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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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Update (01/04/09): new post here for the follow-up…

Edit:(01/05/2009) As I said in the comment thread to this post, I understand why some people may have felt confused by this post because I was pretty tired & depressed when I’d initially written it and I guess I’d just let my personal thoughts go freely and weirdly without elaborating enough on what I really meant by seduction. I think it is now fair for me to edit my definition of “seduction” so that people can now understand what I really meant by seduction (through developing what I actually meant a little more), partly from personal experience. Now, for the people who keep sending accusatory comments: can you please stop it? I have NEVER said that all intercourse (or all sex) is rape, and neither has Andrea.

No doubt I will go back to all these various topics in future posts, but I just want to write about the different kinds of male sexual exploitation of women I have noticed:

– forcible rape (the most obvious), i.e. literally violating a woman while using threats and violence;

– sexual demand: insisting that she does something, haranguing her about it, carrying on asking for something, e.g. things he says like “If you loved me, you would do this” or “Everybody does it,” “Every girl does that” [in the porn he watches, yeah, right]. Some sexual demands may involve blackmail;

– sexual coercion: this may involve grabbing, pushing, hold a woman down tightly, forcing any kind of sex on her, though sexual coercion may take different subtler forms, e.g. closer to sexual demand;

– prostitution: (in the vast majority of cases) when a woman or girl’s body is bought and sold to primarily satisfy men’s sadist sexual desires in a patriarchy;

– sexual ‘duty’: when a woman is forced (or sometimes ‘forcing herself’) to perfom sexual intercourse or any other kind of sex act as if it were somehow ‘her duty’ to do so, to “satisfy her man,” in marriage or in a relationship. Sexual “duty” may even involve set dates as to when sex must take place or some sort of planning such as “Every (so often), we should have sex”, for instance;

– sexual pressure: when a woman feels pressured to say “yes” to sex and thus ‘consents’ under male pressure;

– sexual payments: when a man buys a woman dinner, clothes, presents, etc and expects sex from her in return;

– pornographic coercion: rape of the mind; forcing or persuading a woman or girl to watch pornography so then her resistance to unwanted and uncomfortable sexual activities can be more or less overpowered. Alternatively, pornographic coercion can be forcing or persuading a woman or girl to have herself being photographed or filmed whilst naked or having sex;

– seduction: when a man persuades a woman to have sex with him, often subtly, through being kind, polite, chivalrous, while playing on her feelings, possible vulnerability, or sometimes getting her consent by deceiving her, distracting her, or, sometimes, intoxicating her (with alcohol or drugs) so that he can use her for his own sexual gratification and purpose.

– rape of our souls: when we, women, are not allowed to be ourselves because of having to conform to patriarchal feminine gender ‘norms’. Whether we do it to “be liked” or not to be criticized, most of the time, we conform. This culture trains us to conforms and alter our body parts because, in a patriarchy, we are not allowed to Be Ourselves; we are not allowed to be human beings, i.e. we are not allowed to have a full bodily integrity (e.g. we ‘have to’ shave, wear make-up, etc to conform to male-supremacist feminine norms).

Nearly all women on this earth have had to deal with one or more of these forms of rape in a patriarchy. This is basically feminism 101 reiterated: women, as a class, share a common condition, i.e. what it means to be female in a patriarchy. . .

ETA (01/03/09)= a sidenote: Seduction is a form of male sexual exploitation of women. And I certainly do not condone when men screw women over, whether in an individual case or culturally. I will need to get back to this somehow, sometime: seduction does not feel like rape at all when a woman has fully accepted to submit to the patriarchy; that does not change the fact that patriarchal masochism is a destroyer of inner female energy. I think I should have called seduction ‘a form of male sexual exploitation that intends to destroy female energy’, but I will surely go back to that in a future post. 😉 This actually gave me a great idea… Patriarchy will keep calling you ‘crazy’, but it is truly speaking to itself in fact: patriarchy blinds most people – especially men, but also including some women – and drives them ‘crazy’ so they cannot see oppression, exploitation or destruction of someone’s human capacity for equality…

WRT to the main subject of this post, to sum up some of my new points: Yes, rape or male sexual exploitation of women can take different forms… That’s my personal opinion that having to conform to gender norms is a personal rape of my soul. Most feminists argues that patriarchal gender norms are personally and politically oppressive anyway… I guess I meant ‘rape’ as male sexual exploitation. I think I like expressing a wider definition of rape (feminists have been looking for wider definitions of rape). In some cases, there are forms of sexual exploitation that a woman does not really want or does not really feel happy or fulfilled when these things have happened to her. Seduction may not be exactly called rape, but it still generally does involve a man fucking a woman over and deceiving her. Damn! I’ve seen this happen to me and women friends so many times, I’m not crazy: I have heard them complaining about what assholes often men can be… Any form of sexual exploitation (even a subtler one) you don’t really want to happen to you or that you feel shitty or depressed about the fact it has happened to you is a form of rape or male sexual exploitation of women somehow. And these kinds of exploitation also make you feel horribly bad and mistreated, as a woman.

[Now there is another interesting subject coming up in my mind: masochism; and I will elaborate on it in a future post, just not in this one. 😉 ]

A major point I have made in my comments: Straightforward sexual assault is of course one of the worst things that can happen to you. The guy has literally gotten off on you saying No, or expressing the NO while the tears were flowing down your eyes – like what happened to me, for instance- I think I’m very psychologically damaged by the experience in a way; this hasn’t changed in years… Now, the unwanted hostile commenters, do me a favor and run along (!) please, or I’ll just keep pushing the “reject” button…

Fucking patriarchy we live in! You cannot even express your own thoughts without the male-supremacist system keeping trying to play with your words and express them in its own way, a way you actually didn’t mean your personal thoughts to be expressed in… Damn, I know it is not very happy everyday to be a radical feminist but it sure must suck to be a patriarchist! 😛

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It goes on and on… I found this video on YouTube. It truly saddens me. No wonder I don’t turn the TV on anymore; I guess I wanna partly protect myself from all this malestream misogynistic mess. Here are some examples of pornographic imagery seeping into malestream advertising and fashion ads:

These images include women in submissive positions, rigidly conforming to stereotypically feminine beauty standards; these women are also being bruised, threatened, attacked, roughly grabbed, tied up, fragmented into body parts, represented & treated as if they were mere pieces of meat. On some of the pictures, it even looks as if they were dead and photographed at murder scenes.

This video is merely one example that demonstrates how the sexualized torture, abuse and murder of women have become “sexy” and commonplace in our culture.

George Bataille once said:
“Beauty is desired in order that it may be befouled; not for its own sake, but for the joy brought by the certainty of profaning it”
— Bataille, in Death and Sensuality, p.140.

Beauty is admired in a patriarchy, but only so it can be defiled, debased, violated, tortured, etc.

In this pornified culture, women must be beautiful. They must abandon their humanity through conforming to feminine roles, traits, beauty standards, etc which have been taught to them by male-supremacist culture. And then, once they conform to the system, they must be treated as most men view them: as passive sexual objects.

Of course, that is not to forget that most women find it very hard to conform to all the ‘airbrushed’ feminine ideals that the advertisement industry sells them everyday. And the price we pay, in a gender-based woman-hating culture that constantly shapes our attitudes, buying habits, viewpoints and the ways we view the world, is high. As this trailer for “Killing Us Softly 3” (a Media Education Foundation film) shows:

A longer version of this MEF film “Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women” can be found if you click here.

A sidenote: Sheila Jeffreys has just released a new book on the ever-expanding sexploitation industry. It is called The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade. You can find an article about it here.

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“All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable. . . Wherefore for the sake of fulfilling their lusts they consort with devils. . . it is sufficiently clear that it is no matter for wonder that there are more women than men found infected with the heresy of witchcraft. . . And blessed be the Highest Who has so far preserved the male sex from so great a crime. . .”

“. . . the natural reason is that she is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives. . . “

“When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil.”

— Three quotes from the Malleus Maleficarum (by Kramer & Sprenger), guide to the Inquisition’s Witch trials, witch-hunter’s manual, and Christian pornography.

 

“We now know most of what can be known about the witches: who they were, what they believed, what they did, the Church’s vision of them. We have seen the historical dimensions of a myth of feminine evil which resulted in the slaughter of nine million persons, nearly all women, over 300 years. The actual evidence of that slaughter, the remembrance of it, has been suppressed for centuries so that the myth of woman as the Original Criminal, the gaping, insatiable womb, could endure. . .”

— Andrea Dworkin, “The Herstory – Gynocide: The Witches,” in Woman Hating, p.149.

   
 
 

 

“While women who stepped out of line in early modern Europe were tortured and killed as witches, today such women are regarded as cunts or bitches, deserving what happens to them.”

— Jane Caputi and Diana Russell, “Femicide: Speaking the Unspeakable”, in Ms., 1 (3), p.34-37, 1990.

“We’re not disrespecting women, we’re disrespecting bitches.”

— Easy E of NWA, 1990.

“Why is it wrong to get rid of some fuckin’ cunts?”

 — Kenneth Bianchi, “Inside the mind of the ‘Hillside Strangler'” by Schwartz & Boyd, in Hustler (1981, August), p,36.

“Repeat the syllables
until the lesson is pumped through the heart:
Nicriven, accused of lasciviousness, burned 1569.
Barbara Gobel, described by her jailors
as “the fairest maid in Wurzburg,”
burned 1629, age nineteen.
Frau Peller, raped by Inquisition torturers
because her sister refused
the witch-judge Franz Buirman, 1631.
Maria Walburga Rung, tried at a secular court
in Manheim as a witch,
released as “merely a prostitute,”
accused again by the episcopal court
at Eichstadt, tortured into confession,
and then burned alive, 1723, age twenty-two.

What have they done to me?”

— Robin Morgan, “The Network of the Imaginary Mother,” in Lady of the Beasts: Poems.

Originally, the researchers’ goal in this study wasn’t to document the effects of pornography on sexual assailants. Their research was aimed at studying the sexual abuse of street prostitutes, both prior to and following entrance into prostitution.

In a comment (in which the offender mentioned some pornographic material) which was reported by one of the prostitutes who was a victim of rape, an assailant told the woman:

“I know all about you bitches, you’re no different; you’re like all of them. I seen it in all the movies. You love being beaten.” (He then began punching the victim violently.) I just seen it again in that flick. He beat the shit out of her while he raped her and she told him she loved it; you know you love it; tell me you love it.”

Another prostitute reported her rape to the researchers in this way:

“After I told him I’d turn him a free trick if only he’d calm down and stop hurting me, then he just really blew his mind. He started calling me all kinds of names, and then started screaming and shrieking like nothing I’d ever heard. He sounded like a wailing animal. Instead of just slapping me to keep me quiet, he really went crazy and began punching me all over. Then he told me he had seen whores just like me in [three pornographic films mentioned by name], and told me he knew how to do it to whores like me. He knew what whores like me wanted… After he finished raping me, he started beating me with his gun all over. Then he said, You were in that movie. You were in that movie. You know you wanted to die after you were raped. That’s what you want; you want me to kill you after this rape just like [specific pornographic film] did.’”

This particular woman suffered, in addition to forced vaginal penetration, forced anal penetration with a gun, excessive bodily injuries, including several broken bones; and a period of time in which the rapist held a loaded pistol to her vagina, threatening to shoot, insisting it was the way she had died in the film he had seen. He did not, in fact, shoot after all.

 
Misogyny is historical.

Misogyny is also contemporary.

I admit I have written posts which were very powerful and, even sometimes, yeah, optimistic, on this blog. This ain’t going to stop and I will keep writing such posts in the future.

But right now, I’m just feeling low…

We live in a world that doesn’t take violence against women seriously.

Most people say rape is bad but they do nothing to work toward a world where rape wouldn’t exist, let alone analyze or identify all the institutions, customs, behaviors, etc that make rape inevitable.

People would rather say that rape is “inevitable”, which is false. Rapists are not born, they are made. Most radical feminists have identified the things that make rape possible, which are notably socialization to masculine norms and behaviors, repression of empathy toward women, children, and/or some other males (in the few cases of men raping other men), pornography, pornified culture, patriarchal customs & institutions, etc.

Regarding prostitution, millions and millions of women and girls are being raped on a daily basis. And hardly anybody cares. Many people just do not want to hear the truth about the sex industry. Some feminists or women who genuinely care about other women are having that truth hidden from them, often by malestream media, sometimes by glamorized prostitution culture, etc.
 

I reject the term “sex work” as it is somehow too convenient for the men who (ab)use prostituted or prostituting women . I still acknowledge that there are some very unprivileged women in the sex trade who call themselves ’sex workers’ while feeling negative about prostitution though. And when they tell their painful stories while using the term ’sex work’, well I’m absolutely fine with that. Their stories matter as much as so many others’ who’ve been harmed in the sex trade. It is possible that their pimps or madams (and some of their johns) called it “sex work,” “a job” or “work” when they spoke to them, which makes sense why some prostituted women have internalized the term “sex work.” In contrast, however, there are some formerly prostituted women who loathe the term “sex work” because they feel that it attempts to conceal the great suffering they’ve experienced in the prostitution industry and that it also tries to make prostitution look “respectable” when it’s not, when it is in fact a violation of a woman’s body and rights. Anyway, I can fully understand both cases.

We live in a patriarchy. . . Patriarchy socializes us, fucks us over, violates us, restricts our freedom and our autonomy, etc. The list goes on. . .

That doesn’t change the fact that “sex work” is not a term I use, as it is patriarchal and it benefits men with their age-old anti-woman beliefs. Prostitution has been called the world’s oldest profession for ages and ages. And prostitution has not yet been recognized as an inherent form of sexual slavery and violence against women (for the vast majority of the women & girls in it) by most people. . .

As I said somewhere else, the term ‘prostituted women’ is accurate because most women who enter prostitution do so with choices that are NOT free. So, when we say ‘prostituted women,’ we also mean that women in the sex industry are being prostituted not only by the men who sell them or buy them, but that they are also being prostituted by the whole oppressive patriarchal system and all its restrictive forms of socializations. Patriarchy limits choices. And so does porno-iarchy!

As I said: Patriarchists (that includes the few women patriarchists too), do not ever try to control my language! The language was invented by the patriarchy, and I want to obey no edict or rule given by the male-supremacist system. I use terms I want to use, terms that recognize women & girls’ oppression under patriarchy, sometimes even new terms I invent if I want to.

For instance, when we, radical feminists, say ‘herstory’, we mean by that beautiful word: the history of women, pointing out that the history of women should matter as much as the history of men. But the history of men has always been more documented in patriarchy. That’s why accurate documentations of herstory would be so important in order to understand how much, as women, we have been hated for a very long time. The witch-hunt in early modern Europe is only one of the so many examples in the history of misogyny.

I have another definition for pornoiarchy. It is also a society that restricts sexual imagination, i.e. that constricts us as sexual beings, because it is a patriarchal society invaded and controlled by pornography. Because pornography tries to control sexuality; it maps out people’s sex lives with the same old scenario of male-over-female domination. To me, not being able to imagine an egalitarian sexuality (that wouldn’t rely on the objectification and the degradation of another human being) is myopia. I believe that sexual imagination can go beyond the boundaries of pornoiarchy.

To me, anybody who defends pornography, prostitution, Christianity, capitalism, and/or male-supremacist laws, customs or institutions, etc (while being fully aware -without necessarily admitting it- that these things are inherently misogynistic or oppressive) is a patriarchist.

Andrea Dworkin was absolutely amazing. I believe she was hated because she firmly stood against patriarchy and she was very vocal about resistance to patriarchy. And, in a patriarchal society, such a woman is hated, including by some (patriarchist) “feminists”.

Any radical feminist woman who speaks out eloquently against porniarchy becomes unfortunately #1 on the patriarchists’ shitlist.

Thus, because patriarchists have the power of naming (i.e. the power of language, which was invented by the patriarchy itself, the power of words, the power over communication and expression), they can hate and misrepresent radical feminists as much as they please. That is to say that every single word, every single argument, every single phrase, every single expression of feelings, etc that a radical feminist uses, says or writes can potentially be (deliberately, carelessly, or disingenuously) misunderstood, twisted around, quoted repeatedly out of context, and bent out of shape by the patriarchists. Because (you see?) the patriarchal status quo has to be protected by its cruel guardians.

As a result of only this simple fact (patriarchists having the power of words), the list of misrepresentations of radical feminism (& radical feminists in general) is endless. It is present in the malestream media, in the academia, on the Internet, etc.

It is as though this great amount of lies and distortions about radical feminism were this huge vortex of water, and we, radical feminists, were constantly being dragged down to drown underwater inside this whirling mass of suffocating misinterpretations of the words we say.

Patriarchists have to be powerful in the ongoing task of slandering us. They are trying to make sure that we will never be taken seriously and that the male-supremacist status quo is being bolstered.

Therefore, pro-pornography views are usually what’s popular out there, while radical feminist views are (usually) either totally hated or not even heard of. I witnessed all this in real life as a fact. During years and years, I had only heard pro-pornography views on the subject (especially from men and ex-boyfriends, and the mainstream media, etc) before discovering radical feminism by chance when I was online. I only found radical feminism by chance. I had never heard of radical feminism before May 2006. And before I decided to become a radical feminist, I’d quickly figured out how much radical feminism was hated, misrepresented and/or shunned from mainstream society. That didn’t stop me from becoming a rad fem, but that’s another story.

Note: While I say that pro-pornography views are usually what’s popular out there, I am talking about the culture of men. I believe that most women are anti-porn at heart, even amongst the few ones who use pornography. Most women want to stay away from pornography because it is too painful to look at. They usually use the terms “disgusting” or “filthy” but they in fact do notice that porn is degrading to women. As for the ones who use it, I believe that, when they can look at it with a clear mind, they obviously notice that it is not advancing freedom for women, or that it does not promote equality.

Before hearing about the feminist critique of pornography, I only had vaguely heard about feminism and never heard of radical feminism. But now, being a radical feminist and having heard and read about all the multiple misrepresentations of my type of feminism, I realize how much it hurts.

I’ve realized that radical feminism is the complete antithesis of patriarchy. Patriarchy is the very system of oppression and control we’re living in. Therefore, radical feminist politics are the solution to the overthrow of the male-supremacist system. What makes me mostly sad is that most women do not know all this.

Wouldn’t there be such a huge barrier imposed by malestream media in order to prevent mass-communication from rad fems to women, along with stereotypes & lies being widespread about radical feminism written in so many places on the Internet, women would know about radical feminism and they would know that it is not to be hated but understood clearly. Radical feminism is a call to freedom from all forms of oppression through the destruction of power structures.

A fellow blogger once said to me:

“I think a lot of women have some sort of coping mechanism that allows them to deny or ignore reality. I take it as a luxury, when I can.

But long-term, it becomes resistance to change and the women who work remain few and the task relentless.”

— Sophie, of 2 B Sophora.

This is true.

I believe that women don’t necessarily need to read radical feminist writings to see how much men and the culture of patriarchists hate us. They just have to seriously open their eyes to notice that fact. However, I do believe that radical feminist books help you identify all the different complex structures that cause all these atrocities perpetrated by men against us. It gives you words to be able to properly describe your experience of having been born female within a world that regards female humans as second-class citizens.

I also believe that women have this coping mechanism, as Sophie explained, to pretend that reality is not what it really is. I resorted to that kind of psychological dissociation when I was younger. I also admit that now I still have my ‘mind-split’ process taking place now and again to avoid falling into depression.

When I notice too much the increasing aggression against women as a class, the sexism that permeates society, the ever-increasing violence and misogyny within pornography, the fact that prostitution has still not been recognized as a violation of women and girls’ human rights and the numerous distortions and misrepresentations of radical feminism, I sometimes tend to mentally disconnect from all this pain. Because I’m just this little person and I can’t take all this. Consequently, like Sophie, I take it as a luxury, when I can.

Nevertheless I agree that, in the long term, the ‘mind-split’ becomes a resistance to change. Women have to speak out on male violence:

. . . one thing I will never, never be is silent. I’d RATHER be critical, judgemental and negative of male supremacy, and be perceived by other women and men as a harpy, an evil bitch, batshit crazy etc, etc… than be silent on the atrocities that men are committing against women every day. It sickens me too much not to speak out. It sickens me too much not to speak out loudly and angrily. Men’s violence is just too horrendous and sickening to ignore.

Allecto, in a comment to one of my posts.

Allecto’s words echo in my ears. When I listen to these words, it gives me strength. I feel like I don’t care about being criticized for speaking out on male violence and male supremacy; I want to keep screaming and shouting about how much the culture of patriarchists hates women; I want to keep screaming and shouting about how much men hurt women in a patriarchy.

In this society, men hurt, abuse, rape, beat up and, sometimes, murder women. Not all men abuse women, but many of them do. I’ve already explained that masculinity (i.e. social gender construct) is the root cause that underlies this system.

Male violence against women is not only widespread; it is often accepted as being “just life.” How do we explain that within a culture that has eroticized rape in the first place, i.e. that has made rape “sexy”? 😦

Nowadays, it is almost impossible for a woman to have a close friendship or relationship with a guy without him trying to force intercourse onto her, or trying to persuade her to “do this” or “do that”. Also, generally, a wife has to allow herself to “be fucked” by her husband as a ‘duty’.

I get a clear picture of the current situation here: Rape (as real feminists define it) is commonplace, tacitly considered “normal” in our patriarchal [pornified] culture.

As Ruth Anne Koenick, director of Rutgers’ Department of Sexual Assault Services and Crime Victim Assistance, said when she was interviewed by Robert Jensen:

People don’t come out of the womb wanting to be rapists nor believing that they are to blame when they are victims, but that’s where so many end up. What does that say about the culture’s belief systems?. . . One of my favorite people once said, “Rape is illegal, but the sexual ethic that underlies rape is woven into the fabric of our culture.”

During my life, I have been raped, coerced into sexual activity and domestically abused by some men who used pornography.

I remember the pain. I remember the lack of empathy I could see in their eyes. I remember how they would sometimes ignore me when I cried.

I remember them grabbing me, them slapping me, them bruising me, them tying me up to the bed and telling me I’d “enjoy it”.

When the pain became too intense I’d just mentally shut down, dissociate my mind from all this.

When I was living in domestic violence, I kept ignoring the bullying through dissociation, denial, by splitting my mind into parts, by pretending that the cruelty that I was subjected to was not there. . . I just had to. . . keep pretending this abuse I was sustaining wasn’t happening to me. . . I’d split my mind into parts. . . I’d numb the pain. . . I’d take the pain away. . . by splitting my mind into parts. . . I was perfectly able to ignore all the pain when I could. . . split my mind into parts. . . numb the pain. . . blank out all the sexual and domestic abuse I had suffered from men.

The pornography, I wanted to stay away from it. There was some kind of a sick feeling I was getting when seeing it, I could not quite describe what it exactly was at the time. But now I think that it had something to do with the fact that only taking glimpses at the raw woman-hatred that it was made me sick, which is why I tried to stay away from it in spite of boyfriends constantly trying to force the pornography – visually or sexually – onto me. Ignoring the pornography was another way of numbing pain.

In general, when something was too painful, too sexist, too demeaning, too hurtful, I would just mentally shut down from it by escaping to another corner of my mind.

It is an excellent coping mechanism. But it just doesn’t always work. And we, women have to speak out on male violence. We also have to speak out on victim-blaming; that is atrociously widespread in this patriarchy.

As Laurelin once wrote:

‘Victim mentality’ assumes that there is something about the victim that makes them a victim, something the victim does that invites victimisation, and that therefore the victim is responsible for their suffering. It asks the victim to take responsibility for the actions of their aggressor. And it is used because it easier to pile more blame upon the vulnerable than it is to stand up and point out that there is something wrong with the world in which the victim, the aggressor, and the speaker live.

— from Perpetrator mentality.

I wish all the victim-blaming which pervades society would stop. It is the aggressor’s fault when a woman is raped, abused or beaten up; it is, broaderly, patriarchy’s fault, not the victim’s. But how do we explain that within a culture that is contaminated by sick messages (rape ideologies) like these?= “Women don’t know their own minds; men know better what women really want and need sexually,” “A woman might not want it at first, but once she gets a taste of hot sex, she can’t get enough,” “Women are sexually manipulative,” “Getting her drunk is a way to get her in the mood,” or “All women are whores at heart and want to be fucked by any available man;” these are misogynistic messages that come straight from the mainstream contemporary pornography industry. Fact: we live in a rape culture.

I go to college five days a week and I have to put up with the fact that I’m studying in the same classroom as men of my age who probably use porn (just under half of the class is male; a little more than half is female). It makes me sick. When I hear guys laugh at sexist porn or rape jokes, it demoralizes me, but I’d rather remain quiet. Sometimes, these things still shock me too. Probably because I so much want them to stop; I want this pornified culture to stop. But then, after the ‘surprise’ effect is over (it usually lasts for 5 minutes at the most), I just feel terribly exhausted and distraught and I almost feel like shouting at them, “Fuck off with your porn! You woman-haters! You’re fucking abusing women, only by watching this.” Sometimes I swear I wish I could say that to them, but I don’t. . . because I know I’d get terribly slammed for that. I’d be hated, just for telling the truth. 😦

Thus, I’d rather work with women, or get the chance to talk to the women whenever I can. Because I know that, 90% of the time, women will listen to me (and sometimes will discuss the issue at length) when I say to them that pornography is degrading, woman-hating, violent, etc.

Finally, I would like to add that this is pointless women arguing with each other or hating each other in this world, because it distracts us from seeing who really is in power in this society, who is in a position of privilege, i.e. men in a patriarchy. I believe that when women fight or are being cruel to each other it can be called “harem politics” (as some writer once suggested – see quote below). Women who fight, who hurt each other, who are jealous of each other, etc will not unite against patriarchy.

I mean, of course, we all screw up sometimes. We all sometimes happen to, intentionally or unintentionally, hurt each others, e.g. Woman A hurts Woman B, then Woman C hurts Woman D, etc. and vice-versa, etc. Arguments we sometimes have among female survivors of male violence and among women as a class are patriarchy-related. Patriarchy intends to perpetually distract us from being angry at the male-supremacist system which maintains rape, pornography, prostitution, battery, etc as “inevitable facts of life.”

Patriarchy often disconnects women from each other. Woman-hating is historical. Male supremacy takes different forms: patriarchal religions, marriage, forced childbearing, prostitution, pornography, institutions that protect gender roles, etc. The list is big. I believe that women would have to identify all sites of oppression under patriarchy if they ever want to be able to overthrow the system.

Patriarchists are counting on our ignorance, our disconnection from each other, our refusal to see how much their society and culture hates us, our refusal to see all the harms men have been doing to us throughout history. Patriarchists are counting on all that. They “are betting that we cannot face the horror of their sexual system and survive,” as Dworkin wrote in Pornography: Men Possessing Women (p. 224). This is why, like many other women, I struggle everyday in this patriarchal culture. . .

“The genius of any slave system is found in the dynamics which isolate slaves from each other, obscure the reality of a common condition, and make united rebellion against the oppressor inconceivable. The power of the master is absolute and incontrovertible. His authority is protected by civil law, armed force, custom, and divine and/or biological sanction. Slaves characteristically internalize the oppressor’s view of them, and this internalized view congeals into a pathological self-hatred. Slaves typically learn to hate the qualities and behaviors which characterize their own group and to identify their own self-interest with the self-interest of their oppressor. The master’s position at the top is invulnerable; one aspires to become the master, or to become close to the master, or to be recognized by virtue of one’s good service to the master. Resentment, rage, and bitterness at one’s own powerlessness cannot be directed upward against him, so it is all directed against other slaves who are the living embodiment of one’s own degradation. Among women, this dynamic works itself out in what Phyllis Chesler has called “harem politics”. The first wife is tyrant over the second wife who is tyrant over the third wife, etc. The authority of the first wife, or any other woman in the harem who has prerogatives over other women, is a function of her powerlessness in relation to the master. The labor that she does as a fuck and as a breeder can be done by any other woman of her gender class. She, in common with all other women of her abused class, is instantly replaceable. This means that whatever acts of cruelty she commits against other women are done as the agent of the master. Her behavior inside the harem over and against other women is in the interest of the master, whose dominance is fixed by the hatred of women for each other. Inside the harem, removed from all access to real power, robbed of any possibility of self-determination, all women typically act out on other women their repressed rage against the master; and they also act out their internalized hatred of their own kind. Again, this effectively secures the master’s dominance, since women divided against each other will not unite against him.”
–- Andrea Dworkin, in Our Blood: Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Politics, pp. 85-86.

ETA (10/30/08): I just added the sentence “Misogyny is also contemporary,” and I definitely should have done it before (see comments).

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Introduction

This post is a follow-up to my previous (March 2008) post On Choices.

A couple of important points I had made in that post:

1/ Prostitution is a global industry of sexual exploitation in which sex is traded for money, clothing, food, drugs, shelter, or favors. Prostitution includes strip bars, lap-dancing clubs, massage parlors, brothels, saunas, adult and child pornography, street walking, live sex shows, phone sex, prostitution rings, Internet pornography, escort services, peep shows, ritual abuse, and mail order bride services.

2/ The ‘sex’ industry has done a great job in focusing the debate on “women’s choices”, while the focus of any discussion on the subject should be on the consumers who CHOOSE to use pornography, and, in the case of prostitution, on the johns who CHOOSE to buy women for sex.

 

Agency: Who really has it?

One of the most common misrepresentation and accusation that gets thrown at radical feminist who take a stand against pornography and prostitution is that we’re somehow “denying women’s choices” or that we’re “ignoring women’s agency” in all this.

I know that in my previous post I stated that I acknowledged the lack of choices that most women who enter the ‘sex’ industry have. I still do. I meant that, in a patriarchy, women in general have more or less limited choices and that our agency is often shaped by patriarchal logic, by male supremacy. I meant that most of the women and girls who end up in prostitution are the female human beings with the most limited choices.

Still, I’ll tell you what I think of this “rad fems deny women’s choices” accusation:

Rad fems do not “deny women’s choices.”

Yes, we, women as a class, do have agency, but it is somehow more or less restricted within the boundaries of patriarchy. The male-supremacist system is not here to benefit us, which always more or less limits our choices.

Accusatory people haven’t properly read our work or haven’t paid enough attention to all our words. I, myself, in my post On Choices, wrote:

“I believe it is possible that there are a few women out there who do freely choose to enter the industry, are fully aware of what’s involved and/or make a lot of money. Still, I do not believe it is honest people focusing all their attention on those few somewhat privileged women while ignoring the vast majority of prostituted women who never got the chance to choose a better life, who are being controlled and mistreated by pimps, and who are used and abused by johns.”


In another post, Prostitution, Trafficking and Law, that came after that, I wrote:

“Never will I stop being on the side of the overwhelming majority of prostituted women who never got the chance to get a better life and are suffering unbearable pain and injury on a daily basis!”

The fact is that Melissa Farley, a feminist researcher on prostitution, and some colleagues of hers conducted a large-scale study interviewing 854 people (who were in prostitution) across nine countries. The results of this research can be found here. 89% of those prostituted or prostituting people (most of them women) stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately. Which makes it obvious that their choices and agency were limited within this cruel industry.

Farley has carried on researching on prostitution ever since, one of her most recent studies being on the ‘sex’ industry in Nevada. Farley was repeatedly slandered and misrepresented by the pro-prostitution lobby and its followers. She was repeatedly slandered and misrepresented by some women who claimed they advocated “the rights of women”.

But what was most unfair and disturbing was that the voices of the 89% of those prostitutes who said they wanted out of prostitution were denied and silenced by the pro-prostitution lobby. People who claimed they “defended sex workers’ rights” refused to hear those important voices. The voices of those so many prostitutes, who’d made it clear that prostitution is not a “career choice” but abuse and violence on a daily basis, were silenced by the pro-prostitution lobby in order to try to promote their agenda (i.e. “prostitution as work”).

“Melissa Farley is lying”, “Biased research” or some other foolishness, the pro-prostitution lobby and its followers said. No, there was no way that lobby was going to believe such a comprehensive research and the voices of the so many prostitutes who had been interviewed in it. . . because, obviously, there was so much ‘vested interest’ in protecting the ‘sex’ industry for those pro-prostitution folks, right? (rhetorical question)

Recently, I left a comment on Rebecca Mott’s blog, telling her that she was NOT the only ‘example of the harms of the sex trade’ (as she put it). I’ve met women in the radical feminist movement who are survivors of the sex trade. I’ve been in touch with an anti-prostitution organization that helps women exit the sex trade. And most of the members of that organization are radical feminists and they are very pro-Swedish model abolitionists because they have worked with so many prostituted women and girls who wanted out of the sex trade, not “better working conditions”.

I also said to Rebecca:

“You are far away from being the only survivor of prostitution. I’ve read and heard so many stories similar to yours. These important stories have so much educated me on the harms of prostitution. Two years and a half ago, I was ignorant, i.e. I had no idea that all of this was happening in prostitution ’cause I had never read nor heard stories like these.”

I love Rebecca. She’s one of my favorite writers. And, by speaking out her truth, she’s hoping to help many women who are or have been in the sex trade to be heard and/or speak out on the harms that are inherent in prostitution.

Thing is that when we criticize pornography and prostitution, we sometimes hear (but not always) someone say “But my friend does porn or strips or prostitutes and she likes it”. Well, here is how I would respond to this: I would never judge your friend for her choices and I don’t know her exact circumstances or what the experience really means to her. I think she is an exception because the circumstances within which most women and girls who enter prostitution and pornography are as follows:

— past experience of child sexual abuse, rape or physical abuse; because when a woman or a girl has been raped or molested (sometimes repeatedly) in childhood, she is more likely to be re-victimized, and more vulnerable to recruitment for pornography and prostitution. By this, we do not imply that a woman who has been abused in the past is incapable of making choices, but we are just trying to shed light on all the complex feelings that abuse (especially rape) entails: it is very traumatic and it can make you believe that you’re just a “sexual object” or a “thing”, that it is your only value or purpose in this world. Abuse in general often leads to self-hatred in the victim, and the victim sometimes needs to find a place where they can have a feeling of “being loved” or “empowered” (even if it’s fake). All these feelings and more. To summarize study findings, research carried out interviewing prostitutes (some of whom had pornography made of them) and clinical literature on different types of prostitution, it is estimated that between 65% and 95% of those in prostitution were sexually assaulted as children;

— poverty, economic hardship, or homelessness; because, yes, serious money problems can lead some women to entering the ‘sex’ industry;

— international and domestic trafficking; because some women are transported by pimps from one place to another for the purpose of prostitution. And many of the practices systematically used by pimps to control women in prostitution — sensory deprivation, dehumanization, threats to family, deliberately induced exhaustion — are the same as those used by military torturers, as also recently reported in Traffick Jamming;

— and socialization to the pornified culture; because we, radical feminist, do acknowledge that some women choose to enter the ‘sex’ industry but also acknowledge that most of the choices of those women are probably uninformed, i.e. some young women have only seen the “glamorization” side of the pornstitution industry and are not fully aware of what it entails.

As I wrote in On Choices:

“There are many agencies that specialize in recruiting young women to the porn industry with the promise of making big money and becoming a star. Indeed, the money is an attraction for mostly young, working-class women who face limited choices in a harsh economy. Given those economic realities and the glamorization of pornography, it’s not surprising that some young women will see this as a viable career option. Undeniably, the whole culture promotes the “porn star” job as a glamorous job. In TV shows, the image of the “porn star” is shown as “liberating” and “empowering” for women.”

We do not imply that every woman who makes certain choices is poor, uneducated, and/or horribly abused. We are not saying that every single woman or girl in the ‘sex’ industry has had exactly the same experience. We just want to point out to the fact that most women in prostitution (i.e. that includes pornography) are the female human beings who have entered the ‘sex’ industry with choices that are not really free. We are saying that their agency, in general, has been somehow unfortunately constrained, limited or influenced by patriarchal (il)logic and we deeply empathize with them.

And we, radical feminists, sincerely empathize with those women because WE KNOW they are being terribly harmed in the pornstitution industry. Here is another page on things to know, based on research, not mere guesses.

Now, the REAL question is: Who really has agency in this patriarchal society?

I will tell you who really has it in a patriarchy:

It is the john who really has it, the porn user, the strip club patron, etc. It is HIM.

He has the agency of buying a female body, the body of another human being, and do whatever he wants to her, whether she wants it or not.

He has the agency of buying, renting or downloading movies that contain images of her naked body wounded or hurt, her personality dehumanized, her self humiliated and degraded, her mind so harmed (sometimes beyond recovery), her face sometimes shown onscreen as enjoying the torture because the pimps control the script and run the show for the johns. Movies and images of her to which the john/porn user cruelly jerks off to.

He has the agency of going to clubs where her body is exposed, objectified and degraded for his own selfish pleasure.

He has the agency of creating the demand for an industry within which she, for the most part, will not have full agency and will be hurt.

He can insult her. He can beat her. He can rape her. He can tie her up. He can throw money at her and say “That wasn’t rape ’cause I paid you”.

He can reproduce the image of her being degraded, tortured and/or hurt, this image being used as a ‘jerk-off’ material, and share it with other men at an exponential rate, technologically speaking (i.e. internet porn, etc.).

He can do anything to her. Because HE has the full agency to do so.

Within patriarchy, his agency is, more often than not, unlimited. Because the patriarchy works toward his advantage. Male supremacy serves him, fulfills his purpose.

He’d rather try to prove his “masculinity” to his male friends by using porn or buying prostitutes. He’d usually rather go toward that direction instead of questioning the whole concept of masculinity altogether. Generally, he doesn’t even know that masculinity is not innate, that he could choose humanity instead.

His agency is thoroughly defended in a patriarchy. However, within a society that purports to be egalitarian, the patriarchal defense of his agency to use and abuse women has to be implicitly expressed under the cover of “her agency”, i.e. framed in arguments such as “That woman, she wants it, they all do” or “women freely choose to prostitute” and blah, blah, blah. . . ad nauseam. . . ultimately tacitly meaning (in fact): “I, the man, want to degrade her and use her for my own pleasure, thus I have the ‘right’ to do so” or “I, the man, freely choose to have her as my prostitute, my ‘fuck object’ or my property”. This is what you hear when you get to the core of his thinking.

 

“Subhumanity”: Who really sees prostituted women as ‘subhuman’?

I already explained why we, radical feminists, refer to women in the ‘sex’ industry as ‘prostituted women’ somewhere in there.

There is an unfounded accusation that has been thrown at radical feminists and that stuns me: “Radfems see women in the sex industry as ‘subhumans'”. Blah-the-fucking-blah.

I will tell you who really sees prostituted women (“sex workers”) as ‘subhuman’:

The male with the pornographic mind does, NOT radical feminists.

As Rebecca Mott recently posted on her blog:

“When men rape prostitutes, it is not real. How can there be a rape, when he has paid.

Injuries on prostituted women and girls don’t matter, it just rough sex. Men know her fear or lack of reaction is just part of the act.

Hadn’t he seen in porn over and over that women like her like to be raped. Women like her enjoy violence with sex.

Didn’t porn say that whores will do anything for money.

I know in my body as it remembers the tortures men did to me, that they saw me as real-life porn. I know as I remember their contempt, their laughter at my injuries and not believing that I could feel pain.

God, I remember those men posing me on the bed, against the wall, in alleys, on top of graves, in back rooms at the club. At those times, flashes of photos from the hard-core porn went over me.

I know I was infected by porn, as I became a robot performing the sex acts the men wanted.”

I certainly do not believe that the men who bought and abused Rebecca were seeing prostituted women as real human beings. I believe that they saw them as ‘subhuman’.

It is not uncommon to encounter this type of men. The men with the pornographic mind. Many non-prostituted women frequently meet those men in real life. But prostituted women, unfortunately, are the ones who are the most horribly abused by these men.

These men believe in the sexual philosophy of the Marquis de Sade (whether they know it or not), which is, to quote:

“. . . there is no more selfish passion than lust; none that is severer in its demands; smitten stiff with desire, ’tis with yourself you must be solely concerned, and as for the object that serves you, it must always be considered as some sort of victim, destined to that passion’s fury. Do not all passions require victims?”

— Sade, in Juliette, p.269.

I totally disagree that “all passions require victims.” There are many sexual and sensual passions that can be enjoyed with the inclusion of the respect toward another person’s dignity, the inclusion of the caring, the connection, the equality and the mutuality.

Sade was a rapist, a batterer, a child abuser and the world’s foremost pornographer. Sade has his apologists and his ‘libertarian’ defenders who mistakenly portray(ed) him as an “avatar of freedom”. Sade helped pave the way for the unfair ‘leftist’ defense of pornography we’ve been confronting for years.

Here is de Sade’s conception of sexuality served to the male pornographic mind (translated in its full cruelty): “All that matters is your own selfish male pleasure. Do not care about being cruel to women or treating them as objects. There is nothing more important than your orgasm even if it requires necessary victims.” Cruel conception indeed.

As Andrea Dworkin wrote in Pornography: Men Possessing Women (p.100):

“[Sade’s] convictions are ordinary, expressed often in less grand language. . . they are fully consonant with the practices. . . of ordinary men with ordinary women. . .”

It is to wonder what those ordinary men are influenced by?

Dworkin also wrote:

“. . . pornography and prostitution were one and the same thing. We know that the world’s foremost pornographer, the Marquis de Sade, tortured, raped, imprisoned, beat, and bought women and girls. We know that influential male thinkers and artists who enthused about rape or prostitution or battery had, in many cases, raped or bought or battered women or girls and were also users and often devotees of pornography.”

Seriously, I will tell you who sees prostituted women as ‘subhuman’:

Not radical feminists, we fully empathize with women in the sex industry. We realize that most of them have had a somehow limited agency in patriarchy and that they are being terribly abused by abusive johns.

The johns, the tricks, the porn users, the strip-club patrons, etc. are the ones who really see prostituted women as ‘subhuman’.

They are the ones who think it is their “male right” to treat women in the sex industry as ‘subhuman’ objects.

They are the ones who have the, barely questioned, agency to see women in the sex industry as ‘subhuman’ through pornography, in the act of prostitution or at the strip club, etc.

They are the ones who believe there are necessary victims required for their self-centered orgasm.

They are the ones who create the demand for these widespread crimes against women that are called pornography and prostitution.

They are the ones who believe it is their “male right” to use, objectify, degrade, hurt, harm, abuse, rape, beat up, torture and/or (sometimes) kill women.

They are the ones who believe it is ‘male nature’ to do so, without seriously thinking about how culturally trained their porn use, etc. have been within a culture that unfairly condones such an unfair abuse of female human beings by describing it as “adult entertainment” or “sex work”.

These johns, tricks, porn users, strip-club patrons, etc. are the ones who have to stop seeing prostituted women as ‘subhuman’ and who have to stop creating the demand for a brutal misogynistic and racist pornstitution industry that relies on the discrimination and the ill-treatment of half the world’s population to cater to its consumers/johns’ cruel appetite for the degradation of women and girls.

Postscript: for another excellent resource on prostitution, please see also my previous post Prostitution, Trafficking and Law.

ETA (08/25/2008): For another excellent resource on prostitution, please see also Heart’s new post Voices of Survivors of the Sex Trade: Prostitution Is Sexual Slavery, Gang-Rape, Sexual Abuse.

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Why do (most) men have to be the way they are? That’s a question I used to ask myself when I was a little younger and abused by them.

Why do we sisters sometimes have doubts about the future? Why do we sisters sometimes lose our strength?

I mean. . . Where do I start?

Few men are interested feminism in the first place. Most men on this earth haven’t even got any interest in any kind of feminism whatsoever, let alone radical feminism.

There are times I’m strong at hiding my deepest feelings about men and oppression, especially sexual oppression.

I mean, there are times when I’m very optimistic. That is when I’m happy about having learned the truth about what’s happening around me, what is wrong with this world and how we, radical feminists, can advocate for real progressive change.

I’m glad to have discovered radical feminism and I will always be. Few women ever get the chance to even know it exists, and, quite honestly, I had lived 26 years of my life without even knowing such a truly radical movement for change existed.

And there are other times, like right now, when I just want to scream and cry. There is such an incredible amount of oppression on this planet (that patriarchy causes) that I just want to stop hiding my deepest feelings.

I am revealing them now:

Will all this ever stop? We, women, do share a common condition. We constantly live in oppression and fear of male violence.

We, radical feminists, believe that masculinity is a social construct. We believe that rape, child sexual abuse, battery, the pornography use, the prostitution of millions and millions of women & girls are not inevitable facts of life.

We instead believe that men are human beings, just like us, but that they have been culturally trained to repress whatever feelings they have in common with us (although it doesn’t always work). Men are routinely socialized to be tough and not to show their sensitivity (too much).

We also believe that rape, child sexual abuse, battery, the pornography use, the prostitution of millions and millions of women & girls happen because men have had such a masculine or hyper-masculine socialization that makes them do these horrible things.

However, I fear that some of my radical feminist sisters might have already thought about the very same thing that crosses my mind. That is, because men are what they’ve become, due to millennia of patriarchy, what if there is no hope for change? What are we going to have to do? Consider that the problem lies in the men? And I think this idea is awful because such statement is somehow underlain by rotten “biological” explanation.

As Andrea Dworkin, a feminist who has always been demonized and misrepresented by the pro-pornography lobby, once stated:

The vital question is: are we to accept their world view of a moral polarity that is biologically fixed, genetically or hormonally or genitally (or whatever organ or secretion or molecular particle they scapegoat next) absolute; or does our own historical experience of social deprivation and injustice teach us that to be free in a just world we will have to destroy the power, the dignity, the efficacy of this one idea above all others? [. . .]

. . . the price we pay [in believing biological ideology] is that we become carriers of the disease we must cure. [. . .]

It is shamefully easy for us to enjoy our own fantasies of biological omnipotence while despising men for enjoying the reality of theirs. And it is dangerous–because genocide begins, however improbably, in the conviction that classes of biological distinction indisputably sanction social and political discrimination. [. . .]

What I mean to say is that, if we seriously start believing that the problem lies in the male biological sex, we lose. Our radical ideas, our progressive belief of gender as being a social construct is completely lost.

I mean, yes, men do oppress us.

Men do hate us in a particular way that they do not want to admit.

Men do objectify us.

Men do want to see us submit to them.

Men do spread our legs, grab our arms painfully tightly, pull our hair, bruise our thighs, make our eyes water, etc.

Men do imagine us everyday saying No but meaning Yes or saying Yes & meaning Yes to any possible humiliation that comes from the hierarchical sex they’ve seen in pornography. (Whatever any other gruesome detail coming from their pornographized mind I’m not going to mention here but you, sisters, know what I’m talking about.)

Men do coerce us into sexual activity.

Men do rape us.

Men do prostitute some of us to feed the demand of other men who want to buy our bodies.

Men do make pornography of some of us.

Men do beat us up.

Men do sexually abuse our children.

Yes, these are the painful realities of abuse in this world. Yes, all this happens every day.

But, you know what, sisters? No, it doesn’t have to be that way.

No, no, and no!

The fact that there are some men on this earth who do not use pornography and are respectful of women proves that rape, battery, etc. are not “natural” or biological inevitabilities, no matter how many writers try to argue the opposite.

Throughout history, there have been (almost exclusively male) writers trying to “prove” that hierarchy and aggression were just unavoidable facts of life, and gosh knows how many times they’ve been quoted by radical feminist writers as examples of defenders of male supremacy by claiming “biological” arguments.

Sisters, I do know that men are so fucking dangerous and I totally agree with Allecto.

Yes, I’m not very optimistic when I hear a male porn user speaking that way to a young woman who’d started an anti-porn petition:

 

“I LIKE WATHCING GOOD BITCHES GETTING FUCKED.
THE PROBLEM IS THE SHIT ROGERS SHOWS IS ALL AMERICAN CRAP WITH THE FILTHY DIRTY AMERICAN GOOK WHORES. THE BETTER PETITION WOULD BE TO SHOW REALLY GOOD HARDCORE UNCENSORED JAPANESE PORN. THE GOOD ONES ARE: GANG RAPE BUKKAKE (COVERED IN CUM) LESBIANS BESTIALITY GANGBANGS NIGGERS FUCKING LITTLE GOOK WHORES. IF YOU SHOW WHITE BITCHES, MAKE THEM MILFS AND AMATURES” [SIC] 

 

from the mouth of a john/consumer, as reported by Demonista.

 

This clearly shows that the secret thoughts of the porn users, which they sometimes express vividly online, are filled with misogyny and racism.

Neither do I feel optimistic when I hear about a so-called “pro-radical feminist man” (who was in fact a porn user) who sexually assaulted a woman and made pornography of her.

(However, as I have lately become a little more suspicious of male allies without necessarily writing them off, I believe, sisters that we’ll seriously have to be careful in the future, try to find a way of making sure they are genuine.)

Nor do I feel hopeful when I hear about a gang-rape that was filmed by a bunch of male “bukake” fans.

And I certainly am not seeing this world other than cruel when I hear about all the rapes, the sexual coercions that are endlessly perpetrated in this pornified culture by scores of men who don’t even give a shit about any type of feminism.

Nevertheless, sisters, we mustn’t give up the fight. We must continue to ask for a radical change in the behavior of males. We must ask for the complete eradication of gender itself.

As Andrea Dworkin, my favorite (and so unfairly misrepresented) writer, said:

[O]nce we do not accept the notion that men are positive and women are negative, we are essentially rejecting the notion that there are men and women at all. In other words, the system based on this polar model of existence is absolutely real; but the model itself is not true. We are living imprisoned inside a pernicious delusion, a delusion on which all reality as we know it is predicated.

In my view, those of us who are women inside this system of reality will never be free until the delusion of sexual polarity is destroyed and until the system of reality based on it is eradicated entirely from human society and from human memory. This is the notion of cultural transformation at the heart of feminism. This is the revolutionary possibility inherent in the feminist struggle.

As I see it, our revolutionary task is to destroy phallic identity in men and masochistic nonidentity in women–that is, to destroy the polar realities of men and women as we now know them so that this division of human flesh into two camps–one an armed camp and the other a concentration camp–is no longer possible. Phallic identity is real and it must be destroyed. Female masochism is real and it must be destroyed. The cultural institutions which embody and enforce those interlocked aberrations–for instance, law, art, religion, nation-states, the family, tribe, or commune based on father-right–these institutions are real and they must be destroyed. If they are not, we will be consigned as women to perpetual inferiority and subjugation. […]

Only when manhood is dead–and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it–only then will we know what it is to be free.

— Andrea Dworkin, in The Root Cause.

 

 I am an anarchist of the patriarchy.

I want the whole concept of manhood to die.

In the book Refusing to Be a Man, John Stoltenberg argues that males can refuse to be men and genuinely act out in favor of social equality and justice. Males should be human beings, not men.

The anti-gender ideology which underlies radical feminist politics is very simple once you grasp it: In order to create a just world where rape, battery, child sexual abuse and any form of discriminations would not exist, not only pornography, prostitution and patriarchal religions & institutions must be abolished, but gender itself, i.e. the patriarchal polar role definitions of ‘men’ and ‘women’, what it means to be “masculine” or “feminine”, must be destroyed.

Sexism must be eradicated. And it will be, on the day people stop enforcing it or believing it as inevitable. It will be when males do realize that we, females are no “other species” but human beings just like them, and vice-versa.

No, sisters we mustn’t say the silly excuse “the problem lies in the men”, no matter how tempting this becomes when we lose hope while seeing all this violence against women not being taken truly seriously.

Instead we must carry on asking for change even if all the oppression of the world looks like it has the size of an ocean and we’re trying to empty it with teaspoons, even if we feel like we’re losing our strength.

Recently, I had someone telling me that I was “hysterical” (this isn’t an exactly pro-woman term). But we, rad fems, have a complete passion for being angry, as our anger often suppresses our sadness or pain.

Of course, male-supremacist society particularly dislikes angry women.

But, you know what?

I don’t care about sounding angry or “hysterical”. I want to keep up the fight for radical change.

I wanna keep standing up and carry on asking our oppressors to stop oppressing us or stop apologizing for sexual oppression as “unavoidable”.

I do know, sisters, that pro-porn women are females, just like us, who share our common condition.

But they are also the smokescreen to conceal our real proscribers, our real ‘nemeses’-wannabes: the (largely) male supporters of pornography and prostitution.

The men who defend pornography and prostitution do defend female sexual slavery. They are the real guardians of the status quo. They are the ones who predominantly support the gynocides,(*) the sexual terrorisms that are called pornography and prostitution.

We must carry on exposing the harms of pornography and prostitution while arguing against “biological inevitability”, which is anyway nothing but patriarchal ideology we must refute.

We must ask for men to change, to understand us and to stop hating us (whether they admit it or not).

We must ask for conversations on pornstitution to be directed toward the subject of the johns/users, who always have a 100% choice in the matter. They are the ones who feed the demand for the gynocides,(*) the sexual terrorisms that are called pornography and prostitution.

Apologists for bad things as “being natural” are people who do not want the status quo to be overthrown. They want it to be maintained.

We must be strong, sisters, and keep up the good work.

Those who try to shut us up will not succeed. They will fail. 🙂

No matter how small a group we are. We are a sisterhood.

One day, we’ll get bigger. No matter how much time it takes.

Most women out there do not defend pornstitution and aren’t comfortable with it. That is a fact. We must count on it.

 

(*) Gynocide, according to Dworkin, is “the systematic crippling, raping, and/or killing of women by men.” (Dworkin, Our Blood, p.16) Also referring to the witch-hunt in early modern Europe. Patriarchal religion orchestrated the killing of nine million women as witches. The Malleus Maleficarum was a form of (Christian) pornography.

 

“Female sexual slavery is present in ALL situations where women or girls cannot change the immediate conditions of their existence; where regardless of how they got into those conditions they cannot get out; and where they are subject to sexual violence and exploitation.”
— Kathleen Barry, in Female Sexual Slavery, p. 40.

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