«

»

Sep 30 2006

A Few Remarks On A Few Remarks

Well, dip me in honey and bake me in a cake. Salon’s Page Rockwell and Ilyka Damen’s Ilyka Damen, swell writers both, have not only read my fluff piece on BUST magazine, they’ve demonstrated their discriminating tastes by honoring it with some critical analysis in their electronically published forums. What they write more or less boils down to — and I despair of putting words in innocent young bloggers’ text fields, but really, if you can’t executively summarize a fellow bullshitter, who can you executively summarize? — “Twisty sort of has a point, but damn, her finger-waggin-crazy-talk is gonna ignite another bloody feminist blogospherical feud.”

Can it be true? Have I presented ‘feminism’ in a manner so inflammatory, so instigative, so unpalatable to the mainstream, that other feminists, upon exposure to my seditious dialectic, will be diabolically compelled to rip each others’ blogular faces off?

If you haven’t read the essay in question, the gist is this: that BUST, a young women’s indie-hip lifestyle magazine with a purported feminist slant, merely re-brands materialism as ‘feminism’; that for all its empowerful sass, it’s really just another philosophically empty fashion rag hawking ‘girly stuff’ in the traditional style. Using BUST to illustrate the vacuity of this new ‘fun feminism’, I further opine that feminist ideology, from the point of view of the radical activist spinster aunt, is in fact somewhat less about shopping for vibrators than it is about liberation from the tyranny of white male oppression.

I don’t know whether or not my post has ignited the prophesied fracas (as of this writing Technorati sez not, but of course Technorati is a tool of the patriarchy), but nevertheless, this morning a dark cloud hangs over my troubled bungalow. The origin of that cloud is this:

How come, whenever I write a “What Feminism Means To Me” essay, the other girls cringe and worry that my lonely-out-here-on-the-radical-fringe opinion will launch some sort of global auto-destructo apocalypse? How am I supposed to take that? What’s the hidden cryptic subtext?

That she shall be roundly chastised who threatens, with ideas, the peace and harmony of the other feminists, even as they graze placidly on the patriarchal green?

That I should resign my membership in the Society of Dissident Spinster Rhetoricians?

That, for the sake of ‘the movement’ (if such a thing even exists), I should realign my beliefs with the heteronormative feminine majority, so as not to scare off potential recruits who might still have a sizable investment* in the ideology of dominance and submission?

That discourse can be beneficial, but only when nobody’s feelings get hurt?

That iconoclasts who advocate unpopular challenges to the status quo should just put a sock in it?

Now, don’t misunderstand me; Page and Ilyka aren’t exactly telling me to shut up. They aren’t even taking sides. Their remarks more closely resemble objective reportage, with a little of the old “crap, can’t we all just get along?” thrown in. They describe, based, no doubt, on empirical evidence, a familiar pattern: that whenever Feminist X takes it upon herself to define feminism, Feminist Y (who happens to like lipstick, thank you very much, for its intrinsic value) immediately takes it as a personal affront and dashes off a “Who died and made you King of the Women?” retort. Page and Ilyka, they despair of this phenomenon. An ism divided against itself cannot stand, etc.

Well — surprise — I disagree. I mean, I suppose confrontation is unpleasant; all of us, feminists or no, have been trained from the cradle, as befitting submissives, in conflict-avoidance. And sure, it would be really nice if we could all just agree, once and for all, that I’m right. But we’ll never achieve anything like a consensus until we agree on the nature and extent of the enemy, and that’s gonna take some doing. To wit: patriarchy, though ubiquitous, is largely invisible. Women are understandably reluctant to concede that their deep attachment to the trappings of patriarchy (marriage, femininity, gender, fashion, porn, religion, beauty, the nuclear family, pink tool kits, et al) is not the manifestation of empowered personal autonomy, but rather a survival skill.

So is intramural squabbling ‘wasted energy’? No way. These blogular bloodbaths, tedious though they may be for seasoned professionals who have seen it all a million times, not only aid the intermediate blamer-commenter in fleshing out her views, but they soup up the general feminist presence on the World Wide Web. There’s no such thing, girls, as bad linkage.

Meanwhile, I must reiterate that I’m just the rhetoric guy. I don’t hold public office, I don’t mold Official Feminist Policy,and I don’t control who gets a membership card. My (arguably negligible) contribution to ‘the movement’ is to articulate principles central to an argument opposing Truth to popular belief. By which I mean, I sit around looking at white male privilege through radical-colored glasses. Then I pinpoint instances of chump-ass patriarchal orthodoxy masquerading to the casual observer as cosmic truth, and reveal my findings in these innocuous essays.

Naturally, if one of’em happens to fuel the fire of dissent, well, that’s just icing on the cake.
________________________________

*Dude, the footwear alone can cost a fortune.

67 comments

8 pings

  1. hedonistic

    “Who made you King of the Women?”

    Giggle, snort! That’s why I can’t stay away!

  2. emma goldman

    Twisty, gotta say, I have to agree with you all over the place on this one. Sometimes I think you have a fleck of salsa on the glasses through which you’re viewing the world, sometimes I think you like mint and I like raspberry (which is fine, so long as you neither try to make me eat mint nor take away my raspberry), but I am always entertained by the point(s) you’re making, and I think you’re absolutely right about the importance of the fights that you instigate. I always figure that I’ve done a good job when I can start a good fight–makes people think, which, really, is the opposite of most of what’s out there does to people.

  3. emma goldman

    I think there’s a “what” missing from that last line . . .

  4. Ilyka

    Thank you for the link. I agree with you that the squabbling isn’t wasted. I despair only when someone suggests you’ve gone mad with power, started a One True Feminism cult, and have set out to purge the unbelievers. It’s despair of the “Oh for fuck’s sake, that’s not what she said” sort. “Frustration” might be more accurate, but in any case I find a blogular diet low in thin-skinned, the-revolution-begins-with-my-orgasm feminism to be an excellent remedy.

  5. slade

    I like icing….and I vote for Twisty to be Queen of the World…the only public office worthy.

  6. porteram78

    Dear Twisty: You can turn a phrase like no other radical feminist I know. “…even as they graze placidly on the patriarchal green.” You’re a genius. I bow in humble respect.

  7. Tanya

    You are a completely refreshing break from all the bullshit. Until I stumbled upon your blog I was convinced I was the only woman in the universe that had no use for make-up, hair dye, boob jobs, pink, diets, and cheesy womens’ magazines. You express all my unarticulated thoughts. And I love you for it.

  8. KMTBERRY

    Socrates made people uncomfortable. Too, I mean.

  9. DaeM

    I think it’s impossible for any movement to cater to the needs of all members simultaneously. In a way, I think it’s good that there are magazines like BUST because that can make less-radical women or women who aren’t entirely comfortable with more radical publications feel all right in the feminist movement, even if it’s a fluffier side of feminism. The alternative could be women feeling threatened by feminism and not getting involved at all.

    At the same time, though, I don’t think it’s at all necessary for people to censor themselves. You made valid points about BUST, points I mainly agree with, and I don’t think those comments are going to rip the world of feminism apart.

  10. Mar Iguana

    ‘That she shall be roundly chastised who threatens, with ideas, the peace and harmony of the other feminists, even as they graze placidly on the patriarchal green?”

    Yep. Take it from me, it can get you banned.

    …”even as they graze placidly on the patriarchal green?” God, I love that.

    And, I am still cackling over “From where I sit, ‘feminism’ looks to have devolved into one big pink traditional feminine fuckpile.” Inspired.

  11. DaeM

    Twisty, by no means do I think you have a responsibility to censor yourself. It’s not any of our responsibility to say what’s popular. I’ve always felt that little could be more off-putting about something, particularly a movement, than a belief that one must go with the majority. Nobody has to be sworn in to be a feminist.

    Now, I think magazines like BUST, though they seem unappealing to me, can serve a purpose. There are women who would otherwise feel threatened by feminism, and I’d hate to see them excluded.

    However, you brought up points about the magazine I found valid, and you have every right to express them.

  12. miz_geek

    Twisty, you rock!
    You scare the crap out of me sometimes, and I don’t always agree with you, but more often, I find myself looking at myself and my life in a whole new way.

    Thanks for keeping us honest.

  13. Emma Pod

    Hey Twisty,

    I agree with all you’re saying about feminism. Others may not agree, but tough shit. I totally understand about blaming the patriarchy, but what about some blame for the MATRIARCHY as well? Women in this county continue to espouse, support, and embrace patriarchal ideas and causes. Many women still like to be pink and submissive and agreeable. For women to come-down on other women for being CONTROVERSIAL (for god’s sake!) is matriarchs supporting an old, worn-out system that forces women to “make nice”. Many old-school matriarchs are just as bullish as the patriarchs, they just smile when they do it.

    Without womens’ support, men like George Bush would not be elected. Without womens’ support, we wouldn’t have the porn industry we have. Without womens’ support, we wouldn’t have the fashion industry that we have. Women are not blameless in the woes of our world – alot of us are stupid and irresponsible, and we participate in creating the mess we live in. That’s the part I don’t understand.

    I think feminism is all about women becoming true selves, embracing their own power, directing their own lives, being self-responsible. Too many women are selling out to the system because it’s easier. We may blame the patriarchy, but the matriarchy is right behind – and she is a formidable force.

  14. Twisty

    Emma Pod, I get what you’re driving at, but there really isn’t any such thing as ‘matriarchy’. Consult Andrea Dworkin “Right Wing Women” for an explanation of the seemingly insane misogynist behavior of female conservatives. Or, if you’re short on time, just brush up on Stockholm syndrome at Wikipedia: the oppressed identify with the oppressor to increase their probability of survival. It’s ALL patriarchy, baby.

  15. Ron Sullivan

    Hey, Emma, to save clicks: They’re not matriarchs because they aren’t -archs at all. They might be viceroys, but mostly they’re just overdressed lackeys.

    Don’t be gettin all humble, Twisty. You “start fights” because you’re too much fun to be ignored. Honest to Sol, this is the one feminist place I can come to when the general badness of the news gets me all glummed out. And it’s not that you’re all sunshine ‘n’ roses, well, no shit. Let alone pink fucking teddy bears.

    Pink fucking teddy bears, now those get me down. And the patriarchy.

  16. KTal

    “That, for the sake of ‘the movement’ (if such a thing even exists), I should realign my beliefs with the heteronormative feminine majority, so as not to scare off potential recruits who might still have a sizable investment* in the ideology of dominance and submission?”

    Well absolutely Twisty, such speech that you and many others here utter, may cause cute pink thongs to bunch up in tight little carefully carved crevices and hence induce wobbling of a dangerous sort when balanced on high heel shoes.

    The topple that will inevitably ensue when said high heel imbalance occurs messes up hair, make-up and may even cause dress to fly up. You go and remind them of their vulnerability and make them all ugly in one fell swoop. Dangerous Twisty!

    But they get up, assisted by an approving male who sees them as a potential penis holder, takes them out to dinner and maybe wants to marry them after saving them from said fall from grace.

    See? All’s well in patriarchy land afterall and only those really willing to get up on their own will ever agree with so called ‘radical feminist’ ideas.

    So pushaw to those who say you steer anyone wrong. You give them an opportunity to see the world from the ground up, if they don’t want to take it, then we’ll hear from them later down the road. We always do.

  17. mel

    I would much rather have Twisty be King of the Women than someone like, say, Regis Philbin.

    Twisty for King! I will ride forth in that quest!

  18. maggiethewolf

    Twisty, were you asking for love in your post?

    I didn’t read it that way, but hey, the Blamers are heaping love on you and I’m always ready to pile on for the sake of affection, so: “Twisty, you and do bend words every which way, much to our delight, and you take chances, serving our shared purpose.”

  19. TP

    I sense a ramping up of the severely abused Twisty brainpan and want to say how pleased I am to read you once again at the top of your game.

    You make people angry because it is so damnably difficult to disagree with you reasonably. For example, I find it difficult to to argue with the obvious choice of feminism being about pleasing men or liberating women.

    Think for a minute how liberating it can be for a man to go through life, informed by feminist theory that some things are done to please men or fulfill expectations that women must please men more indirectly. If men really loved women it would all be so needless.

    I totally get how easy it would be to feel no need to please men or their expectations and still have fun getting dressed in all the millions of ways unrestricted creativity would naturally provide. So many women do. As best they can in a patriarchy.

  20. saltyC

    Awesome.

    Hi Maggie.

  21. Pony

    ?penis holder?

  22. Cast Iron Balcony

    These blogular bloodbaths, tedious though they may be for seasoned professionals who have seen it all a million times, not only aid the intermediate blamer-commenter in fleshing out her views, but they soup up the general feminist presence on the World Wide Web.

    Also, if they eventually filter down into the MSM, educate others on the fact that there is no FEMINIST HIVEMIND. Perhaps. (Or maybe there’ll just be another fatuous reference to baked bean wrestling.)

  23. Ann Bartow

    Page Rockwell ends her semi-behind-a-paywall screed thusly:

    The bummer about debates like these is they often end up with feminists taking aim at each other rather than taking aim at oppression and double standards (this is particularly evident in the comments below Twisty’s post). I’m all for openminded discussion of what a feminist is or whether pink is evil, but I wish we could reserve the heavy artillery for the political action itself.

    Somehow I’m just not buying the part about her being “all for openminded discussion” but I’m also confused about what the “heavy artillery” is, and the exact nature of the “political action itself,” buy hey, no one pays a yearly subscription or watches advertisements to read my blog, so probably I’m just dense.

    What if people gave money to organizations like NARAL or PFAW or maybe even the Girl Scouts (whatever your preference) instead of spending it on clothing and shoes and beauty products they don’t really need? That would be pretty radical, huh?

  24. Edith

    I think I have a knee-jerk reaction against women with the name “Page.” I feel like Ducky in that movie Pretty in Pink: “Blaine?! His name is Blaine?! That’s not a name, that’s a major appliance!”

  25. jami

    twisty, please don’t resign your post as lead blamer. other “sex in (and?) the city”/bust not-lovers are much comforted by your rhetorical strength.

    i like fun-feminists and their mysterious realm “fun.” but i also suspect that feminists who fight to be respected for abilities equal to and often surpassing those of the average male are doing more to make women’s lives better (the work of feminism, after all) than women who insist on pink mp3 players.

    feminists can do both. but one is a feminist act and the other is a capitalist act. bust magazine does indeed muddle the two, which explains why i didn’t care much when a gift subscription obtained for me by a fun-feminist didn’t come along with me on my last move. i don’t need more ads for hair goo in my life. i’ve got work to do.

  26. educe

    until we agree on the nature and extent of the enemy

    In this regard, Twisty, your contribution is anything but negligible.

    Those who speak truths are rarely popular. Most times, they’re attacked in retaliation because they’ve questioned — and made someone else question — the status quo belief system. No one likes rabble rousers.

    That your criticisms ignite any sort of discussion within online (and offline) feminist circles is a good thing.

  27. maggiethewolf

    Hey, SaltyC!

  28. Emma Pod

    Twisty, Thanks for your comment. I do know about the Stockholm Syndrome and the explanation of victims aligning themselves with persecutors in order to survive. However, I believe that we are in the Second Naivete of feminism and need to get beyond seeing women (at least in the United States) as “victims” or as brainwashed. That’s what I believe feminism is about. Until women take open responsibility for our own actions we will not truly gain power. It’s easy to blame the “other” but we need to also look within to find true power and responsibility. And then we need to use it – with our money, our purchases, our politics, our work, our bodies, our clothing, our vote.

  29. thebewilderness

    Innocuous? Bwa-ha-ha, I think not. You are so brilliantly, glitteringly, shrill it makes my day. Were it not for the wide ranging discussions in the comment thread, we would be ill equipped to recognize the too too tools of the patriarchy that are being used to dismantle our self respect on a daily basis. Blame on Twisty, and fear not the food fight.

  30. Loosely Twisted

    grrr… I had a wonderful comment about responsibility but I couldn’t articulate it.. Maybe Twisty can do it for me?

  31. Friggas Own

    Apparently tekanji at Shrub.com wants to be the first to start swinging in this next fight. http://blog.shrub.com/archives/tekanji/2006-09-30_401
    I’m far too tired at the moment to start coherently blowing holes in her argument.

    However, you’re absolutely right that having these arguments in the open is important to feminists who are still in the learning process. I, personally, could do without Salon’s bloggers constantly pointing to serious posts and saying “Gosh, thinking is hard. Can’t we all just get along?” (That and the ads for booze that I’m frequently exposed to. Recovering alcoholic here, vodka ads not helping!)

  32. Mandos

    “Blame on Twisty,”

    Why would you want to lay blame on Twisty, and is this our new look or something?

  33. lornajay

    Hmm, I’ve never really classed myself as ‘feminist’, quite possibly because all the bra-burning-bloke-bashing-makeup-banning talk makes me deeply uncomfortable. I am, however, completely committed to the idea that people should be treated as individuals and given any and all opportunities to both experiment and excell.

    What’s the opposite of a chauvinist? (not as in male chauvinist, just general chauvnist)

    Discussion is good. Scoring points just for the sake of scoring points, without having a coherent argument or indeed being willing to accept that the other side *may* have a point, makes my toes curl.

  34. Twisty

    “What’s the opposite of a chauvinist?”

    Feminist.

  35. Pony

    “bra-burning-bloke-bashing-makeup-banning talk makes me deeply uncomfortable.”

    We all have to start somewhere.

  36. rainie

    “I don’t mold Official Feminist Policy,and I don’t control who gets a membership card.”

    Then where do I send my application for membership? I had it all filled out and everything. 8-)

  37. meret

    As far as I’m concerned – anti-materialism, anti-patriarchalism, anti-unregulated-capitalism, and anti-global-warming”ism” are essentially the same. (I’ve noticed the global-warming deniers are blaming nature these days – for pollution, etc.)

    I esp. agree with, “…patriarchy, though ubiquitous, is largely invisible. Women are understandably reluctant to concede that their deep attachment to the trappings of patriarchy (marriage, femininity, gender, fashion, porn, religion, beauty, the nuclear family, pink tool kits, et al) is not the manifestation of empowered personal autonomy, but rather a survival skill.”

    If you are successful in persuading a few others to your blaming point of view – it’s all for the better.

    I am interested in nature-based, women-positive, sustainable living philosphies. And I blame the patriarchy that the world is as screwed up as it is.

  38. meret

    (That would be “philosophies”)

  39. saltyC

    I’m wondering how much fun the “fun” feminists really have. I’ve seen Sex And The City. Gleefully bragging about going into deep debt to support a frivilous clothing habit, getting used by powerful men, fretting over a grey hair in your pubis, getting defensive when your boyfriend disapproves of your past abortion does not seem like fun. I was there. I lived in New York, I dabbled in sex work, I worried about how perky my breasts were.

    You know how they say it’s possible to be happy and not know it. It’s also possible to think you’re having fun when you’re actually miserable.

    It’s comfort to save money. It’s comfort to turn off the TV. It’s comfort to walk in sneakers. I think of myself as a comfort feminist.

  40. Rose Connors

    My husband, who I consider to be somewhat enlightened, when confronted by feminist thought, often resorts to blaming women for liking the patriarchy. Yet another proof of how covertly ubiquitous patriarchal bias is. Even worse, patriarchy has been twisted a million different ways by Western thought, thus making its many permutations even more dangerous.

    I don’t agree with everything you write, Twisty, but I sure think you should keep writing it, and we should all keep thinking about it.

  41. deja pseu

    “Comfort feminist,” I like that. After seeing some diagrams and x-rays of what happens to women’s feet after 20 or 30 years of wearing 3 and 4 inch heels with pointy toes, the analogy to foot binding no longer seems like hyperbole.

  42. The Happy Feminist

    I am not sure how to do a trackback here, but I have written a post linked below:

    Intra-feminist Debate Part One: Should Patriarchy-Blaming Spinster Aunts “Put a Sock In It?”

    It echoes what’s already been said here, but it can’t hurt to say it again, right?

  43. maggiethewolf

    I’m a comfort feminist too. I live in men’s pjs, cargo shorts, and overalls. And I wear gym shoes everywhere, so I don’t have a hint of a bunion, unlike many of the 30something pals, whose feet are already deformed.

    SaltyC: “You know how they say it’s possible to be happy and not know it. It’s also possible to think you’re having fun when you’re actually miserable.”

    So, SaltyC, do you think that some people are lowered into the grave without ever knowing if they were happy or miserable? Or is there a moment of recognition for most?

  44. shannon

    You know Twisty, skirt-wearing, Mac-lipstick-devoted femme lesbian that I admittedly am, I totally adore you and am daily grateful for your fabulous take-no-fuckin’-prisoners-in-the-feminist-war attitude. Because when it comes right down to it, I don’t really care if there will be lipstick after the revolution. The revolution itself is much more important.

    I may love lipstick (well, for the sake of argument, anyway) but really, there’s nothing “intrinsic” about it. There’s nothing “intrinsic” about ANYTHING in our culture and there’s certainly nothing outside of patriarchy (and a number of other ‘archies and ‘supremacies for that matter) and it’s just beautiful to be able to go somewhere and read something that exposes this on a daily basis.

    So, a big, wet, red kiss on your studly cheek.

    And I mean “studly” in the most gender-neutral way, of course (ha! not!).

    P.S. What is WITH these young thangs and their “I’m not a feminist, but…” nonsense?

  45. Mar Iguana

    “What is WITH these young thangs and their “I’m not a feminist, but…” nonsense?”

    Pragmatism.

  46. thebewilderness

    For lack of a comma, a thought was lost. Blame on, Twisty! MandosX3, what would we do without you? I shudder to think.

  47. Mandos

    I live to serve.

  48. Pony

    Could you get it right just once? You live to be USED.

  49. Irish Goddess

    Well written, Twisty. You have summed up for me exactly why I continue to come to this site even though I often feel intimidated by the other blamers (my own issue), and feel as though I don’t “deserve” to be here given my current comfortable lifestyle. I love the discussion, and it does help me “flesh out” my thoughts. Keep going!

  50. KMTBERRY

    FEMINIST HIVEMIND would be a great name for a blog.

  51. Twisty

    “FEMINIST HIVEMIND would be a great name for a blog. ”

    Damn, you beat me to it!

  52. ginmar

    Oh, God, I hate it when the fun feminists try and justify their shit. I’m so sick of that crew. Happy, that doesn’t mean you at all; I love your stuff. But holy shit, I get so sick of the blah blah “Tee hee, I’m a FUN feminist which starts with an F for fucking!” Um, so what’s so damned powerful about…..doing the shit that men want you to do?

  53. girlbomb

    You know, the much maligned Amy Poehler/Jill Soloway interview in the latest issue decried both plastic surgery and porn.

    “JS: What about the whole Pussycat Dolls version of feminism?

    AP: It’s so bullshit.”

    There was also a front-of-the-book article on registering women to vote, and one about a woman who runs an elephant preserve. And a feature about women-run socially conscious farms.

    Plus my totally useless column about fake abortion clinics run by pro-lifers, and the near-repeal of the Hudood ordinance in Pakistan.

    Just sayin’.

  54. Twisty

    I may have missed it, but I don’t know that anybody much maligned the Poehler interview. I appreciated one or two of Soloway’s comments, and quoted her directly in support of my thesis.

    But you’re right, the articles to which you allude are not expressly about conforming to the patriarchal mandate. The difficulty with BUST is that these articles seem to function as token nods to what the editor refers to almost disdainfully as “typical ‘feminist issues’”(quotation marks hers) in order to lend a false sense of feminist gravitas to the hair and makeup features.

    But hey, you wrote that bit about old Pervez sort of not being a dick? Thank you. It was the best thing about the issue.

  55. girlbomb

    Well, thank YOU for your blog, which is righteous in all the ways I like best. I just wish I’d browsed your comments sooner, as I see some familiar usernames I’d been wondering about.

  56. alphabitch

    In its most literal sense, the opposite of ‘chauvinist’ is ‘traitor,’ but that doesn’t quite cover the subtleties. More accurate would be ‘traitor to a lost cause or obsolete empire.’

    The word ‘chauvinist’ comes to us from the French, after one Nicolas Chauvin of Rochefort, who was known for his absurd devotion to Napoleon. The term ‘chauvinist’ was applied (in ridicule) to old soldiers of the Empire, whose devotion to a lost cause had reached an absurd degree. Later applied to those who are smitten with an absurd patriotism &/or belief in the innate superiority of their own in-group (i.e. nation, gender, etc.).

    The OED defines ‘male chauvinism’ as “The belief, held by certain men, in the inherent superiority of men over women; (now often more generally) prejudice against women by men, inconsiderate treatment of women by men.” A lost cause, if ever there was one. Prepare to be thrown, white male supremacy!

    Re the other controversy which may or may not be raging: GO TWISTY! I don’t agree with every single thing you ever say, but that would be so extremely dull. You totally rock.

  57. bigbalagan

    Marx long ago pointed out that one of the slickest manuevers of capitalism is to inculcate the concept that, rather than a transient economic system, it is the Natural State of things. This is possible because it is designed to dissolve human relationships on the way to becoming the pervasive set of economic (i.e., survival) rules. Patriarchy is invisible because it is pervasive.

    Everyone, even a radical feminist, wants to know what to expect, how to behave, what is acceptable. Twisty, if you (a) question the fundamental basis of prescribed “feminine” behavior and (b) present yourself as a knowable person (on your blog) then you are striking a critical blow at two situations otherwise sustained silently by patriarchy.

    First, you open up the possibility of freedom of behavior for women, because nothing mediated by pervasive patriarchy can be even neutral, therefore it all must go, therefore women will have to figure out how to be, and not be “feminine”. It’s especially scary the way you do it because your self-representation is so completely committed that what you say goes beyond rhetoric and actually causes neurological changes, I’m convinced. I believe the “lipstick is a free choice if I’m already a feminist” line comes out of a real sense of vertigo that everything we know, everything we see around us and act on every day, might be a conspiracy to keep us in line.

    Second, your fearless personification, your total lack of a posture, is corrosive to the barriers of aloneness that are a critical piece of the oppressive mechanism. I’m not saying you’re trying to be everyone’s friend, or that you want us all to converge on Austin, just that as an internet conversationalist, you have the effect of giving people the courage that they can join you in thinking for themselves, without feeling like they are “the only one”.

    It’s a great thing to be able to scrub out my brain on a regular basis by reading your stuff.

  58. Mandos

    I seem to have mistakenly posted this on the wrong thread:

    Someone mentioned writing an article about Musharraf? Things Pakistani interest me. Does BUST appear on regular newsstands? I’m afraid I’m not terribly interested in a subscription for one article.

  59. Twisty

    Mandos, it’s a very short piece on how Musharraf has, according to girlbomb, kind of amended the Hudood Ordinance, which allows women to be stoned to death for “adultery” (i.e. getting raped). See Mukhtaran Mai. The amendment says women awaiting trial under this insane ordinance can get out on bail.

  60. Mandos

    Ah, OK, this isn’t the big—maybe—alteration to the Hudood Ordinance being proposed, then.

  61. scout

    I read a quote this morning by Arther Schopenhauer and I thought of it again when I read this post: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

    To already consider the vicious destructiveness of our patriarchal world culture as self-evident is to be ahead of one’s time. Significant numbers of humanity are still at the ridiculing and violently opposing stage.

    What could help the truth of patriarchy’s vicious destructiveness become more self-evident? (Hint: “I Blame The Patriarchy.”)

  62. CLD

    Twisty, you have to be the most intelligent, witty and eloquent person I’ve ever read. Thanks for the coffee nose enema. My monitor now covered with said nose enema output thanks you as well.

  63. Mar Iguana

    Nose enema?! Snort. Talk about witty!

  64. Page Rockwell

    Hey Twisty, thanks for your thoughtful riposte. I think that, as you note, my intent wasn’t to silence you, but to call attention to the fact that debates about what feminism often devolve into knocking other feminists. This can go both ways — “fun feminists” may huff that the radicals’ rhetoric alienates newcomers, and radicals may mock more mainstream feminists for their clueless attachment to the trappings of patriarchy. Now, debates about the ideas themselves — whether feminists should give a shit if we alienate anyone, or whether it’s possible to think critically about the patriarchy and occasionally wear high-heeled shoes — sound like debates I’d love to be present for. I agree that achieving consensus on the nature and extent of the enemy is the first step, and that women are attached to the trappings of patriarchy and that’s detrimental. Intramural skirmishing and essays on “What Feminism means to me” aren’t just okay; they’re essential. But when we get to the point of constructing a caricature of the Other Feminist (whether that’s “sassysexy young urban consumers of femininity/The Grand Acquisitors/Carrie Bradshaw” or “humorless frigid ugly bitch who can’t get laid”), I think we’re straying away from principles and into name-calling. Not that name-calling should be cause for resignation of one’s membership or anything; I’d just rather talk about the ideas themselves — and it’s my opinion that debating and educating based on the principles, rather than making caricatures of each other, is a quicker route to broad(er) agreement on the nature and extent of the enemy.

    Still, that’s just my opinion. I should save the topic of fun and feminism for another time (though now I will fail to do that by saying that if it seemed that my post painted you as the enemy of fun in general, that wasn’t my intention — rather, I wanted to look at whether feminism and fashion/fucking/shopping can exist side by side without the latter diluting the former. Either way, I’m with you when you say that characterizing hairdo consumption as some kind of progressive, counter-patriarchal activity is bullshit. Apologies to anyone I’ve lost in this long digression, which refers to a letter Twisty wrote on the same subject: http://letters.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2006/09/29/fun/permalink/bbc1684fbd3933cd59ee997088fd24fe.html).

    Thanks for all your on-point blaming and general ferocity.

  65. Twisty

    I heart Page, and not just for pointing out that name-calling typically doesn’t function as a discourse-enhancer. Too bad it’s so fun!

  66. Pony

    snort

  67. Isez

    BUST sucks.

    In response to “I like lipstick, thank you very much-” (no one’s going to even read this because it’s like two years later)…

    I like lipstick, thank you very much, but it’s a making-one-of-several shitty-choices-knowing-they-all-suck way.

    Or.. I like lipstick because the places I go to purchase it are usually somewhat male-free and the people who want to talk about it are usually not only speaking to me because at some point they might be able to “bust one” on or in my personal premises.

    This is how I justify lipstick. Also, maybe others can relate: if you are automatically placed somewhere you don’t want to be on the scale of Dude Nation’s fuckable-hottiness, like nearways the top, there is shit that’s going to happen anyway, like being ogled a lot, and so putting a little sugar on the carrot before you (unintentionally) dangle it (by walking down the street like some kind of free person) can add to the fuck-ya-asshole factor of paying no attention to the retards that can’t stop staring if their lives depended on it. Whew.

    It’s comfort s–t. I do it, but I think the substantial BUST difference is between knowing what it is one is doing, and pretending that patriarchal activity furthers the breakdown of the patriarchy. It f——g don’t. I’m not saying I rock for wearing lipstick, but, you know… know your heart. And your choices.

  1. Strawfeminism Council Meets, Brings Strawfemiminist Goals Into The New Millennium at I Blame The Patriarchy

    [...] “I’ve never really classed myself as ‘feminist’,” quoth a commenter on yesterday’s post about other peoples’ posts on the day-before-yesterday’s post, “quite possibly because all the bra-burning-bloke-bashing-makeup-banning talk makes me deeply uncomfortable. I am, however, completely committed to the idea that people should be treated as individuals and given any and all opportunities to both experiment and excel.” [...]

  2. Celebrity » Sly Civilian

    [...] Anyhow. Back to the substantive agenda for the day. There’s something I didn’t want to let pass. Twisty made the following remarks in defense of her pot stirring, and for conflict in the blogosphere. [...]

  3. Feministe » Quote of the Day

    [...] “Women are understandably reluctant to concede that their deep attachment to the trappings of patriarchy (marriage, femininity, gender, fashion, porn, religion, beauty, the nuclear family, pink tool kits, et al) is not the manifestation of empowered personal autonomy, but rather a survival skill.” -my favorite spinster aunt. [...]

  4. The Debate Link

    Pluralism Among The Survival Set…

    Twisty of the well-known “I Blame The Patriarchy” blog remarks on women who defend their enjoyment of certain patriarchal trappings (think Carleton’s “Feminists for the use of mascara” group):…

  5. feminish » Another world is possible

    [...] Like saying no when it’s easier to say yes. in the words of Twisty Faster [back]see Creative Destruction’s roundup of the Alas, a blog controversy [back]see this thread over at Happy Feminist [back] see zuzu and Jill at Feministe, a discussion inspired by this post from the wisest of Spinster Aunts [back] [...]

  6. 2007 September 08 archive at Kindly Póg Mo Thóin

    [...] blowup happened. Short summary: Jill wrote a “quote of the day” post quoting Twisty about how the reason that so many women hang onto the trappings of femininity is that doing so is [...]

  7. We all have to examine our shit. But sometimes, the only thing that’s there is corn. at Kindly Póg Mo Thóin

    [...] blowup happened. Short summary: Jill wrote a “quote of the day” post quoting Twisty about how the reason that so many women hang onto the trappings of femininity is that doing so is [...]

  8. Celebrity « The Life and Times of Sly Civilian

    [...] agenda for the day. There’s something I didn’t want to let pass. Twisty made the following remarks in defense of her pot stirring, and for conflict in the [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>