To give my all to women, in love and acceptance, regardless of the place that each of us finds ourselves in.

    If we women could all just accept one another and love one another unconditionally. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyhow?! I dunno. It gets discouraging so much of the time, when I read things like what you’ve been through, Heart.

    Being in a place filled with nothing but w-b-w really isn’t the answer either. So many w-b-w have been made into women-chewing patriarchial clones… hiding under those rocks. So sad.

    But don’t pay no mind to the idiots, Heart. Just stick with those who love you and turn a blind eye to those who don’t. Try anyhow. That’s about all I can do, personally. That’s the advantage of being beaten down by the world, I guess. People in pain are a lot more mellow somehow. And a lot more understanding of others in pain too. At least that’s the place I find myself in right now. I have no room for hateful people in my world anymore and have absolutely nothing to give back to them, to try and change their minds. I am empty.

    It’s just too painful. Hate hurts. Unfortunately not hating back doesn’t stop others from hating us, does it. That’s when we start feeling like a punching bag.

    Hang in there, Heart. You are loved.

    (Back to) LearningOne (the state in which I feel like I will always be… always trying to learn)

    Posted by LearningOne | January 16, 2008, 6:42 am
  14. Hey, Learning One. 🙂 and {{}}

    Thanks for those good thoughts. I wish you didn’t have to delete your cache every time you post though, just to be safe. 😦

    I’m right there with you so far as frustrations with feminists go. You’ll note I removed the tag line from the title of my blog, “I’m a radical feminist, not the fun kind.” Not because I’ve changed my views, but because I get tired of the defunct dynamics at times among those who identify as radical feminists, the meanness in particular. I don’t want to abandon the word “feminist,” because I don’t want those who have have twisted the words “feminist” and “radical feminist” to make them bad words to win, you know? At the same time, when I read women who identify as radical feminists saying the kinds of things they say at times, I do just want to say ohforcryingoutloud, that is just IT.

    Radical feminism — believe it or not, the unbelieving who are lurking — as I have understood it, is a very beautiful thing. It is about the elimination of hierarchies of every kind. It is about the elimination of violence towards human beings, animals, the earth, the skies, the seas. It is about building a new world in which real love among human beings is possible. It is about justice for all human beings, justice for the animals, and justice for the earth. It is about creativity and bringing a new perspective to all interactions between human beings. It’s about a new vision, a new paradigm in which love and respect are central.

    So when I see radical feminist women speaking out in ways which significantly depart from that vision or behaving in ways which in no way evidence any sort of commitment to that vision, I just want to leave the word itself behind. My own longings and sensibilities are contained in that paragraph I just wrote. Maybe there is no word for that that fits right now, no name for it, that hasn’t been destroyed by the patriarchs or by those who have been, themselves, so damaged by patriarchy. I don’t know, I’m not sure the words matter, “feminist,” “radical feminist,” and I wonder if they get in the way, given the beating they have taken.

    Of course, I could just be tired right now. I am sure that I am! But I’m with you, Learning One. Women making community with women is what is most important to me, women encouraging each other, supporting each other, helping each other, listening to each other, reading and listening to one another generously. This week, I’ve heard a woman say come the revolution, those of us women she has decided are collaborators are toast. How far is that, I wonder, from wanting to anathematize in the way patriarchal religion anathematizes women for being a “collaborator” with “the world”. It seems motivated by a similar animus, a similar hostile vindictiveness that comes where ideologues think they aren’t going to get their way, so they bring in those big guns. How different is it to say, “You are going to hell,” and “I’m going to send you to hell,” when in either case the idea is, “I’m right, you’re wrong, and if you don’t agree, you’re going to pay if I have anything to say about it!”

    This week I listened to Gloria Steinem, whom I deeply admire and respect and always will, get just LIT into, totally over the top, by a younger feminist on the radio. It was obvious to me that this younger woman could not WAIT to light into Steinem, you know, one of those dreaded “white second wave feminists ™” it is acceptable and trendy and hip to despise and vilify every last chance you get (especially if you’re a white man! ) But also if you are anything but a white second wave feminist! I felt absolutely disgusted. The woman wasn’t responding at ALL to what Steinem had even written (which was what the discussion was supposed to be about, something Steinem had written), she was just trashing her for all sorts of stuff that has nothing to do with what Gloria Steinem believes, has said or with who she even is, just all of these random resentments people have towards women who really did make revolution which benefitted ALL women, imperfectly, but what the hell, YOU try it, see how perfectly YOU can do it. For god’s sake. But it was so obvious that Steinem was the safe and available stand-in for all of this woman’s resentments and hatred. I thought, why do you do it, Gloria? You’re 72 years old and in the time of your life when you deserve some rest and above all *respect*. You’ve earned that. Don’t go before the microphone with these feminist women or “progressives” who hate your guts for absolutely no reason except that you are safe and easy to hate. Because sure enough, these same women will get up there with sexist men, misogynist men, including white sexist men, politicians, you name it, and will debate and discuss civilly and respectfully, so just let them go on and do that, see where it gets them. Just let them hang with the fellas. Let them discuss with the white sexist men, and then afterwards, we will take a look and it will become very clear what is going on there to anybody who cares enough to pay attention (the only people worth worrying about in the end) that women like you are hated because you are penultimately safe to hate, a very convenient whipping girl, and why? Because you DO care about women. Because you WON’T fight women or hurt them or hate them. Because you WILL listen. Because when you get slapped upside the head you won’t slap back. And you are a convenient whipping girl because the whole world, including white progressive MEN, love nothing more than to see you, a woman who has done so much for women, hated on, humiliated. It’s sick, people rejoicing over the smack down given to a 72-year-old woman, dear god.

    Well, I’m going on and on, huh.

    Anyway, my love for and commitment to women will never end. It has been steady and unchanging throughout my reinventions of myself over the years, just as my commitment to civil rights, human rights, and nonviolence has been. But right about now, I don’t know that I care to be connected so much with “radical feminism” or feminism at all. Which doesn’t at all mean I’ve changed my mind about anything. Just, like you say, women can be so messed up, and it is tiring and discouraging, and you just want to say enough is enough.

    Many hugs to you, Learning One.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | January 16, 2008, 12:27 pm
  15. Hi Heart,

    I have all those feelings, too. It’s just gone beyond wretchedness.

    I love your expression “female-centred”.

    I am going to adopt the expression “female centredness” now to replace the hopelessly corrupted word “feminist”.

    Not that they can’t corrupt that, too, in time.

    Men always love women best when we’re being traitors to our sex. The best way that we can demonstrate that we are traitors to the female is to corrupt the word that originated in the radical statement of loyalty to the female. It’s a very well-paid choice of behaviour for females. $$$ talks.

    Corruption manifests, amongst other ways, as dis-integration. Destruction of integrity. In this case, the integrity of the word originally designated as the marker of female loyalty to the female.

    It makes it all the more difficult, if not impossible, for females to find other female-centred female. CAUTION: the word “feminist” is being held out as poisoned bait under our noses.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | January 16, 2008, 2:55 pm
  16. Well, LearningOne and Heart, there are at least three unconditionally woman-supporting individuals here. I, too, am a peaceful, love-loving, type who wants women to HELP each other, stand up for each other, and help work toward that peaceable kingdom planet where people, other animals (I’m vegetarian, too), and the planet are safer and better cared for. Domination, aggression, and heirarchies and the societal ideaologies and tendencies encouraging them are my enemies; I would rather give individual folks, on the other hand, the benefit of the doubt and try to educate them rather than metaphorically blow them away (and yipes! if any nominal feminists are talking about literally blowing people away! Is that kind of thing floating around in the feminist blogosphere?). Ignorance and imposition of the wrong kind of information including prejudices CAN be overcome. I’ve seen evidence of this in my lifetime. And I’d rather be blamed for NOT blaming other women for what their lives have brought them to than be vetted as sufficiently divisive to fit into some narrow little clique.

    As to progressives tearing down Gloria Steinem, how disgusting and saddening. We need to honor and love our crones and not score points off of them! If I had been there I would have literally brought her flowers and settled in to hear what she had to say.

    I’ve said it before, this is the safest feeling blog to me, and I feel I can get the real information I need to stay focused by reading here. Silent lurkers who feel shy because you care about women but are afraid you would be baited for not being “something enough” if you post, I know how you feel, and I hope you continue to read and be nourished. It would be lovely if you posted, too, but I can understand the humility and plain common sense behind not doing so if you’ve witnessed take downs on the net!

    Posted by Level Best | January 16, 2008, 3:22 pm
  17. And I’d rather be blamed for NOT blaming other women for what their lives have brought them to than be vetted as sufficiently divisive to fit into some narrow little clique.

    Ohmygod, circle it in red magic marker, squiggle great big red arrows towards it, put it up in lights, turn it into a billboard, it is SO perfect, Level Best. You got it. I’d rather be blamed for NOT blaming other women for how messed up they are in various ways than to blame the bejeebers out of them and trash them to kingdom come and back so some “narrow little clique” — narrow is RIGHT! — tells me what a damn fine ideologue I am, as though, as though, as though, mouthing the right words, the correct rhetoric

    MEANS A GODDAMN THING WHEN IT COMES RIGHT DOWN TO IT!

    Ugh.

    The thing is though, I don’t think most young radical feminists share the vision I posted up there of what radical feminism actually is. I don’t think they believe what I believe, and you, Mary, and you, Learning One and Level Best. More, they are anti-pornography, they are anti-prostitution, against violence against women, and they are pissed off with men. Yeah, they are “against racism” (whatever that means, mostly empty words with no lived experience, no women of color in their lives, no history of activism, hence buttloads of cluelessness), and yeah they are against classism (but they are plenty comfortable, have never been poor in their lives and never will be) and they “care about the earth” meaning, I guess, they recycle and buy organic, even though they eat cows and pigs and chickens and don’t consider the global ramifications thereof, or whatever. I don’t know. I think the vision we are talking about that we share, Mary and Learning one and Level Best is one thing and what they mean when they talk about radical feminism is something different. So when they say “radical feminist” they think of a certain list of things that isn’t really much like what I think about when I say “radical feminist.” That’s all I can come up with to explain the preposterousness of some of the absolute crap I have read lately.

    Did someone in the blogosphere actually say she would blow people away? Mmm. More like, she said when she and/or those who agree with her and/or are like her get the power to, they will deal with “collaborators” (whoever doesn’t agree with her) and eliminate them. To me, that has nothing to do with any kind of feminism. That’s just same old same old dominance hierarchies with a woman calling the shots instead of a man. There’s nothing revolutionary in it, and that kind of rhetoric is creepy, makes me want to distance, distance, distance myself from radical feminists period, because nonviolence is core for me, central to any vision of a new world. It’s violence that got us to the place that we are, and violence is not going to get us out of this place, that I can say for sure. Violence is no way to build any kind of new world.

    I am livid over the treatment of Gloria Steinem. Here is a woman who is 72, a widow, a cancer survivor, a survivor of many arrests for activism, a woman who has dedicated herself to peace and justice for all of her life. But oh how progressives and a certain kind of feminist loves, just like you say, Level Best, to “score points” off her. It’s one good way to get some comments to your blog, that’s for sure, attack her or women like her, that will get folks running to join in in laying the smake down on that bith. (Misspellings intentional, it’s old Ms boards language meant to ridicule trolls who originated that misspelled ignoramus posturing, except I’m talking about *feminists* laying the smake down on *feminist leaders* they think are bithes, so entirely revolting.) Get a woman like Steinem’s blood in the water, the sharks will quickly circle, and a helluva lot of that has to do with her stand against pornography, against prostitution, against Playboy, against male assholery in all of its many forms.

    Well, just ranting and raving here.

    I like “female centered” too, Mary, and have increasingly used that term instead of “feminist.” There are so many women, including self-identified feminists, who are not female-centered, you know? Just seems like we have to find new ways to declare our commitment to women as women.

    Posted by womensspace | January 16, 2008, 5:47 pm
  18. I just wanted to send my support and kind regards. It is so sad that you have been attacked on such a personal level.
    Your site has help me and other women to have the courage to speak out, and to have the courage not to compromise.
    I just want you know that your is vital to many women. You are so brave, Rebecca.

    Posted by Rebecca | January 16, 2008, 7:14 pm
  19. “It’s violence that got us to the place that we are, and violence is not going to get us out of this place, that I can say for sure. Violence is no way to build any kind of new world.”–Heart

    Yes.

    I copied that quote even though it’s in your post right over where I’m typing right now because by now I have Googled around and just found, somewhere I won’t specify, a long thread in which a “feminist” both savages you AND talks about blowing people away–many, many people, if I read her ideology correctly–and I need an anchor of sane thought to look at right now.

    Please tell me I didn’t understand all the implications, because if I did, at least one self-identified feminist would like a world without all men-born-men (about 49% of the planet’s population?), all heterosexual women (about 90-something % of the remaining 51% of the planet?), and seems to look askance at racially mixed folks, too (isn’t that 100% of us?, really?). . . .

    This will get us nowhere. This isn’t rad-fem. This is the same old, same old. This is death, death, death, which is as old as the first bloodied stone tool. Fortunately, it is also extremely unlikely and not fruitful to consider.

    Talk is cheap, and typing is cheaper than talking. Are people who gleefully applaud this sort of rhetoric the people who will help a woman sit up with a critically ill child? Will they help an abandoned housewife with kids by typing up her first resume? Will they get off their computers to walk in a Take Back the Night march? Will they take a lunch break to help out a co-worker who’s been out from work because of problems at home? Why do I think I know the answer to all these and many more questions about things that could really happen in the real world and really help real women!

    No, you didn’t rant, Heart, but I could go on and on. I need to stop while I calm down.

    I do want readers to consider how, word-wise, people like us can identify ourselves when all of this hatefulness is accreting to the term “feminist.” For this kind of thinking to be called feminist is the sort of disinformation we don’t need! Should we self-identify as female-centered? Is there a better term?

    Posted by Level Best | January 16, 2008, 9:25 pm
  20. Talk is cheap, and typing is cheaper than talking. Are people who gleefully applaud this sort of rhetoric the people who will help a woman sit up with a critically ill child?

    Well, based on past interactions, probably not. Especially not if the woman’s critically ill child is male. Why do we want another male child in the world, anyway? What did she think she was doing there, having a male child? Or any child, really. Why does she spend good time or energy on children, males especially? Didn’t she realize when she had kids she was voluntarily making herself a member of the servants-to-men-and-children class? I mean, some women didn’t HAVE children at all, they *thought* about this and made sure they didn’t get themselves in that situation, so why should they be bothered to help with some other dumb woman’s critically ill child. I mean, what a stupid thing to do. Don’t look to me to bail you out.

    Will they help an abandoned housewife with kids by typing up her first resume?

    They might do this because of see above.

    Will they get off their computers to walk in a Take Back the Night march?

    Depends on who is in charge of the TBTN march.

    Will they take a lunch break to help out a co-worker who’s been out from work because of problems at home?

    Depends on the problems. If the problems have to do with husbands, boyfriends, children, or male children, then they might not take a lunch break to help out, unless it’s an issue of spousal abuse and the woman is in the process of leaving her abuser.

    If the problems have to do with pets or physical illness, they they will probably help (excepting pregnancy or any childbearing-related illnesses).

    Why do I think I know the answer to all these and many more questions about things that could really happen in the real world and really help real women!

    Yeah. 😦

    Posted by womensspace | January 16, 2008, 10:00 pm
  21. Hey, Rebecca, thanks, that means a lot to me.

    Posted by womensspace | January 16, 2008, 10:18 pm
  22. The thing is though, I don’t think most young radical feminists share the vision I posted up there of what radical feminism actually is. I don’t think they believe what I believe, and you, Mary, and you, Learning One and Level Best. More, they are anti-pornography, they are anti-prostitution, against violence against women, and they are pissed off with men. Yeah, they are “against racism” (whatever that means, mostly empty words with no lived experience, no women of color in their lives, no history of activism, hence buttloads of cluelessness), and yeah they are against classism (but they are plenty comfortable, have never been poor in their lives and never will be) and they “care about the earth” meaning, I guess, they recycle and buy organic, even though they eat cows and pigs and chickens and don’t consider the global ramifications thereof, or whatever. I don’t know. I think the vision we are talking about that we share, Mary and Learning one and Level Best is one thing and what they mean when they talk about radical feminism is something different. So when they say “radical feminist” they think of a certain list of things that isn’t really much like what I think about when I say “radical feminist.” That’s all I can come up with to explain the preposterousness of some of the absolute crap I have read lately.

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. I find it very difficult to understand why these women call themselves radical feminists. And I am really pissed at my generation. It is really shameful the lack of respect that we show to the older feminists who have done so so fricking much to change the conditions of the world’s women. And some of the most radical work is being done by women like Vandana Shiva, Farida Akhter and Maria Mies, criticising Western consumption and colonialism in the context of patriarchy. But to work on those issues is far too hard for my generation. We just want to whine about body image and the sexualisation of Western women. We don’t actually want our anti-imperialist politics to influence our lives or our privilege.

    But older feminists are guilty of this also. I know a few lesbian feminists that do not seriously consider the impact that their actions have on the environment and do not consider the social ramifications of their ‘investments’. I have been told by these women that I am purist and that I will change my mind about money/the environment when I grow older. I don’t think I will. I don’t think I can.

    Posted by allecto | January 24, 2008, 5:03 am
  23. H: “I don’t want to abandon the word “feminist,” because I don’t want those who have have twisted the words “feminist” and “radical feminist” to make them bad words to win, you know?”

    Yep, I hear ya.

    H: “Radical feminism — believe it or not, the unbelieving who are lurking — as I have understood it, is a very beautiful thing. It is about the elimination of hierarchies of every kind. It is about the elimination of violence towards human beings, animals, the earth, the skies, the seas. It is about building a new world in which real love among human beings is possible. It is about justice for all human beings, justice for the animals, and justice for the earth. It is about creativity and bringing a new perspective to all interactions between human beings. It’s about a new vision, a new paradigm in which love and respect are central.”

    Ya know, Heart, I wonder if the term ‘radical feminism’ is the actual words needed to describe the “beautiful thing” you are talking about. I don’t think that term would even be needed if humanity itself would treat each and every person and living thing as they should be treated. I dunno… as I’ve come to see it, radical *anything* is a result of the original plan gone wrong… run amok…. having gotten corrupted. That’s when radical actions are taken to try to undo the wrongness and corruption, of the thing that shouldn’t have needed radical intervention to begin with.

    But then the radicalism picks up its own corruption by itself and well… doesn’t lead the masses back to the origin (the “beautiful thing”) anyhow.

    So, does radicalism in any form actually work? I’m still forming my opinion but I’m leaning towards not.

    H: “Maybe there is no word for that that fits right now, no name for it, that hasn’t been destroyed by the patriarchs or by those who have been, themselves, so damaged by patriarchy.”

    Yep.

    H: “This week I listened to Gloria Steinem, whom I deeply admire and respect and always will, get just LIT into, totally over the top, by a younger feminist on the radio.”

    *sigh* Violence. The young long for violence… and when it comes to wanting to execute violence against one of their own, then how lost is THAT??!! Did this younger feminist learn the violence from the patriarchial society in which she lives and breathes? If so, then is it her fault? If she were raised by women, among women, in a peaceful setting, would the violence still be there? I rather doubt it.

    You know how dogs will get to fighting and the owner of one of them steps in to try and break-up the fight… only to have the owner’s dog turn around and bite the owner too? It’s not that the owner’s dog *wants* to bite her owner…. it’s just that she can’t turn the aggression off on a dime like that. The dog goes from fighting the other dog to fighting her owner… her beloved that she would give her life to defend…. because she’s wound-up from the initial fight.

    I think that’s what these younger women are experiencing. They are so used to fighting patriarchy and so used to being in “bite mode” all the time, that they wake up wanting to go at it… not really caring at whom or what. That’s what patriarchy has done to women…. stripped them of their gentleness and kindness and peacefulness. Yet again something the patriarchy has stolen from our very natures. 😦

    I wonder if that’s why that dear woman, Gloria Steinem, took that smack down, Heart? She’s taking it out of a deep love for all women, no matter where they are right now? She’s “turning the other cheek” and does it willingly because she’s turning it for another woman. That’s true love.

    I think you’d take the same, if push came to shove, from a young feminist, Heart. I think you would recognize her youth and inexperience… her inability to stop fighting, even though the one she’s biting isn’t the original dog (male) she was in combat with that got her into bite mode to begin with. It’s you seasoned feminists who recognize this and love the women anyway.

    It’s you seasoned feminists whom these biters will look back on someday, to model themselves after. They will be in your shoes one day…. with the bite defeated out of them…. and they will realize.

    At least the true feminists will. As for the w-b-w women-chewing patriarchial clones? They will never be swayed… and they will always be looking for a good dog fight to enter. I just hope that they are in the minority and not the majority. Sometimes I wonder even today.

    Much love to you~ LearningOne

    Posted by LearningOne | January 24, 2008, 8:00 am
  24. Allecto pondered,

    I find it very difficult to understand why these women call themselves radical feminists.

    They call themselves radical feminists:

    1.) To get attention
    2.) To gain status, now that “feminism” has been academicized.
    3.) To gain a vantage point from which to compete with, and attack, other women.

    That’s why I have had to come, for the sake of my own survival, to view the word “feminism” as poisoned bait.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | January 24, 2008, 2:52 pm
  25. Mary: So, true. An older lesbian refused to call herself a feminist and said that the original term they used to describe themselves was ‘women’s liberationist’. She said that she had been wary from the beginning when women began calling themselves feminists. She got the impression that the word wos coming from the universities. It was then that feminism got broken down into different ‘types’. Socialist feminist, liberal feminist, radical feminist and then more recently post-modernist, queer feminists. Anyway, she argued that we should go back to women’s liberationist. With our goal being women’s liberation. I think that I am slowly starting to agree with her. Feminism is such an identity thing these days. Women, especially young women, treat it like a piece of clothing. Something they can tack to themselves to give themselves credibility then take it off again before leaving the house so they don’t alienate teh menz.

    Posted by allecto | January 25, 2008, 5:42 am
  26. I wrote a big response to all of these good comments this morning and lost it. Argh. Then I was too crabby to come back and repost it.

    But you are so right Allecto, it definitely is not just young women!

    Learning One, you always say the greatest things. I think those of us who come from our old world have such a unique perspective on the state of women in the world. We have been told, unapologetically, we were to submit and obey, and we tried to because we thought God wanted us to. That is an experience you never forget. It informs your analysis of everything you witness so far as women goes.

    It’s very true that if we are always fighting something, then there is a sense in which we are defined by what we oppose or hate.This is why some feminists won’t define themselves as separatists, for example; that defines them by what they are separating from.

    So in many ways I am one who agrees that what we are for is far more important than what we are against. I am for women. I want to be with women. It’s not that I want to separate from men, it’s that I want to be with women. I am more for peace than I am against violence. I am more for the health of creatures, the earth and all benficent life than I am against those bent on destroying the earth.

    The difficulty comes in in that there is always the need to illuminate women’s state in the world, to make our condition visible. I remember reading the words of a young feminist, very smart, I think she had a degree in women’s studies, who said until she read my blog, she never knew about so many things — the Comfort Women, Trokosi, child brides, honor killings, and so on. Of course, these do not get nearly the attention they deserve, and the attention they do receive is not the attention we give these things as female-centered persons.

    I’ve also seen, wierdly, this idea that we should not set ourselves against things, should reject binaries and dualities, used against feminists by self-identified feminists! I’ve seen feminists chide other feminists, in other words, for standing opposed to evil because we should be instead standing for good. But in taking that position (particularly as the person I’m thinking of did, accusing feminists of “victim thinking”, yada), she was creating her own binary, her own duality. She was defining herself as against feminists who do things (she thinks) in the wrong way!

    I think when you get right down to it, if you emphasize love and compassion for all creatures, the earth, all benificent life, you cannot go wrong. My friend Karla and I have talked a lot about this, that feminism/women’s liberation/early radical feminism was grounded not centrally in what we opposed or in hatred or rage but in our love and compassion for the entire earth and all creatures and all benificent life. That *is* the heart of radical feminism — revolutionary love, revolutionary compassion. It is so sad that the term — as so often happens — is turned on its head, for so many, gutted of meaning.

    Well, I love you women, Level Best and Learning One and Mary Sunshine and Allecto and all of the women here. You give me such hope, all of the time.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | January 25, 2008, 6:04 am
  27. Another Vandana Shiva fan! Yes!🙂

    I like the biting-dog analogy a lot, Learning One. I think that’s true about turning off aggression. At least, it has been true of me!

    I also know now that one thing that used to get me into trouble was a need to be separate from “imperfect” women…as though by just being *good* enough, perfect enough, we could convince the world of why we deserved to be treated better.

    I know that’s a pretty basic thing a lot of women, and other oppressed groups, struggle with…but I applied it to feminism too, and I think I was interested in feminism in the first place as a WAY of separating myself from imperfect women. I rebelled against forced femininity for so many years before even learning anything about feminism, and there were so MANY women I wanted to disassociate myself from for so MANY reasons.

    I don’t think it’s that those impulses are more common in younger women, as much as it just takes some time and awareness to figure out (and some people never do) that:

    the cycle of trying to be “perfect” and “failing” isn’t really what you want your life to be about (thank you fundamentalism!);

    that most “imperfections” in women – the kind that make you REALLY uncomfortable identifying with someone – are the direct result of sex-based persecution and all the more reason to cling TO that woman, not shy away from her;

    even if there were such a thing as a perfect woman, her perfection would in no way be ‘respected’ by the misogyny machine.

    I mean, the biggest distortion of misogyny is that there are, somewhere, some women who are above reproach in some way…meaning that the patriarchy even bothers making positive distinctions between women at all. It’s easy to fall for that lie, based on all of the negative distinctions the patriarchy draws – you can’t help but notice all of its turning women against each other based on ridiculously narrow typecasting (yes, you’re both white middle-class women with children who work full-time paying jobs outside your identical homes right next door to each other, but you’re so different – one of you views your work as just a job, and one of you prioritizes it as a real career! Job Woman – don’t you think your little girl would benefit from seeing her mom take her work seriously enough to break the glass ceiling? how’s she supposed to know to want a career of her own and actually accomplish something? Career Woman – don’t you think your family should come first? Why do you think men’s corporate rat race is more important than actually being there when your daughter needs you?

    It’s like some evil magic suit – misogyny tailors itself so beautifully to the contours of each individual woman’s life, you totally forget it came with a one-size-fits-all tag.

    So, you can go around finding whole swaths of women you’re not like – I wasn’t like the fundie women with their ongoing battles re: “submission” to men; not like the women in my small town, with their suspicion of anything that hadn’t been done for 100 years or took place more than 30 miles away; I wasn’t like the anti-intellectual women of either group – I was going to college, dammit… And in college, I wasn’t like the man-hunting women, and I wasn’t like the high-maintenance women, and I wasn’t like the youth group-y women or the supernerds, but I wasn’t quite like the party girls either; I wasn’t like the apolitical lip-gloss women, but I wasn’t like those “cause girls,” eww; I could be an individual and not join with any women, really, other than a few select friends, and still find it in me to sneer at the stoner/badass punk/grunge girls who thought they were too cool to be involved with anyone or anything. And then I graduated and went to work, and found I was nothing like the middle-aged women I worked with – I was smarter and faster than a lot of them, but then again there were the ones I could learn something from, and I’d take their knowledge, but I wasn’t really like them, either, stuck forever in a job well below my capabilities because I took time out for kids, or because I “let” somebody treat me unseriously because I was a woman…

    And on and on, you certainly get the picture. But what you don’t notice along the way is that not only are the women that you can manage to identify with on some level somehow getting tiny in number (not to mention homogeneous), while you’re becoming increasingly disassociated from the majority of real live women, but that despite all of your efforts, nobody in power ever – EVER – thinks you’re not “one of them” anyway! When it comes right down to it, the misogyny suit fits you just fine too. You can be the perfect woman, you can be the perfect feminist, and it just doesn’t matter, because women are crap – all women are crap. Including you, whatEVER you are.

    It’s humbling, finally figuring out that life really and truly isn’t some free-market meritocracy and so therefore you really can’t win simply by competing more efficiently.

    I think this is one interesting difference between a lot of white and minority feminists – the latter struggle with urges to differentiate themselves from “undesirable” (which is to say, all) sex and race stereotypes, sure, but I do think the bullshit in the system is less invisible to women of color.

    White men, after all, are at the top of the heap. And most white women have at least one white man in their families, while few women of color do.

    If you grow up living with someone for whom things magically happen – not even magically, let’s say…LOGICALLY…you watch him do what he’s supposed to and achieve the desired result without any special wrangling…you have seen that the machine CAN work, that input CAN equal output.

    A lot of adult white middle- and upper-class women (of any age, but esp under 35 IME) were raised mostly by their mothers, were closer with their mothers as children, still have more contact with their mothers – and yet identify, in their self-conception, with their fathers. Meaning – they identify more with the ability to “successfully” navigate a “working” system.

    This is a lot harder to do for most women of color. Few grow up around someone who isn’t pretty noticeably discriminated against. Women of color in the US can still believe, and some do, in the “American Meritocracy”, but it’s more myth-based than experiential, which may make it easier to recognize AS myth.

    Well, anyway. I think a real obstacle to woman-centered feminism, at least for white women who don’t come from poverty, is that vestigial belief in a meritocracy. You can hand out (bigoted) “free passes” to certain women – poor women, foreign women, women of color – who make your liberal heart just bleed – while still believing that most women are just plain icky somehow. You can identify with success (meaning that you believe at least some tenets of the white heteropatriarchy) and still “forgive” some women for not being able to easily achieve it.

    It’s hard to recognize how that’s woman-blaming, misognynist, racist, classist, etc. It’s hard to recognize that every time you’re irritated by being “lumped in” with another woman, every time you’re irritated by the *actions* or *choices* of another woman, there’s a misogynist assumption lurking somewhere.

    It’s especially difficult if, like me, you’re easily irritated. :p

    Posted by funnie | January 25, 2008, 3:10 pm
  28. funnie: that most “imperfections” in women – the kind that make you REALLY uncomfortable identifying with someone – are the direct result of sex-based persecution and all the more reason to cling TO that woman, not shy away from her;

    WOW.

    That is an absolutely stunning insight. I haven’t finished reading your comment yet but had to stop to say that.

    Thanks, funnie. What you said there has me in tears.

    Posted by womensspace | January 25, 2008, 4:15 pm
  29. It’s like some evil magic suit – misogyny tailors itself so beautifully to the contours of each individual woman’s life, you totally forget it came with a one-size-fits-all tag.

    Damn. funnie in full effect. A sight to behold.

    Posted by womensspace | January 25, 2008, 4:17 pm
  30. And on and on, you certainly get the picture. But what you don’t notice along the way is that not only are the women that you can manage to identify with on some level somehow getting tiny in number (not to mention homogeneous), while you’re becoming increasingly disassociated from the majority of real live women, but that despite all of your efforts, nobody in power ever – EVER – thinks you’re not “one of them” anyway!

    Not to serial re-post every single one of your points, but GEEZ.

    This is SO GREAT.

    Posted by womensspace | January 25, 2008, 4:19 pm
  31. You can hand out (bigoted) “free passes” to certain women – poor women, foreign women, women of color – who make your liberal heart just bleed – while still believing that most women are just plain icky somehow. You can identify with success (meaning that you believe at least some tenets of the white heteropatriarchy) and still “forgive” some women for not being able to easily achieve it.

    It’s hard to recognize how that’s woman-blaming, misognynist, racist, classist, etc. It’s hard to recognize that every time you’re irritated by being “lumped in” with another woman, every time you’re irritated by the *actions* or *choices* of another woman, there’s a misogynist assumption lurking somewhere.

    All right.

    I’m making your comment a post.

    It is just so damn fine, I have to do it.

    Posted by womensspace | January 25, 2008, 4:22 pm
  32. Funnie, your analysis allied with compassion is amazing and inspiring. I hope, if you don’t “officially” write now that you will get a chance to do so.

    Posted by Level Best | January 25, 2008, 4:57 pm
  33. hee hee. I’m really glad you liked it so much; I returned to see if it was out of spam yet bc I hadn’t re-read it and was kind of embarrassed, thinking about what I’d written.

    Posted by funnie | January 25, 2008, 5:22 pm

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