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Hi, Sisters.

pink_flower

I’m sorry but I’m seriously gonna need a bit more of a longer break away from the Internet. I’ve got quite a few things to sort out in my life right now. But I promise I will be back at some point soon.

Meanwhile, I love you all:

Allecto

Amananta

Amy

AW

BBB

Berryblade

Bluecoat

Buggle

Cath

Celly

citywood

delphyne

demonista

Feminamist

gbl

Heart

JoceClaire

Laur

laurelin

Mary

MauvaiseHerbe

MGO

m.leigh

Ms Jared

ND

Phio Gistic

Rain

Rebecca

Redmegaera

Sam

Sharkbait

Sophie

Sparkle

Undercover Punk

Witchy

. . . and so many others (Did I forget anyone?)

And I miss you all so much.

But I really need some more time off the Internet and away from the computer. I need a bit of a longer break than I’d planned. Sorry. This will only do me some good until I am emotionally ready to come back.

Comments are open though, in case anyone drops by. . .

Summer heat, summer hiatus

Hey all,

Just wanted to say I’m still here but I’d been having a “writer’s block” in June/July and I needed some more time to gather new thoughts.

I’d been taking long breaks away from the Internet this summer, especially to get more of the opportunity to meet womyn in the real world (i.e. real-life friends, etc).

I’ve got quite a few posts (in mind and in draft) that need more preparation. I want to talk more about various things:  race, gendered violence, divides among women, heteronormative oppression, lesbianism, lesbian pride, etc. So I’ve not gone. I will be back as soon as I can.😉

Meawhile, I’d just like to make one thing very clear: the links that are on my blogroll do not all always represent what I necessarily agree with. Those links represent more what I like visiting when I’ve got time to go look at what’s going on the radical feminist blogosphere. There are many posts which I find great and I agree with (hence why the blogs are on my blogroll), but there are occasionally other posts where I find myself strongly disagreeing with what’s being written (just making it clear).

Comments Off.

. . . is now up on Genderberg.

Kudos to Sam Berg who did a great job gathering all the writings that were selected together for this carnival. It includes essays & articles by feminists of the radical kind, activists, advocates, articulate folks, as well as analyses of popular culture.

Enjoy this new carnival, readers!

p.s. Genderberg is a forum that only allows registered members to comment there, even though the carnival post (linked above) is still visible online to everyone. So, if you would really like to comment on this carnival but you are not a member of G’berg, you can always comment here instead.

I found this on Allecto’s blog:

sheila_jeffreys

I love all Sheila Jeffreys‘ books, especially The Lesbian Heresy. I am so glad she is speaking out on the suffering of millions of prostituted womyn and girls in her latest book on the sexploitation industries. Sheila is our sister!

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I’d watched the six parts of the “Burning Times” documentary a few weeks ago on YouTube. I was really planning to post it on my blog at some point. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend it.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

and Part 6:

Herstory, women’s history gets constantly erased and/or wrongly written by male-supremacist culture, which is why I believe that documentaries like these are invaluable to inform us on our herstory.

The witches were women-healers, pagans, midwives and they were a very womyn-centered culture of heretics. The patriarchal Church despised them, just like historical & contemporary patriarchy hates all women.

It was a whole woman-centered culture of female healers that the patriarchal witch-craze attempted to wipe out. What is horrible is that history is written by those who win (as explained at the end of that documentary), and therefore herstory is constantly being erased, e.g. hardly anybody knows that the witch-hunt WAS a women’s ‘Holocaust’.

I can clearly see how the very misogyny that led to the burning, torturing and killing of so many women as ‘witches’, is still well-present today. The only “difference” being that misogyny today exists in other forms (at least in the West): mainstreamed woman-hating pornography, massive, worldwide sexual objectification, exploitation & of women’s bodies, etc. There are still witch-hunts going on in some parts of the world though.
 
According to the description info posted on YouTube about “The Burning Times”:

This beautifully crafted film is an in-depth look at the witch-hunts that swept through Europe just a few hundred years ago. False accusations and trials led to massive torture and burnings at the stake, and ultimately to the destruction of an organic way of life. The film advances the theory that widespread violence against women and the neglect of our environment today can be traced back to those times.

I once, myself, briefly wrote about the witch-hunt, explaining how contemporary misogyny is closely linked to historical misogyny in this post here.

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Coming Out

When I first became interested in feminism, I was still living as a heterosexual, in a heteronormative relationship. I was even engaged at one point. That relationship has been over since last year and I ended up keeping both engagement rings afterwards (which I’m planning to re-sell to make me a bit of money). I am so glad I never fell into the trap of marriage thanks to feminist consciousness-raising. Now I know it would have been a serious restriction of freedom.

I know that in this interview by Pisaquari I’d said that I had ‘no sexual orientation’ because I believed that orientation was a social construct. Now my views have somewhat changed on this subject. I now believe that heteronormativity is a social construct and that heterosexuality is an institution, maintained by male supremacy to ensure that women remain divided and conquered. Besides, heteronormativity sucks! Who knows better how to make another person happy than someone of the same sex anyway?

To quote Adrienne Rich:

The assumption that “most women are innately heterosexual” stands as a theoretical and political stumbling block for many women. It remains a tenable assumption, partly because lesbian existence has been written out of history or catalogued under disease; partly because it has been treated as exceptional rather than intrinsic; partly because to acknowledge that for women heterosexuality may not be a “preference” at all but something that has had to be imposed, managed, organized, propagandized and maintained by force is an immense step to take if you consider yourself freely and “innately” heterosexual. Yet the failure to examine heterosexuality as an institution is like failing to admit that the economic system called capitalism or the caste system of racism is maintained by a variety of forces, including both physical violence and false consciousness.  To take the step of questioning heterosexuality as a ”preference” or “choice” for women–and to do the intellectual and emotional work that follows–will call for a special quality of courage in heterosexually identified feminists but I think the rewards will be great: a freeing-up of thinking, the exploring of new paths, the shattering of another great silence, new clarity in personal relationships.

— in Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.

 

“All women are lesbians except those who don’t know it,” said Jill Johnston in her book Lesbian Nation. Well, I believe that most women experience lesbian feelings at some point in their lives. I am a lesbian. My very first lesbian feelings were during my early teenage years. I remember of how much I had to repress those feelings or to not let them be known to anyone because of hetero-patriarchal indoctrination. That did not stop me from having occasional lesbian flings with a few women I had met when I was clubbing during my early 20’s. It’s a shame I have never stayed in touch with them.

Now, I would like to elaborate on two points: why I have now chosen lesbianism & separatism and why I have not yet come out in real life.

I have chosen lesbianism because I am so attracted to women and I love them so much. Feminism has taught me that I could see lesbianism as a political choice, as a way of relating to women even more. Through lesbianism I am able to extend female identification. Lesbian feminist consciousness is a way of breaking the heteropatriarchal barriers that divide us among women. I believe that we have got to open our minds to each other, break away from the systematic brainwashing that conditions us to identify with the culture of men. This world desperately needs more woman-identified women.

I had been looking at other women my whole life, even when I was living as a heterosexual, but expressing my lesbian feelings had always been somehow ‘prohibited’ by a society that sees heterosexuality as an absolute norm.

Moreover, I feel how awfully oppressed women are under male dominance. I would so much love to find a space somewhere in which we would be able to find a better way of sharing our experiences as women as well as a deeper emotional support for each other.

I have chosen separatism as a way of protecting myself from misogyny and male domination in my personal life. Although I do believe that masculinity is a social construct, I can see everyday that the vast majority of men don’t seem to change. It is extremely rare to find a (pro-feminist) man who would give up on male privilege and who would not expect women to conform to oppressive feminine norms & roles which are inherently antithetical to radical feminism.

I broke up from my last heterosexual relationship because I was fed up with living within constraints. Separatism is also removing the burden of having to look for the ‘needle in a haystack’ kind of guy who doesn’t use porn or does not viciously reap the benefits of male privilege that a patriarchal society has given him. That said, I do know some radical feminists online who have chosen to carry on living in heterosexual relationships. I think that, well, if they have indeed found some men who can really treat them right, then fair enough. But I have chosen differently.

The other day, I watched a talk by Sheila Jeffreys online. It can be found here, a lecture on the 40th anniversary of Kate Millett’s book Sexual Politics which I highly recommend you to watch. I really enjoyed listening to Jeffreys’ acute analysis of this woman-hating culture. I am fully in agreement with the fact that Millett’s book is still relevant today; it hasn’t aged one bit. Malestream society is just as woman-hating as it was 40 years ago, if not more; the only difference being that the multi-billion dollar image-based pornography industry has nowadays become ten thousand times more popular than the pornographic literature which Millett was analyzing at the time.

This reminded me of how much men hate women. They never say it out loud, but they do hate women. It is a real shame that many women have no idea of how much men hate them. But I do know, and I do not want to be attracted to the people who hate my own kind anymore. I want to separate from the oppressor. I am indifferent to men because it simply does not look like they are about to give up on their *precious* porn and their *precious* rape culture soon. Therefore, I care about women, not men, because the oppressed, first and foremost, have to become liberated from male oppression, an oppression that does not seem to end. Of course, if more and more men changed, then maybe I would argue that there is a gleam of hope somewhere, but this isn’t what is happening right now: patriarchy dominates the world and misogyny is present in so many elements of contemporary culture.

I agree with Julie Bindel in this article here when she says that in the rape culture in which we live, lesbian separatism seems like a great solution for female freedom. 

With this post, I have now come out publicly online, but not in real life yet. I am a lesbian. Everyday, I realize that I am not attracted to men anymore (I had merely been socialized to heteronormativity). I am so, so, so much attracted to women.

But I am still closeted in real life. Why? Because (1) I am so afraid of lesbophobia and (2) I am a very shy person IRL. Lesbophobia, another form of hatred that a patriarchal society has created, unfortunately influences some women – and I never know which ones in my surroundings will have been influenced by it. I am so scared of suffering prejudice and hostility when I will be coming out. Plus, my parents would never accept my lesbianism; they are so brainwashed by homophobic/lesbophobic patriarchal religion.

Last year, I have been re-connecting with some feminists for real life activism. Those feminist friends and I, we see each other once a week. I know that, as feminists, they’re not supposed to be lesbophobic – therefore it would be a great idea to speak first to this little group about my lesbianism than any other people. Maybe? But I will have to find the right moment.

I always wonder how it must feel like, to a lesbian, coming out in real life. I miss so much the lesbians I had known in the past, wondering where they are now and how silly I was to not keep in touch.

I am feeling so lonely as I am disappointed that this patriarchal society is making sure everyday that most women won’t become lesbians. Most women are het because they’ve been trained to be het and even to stay het. I look at women around me everyday and I’m reminded that I am not allowed to be with them – because they are under the power of the heteropatriarchal institution.

I often daydream about a society in which women would be able to freely express their lesbian feelings, where we could freely relate to each other and reach deeper human connections amongst women. I constantly have woman-centered thoughts about lesbianism: I believe it should be freed from gendered roles and norms (e.g. “butch/femme” copying masculinity & femininity); we do NOT have to conform to the humanity-constricting gendered rules that men have created.

I once heard someone tell me online that I will never meet another lesbian as long as I am closeted. Therefore I will have to come out. This will not be easy. I wish I knew what would be the right first step…

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This was written as a short story (hence the use of the past tense), based on real life events. -M.H.

 

Among my brethren are many who dream with wet pleasure of the eight hundred pains and humiliations, but I am the other kind: I am a slave who dreams of escape after escape, I dream only of escaping, ascent, of a thousand possible ways to make a hole in the wall, of melting the bars, escape escape, of burning the whole prison down if necessary.

— Julian Beck, in The Life of the theatre; 1972.

To survive in a misogynist environment, a woman must learn how to protect innate female power from a society designed to destroy it. After she learns to recognize and avoid male violence in its many forms, a woman’s capacity for self-love blossoms, and her female power begins to thrive: creativity, vitality, and confidence emerge, along with a refusal to subordinate herself to male power.

— Kay Leigh Hagan, in Orchids in the Arctic. [emphasis mine]

She was born female and, like so many others, she was struggling to live within a misogynistic world that didn’t really care about her well-being, a world where the patriarchists would love to get off on her pain, a world where many rape victims were not believed.

She didn’t want to spend her nights waking up in cold sweat, with a terrible headache anymore. Dreams and sexual nightmares often reflected thoughts which were part of the conditioning she’d had as a woman, i.e. how she had been sexually trained to conform to patriarchy. Such a conformity, she didn’t want anymore because she resented it. She realized that the claws of patriarchy would love to seize her female power and rip it to shreds. This is why she was having those strange dreams and shivers.

Having patriarchal dreams (but not fantasies, no longer) about something didn’t necessarily mean that she wanted it to happen to her. She’d figured that sexual nightmares which at the same time appeared to be ‘just dreams’ actually meant the complete opposite of what she wanted. Women had been living the everyday reality of patriarchal sexual terrorism. Thus, she thought, “some of our dreams often mirror our deepest fear of, our deepest hatred for, our deepest disgust of the kind of sexuality that has been packaged to us as ‘freedom’.”

She’d become aware that patriarchy typically manipulated women’s sexual feelings. There were no real words to express a clearly negative response to sexual feelings about patriarchal sexuality. “How do we try to explain that there are sexual feelings that we simply do not like?,” she pondered. A male-dominated society loved to exercise control over language by, amongst other things, failing to provide words for her to express a negative reaction to some of the masochistic sexual feelings she had had as a woman and which had been patriarchally-constructed.

Female power, as she saw it, involved taking a stand against male violence against and exploitation of women in all forms they may take. When her self-esteem went up, she noticed that she had great abilities: being courageous, creative, alive, confident, etc. She loved being self-aware. She refused to surrender. She refused to choose subordination to male-supremacist power. That did not mean that she didn’t still sometimes struggle with conflicting sexual feelings, engendered by patriarchal conditioning to masochism – but she would no longer surrender to male-dominated sexuality.

Sadomasochism was often defined by radical feminists as being the eroticization of power and powerlessness. Pornographic scenarios were rife with the sexualization of domination and subordination: women being dominated, demeaned, degraded, raped, slapped, gang-banged, throat-raped, gagged, etc and they were being portrayed as either enjoying it or wanting this kind of subordinating treatment. She decided to resist masochism. She knew precisely why.

The female life-force is characterized as a negative one: we are defined as inherently masochistic. [. . .] Sexual masochism actualizes female negativity, just as sexual sadism actualizes male positivity. A woman’s erotic femininity is measured by the degree to which she needs to be hurt, needs to be possessed, needs to be abused, needs to submit, needs to be beaten, needs to be humiliated, needs to be degraded.

— Andrea Dworkin, in The Root Cause (note: Dworkin did such an interesting uncovering of what goes on in the male pornographic mind).

The masculine role in sadomasochism was portrayed as what was positive, what was ‘top’. In order to ‘prove’ his masculinity, the man who took on the masculine role needed to reify his so-called male positive energy, his domination, through his (ab)use of women. He could take an arrogant pride in his ‘masculinity’ even more so if he used a woman who apparently accepted the socially-constructed masochistic femininity which had been prescribed to her. Female masochism enabled men to reify the masculine gender role and norm called ‘manhood’. She would no longer allow any male (or any person who took on a masculine role) to abuse her, torture her or bruise her so that he could take pleasure in the lie of male superiority.

Masochism, for her, was now clearly very important to analyse instead of just thinking about getting off and ‘that’s it’. After she’d been raped by her first boyfriend and then had been involved in a destructive male-female relationship, she’d gone through masochism. With many other men she had been with after this relationship, quite a few times, she’d gone through masochism. There were some times when the sex had felt like rape, and it was true. Quite a few times, she had been coerced into sex by men and she’d also had to force herself to have sex with them: through pressure, through domestic violence (at one point), because she’d wanted to be loved or for the simple sake of “trying to save a relationship.”

And there were other times when the sex, she recalled, had been about masochism, about “just being fucked” and engaging in roleplay in which she had been the ‘submissive’ part. As a former submissive woman, she could tell that bondage and handcuffs, for instance, were very popular in BDSM culture – especially the act of tying a woman up to a bed.

Even back in the days when she’d just been thinking about getting off and ‘that’s it’, she’d kept hearing a little voice at the back of her mind trying to tell her that, somehow, something was not feeling quite right.

First, there had been the fact that she’d wanted to be loved by men, so much. She’d had such a longing for male approval that she’d only faintly noticed that she’d been paying the price of their pornographic imagination: they’d been wanting to turn her into a sex object. There had also been this kind of survival mechanism she’d had in her, this way of coping. She used to think that if sexuality was about being subordinated to men and she couldn’t be loved or appreciated by them if she was not willing to accept at least part of their view of what sex was supposed to be, then she might as well “just lie there and enjoy it.” Because, after all, she used to believe that things weren’t as bad as they seemed to be. Like so many other women, she’d used to completely mentally shut down from the reality of the pain she’d been going through. Masochism had been chosen partly due to the restricted options she’d had in a world filled with a sexuality based on gender roles and norms – and she’d had no words to express that before feminism.

Second, she’d been brought up in a patriarchal society that had eroticized and romanticized masochism. This had given her some sort of mixed feelings about sexual masochism. This had been, of course, difficult and hard to cope with.

She felt there had been some sort of a ‘split’ between good feelings and bad feelings she’d had about sadomasochism. However, she used to shut out what had made her feel uncomfortable about it from her conscious mind. She had refused to look at what was unpleasant about sadomasochism. The patriarchal indoctrination of a pornified culture had been trying to show her that, as a female, she was somehow “inherently masochistic.” Stories of women being dominated by men had always been presented to her in a good, glamorous way by mass-media & culture. The mainstream films, novels, women’s magazines and songs she used to collect had been rife with the portrayals of domination and subordination which patriarchy thrived on.

She’d gotten involved in sadomasochism predominantly because she’d simply had not been able to imagine anything beyond the male-dominated sexuality that had been packaged to her as appealing. This was therefore why, she understood, female sexual arousal to S&M was in fact culturally constructed. But she had suffered in masochism, no matter how many times she had been trying to deny it. Her past denial reminded her so much of how some battered women experienced Stockholm Syndrome and how they would defend their abusers over and over again. After all, she had apparently been getting off and she’d had *chosen* it. So, what could possibly have been wrong with that?

She’d heard that it was sometimes argued that it was the subordinated female who often approached the male who would dominate her in a sadomasochistic relationship. She knew it was not always the case. Many times boyfriends, husbands or acquaintances would try to initiate an S&M practise by bringing some pornography, a sex-toy catalog or some paraphernalia and would try to convince their partner to “try this” or “try that” with either insincere ‘sweet talk’ or subtle intimidation. And when it was women coming to men with the intention of being dominated, they had generally been fully trained to conform to a culture that constantly gave a false praise to all women who viewed themselves as passive and submissive “sex objects”. Both cases had happened to her: she’d had sadists approaching her, grooming her, and she’d come to men who would dominate her.

Because of patriarchal conditioning, her sexual submission to men used to seriously turn her on, at some point. Then she’d fallen into the sado-patriarchal trap of masochism. She now had absolutely no shame to admit this to herself. Because she was now fully aware that radical feminists understood her experience. She’d perceived herself as passive and submissive because of all the self-hate she’d internalized through rape, through domestic abuse, through the past emotional manipulation she’d had experienced at the hands of men. The wider patriarchal conditioning she’d had in a misogynistic world had also influenced the way she used to internalize her own self-hatred, self negation & subordination as a female.

Radical feminists knew well that the ‘Madonna/Whore’ dichotomy was a false dichotomy: while right-wing men wanted to keep the “good women” in marriage and in the privacy of the home to privately own them and (ab)use them, the left-wing men wanted the “bad women” to be collectively & publicly owned by them outside of marriage — but most forms of male ownership, abuse and exploitation happened behind closed doors though, where women were most at risk of male violence.

As she’d gone through female life under patriarchy, she’d often found herself stuck in the trap of the ‘Madonna/Whore’ dichotomy without being able to see what was beyond this patriarchal lie. “If only we all women could see,” she now realized, “what’s beyond dominant ideologies, we would be able to be ourselves: we are not ‘Madonnas’, we are not ‘whores’; we are female human beings. And we need a strong movement that will work toward the liberation of women from male oppression.”

Radical feminism had helped her see the patriarchal oppression and self-negation in the way she used to be aroused by sexual masochism. But, to her, there was a lie that masochism intrinsically entailed: that she would be somehow ‘fulfilled’ by this sort of sexuality.

She was sure that the sexual arousal itself (i.e. not combined with orgasm) had naturally led to body release of endorphins (natural painkiller). Based on her own experience, she reckoned, it was true that being in a state of sexual excitement could somehow make pain more tolerable, i.e. pain had somehow felt like a strong sensation though it’d never gone away. The presence of pain in the S&M sexuality she’d experienced had been very real. She now perfectly understood that any sort of harm inflicted on a person during sadomasochistic love-making was still harm, regardless of whether s/he’d consented to it or not.

Consent can be manipulated. She realized that fully informed consent (including a comprehensive prior knowledge of how power dynamics in heterosexual relationships operated within a patriarchal society) generally did not exist. “Therefore we, women, generally all consent to what this culture tells us about sexuality. And seldom do we question it ’cause we’ve been taught not to, for fear of sounding ‘prudish’; so we often comply to what our partners expect of us,” she thought to herself. She remembered. There had been pain. But she would deny it.

She’d been so manipulated by the male-supremacist seduction of this culture, the grooming she’d had to the way romantic love was portrayed, and her own deep internalization of patriarchally shaped desires, that she would psychologically deny the pain when being bitten, the pain of the scarves and cuffs digging into the flesh of her wrists and the pain of the strong penetrations. She had been told so many times that she would enjoy this type of treatment that she would desperately try to believe that she’d genuinely enjoyed it. This combined with the strong sensation she’d felt due to the endorphin rush, which could give her the impression that she’d really been getting off on being degraded.

But, in hindsight, she could see that women were routinely taught to please their man, to literally become the ‘ego-booster’ for vicious male pride of domination. Therefore, she figured, her sole enjoyment in sadomasochism had in fact been in wanting to please the men she used to love by accepting their views of what sex was supposed to be. But didn’t she have desires of her own? Didn’t she have the capacity of imagining a sexuality that would be completely hers? A sexuality in which she would be able to preserve all her bodily integrity and that would genuinely fulfill her?

Looking at the truth: any sexual feeling from experience, dream and fantasy about the sexual degradation of her body were making her feel uncomfortable and distressed in spite of arousal. Because, deep inside, she’d known that she was not ‘naturally’ masochistic; no woman ever was (even though she had not known masochism was a socially-constructed phenomenon at the time). 

 

Romantic love, in pornography as in life, is the mythic celebration of female negation. For a woman, love is defined as her willingness to submit to her own annihilation. As the saying goes, women are made for love–that is, submission. Love, or submission, must be both the substance and purpose of a woman’s life. For the female, the capacity to love is exactly synonymous with the capacity to sustain abuse and the appetite for it. For the woman, the proof of love is that she is willing to be destroyed by the one whom she loves, for his sake. For the woman, love is always self-sacrifice, the sacrifice of identity, will, and bodily integrity, in order to fulfill and redeem the masculinity of her lover. 

— Andrea Dworkin, in The Root Cause.

 

Her being aroused did not equate being sexually fulfilled. She was aware that sexual arousal and sexual fulfilment were two separate things. But patriarchy used to have her believe that just because she’d had sexual feelings when being in a submissive role (like when being tied up, for instance), then it must have necessarily meant that she’d gotten off on it. In a patriarchy, it had been very easy for her to confuse strong sexual excitement with actual absolute pleasure. Part of this was caused by male supremacy’s cultural control of women’s thought processes. Thought was expressed primarily as language, a language that had been invented by patriarchy. She’d sometimes been living through the lie that just because she’d felt ‘hot’ about something, then it had necessarily meant that it made her hot to the point of being fulfilled. But, as a woman, she had NOT become fulfilled going through sado-masochistic relationships; claiming otherwise had been one of the biggest rackets that she’d fallen for in a porno-sado-patriarchy.

The bottom line was: “pain and pleasure are NOT the same thing,” she reminded herself of how much she knew the fact “that women somehow genuinely enjoy pain is one of pornographic culture’s biggest lies.” She’d noticed that her body had felt the pain and that there had been no real orgasm, just a strong sensation of pleasure that was inherently anti-liberation. She remembered the inherently negative consequences of masochism: a sense of self-loathing had occurred just after the quick strong sensations from hierarchical sex were gone, and depression had usually ensued when the degradation had been experienced over and over again. Sometimes, she had even refused to see that she was depressed, She had refused to see how much she’d hated hetero-patriarchal control, because she’d so much wanted to be happy with her boyfriends from the past.

She opened her eyes. In a patriarchy, female self-negation and female diminution of be-ing (diminution of one’s full capacity for real female identity & bodily integrity) had become institutionalized. This had been going on for thousands and thousands of years: patriarchy was a system which had constantly subordinated women, forced them into submission through manipulation, outright coercion or male violence in its many forms, whether subtle or overt.

Radical feminism had helped her see the truth: no woman was ‘naturally’ masochistic, and she was no exception. Because masochism was not ‘natural’ (as the patriarchists would have her believe), any pleasure derived from it was therefore unnatural and in the end, she’d been able to see how S&M had made her feel seriously ill and demeaned afterward because she had known masochism was inherently unhealthy, somehow, in the back of her mind. But she’d kept silent about her inner feelings against sadomasochism for fear of being called “prudish” or “unenlightened” about sexuality. Radical feminism had given her both a voice for expressing her discomfort regarding S&M and a way of seeing the clear pornographic woman-hating it promoted.

Male-dominated culture had pretty much defined the parameters of how sexuality was meant to be expressed. She sighed, feeling sadness about all the women out there who had not yet found a way of expressing the gut feelings they had against male-dominated sexuality. Any dissent to patriarchal definitions of sex was perceived as heresy in this pornified culture. She had decided to break the chains of patriarchy which were trying to shackle her into masochism and steal her female power, her willingness for social change. She wished all her sisters would start breaking those chains too, within a societal prison in which the male grip was so tight upon the female thralls. She was pained to see how women were constantly under male power because of various things: patriarchal conditioning, pornified brainwashing, cultural institutions of (presumed) male superiority, wrongful portrayals of romantic love that eroticized sub/dom relationships, gender roles & norms, physical or emotional coercions, etc ad nauseam. The list went on. . .

So many women, including feminists, lowered their eyes from the vision of how to make women free and decided to get stuck into having more-powerful orgasms in any way that worked. The pursuit of the orgasm of oppression serves as a new “opium of the masses.” It diverts our energies from the struggles that are needed now against sexual violence and the global sex industry. Questioning how those orgasms feel, what they mean politically, whether they are achieved through the prostitution of women in pornography, is not easy, but it is also not impossible. A sexuality of equality suited to our pursuit of freedom has still to be forged and fought for if we are to release women from sexual subjection.

The ability of women to eroticize their own subordination and take “pleasure” from the degradation of themselves and other women to object status poses a serious obstacle. So long as women have a stake in the sexual system as it is — so long as they get their kicks that way — why will they want change?

— Sheila Jeffreys, in How Orgasm Politics Has Hijacked the Women’s Movement.

A major reason that she’d known to make masochism plausible is that women were typically taught to please men and to hate themselves, having been born and raised female into a male-dominated culture which had misogyny as its core ideology. Like so many other women, she had been taught to notice men and see their “great strength” while ignoring herself, ignoring the inherent female power that lied dormant within her as a capacity to redefine herself as a woman, now property of no man. In a patriarchal culture, female subservience (to men) and self-destruction were celebrated. Male sadists, with their pretense of aiming to please, actually got off on a woman who was (supposedly) enjoying the hatred of herself, of her own kind.

She did not have ‘fun’ finding radical feminism. Fun was not the word, eye-opening experience was. It had not been fun to realize that her romantic relationships had been mere re-enactment of the oppression of women. But by opening her mind to that little radical feminist sub-culture of heretics, that little community living at the margins of society, she’d been able to see the truth for what it really is: that she had not really been enjoying going through masochism, and she would rather know the truth than live in denial, protect the patriarchy or defend the men who’d gotten off on dominating her through these so-called ‘romantic’ sadomasochistic relationships. She now clearly understood that feminism was about the liberation of women as a class. The terms “sexual equality with men” had long ago been co-opted. She had no interest in the mere ‘freedom to fuck’; what sexually interested her was rather: the state of being completely free and preserving her whole bodily integrity as a human being with sexual feelings.

What she hadn’t realized in the past was how much masochism reified sadism. Subordination reified domination in the same way that femininity reified masculinity. All these constricting gender-defined roles kept humanity confined to the boundaries of male-supremacy. The few heretics who wanted to move beyond all these restrictive dichotomies knew well that they had to constantly, everyday, struggle within a culture which kept reinforcing those patriarchal role-plays.

But, as a woman, she’d noticed that she was able to resist masochism, to resist subordination and to resist femininity in the best ways she could. There used to be a time, not so long ago, when masochism had still been present in her fantasies. It seemed to be a big deal at first (as she’d had those thoughts when she was fully awake). But she’d then learned how to change her sexual fantasies. It hadn’t been easy at first. It’d taken a while to re-work them so that they would become pleasant things which were her own, things that weren’t products of male supremacy, or even of the “vanilla” male-supremacist definitions of sex. She’d had to re-work her sexual feelings until she sexually responded to those new sensuous imaginations she’d created in her mind. She’d learned how to think about something which was both totally non-exploitative and pleasant. It wasn’t exciting at the beginning (as she’d not been conditioned to those new sensations), but then it gradually became arousing and eventually turned into an utterly blissful feeling of female intimacy. She could feel her female lifeforce as her fantasies were now completely woman-centered and sexually fulfilling.

Getting herself off on something that was absolutely non-patriarchal had been a major step reached for her personal well-being. Everything was different. Her orgasms were now ten thousands times more emotionally rewarding and all the feelings of shame and worthlessness she’d experienced after the quick S&M pleasures of patriarchal sex in the past were now gone: No feeling of self-hate, shame or guilt was ever present after non-patriarchal orgasms, rather delightful feelings of sexual fulfilment and happiness. . .

She still struggled with some occasional sexual nightmares which were patriarchal in content and nature. But the fact that she still sometimes had such dreams did not ‘prove’ any misogynistic Freudian bullshit theory of so-called “penis envy”. She was aware it merely reflected the simple fact that she was still living in the society she had been forced to live in: a society that hated the female sex and wanted to see women degraded and self-destroyed. When she woke up, she was aware of how much she was glad these sorts of nightmares were over and how much they innately distressed her. No feminist was to blame for having sexual dreams and thoughts that were patriarchal because, to destroy all trace of dominance and submission, all social conditions that created dominance and submission would have to be eradicated.

But feminism, ultimately, had to be the movement for women’s liberation, not equality. The ‘equality’ word had long ago been co-opted by the patriarchists, unfortunately. She had no interest in having the equality to make choices to consent to the world that patriarchy had created. She saw absolutely no liberation goal in consenting to pornified rape culture. She refused to consent to masochism, to her self-negation, to her self-diminution because she had no desire to reify the patriarchal belief that said that being dominated was inevitable and enjoyable.

More importantly, She refused to consent to the eroticization of sexual slavery because she was now strongly aware that such consent destroyed female power: the energy it takes to dissent to the whole male-supremacist culture of sexual violence. Masochistic submission to the patriarchal power that controlled women and tried to “keep them in their place” was a form of internalized oppression by the oppressed and it would hamper her capacity to resist male violence in all its forms.

Consent to oppression, or the enactment of the very symbols of slavery, torture, rape, battery that constituted that oppression, would not liberate the oppressed. She did know that the feminist struggle against the complicity of women in patriarchy seemed like a mammoth task, especially considering the fact that most women had been primarily socialized into loving men and their culture before they loved themselves. But she wanted to be able to put her strength into the Women’s Liberationist struggle against the culture that tacitly condoned male violence against women. She would love to help break the chains of patriarchy which were trying to shackle women into masochism and steal all female power, their willingness for social change that would overthrow the very sado-patriarchal system that claimed that “rape victims were responsible for their rape” or that “battered women loved to be mistreated, otherwise they would leave”. To be liberated, we would have to get out of the immense social prison called patriarchy, she knew it. . .

Recommended Readings:

Against Sadomasochism: A Radical Feminist Analysis, edited by Robin Ruth Linden et al; Frog in the Well Press; 1982.

Unleashing Feminism: Critiquing Lesbian Sadomasochism in the Gay Nineties, edited by Irene Reti; HerBooks; 1993. [also refers to heterosexual S&M]

Sexual Politics, by Kate Millett, Doubleday; 1970.

Our Blood:Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Politics, by Andrea Dworkin, Harper and Row;1976.

How Orgasm Politics Has Hijacked the Women’s Movement, by Sheila Jeffreys.

Consensual Sadomasochism: Charting the Issues, by Claudia Card.

Sadomasochism: Not About Condemnation ~ An Interview with Audre Lorde by Susan Leigh Star.

Sadomasochism and the Social Construction of Desire, by Karen Rian.
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