«

»

Nov 19 2006

Spinster aunt closes in on murky origins of strawfeminist fallacy

JuniorLeagueSkirty.jpg
Ugly lace skirt draped with xmas lights at the even uglier Junior League Christmas Bazaar, Palmer Event Center, Austin TX, Nov. 17, 2006. Just two of the things I will outlaw when I overthrow honky dude rule.

You ever wonder how these strawfeminist things get started? No? Well, here’s a short synopsis anyway.

I have just returned from a visit to a blog whose author, LaurynX, attributes to I Blame The Patriarchy, and then condemns, a goofy sociopolitical position with which I aggressively disagree. This viewpoint is so preposterous that I can but declare it kooky and inconsistent with both the highly sensible Twistyfesto and that old-tyme radical feminist religion. I must also mention, since it is more or less central to my thesis*, that in her attribution LaurynX vacillates a tad. She might have read the goofy thing at this blog, or it might have been at some other feminist blog; she admits she can’t “quite remember” exactly what she read, where she read it, or even whether she agreed with it. Nevertheless, unencumbered by facts, she soldiers on, and another strawfeminist is born.

The kooky argument which isn’t mine — and which certainly isn’t the argument of any feminist mystery blogger, since no feminist mystery blogger with two feminist mystery ganglia to rub together would take time out of her busy schedule of lip-pursing and leg-hair cultivation to make such an asinine pronouncement — cries out for bilious ridicule. In fact, in a moment I will chuck a hunk of my own bilious ridicule its way. Unfortunately for the spectators, LaurynX doesn’t herself go in for bilious ridicule. Showing a somewhat disappointing restraint (or maybe it’s just boredom; few undertakings could be more tedious than refuting nonexistent arguments), she confines herself to calling the faux-views of the faux-feminists “absurd.”

Well, of course they’re absurd. They’re imaginary.

By now you will have worked up a pretty frothy curiousity about the argument that neither I nor the mystery blogger nor, I assert, anyone who isn’t a closeted perv godbag ever actually made, but which nevertheless is supposed by LaurynX and thousands like her to form the very foundation of radical feminist dogma. Naturally I am reluctant reopen old wounds, but damn the torpedoes. Those of you who have not already guessed will be unsurprised to learn that the viewpoint LaurynX finds so absurd concerns nothing less than the most empowerful emblem of the empowerful girl’s lifelong dream of sexual empowerfulment. That’s right.

Fellatio.

Now don’t have a cow. The subject, I must insist, is strawfeminism. If we all stay focused, maybe we won’t have to slog through 1067 more heterophiliac comments on what an empty, colorless world it would be that was unchoked by blow jobs.

So anyway, according to LaurynX, here’s the posish at I Blame The Patriarchy (or some other blog): that feminists “[want] to outlaw giving head until patriarchy [is] eradicated…then they wouldn’t feel degraded by performing it.” LaurynX, who (it never fails) turns out to be a big BDSM enthusiast, calls these outlaw-happy chimeras “erotophobic feminists.”

There, you see? You see what the spinster aunt is up against in this zany world? I merely observe that the dominant culture is a patriarchy, that patriarchy is defined by its fetishization of dominance, that in a patriarchy women are the sex class, that this sex class is sorely oppressed, that the degree of soreness to which the sex class is oppressed is of such astronomic, desperate proportion that no act committed by anyone can exist outside of it, and presto! Suddenly I’m (or maybe that other blogger is) an ‘erotophobe’ who goes around ‘outlawing’ stuff!

I ask you.

I feel like a dork for even explaining this, but the idea that I or anybody else would outlaw any behavior seen to be demeaning to women is just nutty; I (or the mystery blogger) might just as well suggest outlawing television, or walking down South Congress Ave, or grocery shopping. Ya know why? Because it’s a patriarchy, fool; everything is demeaning to women. Everything! Even blow jobs!** That’s what patriarchy is.

Man, I wish these modern girls could stop confusing feminism with patriarchy, and nature with nurture, and truth with BDSM, and me with some phantom blogger who wants to outlaw stuff.

If wishes were fishes there’d be sushi for everyone!
__________________________________

* I am a clumsy writer, and habitually bury my thesis under mounds of commas, so here’s the gist, enormous news flash that it is: Logical fallacy of the strawfeminist variety originates in an inability to imagine a social order based on any concept other than dominance.

** And what about after “patriarchy is eradicated”? My prediction is that the future of patriarchy is so bright and full of promise that, beyond the entertainment value to speculative hobbyists such as myself, any discussion of its eradication is meaningless to our species; the post-patriarchal society will also be a post-human society, and blow jobs will probably hold little fascination for the bacteria who inherit the earth.

73 comments

2 pings

  1. Ms Kate

    O’ fellatio, fellatio, wherefore art thou fellatio?

  2. thebewilderness

    You made me h00t just when I needed it most.
    In retrospect we may find that straw was the ultimate fashion statement of the early 21st century. IBTP

  3. Amanda Marcotte

    and blow jobs will probably hold little fascination for the bacteria who inherit the earth.

    Weirdly enough, they’ll still be discussing tying each other up and beating each other to get off.

  4. Postmodern Sass

    Hang on. You may be onto something when you suggest outlawing grocery shopping.

    Please continue to chuck hunks of bilious ridicule at silly bloggers. Silly writers. Silly anyones. And I shall keep reading.

  5. Hattie

    The way I see it is this: a woman is free to say that she enjoys sucking on guys’ dicks. She is not free, however, to say that she does not enjoy sucking on guys’ dicks. That’s liberation for you in these times.

  6. Buttercup

    I don’t like sushi. Can I get a grilled cheese sammich with tomato slices instead? Hold the fellatio.

    Thanks.

  7. Catrina

    You know, it’s really hard to swallow (oh,puns)the fact that everything I do is a political statement just by affirming or rejecting the standards of the patriarchy. It’s also very difficult to being seeing how utterly pervasive the patriarchy is. I’ve only just recently truly become acquainted with feminism (this summer just as I was turning twenty-one) and about a week ago I found a link to your blog and have been going through all the archives and I love it.
    What I don’t love is how unhappy all this knew knowledge makes me. Everything is different than I thought it was for so long and I can’t take things for granted as “natural” so much and I can’t turn my brain off it.

    I guess the point of all this is this: How do you deal? Is it something you have to grow into? Do you become so accustomed to refuting the patriarchy and recognizing its influence that only the worst things upset you, rather than just random acts of patriarchy-affirming?

    Anyway, thanks for the blog; it’s incredibly helpful and insightful.

  8. Edith

    The suspense, I admit, was killing me. I had hoped that I had guessed wrong, but of course, I had not. As any three-year-old will tell you, fighting imaginary demons is way hard. I commend you, Ms. Faster.

  9. Catherine Martell

    I do!! I do!! When I am Feminist Bitch Empress of the Universe, I’m going to ban blow-jobs and BDSM and boobs and kittens and apple pie and laughter and the Baby Jesus and Paris Hilton and football and television. I’m going to make all women shave their heads; the rest of their bodies must be smothered daily in Regaine so that they grow thick, coarse, sex-inhibiting coats, and I’ll force-feed them lentil quiche until they’re grotesquely fat and grumpy. I will force all boy children to wear frilly dresses and ban their participation in any sport, except petanque, and make them spend all day cutting cucumber sandwiches and arranging gardenias. I will teach all girl children witchcraft and turn them into lesbians. Personally, if possible.

    I will force all men who accidentally glance at a woman’s angry, hairsuited, obese form to undergo immediate public castrations with a dirty cleaver. I will herd the rest of them into concentration camps where women will regularly stomp on them in spike-heeled jackboots. Actually, some of them might get turned on by the spike-heeled jackboots, the disgusting, filthy beasts: make that Doc Martens with bolt-on crampons (and if anyone laughs at the word ‘crampon’, I will have them doused in tar and burnt, very slowly, at the stake).

    Just as soon as I finish training my brigade of flying monkeys, all this is going to happen. Watch out, patriarchy! Your days are definitely numbered and this is definitely exactly what all we man-hating, sex-negative feminists will do when we TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Mwah hah hah.

  10. hedonistic

    Holy moly Catherine, your is the Quote of the Day! Officially, when I’m able to blog chez moi.

  11. emma goldman

    Catrina, I can’t speak for anyone else here (of course)–in my opinion, part of the whole deal is that we all have to find our own ways. And I think that’s at the core of it: consciousness. Thinking about what I do, as much as I can. Figuring out how I want to be, by which priniciples I want to live, and then trying to figure out how to do that, and how to deal with it when (not if) I fuck up. I can’t get away from patriarchy, obviously, even in these efforts, but you know, you gotta enjoy the tacos, too. Or the sushi, or whatever. Because I think joy has to be part of it. Also remember that you don’t have to agree with everyone on everything–and disagreement can be useful in figuring out your own stuff. But disagreement does not necessarily mean that someone is Wrong (though sometimes it does)–that’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla and Phish Food.

  12. grrr kitty

    Thank you, Ms. Martell, you made my morning.

    Oh, and don’t forget the burning of the strawfeminists (and anyone else foolish enough to gaze lustfully upon anything male) and their uncomfortable shoes, underwear and lipstick at the stake.

  13. mae

    Catrina,

    At the end of the day, there’s a lot of people in the world who want nothing to do with the whole patriarchy thing. Lots of women AND men. The trick is to spend more time with them than with the people who think institutionalized sexism is awesome.

    Pychologically, this will put you at a basically even keel. Then you can work to change things, if that’s your calling. If not, bear in mind what Whoopi Goldberg said when asked how she felt about people calling her a nigger: “Having never been one, I don’t worry about it.”

  14. TP

    My way of dealing with the pervasiveness of the patriarchy in everything everywhere is to try to recognize it and reject it in myself and in others as much as I can. Twisty has helped me turn from a normally feminist-friendly woman loving guy to a much happier radical feminist. I have started to be able to see women much more like human beings than is usually possible in a patriarchy. I know I’m not perfect, but every step closer to seeing beyond it rewards me with greater freedom and happiness.

    Basically, the trauma of freeing yourself from the superficially comforting pandering of the patriarchy will eventually beget personal insights into yourself and other people that will help you avoid behaviors that seem OK but which actually are more damaging than you care to admit.

    Let’s take sex, for example. Sex is never an easy thing to have. From adolescence on, it is presented as a brutal act of dominance. The fairy tale ideas of love and romance do not seem to square with sex in a patriarchy.

    But sex is nothing more than a method of reproduction that feels good and is extremely personal and intimate on an almost chemical level. Sex was not designed to work in the same way it is presented by our patriarchal porn-lovin’ woman-abusing culture. We respond to it, yes, because of the perversity of our culture and the extreme nature of it, but really we are probably designed to have sex in a much more relaxed and dignified way; one that would result in less disease and disfunction.

    Feminism helps me relax about the cultural imperatives I have falsely assumed about what women expect of me. How was I supposed to know that women were giving me feedback that came from the culture and their own assumptions rather than from love and caring for another person? Not to mention all the crap men hear from other men, even well-meaning men, about women. I can’t even begin to enumerate all the pathologies of sex, but I can say confidently that feminism will aid you in relaxing and enjoying sex, because once you start stripping away some of the hysteria of patriarchal dominance and performance and all that it becomes less important but more natural and much better.

    I’m not saying feminism is a sex aid, for god’s sake. I’m saying that stripping away some of the more overt patriarchal pathologies inherent in sex makes it much less damaging than it might otherwise be.

    Men have a really hard time understanding this, and seem filled with hate and violence, but I think a reasonable man can be learn to relax and enjoy life and relations with women and men much much more if he simply tries to understand feminism, which is like saying tries to stop looking at women as brainless mysterious sexbots who sometimes thwart his will when he wants to have sex with them like the porn star heros who taught him what women like by a twisted a sick example.

  15. TP

    Oh yeah. One of these days the patriarchal porn purveyors of the world are going to become so exquisitely perverse that hairy legs will become a new shocking sexual signal, probably having to do with something about humiliating and degrading women, and creep into the mainstream fashion magazines. What will the strawfeminists use then to insult radical feminists?

    We both know that my wife isn’t shaving her legs for me. She barely even has leg hair anyway, as I point out. She does it for the patriarchy.

  16. amaz0n

    Oh, lollerz.

    I grow weary of the ridiculous anti-feminist tactic of coflating the criticism of something with an effort to outlaw it. “You want to outlaw blowjobs/porn/stripping/makeup/handbags! That’s a restriction on my freedom!!!!

    First of all, deary, your precious “freedom” is at best an infatuation with a word that means precisely nothing and at worst a delusion created by the powers that be to keep the hoard from growing too restless.

    Second of all, if being exposed to a criticism or even a dissenting opinion about something is as restrictive as outlawing it, we are living in a funny, funny world.

  17. amaz0n

    Also, Twisty, forgive me, but I read the post in question at this LaurynX person’s blog and had one of those “I can’t help myself” moments.

    The comment I left over there, which I have yet to see because she has moderated comments:

    “First of all, congratulations on making the mistake of tangling with a much better blogger than you. (See here: http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2006/11/19/spinster-aunt-closes-in-on-murky-origins-of-strawfeminist-fallacy/). A suggestion: don’t falsely attribute ridiculous positions to those who intellectually outmatch you.

    Second of all, allow me to illuminate for you precisely what is degrading to women: being told that they ought to do things that they aren’t comfortable with, and being told that their personal discomfort with a particular activity is something they should ignore because, you know, women are just hysterical beasts whose discomfort with fellatio must be some kind of mental problem.

    Here’s a tip: some women just don’t like to give head. That might be because they have small mouths, are germ-phobic, had bad experiences with it, have easily tripped gag reflexes, aren’t keen on putting their mouths on something that is used to urinate with, or simply aren’t that turned on by penises or cum. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that. And the dominant sentiment in our culture – that women who don’t give head or don’t like to give head are wrong, bad or deviant – is demeaning to women, whether they like to give head or not, because that sentiment mandates that women must be ready, willing and able to engage in an activity, regardless of their comfort with it. That very sentiment is the one you echo in this post, “blasting away” at your commentor for daring to express her personal discomfort with giving head.

    She doesn’t need sex tips. She needs to be told that it’s perfectly okay to have positive or negative feelings about any sex act, and to behave accordingly.”

  18. cycles

    Fabric + Christmas lights = light-sized holes burned in ugly skirts. I should know. I illuminated my closet with Christmas lights at one time, with tragically hilarious results.

  19. B. Dagger Lee

    But we can agree, I think, that New York Times columnist DAVID BROOKS is the World’s Bestest, Brightest, and Biggest Cocksucker, right?

    I mean, some things we can all agree on.

    yrs, B. Dagger Lee

  20. Shannon

    Also, some people have jaw problems.

  21. HermitWithAVengeance

    Catrina,

    For me, the vivid and varied discursive space that is the blogosphere in general, and iblamethepatriarchy in particular, is comforting rather than upsetting. I am also 21, and I live day in and day out with the consciousness of patriarchy qua personal experience. To have this consciousness validated and expanded by Twisty and the Blamers can only be uplifting. I come here with the knowledge of these realities of quotidian oppression and extraordinary brutalization, and I am met by a community of people who also take for granted the credibility of the little guy (or, in this case, the little gal).

    Don’t bum yourself out just because you think you have something to learn about suffering. If this blog depresses you, don’t read it. Don’t pick up a cross you haven’t been handed; don’t make yourself define yourself by an agenda that is not yours in your heart. When you try to do that, is when you wind up with strawfeminist logic running around your strawfeminist head.

    This is just my personal opinion, of course. Perhaps others would argue that Twisty goes in the canon, for every schoolchild to read and larn good by. For my part, I am reminded of a director of graduate studies’ joke about his folks’ disseration topics — whenever a student tells him what they want to write their diss on, he says, “Yeah? What did it do to you?” Everyone finds her own way to Twisty Faster on the great Twister board of life.

  22. antelope

    The thing the strawfeminist is especially good for is preventing real feminist from speaking up at all.

    When I lived in Alaska, I would almost never mention to anyone that I was a feminist because the culture there meant there was no way to say it, except, “I’m a feminist, but (I don’t believe such-and-such b.s. attributed to strawfeminists.”

    I was so completely unwilling to say this, as if there was any actual reason to be defensive or to automatically deny crap that’s untrue in the first place, that I just said nothing, and chose to believe the message was clear enough from how I live my life.

    I’m not saying this is/was 100% the correct response, but I do think it’s the most important answer to Catrina’s question. You deal by focusing on, and pursuing, goals that matter to you that do NOT have anything to do with what men think about how sexy you look or act. To me, wanting to be sexy, or good at sex, is not even that big a “disqualifier” for a feminist, as long as it’s not one of the top three things that she’s about as a person.

    I feel lucky in that I didn’t have to shove aside pre-conditioning towards sexiness in order to get other stuff going on – in fact my awareness of the whole sexiness imperative kicked in pretty late in life (and yet still messes with my head entirely too much even so). For younger generations, it seems like that kind of obliviousness is nearly impossible & so maybe a lot of young women need to do some work to focus on & develop their other stuff, but do it!! Sexiness is just too empty to work as a core identity.

    Having other things that you’re about makes you a lot more immune to patriarchal judgments, and a lot more able to notice & question what’s going on around you without getting deeply depressed by it every time. Sometimes it even helps you put out such a different vibe that you begin to slip into an alternate universe where there is in fact less patriarcy, at least at the dinner parties you go to if nothing else, and a good dinner party is worth a lot in this life.

  23. HermitWithAVengeance

    Sorry to double-post here. I think my own blog post of earlier today — at http://www.katelynsack.com/visiopoetics — is relevant to your questions, Catrina. Please feel free to continue this conversation there, particularly if you think your comments would take Twisty’s page off-course of the pressing strawfeminist-slamming subject matter at hand. It would be rude to steal a single comment from the illustrious spinster aunt, but it would be in poorer taste still to throw the discourse off, well, course.

    Caveat: I love Twisty AND ugly lace skirts.

  24. Sara

    Please forgive me if this has been asked and answered somewhere else, but –

    What is a strawfeminist, exactly?

  25. Arianna

    Catrina,

    Yet another young new-to-the-fold Feminist speaking up. I’m 22 and only just discovered ‘real feminism’ this year as well. It sucks at first when you realise how far we haven’t come, especially when us young’uns have been raised with the ‘legacy’ of feminism, having been told all our lives that we don’t need to fight anymore because we’ve already ‘won’.

    Excuse the insane amount of scare quotes.

    I went through a really really depressed phase when I first started thinking hard about patriarchy, feminism et al, but I found that the depression goes away a tad over time and that eventually you begin to be angry instead. I find purifying, righteous rage a better state than depression to be in. Well, maybe that’s just me. I’m finding that the rage is ebbing away though, and that I’m getting a bit more able to treat it as an intellectual exercise, and funnel my anger into writing/activism/pushing for success in my own life/etc rather than just smashing pillows. Again though, maybe that’s just me, we all need to find our own way.

  26. Twisty

    Hey Sara, Google “strawman” and extrapolate.

  27. figleaf

    ” My prediction is that the future of patriarchy is so bright and full of promise that, beyond the entertainment value to speculative hobbyists such as myself, any discussion of its eradication is meaningless to our species;”

    Oh foof on that, Twisty. If you’re confusing dominance with patriarchy then yeah, there’ll still be patriarchy if every man including (sadly) me and (worse) my cranky 10-year-old evaporated tomorrow.

    But even if you’re not confusing the two it’s only wallowing in powerlessness to assert so strongly that patriarchy is inescapable.

    Chances are about 100% that (for instance) half my son’s employers, managers, mentors, doctors, bankers, lawyers, professors, and undertakers will be women. Chances are around 0% that those women will defer to him based on his gender more than will men in similar positions. And that’s the way it should be.

    Since that’s all in the future it can’t be a certainty. But as futures go it’ll be a whole lot less certain if folks go around playing games like “I can be more defeatist than you.”

    Just sayin’

    figleaf

  28. Twisty

    I am amused, Figleaf, by your assertion that I wallow in powerlessness.

    Human civilization is so deeply conditioned by patriarchal ideology that the species will be exinct before it figures out an alternative to the paradigm of dominance and submission. I’m not sure what you mean by your assertion that half of the professionals you expect to cross paths with your son will be women. Is this bit of wishful thinking supposed to prove somehow that patriarchy is not predicated on institutionalized dominance? Because even if every single one of the adults your son meets is a chick, that wouldn’t alter the fact that she will also be a member of the sex class, and won’t be paid as much as her male counterparts, and will still do all of the work around the house, and wll still be rapeable, and will still find that the government owns her uterus.

  29. simplywondered

    spinster aunt condemned out of own mouth shock!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    feminists “[want] to outlaw giving head until patriarchy [is] eradicated…I’m (or maybe that other blogger is) an ‘erotophobe’ who goes around ‘outlawing’ stuff.

    well at last we know; see, a nice profound thought out refutation of feminism from a bright patrairch like me. ha! that’s what you humourless hairy women things needed.

    right – off to sort out socialists…

  30. rootlesscosmo

    Catrina: another way to deal with the pervasiveness of patriarchy and other structural injustice is to focus on one specific aspect, learn the necessary skills for battling on that front, and then devote yourself to achieving a succession of small, partial, conditional victories. I know a couple of women lawyers here in the SF Bay Area who represent women–and ONLY women–in family law, because (as one of them likes to say) more women encounter *state-enforced* patriarchy in family court–dealing with divorce, support, restraining orders etc.–than anywhere else. They know very well they’re not Smashing The System (as some of us used to say long ago), just getting a little sand in its gears, but they report it’s fulfilling work. “Feminism,” according to Catherine MacKinnon, “arises from the impulse to self-respect in women.” Obeying that impulse isn’t everything, but it’s a lot more than nothing.

  31. Sara

    You know, Twisty, I was doing that — the extrapolating, not the googling — and it still didn’t make sense. This term seems to cover a lot of territory, depending on who’s using it. I get especially confused when some of the people who use the word exhibit behavior others use the same word to describe (and no, I don’t mean you, and no, I’m not going to name names ’cause I have better things to do than pick that kind of fight). At this point, I have seen it so thrown around that it seems to mean anyone who is less comprehensive in her putatively feminist actions than whoever’s talking. I truly can’t tell anymore who’s being sarcastic when using this word. I truly could not point to anyone and say for certain, yes, this woman is a strawfeminist — or not. To me, you either are a feminist or you’re not a feminist, regardless of whether you shave your legs, wear high heels and/or give blow jobs. I sincerely don’t get where the “strawfeminist” line falls.

  32. Delphyne

    Strawfeminist is a description of an argument, not of a person. A strawfeminist is an imaginary position ascribed to feminists in order to argue with it and prove those feminists wrong e.g. the idea that some feminists want to outlaw blowjobs. Nobody said it, nobody wants blowjobs outlawed, but it doesn’t stop a lot of people getting up in arms about these evil feminists who want to take away people’s freedom to suck cock.

    The strange thing is that blowjobs are sometimes mandatory for women in the patriarchy – women are forced or coerced into them all the time (obviously there are blowjobs that are given freely as well). So if anybody is removing people’s freedoms it’s those men who want to get their dicks sucked, don’t care whether the woman wants to or not, and will find any means to make her do it. Of course standing up to people like this would mean confronting real power rather than the imaginary power to control people’s lives that some believe feminists have.

  33. Becker

    Sara, I have to admit I’ve had to extrapolate a bit myself on this, but my understanding is that strawfeminism is where some pundit presents a ridiculous premise and attributes it to what feminists want, and then tears the premise down. “Strawfeminism” is an awkward way of describing these false arguments, and strawfeminists are the imaginary zealots supposed to be making them.

    So yes, Twisty is not a strawfeminist, nor is anyone else, since they don’t really exist. Strawfeminists are imaginary people with imaginary ideas, the only sort of ideas that, say, Rush Limbaugh can successfully argue against.

  34. Sara

    OH.

    Thank you. Sometimes I have to go ahead and publicly admit I’m stupid before I can learn stuff. I do appreciate the help understanding, though.

    Cheers!

  35. Joanna

    Asking a sincere question is an intelligent thing to do, in my opinion.

  36. teresawymore

    Oh Catrina, I feel for you. I recall when feminism first slapped me awake with what we called “global rage.” After a year working on a feminist journal as Rush Limbaugh ranted about us “feminazis,” I just started to laugh, and I haven’t stopped. There is nothing more powerful than sarcasm, as Twisty well knows, and Figleaf needs to get a clue: “confusing dominance with patriarchy” — you mean like confusing a fish with a minnow?

  37. Shannon

    That’s true. Some may say it’s too harsh to make fun of the patriarchy and folks who want to go along with it, but if you go deep down and see how silly it is, you can free yourself from a little bit of it.

  38. figleaf

    “Because even if every single one of the adults your son meets is a chick, that wouldn’t alter the fact that she will also be a member of the sex class, and won’t be paid as much as her male counterparts, and will still do all of the work around the house, and wll still be rapeable, and will still find that the government owns her uterus.”

    I dunno. Maybe it’s just because I’ve worked in the crafts industry, the restaurant industry, been to college, and worked in high tech, but since about 1977 way more than half my bosses and/or managers have been women. And since I went on the daddy track, dropping out of the work force for ten years to be home with my family while my partner has worked and continued her education, I’m unable to command as much as my female counterparts who stayed on the career track. And where on God’s green earth did you ever get the impression that only women are rapable, for heaven’s sake?

    You got me on the uterus part, although only 15% of the population nationwide believe you should have no say at all about what happens in it. True, they’re a hugely influential 15% and an extraordinarily high number of them are (or pretend to be) from Texas. Thing is, though, that if we spent a little more time turning over the fancy corporate rocks they creep under and a little less time complaining about what huge unstoppable monsters they were we might make progress a little quicker.

    I don’t know if you’ve got kids, Twisty, but when my oldest was little I used to take him to the zoo every Thursday morning while his mom was at work. He’d go running all over but he loved running down the long hill to the elephant pen.

    One thing we learned about elephants from the keepers is that when they’re babies people tie a rope around their leg and tie the other end to a post. The little baby elephants pull and tug but can’t get away because they’re just not strong enough to bust that rope. But here’s the funny part: once the baby elephant gives up their keepers untie the rope but they always leave it looped around that ankle, even when they’re fully grown. They say that as long as the elephant still feels that rope they think they’re under control, even though they’re more than strong enough to break almost any rope or chain you tried to tie them up with.

    And I’m sitting telling a bunch of grown-ups elephant stories because of why? You tell me. I’m just saying if I heard an elephant saying “that rope’s gonna be around my ankle till Hell froze over” I’d but it about it too.

    The point of all this is that yeah, what you’re doing is slow, hard work but it’s been *working!* No, not everywhere, and definitely not all at once. But when I was a schoolboy during the Kennedy administration the chances that I’d have worked for more women than men was pretty close to zero. If folks had been listening to your “why bother, the patriarchy always wins” talk back then my chances of working for more women than men would have *stayed* zero. And if we listen to you now then the chance that my son and daughter will have the same mix of managers as mine will go down, not up. I don’t want that to happen.

    I’m just saying it’s weird for me to have more faith in what you’re doing than you seem to.

    figleaf

  39. Jezebella

    That’s funny, figleaf, you just set up a whole new ‘strawfeminist’ argument. Nobody is saying “why bother” because patriarchy is inevitable, are they? You just thought you heard it. And now you’re arguing that it’s wrong.

  40. blithe damner

    I’m not completely sure what figleaf is blathering about what with his confusing rigamarole about elephants and lady-bosses and such, but i too am concerned with Twisty’s dismal prediction of a never-ending patriarchy.

    If we cannot “subvert the patriarchy” [pardon the cliche] then what is the point? If a post patriarchal society is indeed a post-human society as Twisty suggests then I might as well quit school, strap on those eight-inch stilettos and sign up for that vaginoplasty my hideous genitals so desperately need.

    Of course I’m being dramatic, but while i don’t forsee a moment in my lifetime wherein the patriarchy is fully overthrown and feminism is no longer a radical idea, I’d still like to like to believe [half-heartedly or otherwise] that my ideals are not mere chimera and my activism an otiose undertaking. I understand that we must tear down the patriarchy brick by back-breaking brick and that takes time, but what good does it do to reinforce the bleak notion that our labor is in vain? I know I’ll be swiftly attacked for disagreeing and that’s fine, as long as I can mantain my youthful, wide-eyed optimism and the hope that perhaps my someone’s great great great great great great great grandaughter may live in a world wherein she will no longer be considered a member of the white-male dominated sex class.
    *cue “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”*

    .sheria.

    post scriptum: I know this is my first post and yes, I know I’m breaking the sacred rules by commenting as a young [19] and inexperienced blamer, but I’ve read every single blog entry I could get my sticky little hands on and therefore feel informed enough to flout the rules in favor of finally voicing my oh-so-important opinion. So there!

  41. TP

    figleaf is saying that things have gotten better for women. That’s what he sees, and in some rarified areas in some of the most civilized parts of the world it is true that things have gotten better in some ways.

    But he makes a common, and to me, easily-forgivable error in assuming that when a few women take patriarchal positions in a patriarchal culture the patriarchy has been proven breached and vulnerable. Since I’m a man, too, I know how extremely difficult it is for men to look at things from a feminist perspective when, in our fine and healthy patriarchy, we all feel somewhat victimized by the ever present culture of dominance and submission. Women in positions of authority doesn’t prove that women have defeated the patriarchy, it just shows that women can assume patriarchal roles and fill them as well as men.

    I hope all my feminist friends will see how hard this is for men to understand, especially when there is a very strong and seductive undercurrent of male privilege that supports it. I think figleaf would bitterly deny that because he has seen men in these roles, that seeing women in them resonates more strongly for him. If men have given up privilege that women have assumed, then that is the same as liberation from patriarchal submission to him.

    In order to see these advances as just exchanging the sex of adherents to the patriarchal norm, you have to be able to take a long, cosmic view like that which my beloved Twisty so often does when she starts talking about eradicating sexual reproduction and society as we know it down the most trivial custom. I do love it when she drams aloud like that.

    I do think that it is extremely important to make any advances we can in understanding biases against women and supporting those who have less bias than normal. So I hope that figleaf knows he is not being insulted or harassed, especially by me, just because he has pointed out some advances he thinks have been made by women.

    As for only women being raped, well, there’s a strange point to be refuted. Sure men can rape men, and they do. In rare and extremely dubious circumstances women can even rape men, if you use the word loosely and refer to any coercive acts that impinge on the assumption of male sexual dominance being somehow assaulted or ignored. But to rape is to take the male part in any act of sex between any two people of any sex. And that’s why we all can tell we live in a patriarchy, because rape is even possible.

    To rape is to perform an act of male aggression, no matter what your sex may be. So I think it’s pointless to use it as any kind of argument to prove that the patriarchy is crumbling around us and soon to be eradicated.

  42. mae

    figleaf is not “blathering about” with “confusing rigamarole about elephants”. he’s employing a simple and apt metaphor to make a point. if you believe you’re imprisoned, chances are you won’t act like you’re free, even if you are.

    yes, the patriarchy still exists. but as bjork once said, “if the cage door is open, just walk out.” and if it’s not open, start kicking the door down!

    relative to a sizable portion of the world, we’re pretty rich and educated over here on this blog. it’s our responsibility to use those advantages to deconstruct the cage, and step one in the razing is to not ascribe an ounce more power to the jailers than they actually have.

    another step would be to not conflate the jailers with the jail. for instance, to rape is to perform an act of aggression, not an act of male agression.

  43. Ron Sullivan

    what good does it do to reinforce the bleak notion that our labor is in vain?

    Our “labor” isn’t in vain because the point of it isn’t some utopian future; it’s to keep us alive right now. Sure we hope things will improve, but we’re not being all self-sacrificing For The Fyooture. Feminism is oxygen, and we animals need oxygen to live now, even though we’re all going to stop breathing and die someday.

  44. antelope

    So I count at least 3 self-identified young feminists who have been reading up in order to make themselves at home here.

    Also more guys turning up to make interesting contributions than there used to be.

    I’m hardly the oldest of the old guard to be saying this, but:

    Yay! Bravo!

    Y’all are making me feel like maybe feminism is secretly going mainstream, no matter how much the media might choose to pretend that it isn’t.

  45. figleaf

    I’m busted, Jezebella. I just read too much into “My prediction is that the future of patriarchy is so bright and full of promise that … any discussion of its eradication is meaningless to our species.”

    I disagree that I setup a straw feminist, though, because I was only addressing something Twisty said. I don’t imagine many other feminists do.

    BD: “i too am concerned with Twisty’s dismal prediction of a never-ending patriarchy.” If I blathered I apologize. Sounds like you got the gist.

    TP: Thanks for forgiving some of my errors on feminism’s behalf. One quibble. You said “I think figleaf would bitterly deny that because he has seen men in these roles, that seeing women in them resonates more strongly for him.” If I understand you right then instead I think I cheerfully agree. Separating role from gender does resonate strongly for me.

    Mae: “if you believe you’re imprisoned, chances are you won’t act like you’re free, even if you are.” That puts it very positively. I was thinking more that to believe a prison is inescapable is to be be unprepared to act, and to go tell others it’s inescapable is to be a collaborator.

    Antelope: “Y’all are making me feel like maybe feminism is secretly going mainstream, no matter how much the media might choose to pretend that it isn’t.” I don’t think it’s for me to say anything’s going mainstream (although I believe it is.) I will say that *if* it’s true then tactical changes could make a difference disproportionately larger than doing more of the same old thing.

    figleaf

  46. blithe damner

    So, a future without fear of rape, violence, prejudice and subjugation is “utopian”? That’s a little too cynical even for me. While I understand that we labor to make strides for the present why can’t we also work toward a better future? If I’m understanding your analogy correctly, then feminism is a means to immediate reward -to consume oxygen one only needs to breathe in- feminist goals don’t come quite as quickly or easily. It takes centuries to achieve any degree of progress, therefore the inequities feminists fight against have remained and will remain intact until we dismantle them bit by bit. We may see a rare glimmer of hope every now and again but are we fighting for these pithy scraps of victory alone? I hope not. I hope that we strive for the benefit of future generations. That doesn’t mean self-sacrifice, it just means keeping a major, fundamental goal in mind. What’s so silly about that?

    .sheria.

  47. blithe damner

    *Edit: when I said pithy, I meant paltry my sleepy-eyed mistake.

  48. Shannon

    I am also 22. Now think of it as similar to the struggle against racism. It took a really long time to overthrow slavery in the US. And then there was a hundred years of Jim Crow, white terrorism, and the like. And today we still are dealing with racist attitudes and the resurgence of the idea that wearing blackface is acceptable and that blacks don’t deserve jobs. And that’s just in the United States. Once you get a worldwide perspective, it’s even worse if you add in colonalism. But that doesn’t mean we give up just because we can’t go and declare victory in our lifetimes.

    People in much worse situations and much worse times still had hope and still worked even though it didn’t look good, or it wasn’t a fun fair. And now today we have the fruits of their efforts. Don’t we want to leave a better world for the youth of today? I want to work so that my cousin’s kids will have a better world when they are 22. I mean, thanks to feminists in earlier times, I am allowed to have my own bank account, and was allowed to play soccer with the boys whereas my mother wasn’t allowed to play football with them. It’s small, but it’s there.

  49. Catrina

    I’m not saying that it’s this blog tha upsets me–I love Twisty’s entries! And I am not saying that I give up.

    I was merely saying that this complete change in worldview is a difficult adjustment, and for me it is especially hard that somebody like my fiance doesn’t have the same understanding as I do and may never come ’round to it. It is difficult to read into those little everyday things you take for granted and may even enjoy (putting on makeup, etc) and try to figure out if you’re so committed that you’ll stop doing them.

    It’s all so fresh to me, so I naturally wondered how it is for a seasoned patriarchy-blamer such as Twisty.

  50. Twisty

    I assume that at least a couple of you read this blog because you’re interested in what I think. What I think about “the future” would fill a book, although it would of course be a science fiction book. Nevertheless, the gist of my suppositions can be boiled down to the statement many of you are taking issue with, that humans will not prevail forever and ever, and that domination and class and all the rotten crap that goes with’em will never disappear until we do. This may be true or it may not be true, but either way it shouldn’t affect your mental health right now, since the present is all you’ve got, and you might as well, as the old Michelob commercial so aptly put it, go for the gusto.

    As for Figleaf et al, I remind you that “but men get raped, too!” is not only a logically indefensible response to the statement that all women are rapeable, it is insulting. To review: this blog is not a clearing-house for the trials endured by well-meaning and/or long-suffering men as they grapple with the mind-boggling notion that women are human. Can a dude be a feminist? I don’t know, can I be an African-American?

  51. grrr kitty

    Well, Mae, it’s very easy to advocate walking out of the open cage door when one is Bjork, but not so easy to do when one is, say, a 16-year-old girl in a slum in Mumbai with a passel of babies and no way to avoid producing more or to feed the ones you’ve already got. None of us has escaped the patriarchy if some of us are still hopelessly mired in it.

    I’ve been a hairy-legged, shrill, man-hating, ugly-shoe-wearing blamer since I was 16 lo these 41 years, and came under the influence of Mrs. Soames. She was my womens’ studies teacher, bless her, Goddess of Revealing Where It’s At.

  52. figleaf

    I dunno, Twisty. I agree with you on the class thing. I disagree with you that gender and class are inherently identical rather than socially constructed. Because I believe it’s socially constructed I’m not at all mind-boggled by anybody’s humanity.

    And not to actually return to the topic of the post or anything but I gotta go change. Someone’s been stuffing all this straw down my back.

    figleaf

  53. mae

    grr kitty:

    dang. i knew someone was going to say that. that was specifically why i added that little heads-up about how we on this blog are generally privileged enough to walk out of the cage – in contrast to most of the world. i’ve spent 10 years thinking about that quote, how it came out of the mouth of a woman raised in one of the most women friendly countries on this planet, and how it applies to my own life. i am proposing that no one limits herself because someone else is limited by others. walk out of your damn cage, get the keys, and start unlocking the rest of them.

    twisty:

    i’m shocked! “Can a dude be a feminist? I don’t know, can I be an African-American?” unless you are using “dude” not in reference to gender but in reference to a person with a certain set of attitudes, the answer is yes. you don’t have to be female to fight for justice or even to understand what it is. just as upper-class white women played a key part in the abolition of american slavery, so might men play a key part in the feminist fight. in fact, i’m pretty sure they’re going to.

  54. Trout

    I’ve been following this stuff, but not posting for some time. The whole “blowjob” trope seems to be the ocassion for enormous bloviation from both sides, but not much practical advice in either ideological or practical terms. Frankly, who cares what person A and person B are doing, as long as both are having fun. With this in mind, I’d like to offer a four point program for blowjob nazis, whether “pro” or “anti:”

    1.) Figure out what kind of sex you like.

    2.) Find someone whose sexual likes and dislike complement your own.

    3.) Fuck alot.

    4.) Leave the rest of us alone, as we also attempt steps 1-4. (This is the important step. Steps 1-3 are optional.)

  55. Ron Sullivan

    So, a future without fear of rape, violence, prejudice and subjugation is “utopian”? That’s a little too cynical even for me.

    Perhaps we’re using different connotations for “utopian.” Frankly, though, that does sound rather wholesale-optimistic.

    While I understand that we labor to make strides for the present why can’t we also work toward a better future?

    Stop with the laboring strides already. Some of us are kicking ass. I do fail to see how making the present better won’t make the future better too, though. What exactly would you do differently for the future than for the present?

    If I’m understanding your analogy correctly, then feminism is a means to immediate reward -to consume oxygen one only needs to breathe in- feminist goals don’t come quite as quickly or easily.

    Heh. Neither does oxygen for some of us. If we don’t get it now, though, we’ll be in no condition to have this future, utopian or not.

  56. Twisty

    Mae, white dudes have been “going” to play a big part in the “feminist fight” for a pretty long time now; it is a popular and tragic female belief, particularly among the straight girls. I wonder if anyone can supply me with any evidence that men’s exertions on behalf of women’s liberation exist anywhere outside of fable.

    Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t doubt that plenty of enlightened men grasp the gist of oppression in an academic sense — so many of them make with the fairly benign and inpsirational rhetoric and everything– but so few of them are willing to actually just get the hell out of my way I can’t help but conclude that most of’em are a little bit more enamored of their male privilege than they care to admit.

    Fun fact a propos of freedom-fighting 19th century upper class white chicks: Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were big ol’ racists. Part of their argument for women’s suffrage was that it would increase the number of white voters against black suffrage. Nice, eh?

    And Trout: who cares what Persons A and B are doing? Everybody, apparently, and I wish to hell they would do it somewhere else.

  57. Carol

    Thanks to everyone who responded to Catrina’s question. That same question has been swimming in my head almost since I first started reading Twisty’s wonderful blog. I, too, have only recently become aware of just how pervasive the patriarchy is. At first I thought my pre-patriarchy awareness days were better, because knowing about it has made me depressed, and I have felt helpless. It’s good to know that I can take that awareness and use it to lead a more thoughtful life, even if I can never fully escape from the patriarchy.

  58. meret

    Thanks for the laughs.

    Or at least I was laughing until I got to the “erotophobic feminists” part.

    That wasn’t very funny. (Not your fault, though).

  59. thebewilderness

    Dear Twisty,
    The great contribution to feminism by dudes is admirably demonstrated by Figleaf. He kindly explained how women have got it good and if we would just adjust our glass half full/empty attitude all would be well for us. Obviously we are free enough, we just don’t know how free we are. Cheeseballs.
    It seems like about once a month some dude shows up to explain how their experience trumps reality. Never has, never will. The term asshat was created for those who think their experience is the only experience anyone has ever had. I,m saying this badly because I’m too angry to think straight, and so I STFU. IBTP

  60. Pinko Punko

    But what about the molluscoidean (sp?) undercurrent?

    Now, I shall read the entire thread to fill in the mental ellipses.

  61. antelope

    One thing I think I see happening w/ many dudes these days is that they may not see their female romantic partner, or co-worker, or sisters, or mother, or cashiers/bank tellers/lawyers, as the equal of any man, let alone themselves.

    However, they do feel very, very strongly that their daughters are the equal of any man, and should be able to do any damn thing they want with their lives, and they help raise them so that they never really question that. It’s totally hypocritical, but it’s a start.

  62. figleaf

    “Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were big ol’ racists.” Whatever it takes to defend a lame analogy, I guess. I’m not saying you’re a collaborator with the patriarchy, Twisty, just that that’s the sort of thing I’d expect collaborators would say.

    And hey bewilderness, maybe you were still so mad about last month’s guy you weren’t thinking straight when you misread what I actually said. Dang that straw gets itchy.

    figleaf

  63. mae

    Twisty,

    If nothing else men play a part in the feminist fight for power just by ceding it (power that is). Men have ceded power by allowing women into schools, the workforce, and the legislature. If none of this had ever happened, I suppose my beliefs would be tragic, but it has, and they’re not.

    I know full well that women have been the primary agitators for these shifts (and that victories often have more to do with economics than justice). But men are always involved, simply because it takes two to tango. And sometimes they’re vested much more deeply, because they genuinely love the women in their lives.

    Not being able to picture a man who is genuinely feminist is akin to not being able to picture a woman who is genuinely fill-in-the-blank. Fighting for women to be seen as fully human indivuals while not being able to see men as such just doesn’t make sense.

    thebewilderness,

    Figleaf actually pointed out that my interpretation of his position was a lot more half-full than his. If anyone is guilty of the position you’re ascribing to figleaf, it’s me.

    But no one is.

  64. Mar Iguana

    “Dude feminist.” Perfect. I love oxymorons. That one’s my new fave.

  65. thebewilderness

    Figleaf said,
    If you’re confusing dominance with patriarchy then yeah, there’ll still be patriarchy if every man including (sadly) me and (worse) my cranky 10-year-old evaporated tomorrow.

    But even if you’re not confusing the two it’s only wallowing in powerlessness to assert so strongly that patriarchy is inescapable.
    and,
    Since that’s all in the future it can’t be a certainty. But as futures go it’ll be a whole lot less certain if folks go around playing games like “I can be more defeatist than you.”

    So I wonder to myself, is Twisty confused? Playing games? No, I do not think so. Most of us understood her reasonably well. Why does Fig think she must be confused or playing defeatist games.

    I neither misread nor misunderstood what you said. I recognized it immediately. Unlike you, women have been on the receiving end of this brand of asshattery all their lives.

  66. winna

    A blamer may do well to investigate the history of women’s suffrage in Britain prior to celebrating the role of men in helping women help themselves.

    Since we have all read the rules and are all advanced patriarchy blamers, I do not need to point out the fact that women died in fairly gruesome ways in protests for suffrage, women were assaulted, raped and in one memorable instance a woman was trampled by the king’s horse and subsequently died, all in the attempt to get men to cede some of that fabulous political power. And even then, when the vote was magnanimously granted to women the vote was only given to women over thirty, because if all women over the age of adulthood were given the vote they would outnumber the male voters, a fact acknowledged in Parlimentary speeches as male members of Parliament ‘gave’ their female compatriots the franchise.

    Since I don’t need to remind anyone of all that, I will not do so.

  67. yankee transplant

    Come for the blaming, stay for the comments, that’s me.

  68. mae

    Winna,

    Thank you for providing supporting evidence for my statement above: “I know full well that women have been the primary agitators for these shifts (and that victories often have more to do with economics than justice).”

  69. mae

    Does anyone else see the irony here? So many people are perceiving injustices where none exist that we can’t carry on a sensical conversation about the difference between injustice and perceived injustice.

  70. Pony

    Fuck no Mae I don’t see any injustice at all. So your work is done here now, and you can run on home and curl up with that edition of Lolita you’re flogging on your blog.

  71. mae

    Case in point. The irony’s gotten a little too meta here. For instance, if I were actually flogging a copy of Lolita, I’d think Pony would be overjoyed.

  72. justtesting

    For Catrina, Carol and anyone else, a comment on the question of living with the knowledge/dealing with the patriachal system:

    I’ve seen many women get disheartened and burnt-out because they fall into the trap of trying to take everything on by themselves. Part of this is the cultural thing where women are expected to fix everything, fix the messes that men make, always be the ones to pick up after men.
    Then women say “what’s the point ? I give up, there’s too much, I can’t do everything”.

    The thing to remember is that you can’t and should NOT be expected to do everything. You can only do what you can do in your own life. This doesn’t mean to isolate yourself, in fact the opposite – finding like-minded women and activist groups to join is a support as well as useful.

    Do not despair and keep reading the blogs !

  73. beautyinbaltimore

    Hello,
    I don’t understand why LaurenX was attacked in such a vicious manner. She is allowed to express her opinion, just as you are allowed to express your own. I asked her a question and she gave her opinion. She in no way harmed me or made me feel like less of a person as a result of her answer.

    Thank you,
    Beautyinbaltimore

  1. In Which the Hairylegged Strawfeminist Reveals Itself « Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    [...] It’s true: Twisty, our beloved spinster aunt, is closing in on the murky origins of the strawfeminist fallacy.  Shortly after this invocation, much in the way Satan only appears at revival meetings, the Strawfeminist entity possessed the body of one co-blamer, Catherine Martell.  Thus possessed, the poor doomed Catherine revealed the Strawfeminist’s dastardly plan for post-patriarchal world dominion: When I am Feminist Bitch Empress of the Universe, I’m going to ban blow-jobs and BDSM and boobs and kittens and apple pie and laughter and the Baby Jesus and Paris Hilton and football and television. I’m going to make all women shave their heads; the rest of their bodies must be smothered daily in Regaine so that they grow thick, coarse, sex-inhibiting coats, and I’ll force-feed them lentil quiche until they’re grotesquely fat and grumpy. I will force all boy children to wear frilly dresses and ban their participation in any sport, except petanque, and make them spend all day cutting cucumber sandwiches and arranging gardenias. I will teach all girl children witchcraft and turn them into lesbians. Personally, if possible. [...]

  2. Probation » Sly Civilian

    [...] In other news. Twisty articulates a more nuanced version of her previous argument on fellatio, including an emerging thesis of logical absurdity as representative of the limits of imagination under domination. I hold minor reservations with some of the language, and would love to hear her comprehensive view of the intersectionality of oppression…but it’s certainly worth a read. Also, if you enjoy the abstract concept of hope, do not read her second addendum. [...]

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>