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Archive for the ‘Pornified culture’ Category

. . . is now up on Genderberg.

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

Enjoy this new carnival, readers!

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

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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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The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade, by Sheila Jeffreys, available from Amazon.

Here is a link to a radio interview with Sheila Jeffreys on the global sex trade. From the Amazon description:

The industrialization of prostitution and the sex trade has created a multibillion-dollar global market, involving millions of women, that makes a substantial contribution to national and global economies. “The Industrial Vagina” examines how prostitution and other aspects of the sex industry have moved from being small-scale, clandestine, and socially despised practices to become very profitable legitimate market sectors that are being legalised and decriminalised by governments. Sheila Jeffreys demonstrates how prostitution has been globalized through an examination of: the growth of pornography and its new global reach; the boom in adult shops, strip clubs and escort agencies; military prostitution and sexual violence in war; marriage and the mail order bride industry; and, the rise in sex tourism and trafficking in women. She argues that through these practices women’s subordination has been outsourced and that states that legalise this industry are acting as pimps, enabling male buyers in countries in which women’s equality threatens male dominance, to buy access to the bodies of women from poor countries who are paid for their sexual subservience. This major and provocative contribution is essential reading for all with an interest in feminist, gender and critical globalisation issues as well as students and scholars of international political economy.

Also another book on prostitution worth reading: Making Sex Work: A Failed Experiment with Legalised Prostitution, by Mary Lucille Sullivan; aivalable from Amazon.
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Seduction is the rapist’s sleazy sales pitch.

If I don’t want you without tapping the vast reservoir of conditioned responses to dominance-submission-paradigm eye dances/gender performances/body festishes then our physical transaction amounts to nothing more than a hazy reification of woman-hating. And no person, except a raging sexist and rapist, believes women knowingly consent to these measures.

Pisaquari, in a comment to this post.

When I think about seduction, a couple of words come to my mind: exploitation and manipulation, ‘sexploitation’ to boot. These words actually bring up vivid memories in my mind: about someone whose name started with a D, who was male. I don’t think I’ve been talking about this to anyone for years, not even to my most recent partner. Tears come to my eyes each time I remember D’s seduction of me, his sexual exploitation and manipulation of me…

For sure, I did not mean to somehow ‘shock’ some readers with my broader definitions of rape in that post here. I can understand why, to some women (who often come from mainstream society & culture), some radical feminist thoughts may sound strange or crazy, etc. Hell, I would have confused my younger self had I been reading something similar to this – a radical feminist writing – a few years back, when I was being manipulated by D, for instance.

I will talk about this younger self of mine as she were like a few years back exactly at the time I was seeing D: I was this rather ordinary girl, ordinary but ‘sexy’, ‘beautiful’ (according to him) and naive – or at least behaving in a very naive way ’cause it was ‘fun’ and it made me smile. I remember that before I met D I had been raped – though I never called it rape. When I had been raped, coerced into sex, harassed, harangued, over and over by my first boyfriend (before meeting ‘seductive’ D), I had never called my experience rape, not once. All that was “just life” and I deserved it: sometimes I blamed the pain I’d experienced in my first relationship on the fact that “I hadn’t been listening to my Christian parents and all their moralistic advice” (now I know differently: Woman-hating, whichever side of the patriarchy it comes from, is woman-hating)…

Back to where I was: When I met D, I had come from a very hard, very painful relationship and I wanted to get over it. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to be free. My first boyfriend had been real evil to me but surely not all men were assholes, were they?

Okay, let’s talk about seduction then… as it happened to me on a personal level…

I used to be this girl who loved going clubbing, drinking booze, smoking pot, wearing ‘sexy’ high heels, stockings, skirts; this girl often dressed in black, wearing loads of makeup and often hoping, with a huge smile on her face, that D would love her as much as she loved him. Nowadays, I don’t club, don’t drink, don’t smoke (it’s been years…), don’t wear high heels or stockings or skirts or makeup, and I sincerely don’t give a shit if D ever loved me: he was an asshole that used me, used my body, played on my feelings, tried to fuck up my mind…

D once came to me. I remember he was so ‘charming’. I remember sitting next to him while he was playing guitar one of the first times I’d met him. Dunno if I’d fallen for him yet at that time but I did have a crush on him. He was so chivalrous, you know, he kept telling me I was gorgeous and all the words that many women have been influenced to buy as a way to happiness in a patriarchy. He made me sleep with him. I remember thinking during a minute that he may have been bragging about it to his friends the next day but then I fell back into denial, even though I’d briefly heard rumors about it. [Denial is a powerful part of the conditioning you get under male supremacy. The culture had taught me that denial of some behaviors of the men you like or love was healthy, it makes you happy, but I did not know that at the time – or only in the back of my mind…]

I came back to D later on. I so much wanted to see him again. He was so kind; he’d even bought me flowers. I had been told once that when a man bought you flowers it truly means something, and my first boyfriend had never bought me flowers…

One day, when he thought he’d finished with using me as a sex-object, he threw me out of his place while I was staying there for a few days. But he came back and he kept seducing me. And I was weak. I know malestream society would, with no doubt, put the blame on me for going back to him but he was capable of being so kind, so polite, so seductive and, like all the ‘good girls’, I had been taught to forget and to forgive…

He was so skilled at seducing me, manipulating me, looking at me with his seductive eyes, making me believe that I was being valued in his heart while, as a matter of fact, I was just “another girl” to him. Sometimes, I’d believe him, I’d fall for his “sleazy sales pitch”. Other times, I wasn’t sure and thus I’d go away, just for a while to not be hurt in case I was being manipulated… The situation was extremely difficult because I loved him, I think…

Another day, after he’d used me again, he said, “I’m sorry, I’d told you that I loved you just to have sex with you one more time.” He just wanted my body to use for his own purpose, his own gratification…

Then, at some point, when we were just friends, him and I, he’d left me alone drunk at one of his pals’ who’d then tried to fuck me that night. He’d wanted his friend to use me too; I’d overheard them talking to each other earlier that night…

Last time I saw D, I remember him telling me what an asshole he had been to me but, in hindsight, I believe he was trying to excuse himself for all the times he’d fucked me over… I felt terribly used and abused. I had gone through his seduction of me…

. . . How then do we define rape?
Rape is a crime against women.
Rape is an act of aggression against women.
Rape is a contemptuous and hostile act against women.
Rape is a violation of a woman’s right to self-determination.
Rape is a violation of a woman’s absolute control of her own body.
Rape is an act of sadistic domination.
Rape is a colonializing act.
Rape is a function of male imperialism over and against women.
The crime of rape against one woman is a crime committed against all women.

. . . Rape occurs when a man, who is dominant by definition, takes a woman who, according to men and all the organs of their culture, was put on this earth for his use and gratification. . .

— Andrea Dworkin, “The Rape Atrocity and the Boy Next Door”, in Our Blood, p. 32 & p. 46.


The thing is that when I eventually opened my mind to radical feminist thoughts, even some that I’d initially found strange or confusing, I noticed a great feeling: I finally had some sort of a power, the power of knowledge; I was able to see the dominant system with all its intricate parts, to understand how the world works, to know how much women have been culturally brought into submission by patriarchy (through pernicious ideologies, behaviors, attitudes fully internalized through socialization), to be aware of how relationships between men and women are all, to some extent or another, exclusively set within the boundaries of patriarchy. And that kind of knowledge, that kind of feeling I never, never ever, wanna give up on.

Apart from the power of knowledge, radical feminists have very little power. We are a little handful of women living on patriarchal Planet Earth and publicly striving for the good of womankind. And we are hated. We are so hated that constant insults and misrepresentations get thrown at us. For the little number we are in the female population, such an amount of hatred seriously looks to me like an overkill.

When we speak of rape while using wider definitions than malestream culture, we sometimes confuse people and even drive them mad. That reminds me of the expression “Not my Nigel” aimed at describing many women’s denial of malestream institutionalized misogyny and abuse of females. The fact remains that men of course ARE the ones who perpetrate rape and who also condone pro-rape attitudes, especially within their pornified male circles. And they get away with it. “Not my Nigel” notwithstanding: the vast majority of men 1) hate women, 2) participate in rape culture and/or 3) have been conditioned to get off on the oppression of women. Here is an interesting feminist article on women, heteronormativity and the socialization of men:

Women do not live in a benign or even neutral society. Most of us move through this culture in denial of its prejudice because the reality is too horrible to bear: the absurd injustice of a caste system based on gender. Feminism teaches us ways to recognize this prejudice in institutions, systems, and individuals around us; to understand how we have internalized the prejudice; and finally to acknowledge that our private, personal relationships are affected by it. Yet whether or not we call ourselves feminists, we know this caste system exists. All of us, women and men alike, are conditioned to conform to this culture. Men are trained to be dominators, women to be subordinates. No one is exempt. Everything we do, think, and feel takes place in this context of male supremacy and climate of woman-hating.

— Kay Leigh Hagan, in Orchids in the Arctic.

I can understand why some women (coming from mainstream thoughts and ideologies) would feel seriously confused by this post here. But to me it is no longer so hard to connect the dots, i.e. to be able to see what happened to me as I understand it now thanks to radical feminism:

First of all, my first boyfriend – with his repeated mistreatment of me, of my body, of my mind, of my soul – had fully trained me to submit to patriarchy and all its supposed charms. I had never dressed provocatively or been involved in sexually submissive behavior before I had been sexually abused for the first time. I had never been conditioned to let myself be used before that had happened to me, or to let myself be fucked over in order to be loved. And I do not believe that I am to be blamed for what happened to me (Any other woman whose personal experience may have been similar is not to be blamed either, for that matter).

Second, I’m sorry if rape comes across as a bit of a strong word to some women, especially considering the fact that all of us have conformed and internalized the patriarchal values of this culture, yes, including me (in the past). I have been raped and it is not in my intention to minimize anyone’s experience of sexual coercion by arguing that rape can take different forms – hell no, I am a survivor myself! I am merely arguing that sexual abuse and male sexual exploitation of women exist in a continuum: Some are blatantly violent while others are subtler but still cruel ways of making someone your submissive ‘object’. That is, for instance, while my experience with D may not have been as bad as the living hell I’d been going through with my first partner, what D did to me was literally using me as an object in order to get his rocks off, using me again and again.

Third, was it sexual abuse I felt at any point when I was with D? The ‘seduction’ part, I mean? Well, I may not have felt any crime or aggression; I may not have felt any contempt or hostility at all when he was seducing me. But, looking back, do I think there was a violation of my right to self-determination when he was manipulating me with his words, his ways of looking at me? Hell, yeah! Do I believe it was sexual exploitation? Hell, yeah! Do I perceive men’s seduction of women as a colonizing act? Hell, Yeah! Did I feel there was a sadistic domination in his seducing of me? Hell, yeah! Do I believe that seduction is part of male imperialism over and against women? Yes, I do!

However, that does not change the fact that I did feel aggression, contempt, hostility, sadistic domination and violation of my right to self-determination, and much more when I was being raped by my first boyfriend… I felt all that too later on in life, when I was living in domestic violence…

p.s. Still preparing my post on masochism. I will need just a bit of time before it is released, but not too much…

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According to some Human Rights Watch headlines last month:

Soaring rates of rape and violence against women

2008-12-19 07:56:53

More Accurate Methodology Shows Urgent Need for Preventive
Action

(New York, December 18, 2008) — A new government report showing huge increases in the incidences of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault over a two-year period in the United States deserves immediate attention from lawmakers and the incoming administration, Human Rights Watch said today. The statistics show a 42-percent increase in reported domestic violence and a 25-percent increase in the reported incidence of rape and sexual assault.


The National Crime Victimization Survey, based on projections from a national sample survey, says that at least 248,300 individuals were raped or sexually assaulted in 2007, up from 190,600 in 2005, the last year the survey was conducted. The study surveyed 73,600 individuals in 41,500 households. Among all violent crimes, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault showed the largest increases. Except for simple assault, which increased by 3 percent, the incidence of every other crime surveyed decreased.


“The numbers in this survey show an alarmingly high rate of sexual violence in this country,” said Sarah Tofte, researcher for the US Program at Human Rights Watch. “This should serve as a wake-up call that more must be done to address the problem in the US.”


The projected number of violent crimes committed by intimate partners against women increased from 389,100 in 2005 to 554,260 in the 2007 report. By comparison, the number of violent crimes against men by intimate partners went down.

Now, first of all, this is very upsetting, disheartening, worrying and yet not surprising, considering the fact that we live everyday in a woman-hating, male-supremacist culture. And this is real grim…

Second, porn apologists can carry on with their “cathartic effect” propaganda; it has not been proven to be true. These figures remind me of how much pornified culture and rape culture are one and the same thing, especially considering that the pornography industry makes $13 million in the US alone every year, remember? Which means there is a huge amount of male demand for an industry that relies on beliefs that “women enjoy being hurt, being demeaned,” etc and thus that endlessly perpetuates female suffering for the sadistic pleasure of its males consumers and, often, yes, rapists.

Pornographic culture relentlessly invades malestream media with its fragmentations of women into body parts, its portrayal of female humans as “worthless sex-objects that ‘ask for it’ or that deserve what happens to them”, and its glamorization of sexual violence, etc; see, for example, this YouTube video for a NOW campaign.

Finally, can women really feel safe with the vast majority of men in a patriarchy, i.e. the ones who were born in male privilege and who were taught to benefit from masculine socialization and domination?…

You know, I watched “The Accused” again on new year’s eve. It’s a film (with Jodie Foster) that was made in 1988. It is an amazing movie that highlighted a topic that is usually so rare in Hollywood. I hadn’t seen it in years. Watching it again made me cry over a simple fact: the very real, cruel and sinister attitudes that encourage, condone and attempt to justify rape have not changed one bit in 21 years (unless they actually have gotten worse). I was observing the woman-hating and victim-blaming that many of the men in that movie were praising through sentences such as “she was begging for it,” “it’s her fault,” “she put on a sex show,” or “she wasn’t even raped,” etc. And I remember thinking “That is all very real. That’s very much similar attitudes to so many men’s who live in a patriarchal pornified culture,” and I couldn’t stop crying, especially during the rape scene. These things are not just fiction. Rape keeps happening, in real life, thousands and thousands of times everyday. All the underpinning behaviors that support sexual violence and the root causes of rape haven’t changed. Not one bit. If they have, they have merely gotten worse…

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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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