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Feb 26 2007

Sisterhood

Few things are more distasteful to the delicate feminist sense of justice than instances of women harshin’ on other women. This women-bashing-women crap happens as often within “the movement” (such as it is) as it does among the unenlightened tighty-whitey anti-feminist collaborators. It’s bad enough, feminists lament, that men feel entitled to abuse us; how will we ever liberate ourselves when so many members of our own class seem so determined to enforce our, and their own, oppression?

We are all aggrieved by feminist infighting, “infighting” being the derogatory, male-framed way of describing the inevitable result of multiple intersections of multiple class struggles — the struggles of women of color, of poor women, of middle class women, of Jewish women, of prostituted lesbian intellectual women, et al — each of which classes has been engineered, it goes without saying, by patriarchy. But that’s another essay.

Today, by way of an excursion into the exotic, cut-throat world of Greek sororities, we take a look at the self-oppressing tendencies of anti-feminist patriarchy collaborators. For it seems that the DePauw University chapter of the Delta Zeta sorority, perceiving as detrimental to its “recruitment goals” the continued inclusion of constituents whose physical and intellectual deviation from the Barbie standard makes them too unbearable to look at, gave all un-slender, un-white, un-stupid members the boot. That’s right. Because Delta Zeta had acquired an undesirable reputation as a repository for unfuckable ugly smart chicks, and since a sorority’s ostensible raison d’être is to provide suitably sex-ay receptacles for fratboys, the sorority’s national office had no choice but to purge the rolls of all who were not up to specs bodaciousness-wise.

The New York Times reports that the ethnic cleansing “left a messy aftermath of recrimination and tears” and “battered the self-esteem” of 23 women whose appearance and braininess was deemed an effrontery to the straight white American feminine fuckbot beauty ideal, to the extent that some of the rejected girls withdrew from classes.

And thus we see how patriarchy often masquerades as sisterhood in order to bite you in the ass. The message of Delta Zeta is the message of white male supremacy: a woman’s value is strictly reproductive.

It turns out that this story is Top o’ the Pops at the New York Times today. This development will hardly surprise the veteran patriarchy-blamer. Stories about women fucking each other over are irresistible, because (a) dudes love a ‘catfight’ and (b) such stories relieve male anxiety over participation in patriarchal culture by suggesting that women willingly engineer their own oppression.

But women didn’t create misogyny, and don’t benefit from it. Even so, unrelentingly they find their choices bound by it. When women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy.

[Thanks Sue]

152 comments

2 pings

  1. stekatz

    “When women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy.”

    This cannot be stated often enough. Once again, the mind of Twisty has come up with another razor sharp observation and molded it into beautifully succinct words. I come here for the blaming, but I stay for the pie (and tacos).

    People will be hearing this phrase from me often. I will happily credit you.

  2. vera

    [...]such stories relieve male anxiety over participation in patriarchal culture by suggesting that women willingly engineer their own oppression.

    That is so beautifully and succinctly put, I just had to point it out.

  3. Spinning Liz

    The message of Delta Zeta is the message of white male supremacy: a woman’s value is strictly reproductive.

    Well, yes, but at the same time strictly ornamental. Irrespective of actual efforts at reproduction, a woman’s value is enhanced when her outward appearance conforms closely enough to the declared ideal du jour to render her eligible to serve as a prized ornamental trophy, announcing and confirming the high status of her owner.

  4. Victoria Marinelli

    Twisty,

    When you make this oddly specific reference to “prostituted lesbian intellectual women” I have to wonder if perhaps you might have been an angelic presence accompanying my ex girlfriend and I when we were in the midst of adventures eventually blogged in this post: “Counter-terrorism” as defined in patriarchy-blaming terms, ca. 1993; fragments from my “Patty Hearst” years.

    At the time – before our relationship became another casualty* of the ‘divide and conquer’ forces you’ve referenced in such an erudite fashion here – we were all about articulating (and actualizing) a specifically radical feminist agenda of liberation on behalf of prostituted lesbians as a class.

    Of course, as Sarah Schulman has noted (in The Sophie Horowitz Story), “Lesbian liberation and the mafia mix like scotch and prune juice. You don’t try it unless you have to.”

    Maybe you had to be there to get why I’m invoking this particlar Schulman quote, but let me just say that once one has had the experience of grocery shopping with a mafia pimp (after a hitchhiking experience on I-35E, during which time there was some discussion of whether said individual could possibly provide one with a ride to Kate Millett’s St. Paul, Minnesota flat so that one might return said Famous Feminist’s car keys to her), dystopian novels by the likes of Schulman begin to take on further dimensions of meaning impossible to relate to those who haven’t been so precisely there.

    But (as usual) I digress. Mostly, I’d like to call folks’ attention to this poetry fragment (first published in Common Lives, Lesbian Lives – complete cite on request, if you can give me a few days) by Amy Edgington. Here, she is writing specifically about lesbian battering, though the dynamic she invokes extend to less literal woman-on-woman violence:

    When a woman beats a woman
    the Old Husbands laugh
    and admire their unbloodied hands…

    Seriously Twisty, you rock.

    *For whatever it’s worth, I described this dissolution as best I could in a poem called “How the Fugitives – Two Women Writers – Tried to Love Each Other and Survive,” published in Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 6, No. 11 (November 2000).

  5. Niki

    Maybe I’m an ignoramus, but was there ever a higher purpose for sororities? I thought it was typically about catty faux-sisterhood, sexy hazing rituals involving the frat dudes and alienating other girls.

    The only decent sorority at the college I attended (U of Oregon) was the lesbian sorority (we did not speak of its obvious orientation though, shhhh) who ran the SafeRide program. Those girls rocked, and actually performed an irreplaceable service for campus women. But I’m sure they weren’t looked favorably on by the Greek System/included in Greek Weekly (or whatever magazine of appraisal reviews such things) because most of them didn’t strive for the beauty mandate.

    I used to hear about how it looked good to have a Greek denomination on your resume, but I always figured that trick only worked if you had a scrotum.

  6. S-kat

    I think it’s just dandy that their “reason” for kicking out the majority of the members is because recruitment rates are down. So, they’re attempting to increase the sororities membership by purging it. I *totally* by that line of reasoning.

    Is it patriarchy by proxy that makes me hate sororities?

  7. Scratchy888

    This no doubt did the brainy girls a service. Brainy girls need to learn to stand alone.

  8. legallyblondeez

    My sister, against all odds, joined a sorority her junior year in college. It had some of the trappings of historic faux-sisterhood via strict dress codes and mild (at least compared to the frats) hazing. We wondered why she would do that when the true purpose of sororities on that campus–university-mandated altruistic mission aside–was to introduce budding freshman sexbots to their male counterparts in the Greek tragedy.

    Luckily, she had not suffered a horrific and feminism-ending head injury. It was a sorority dedicated to recruiting academically excellent women of color and providing networking opportunities for them to actually do altruistic acts (they tutored and ran debate teams at local jr. highs), swap career advice, and occasionally go out to a party or two. Her sisters are a fantastically diverse group that, while officially part of the Greek system, provide an alternative meaning of sisterhood.

    The best sorority experiences I’ve heard about from friends who participated were those that were not approved by the national committee. I’m glad half the women who were approved to stay quit in solidarity. I hope the remaining six follow suit.

  9. Tpurplesage

    My mom was the only “tall” member of her sorority, even telling me how they rejected other girls because they already had a “tall” one. Sororities only like variation like the Republican Party does – tokens to prove they are not _really_ discriminating.

    Against my better judgment, I rushed in college (cause I wanted to make my mom happy) and was summarily rejected from every sorority on campus – even hers, the one I was a legacy to.

    I have come to see it as a badge of honor and wore it with pride during college and since. I figured my freak flag didn’t hide well enough, and their small mindedness was my good luck.

    I say to the women kicked out – Congratulations! You have just been freed from an oppressive organization! Take pride, your humanity, individuality and brilliance shine brightly and illuminate all of us.

  10. Bitey

    Furious. I am FURIOUS! I can’t say more than that now, because I’m incapacitated with sputtering rage. Fuck those fucking fuckers!

  11. BubbasNightmare

    “But women didn’t create misogyny, and don’t benefit from it. Even so, unrelentingly they find their choices bound by it. When women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy.

    I suspect that I may be too close to the trees to see the woods, but I’m having a hard time getting my mind around that one. It gives the impression that women can’t hate each other unless there is a patriarchal reason for it; to my ear it sounds a little dehumanizing.

    Granted, most Twisty-isms make me wanna leap out of my chair and shout “YEAH!” at the top of my lungs.

    As to the sorority question (and the fraternity question as well): why would anyone want to be a part of a group that purposely insults and degrades them prior to be admitted as a member?

  12. Scratchy888

    BubbasNightmare, there are many culturally conditioned unconscious mechanisms at work in all of us. That is how come we have a society where everybody seems to find their part as if naturally, except for those people who come from elsewhere and have been culturally conditioned to think differently. For these people it is very hard to find their “natural” place. Louis Althusser’s theory of interpellation is that we are all educated (or left relatively uneducated) in order to fit us to take our respective places in the cultural machine. So, the general situation is that women are primed to compete against each other for secondary places in the machine, dividing between themselves scant remnants of male resources. In terms of a totally different metaphor, we are all lobsters in the cooking pot of culture. When one tries to climb out, immediately another climbs upon its back and thereby pulls the former, more adventurous one back into the pot to be boiled for others’ delight.

  13. tinfoil hattie

    I did find it heartening that half of the sorority women deemed “acceptable” by the national bigwigs resigned from the sorority in protest.

    So it’s not actually a story about women being catty and hating each other, is it? It’s about those in power oppressing the ones who don’t fit a specific set of parameters.

    Now where have I heard that before?

  14. PS

    I don’t think it’s that “women can’t hate each other unless there is a patriarchal reason for it.” Can women be hateful? (Hate-able?) Yes – women run the human spectrum of likability. And even in a patriarchy-free utopia, some people will probably still be assholes. But you are embedded in this patriarchy. How much of why you hate a woman, and why she’s hateful, is due innate assholeishness and how much to patriarchal imperatives?

  15. Narya

    I figured you’d get around to this one as soon as I saw it yesterday.

    The women-hating-women=men-hating-women-by-proxy argument is interesting. I know you like to say that, in a patriarchy, women have no agency (and I apologize if that’s a mischaracterization of your thoughts on this). If that’s the case, then what’s the point of doing anything? Doesn’t one need agency to fight (or even blame) the patriarchy? But as soon as one allows any agency to sneak in, then there’s the pesky question of who’s doing the hating, and under what conditions hating (or blame) is/are acceptable. I’m not suggesting that I have the answer (or that you do), I’m merely suggesting that the question of agency ought not be addressed by saying that women ain’t got none.

  16. octogalore

    “Few things are more distasteful to the delicate feminist sense of justice than instances of women harshin’ on other women.”

    Fully agree. But I’d suggest reviewing the last few comments on the “Recognize this Knob” thread and then maybe looking closer to home for harshin’. People in glass houses…

  17. Twisty

    “Irrespective of actual efforts at reproduction, a woman’s value is enhanced when her outward appearance conforms closely enough to the declared ideal du jour to render her eligible to serve as a prized ornamental trophy, announcing and confirming the high status of her owner. ”

    Agreed. The origin of the whole outward appearance mandate is to suggest fertility, and the ultimate goal of all patriotic dudes is to reproduce themselves, ergo, the arm candy is ultimately a symbol of virility.

  18. J

    “But you are embedded in this patriarchy. How much of why you hate a woman, and why she’s hateful, is due innate assholeishness and how much to patriarchal imperatives?”

    This is comes down to a question that extends much broader than patriarchy, which is what has interested me most about this blog. If you are within an ideological system, and you want to resist that system, is your resistence something you really generate apart from the ideological system, or is your resistence always already determined from within? In other words, is there an extra- or non-ideological vantage point we or anyone can claim, from which some True and Undistorted view can be expressed?

  19. Shell Goddamnit

    Perhaps once upon a time in another country before the wench died, sororities, like fraternities, were in some ways a support system; especially those with housing on campus, I am supposing. Of course, whenever it was that they became mere auxiliaries for the frats they became also useless as support for anything but weight loss and “self-improvement.”

    In the south they used to start them in sororities young: in high school. Anything more useless and stupid than a greek system in high school I cannot imagine. Well, I don’t want to imagine, anyway.

  20. thebewilderness

    Octo, I rather thought that was you.

  21. kate

    “If you are within an ideological system, and you want to resist that system, is your resistence something you really generate apart from the ideological system, or is your resistence always already determined from within? In other words, is there an extra- or non-ideological vantage point we or anyone can claim, from which some True and Undistorted view can be expressed?”

    I’ll bite on this.

    I would think that depends upon the type of resistance one wishes to engage in. If just a negation of what one experiences or knows as reality, then one obviously is simply drawing upon the existing reality and has not developed another set of parameters; that is another way of looking at the way the world is organized. So that I would think would be strictly determined from ‘within’.

    But then, if one were to develop a vision of reality that takes peices of the existing, or leaves a lot in place and assumes the possibility of changing or altering pieces of it, then that’s different. Different, only assuming that one has developed a vision seperate from what they know now.

    I would also assume that we only know what we experience, therefore, whatever concept one develops for a utopia, one would use their own frame of experience, or extrapolate the observations of others (history/philosophy) to meld a vision of their own.

    Therefore, when one states that the patriarchy must fall, it could be interpreted in a strictly negative vein, meaning that the opposite of patriarhcy (bad) would be good. That’s the zero-sum game if I am correct? Or is it called binary?

    I think that we can alter our social system/reality in order to come closer to an ideological system that incorporates feminist values, out of what we have available now. We don’t have to go shopping for the tools, we already have them here. So yes, we’re working from within.

  22. octogalore

    Thebewilderness: thought who was me? I did not participate in that thread.

  23. J

    “I think that we can alter our social system/reality in order to come closer to an ideological system that incorporates feminist values, out of what we have available now. We don’t have to go shopping for the tools, we already have them here. So yes, we’re working from within.”

    This still doesn’t get my point though, which is that if we are always *inescapably* working, creating, existing within the ideological system, then there is no idea nor value we can generate that does not at once originate from and give credit to that system– misogyny and feminism alike.

    To try and avoid this, we might scale down the charge of patriarchy as the Grand Ideological Narative to something more modest, like it just being a thread of a greater ideological fabric. If we do this though, then we can easily question the charge that when “women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy,” by pointing out that when “women hate women” it could be for a great number of ideologically driven reasons besides (though still perhaps including) patriarchy. A couple other people already started to go here when they asked how we can explain women hating on each other as starting in men without throwing female agency out the window in much the same way that we would otherwise find the patriarchy doing. Even Twisty herself took note of the conflicting ideological identifications (race, class, religion, etc.) that can fuel this “women hating women.”

    What I’m just not so sure of is how, in the end, the identification with being woman is the most fundamental to understanding (their) oppression, when such a gesture is no more grounded than any other ideological claim.

  24. Scratchy888

    Maybe the point is to see the patriarchal encapsulating system as less of a metaphysical postulate which can be which can be opposed or conformed to according to logical principles, and to consider the issue from the point of view of the vitality that one has under different social conditions. My point is that in a situation which is very ideologically suffused with patriarchal ideals, I end up feeling very devitalised and tired after a short while. In a situation which allows me greater spontaneity and avenues for self-expression, I find myself feeling very alive. So, it is important to become sensitive to one’s own reactions in order to overthrow the patriarchy. This is difficult enough for most people to do, as learning to ignore one’s own feelings is the process by which they are inducted as patriarchal subjects.

  25. J

    Scratchy, you’ll have to explain to me some of what you mean by vitality. I think I understand you, but it’s one of those slippery topics. At any rate, I’m not sure what it could have to do with resisting or ultimately over-throwing the patriarchy in any sense that could be called from without it.

    This is where the really tricky part emerges, and what I’m trying to point out: resistance to the patriarchy is wrought from the same ideological fabric as the patriarchy itself; in other words, if we’re still leaning towards grand ideological naratives, resistance to the patriarchy (the dominant ideology) is possible only because the patriarchy (the dominant ideology) creates a space for it.

    So, unless we admit a decentered role to patriarchal narative in the greater ideological system of our lives, how are we to understand these feelings of “spontaneity” and “self-expression” except as fundamentally the same ideological feelings underpinning the experience of others, who we accuse of being misogynistic? If women can only hate women because these feelings originate in men (aka The Patriarchy), it seems problematic to say that non-misogynistic values (feminist values don’t also come from The Patriarchy. The ideological dog-collar that makes it possible that when “women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy” necessarily predicates all female agency, over which other people have shown a concern.

    Ultimately, patriarchy either is or is not the dominant, over-arching ideological narative, which is not to say that there has to be an over-arching ideological narative any which way. If it is though, then we have huge problems for how a female subject, a woman, can resist patriarchy without constantly employing it. If it isn’t, then there is more room to understand the ways in which people become interpellated, and how they can resist this or that ideological mandate. That also means, then, that not all misogyny is necessarily patriarchal.

  26. kate

    I thought I posted a comment here and it was all up here and stuff and then I come back and its gone. I don’t get it. I wonder if this will come through.

  27. kanea

    thank you so so much. about 15 minuets ago I saw a report on the news about this sorority issue. after it ended I promptly turned on the computer and came to your site. and low and behold you had blogged about it. thank you. It has helped me controlled my rage and probably saved me from punching out the next frat boy looking guy I see . you see I am in college and frat boys (the mascot for patriarchy…at least in my mind) are easilly found. it’s a big comphort to know other people who share my opinoin. because there certainly aren’t any people are here who do. sorry that my post wasn’t exactly on topic with the other posts. I’ll stop my rambling and go back to lurking now.

  28. Urban

    This post is fascinating.

    It makes my brain fry. I don’t think it denies women agency to say that they are operating inside the patriarchal systems so they can’t see that their actions collaborate with the patriarchy. That’s all it is: women behaving in a woman-hating way simply don’t see that their actions are woman-hating, such is the all-consuming nature of patriarchy. Each woman has the (potential) agency by virtue of being a human being, to find out about feminism for themselves and realise the patriarchal order blighting their every move. Do we blame those who don’t do so (for whatever reason)? That approach sticks in my throat.

    I am sure I often miss the effects of patriarchy on my own behaviour, and thus take actions which affirm the patriarchy. Yet I read this site and try hard not to behave in a woman-hating way. I would not argue that my agency is somehow denied because someone pointed out that I might not have fully thought through the implications of my actions: rather I would say that I retain the agency to make the decision to affirm or react against patriarchy once fully informed. The empirical state of being ‘fully informed’ in this way is what has me confused and wondering. Is it ever possible? Maybe not. Maybe all that can be hoped for is a sliding scale of awareness. Some women are more aware, some less so. The women who are less aware take actions which the women who are more aware recognise as having woman-hating characteristics. But the women who are more aware can, precisely because they are more aware of the social cultural construct environment, empathise with that behaviour because they see it for what it is. The women who are less aware are not able to do this, so do not think of their behaviour as woman-hating. I can acknowledge that fact and recognise that the less-aware women are less aware maybe because nobody has ever encouraged their feminist education.

    I guess what I’m saying (in a really long-winded and I hope not at all patronising-to-women way) is that every woman has agency, but some women operate in a feminist-education vacuum while exercising that agency and thus should not be held morally accountable (where moral accountability is on a scale, not an absolute) to the same degree for her behaviour as though she were a feminist who undertook women-hating actions. I don’t think it denies women agency to recognise that fact, nor does it necessarily follow that it is not possible to take exception to a particular individual on account of them being an asshole.

    I am very interested in reading other thoughts on this because I’m struggling out loud here. I don’t wish to deny women agency but I do want to recognise that not all women have advanced awareness regarding patriarchy (including me, though I’m working on it). I don’t think that puts me between a rock and a hard place but I’ll await others’ more informed and philosophically able opinions.

  29. kate

    J., if I may attempt to interject, then does that not mean that one must examine what exactly patriarchy is and what goals its development set out to acheive? And could these goals themselves not be co-opted by women as well and then patriarchy becomes women dominant and not male dominant?

    In other words, those who support the existing system claim that it survives because it is evidently the most successful system for human survival. To counter that, one must look to smaller groups or other animals, no?

    If patriarchy is not over arching, then why has there been no other system successfully developed for human survival, or has there been?

    It would seem to me that if patriarchy were not all encompassing then another system would have developed to counteract it and overpower it, no? It seems that patriarchy, while some consider it successful, is the antithesis of the human ideal?

  30. Alarming Female

    I noticed when reading the article how supportive the sorority members were of each other, generally speaking, and that it was the tools at the top who sent this directive.

    I mention this because I’ve often heard the supposed truism that women are backbiting and catty toward each other. I’ve also heard women state, proudly, that all their best friends are men, because it’s “just so hard” to get along with women.

    I call bullshit. It has never been my experience that my friends who are women are less supportive than my friends who are men. In fact, most of my closest friends are women.

    As a public high school teacher, I decided to test my hypothesis in the classroom. I developed a survey that asked one question: In your experience, have your female friends been generally kind and supportive, or mean and backbiting?

    “Kind and supportive” won by a 4 to 1 ratio. And I was not a bit surprised. That other lie is just another club the patriarchy gives us with which to beat ourselves up.

  31. Scratchy888

    J– What I was getting at is that, whilst recognising that there probably is a system called patriarchy in place (in other words, as at least one of the major, dominating value systems of most societies), I choose not to adopt the paradigm of “a system” in my practical affairs. To try to make this clearer: Intellectually, I acknowledge that there is a system called patriarchy in place, but practically my approach to every situation is a cautious (because ideologically alert) empiricism. Now, I’m not denying that what will make one woman feel “vitalised” — if only temporarily, I presume — is to get her claws stuck into her sister’s neck, whereas another may feel vitalised by managing to avoid just precisely this sordid eventuality. Yet the vitalisation feeling of the claw-digging sister is assuredly only temporary. This kind of adrenal fix does not feed the human soul, so generally, I would say that the long term effect of this kind of behaviour is de-vitalising.

    But how does anybody get to know what is or isn’t de-vitalising? There are some people who, presumably don’t mind being de-vitalised as long as they get a chance to stab their claws into somebody at some point. They probably have intrinsically different values than I do (perhaps at least as much a result of temperament as of the patriarchal forces in their lives). I admit that there are probably people like that. I can’t answer for them, but only for myself.

    There are bound to be differences (temperamental and beyond) which cause one woman not to wish to free herself to the degree that I feel necessary to free myself. For instance, not being treated as an intellectual causes my hackles to rise, whereas other women don’t seem to mind if they are spoken to in ways which seem, to me, less oriented towards the qualities of their minds.

    IN any case, what I am saying is that I am proposing a paradigm shift — at least in terms of practial behaviour and attention to experience — so that one is not reliant upon metaphysical constucts and narrowly-based logic (a priori postulates) in order to determine whether or not the patriarchy is exerting its force upon one at any particular time. I am saying that you can jump out of the problematic of the patriarchal paradigm and whether or not it is overarching, by making oneself the yardstick for one’s estimation of the nature of freedom. This doesn’t mean that you disregard logic or history or indeed, knowledge about the patriarchy as a probable system. But one can live with a greater sense of freedom if all of one’s violations of its strictures are done with a sense of indifference to it in the first place — rather than if one attempts to oppose it as a project in itself.

    The two sides — critical thinking and active experimentation and indifference — are both necessary.

  32. CafeSiren

    I’m not sure if anybody’s mentioned it yet (I only skimmed the comments — it’s late), but, in defense of sisterhood, we should note that six of the twelve young women deemed “acceptable” quit the sorority in protest.

  33. J

    “That’s all it is: women behaving in a woman-hating way simply don’t see that their actions are woman-hating, such is the all-consuming nature of patriarchy.”

    I get stuck on this point. What you are saying is that ideology is mere knowledge, or rather mis-knowledge. In other words, if these women simply *knew* that what they were doing was misogynistic, then they would stop *doing* it. What this means is that women, in general, are profoundly ignorant.

    Despite the colourful voice that she brings it to us, Twisty’s observations are not profound in some abstract, intellectual sense as much as in how mundane they really are. There is nothing esoteric or otherwise hidden from view in the examples of misogyny and otherwise oppression we read about and discuss on this blog. Suffice it to say, this blog isn’t the only place we see it, because as I read it, the point of the blog is that the misogyny it reports is frickin’ everywhere!

    So, it seems, in the most ordinary sense of the word, unbelievable that women everywhere and through-out history have universally been unaware of misogyny. Women aren’t stupid, no more than men, especially when it comes to such straight-forward facts like the through and through misogyny endorsed in most cultures recorded through-out history. What this means is that women, as well as men, participate in patriarchy not because they are duped by it, but precisely despite the fact that they know very what’s going on. In other words, what people do does not necessarily reflect or come from what they know about what they are doing, because generally it’s hard to believe that for many ideologically conditioned behaviors people don’t understand the basic fact of what they’re doing.

  34. J

    “…then does that not mean that one must examine what exactly patriarchy is and what goals its development set out to acheive? And could these goals themselves not be co-opted by women as well and then patriarchy becomes women dominant and not male dominant?”

    Patriarchy is an ideology, which is something we do whether or not and often despite the fact that we know what we’re doing. Of course, ideology has its intellectual representations; these are accessories to it, and not its substance. Feel free to offer something else if you think differently, or add to what I said.

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at with “goals.” That makes patriarchy sound like a game-plan, which has an telos, an end-point, after which we live in a post-patriarchal world. This game-plan aura also makes it sound like, as you put it, it was developed by a handful of conspirators.

    As I’ve seen it and learned about it, patriarchy is the programmatic submission of woman to man (both interpellated and not natural identities). To add a Lacanian twist to it, patriarchy is also the everyday and yet Spectacular practice of misogyny, which is a backlash against woman for embodying in her relation to man, man’s (everyone’s though) fundamental lack– i.e. for reminding man of how he can’t have everything he wants, especially woman.

  35. Scratchy888

    The problem with the above analysis is that if we are all “in it” (patriarchy) then we surely cannot talk about it. We are, after all “it’. So, to act as if to step aside and talk about it is a little odd, indeed. One should refrain.

  36. Laurel

    word.

  37. Urban

    I said: “That’s all it is: women behaving in a woman-hating way simply don’t see that their actions are woman-hating, such is the all-consuming nature of patriarchy.”

    J said:
    “I get stuck on this point. What you are saying is that ideology is mere knowledge, or rather mis-knowledge. In other words, if these women simply *knew* that what they were doing was misogynistic, then they would stop *doing* it. What this means is that women, in general, are profoundly ignorant. ”

    I don’t believe I said or implied that ideology is mere knowledge. All I’m saying is that you can either be aware of or ignorant of the ideology you grew up in/are a product of, to varying degrees. And, as I see it (though I acknowledge this might only demonstrate my own need to read more feminist work), patriarchy is a sort of ‘super-structural-underpinning-ideology’, and thus relatively difficult to spot: more difficult than, say, the obvious structures of a capitalist ideology. Or maybe I’ve just been stupid my whole life and every other woman has noticed patriarchy, and made a conscious decision to embrace it with open arms whereas I have tooled along in ignorance of the profound way it affects my every thought/feeling/action/reaction.

    “Profound ignorance” on the part of “women in general” was not what I meant to imply, but I appreciate that my comment might have led you to believe this. If you read further down in my comment, what I’m saying is that I think there’s a sliding scale of awareness (which, I suppose, means there’s a sliding scale of ignorance, if you wanted to frame it differently). I’m not saying that all women are stupid: very far from it indeed. But I think that it is objectively true that some women are more aware of patriarchy and its effects on them than others. Would you agree? I say this because I used not to be aware of it at all. I used not to see the effects of patriarchal system/ideology. I like to think I have become more aware. Thus, I used to be ignorant, now I am less ignorant. In my book, ignorance is not synonymous with stupidity.

    Maybe, given your point, I need to rephrase slightly. I am not saying that women don’t recognise examples of misogyny when they see them. I meant that there is sometimes a lack of awareness on the part of some women, of the patriarchal system/ideology, and how it promotes misogyny in women as well as men. This leads women to take such actions as banning the ‘ugly’ from sororities. They are a product (excuse the crude term) of the system/culture and as such cannot be the overarching cause. The cause of women hating women qua women (generally, not individually) is patriarchy.

    Which is, I believe, Twisty’s point. Which is to say that I agree with her (I think). This is all quite difficult for a young onion such as myself to get her head around. Am I really that far off track?

  38. Urban

    Oops. I messed up the code. Only the words “patriarchal system/ideology” should be in quotes. Sorry.

  39. Urban

    goddamn it, I didn’t mean quotes; I meant italics.

  40. Kim

    “When women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy.”

    Ah.
    Yes.
    I extend My Pink Sparkly Girly-Girl Eyeliner of Truce to you for this Twisty, to with whatever indeed you like.
    To rest of us: what do we do about ending it, indeed within “the movement?”

  41. Narya

    Wow–I wish I didn’t have to go make croissants; this is a great thread and i could write all day. I think that, just as knowledge of mysogyny and patriarchy varies across women/men/time/space, so the patriarchy varies in its intensity. When one manages to have a lot of (male and female) friends who all, in their own ways, find the patriarchy oppressive and try to change it, one is in a less awful-feeling and perhaps more vitalizing place than when one is surrounded by (male and female) patriarchy-supporting tools.

  42. Kim

    “to DO with.”
    Ay!

  43. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I gave up struggling for acceptance at an early age because I had been a fat kid and accustomed to rejection. Anyway, by the time I got to college I didn’t care two farts in a high wind for greek silliness. All I wanted was my piece of paper so I could get the hell on with my life.

    Non-compliance with the Beauty Ideal will force you to develop other ways of attracting people to you. Since these things don’t dry up and blow away with advancing age (thanks, Blanche DuBois), it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  44. Twisty

    “the conflicting ideological identifications (race, class, religion, etc.) that can fuel this “women hating women.””

    J, my contention is that race, class, religion, etc are all symptoms of patriarchy, which may be defined as not just as “male supremacy” or “dominant culture” but (most accurately) as “universal paradigm predicated on dominance and submission.” I describe in the FAQ that this paradigm encompasses a hierarchy with white dudes at the top and women of color at the bottom (although I need to amend that bottom rung to “children of color;” my latest observations suggest that children are the most oppressed class on the planet, and I’m currently ruminating on how this contingency causes patriarchy to reproduce itself); within that matrix there are instances in which some women have higher status than some men, depending on the class associations you list, and some men of color have higher status than other men of color, and some white guys have higher status than other white guys. But the concept of “status” itself exists merely because everyone has agreed that — never mind, I’m turning this into a post. To be continued.

  45. Anonymous Blamer

    Just a quick interjection to explain why these women probably rushed in the first place: DePauw is in a very small, semi-rural town, and there is very little off-campus housing, and virtually no social life for students off-campus (unless they want to drive an hour to one of the two major cities).

    So the Greek system is the heart of the campus; I believe something like three-quarters of the student population is in a frat or sorority (and that’s including freshfolk). It used to be worse – a few decades ago 90% of students went Greek, and the social repercussions for offending members of the system were horrendous. (I recall one woman whose biological sister offended some sorority or other, and so when she herself came to campus, she was shunned by the sorority and by the fraternity most closely associated with it; when she ended up dating a man from that fraternity, he had to pay fines for doing so!)

    So I don’t blame those young women for rushing; I’m more appalled that, practically speaking, one doesn’t have much of a choice about going Greek at DePauw.

  46. Sylvanite

    I wonder the extent to which women seem to comply with the patriarchy, as these sorority women have, is due to, not merely misogyny, but the self-loathing that is the result of being raised to despise the class to which you were born? In other words, being a female having been raised to regard the female as the inferior, it’s difficult to be female and ambitious without internalizing the misogyny message.

  47. Puffin

    Thanks so much for this post, Twisty. It’s timely for more reasons than just he DePauw sorority incident.

  48. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    I would not be acceptable because I’m too smart. I used to cringe when I was labeled the “smart girl.” Ouch!

    I joined a coed service fraternity instead. I met a great group of people who participated in community service projects. We also had fun partites. I recommend a service organization to other young women in college. It also looks good on your resume (IMHO, more impressive than a social organization).

  49. teffie-phd

    I don’t understand fraternities and sororities. They don’t really exist in Canada (except in a few places). They seem both patriarchal and antiquated. Sorta like daughters of the american revolution…

  50. Elle

    I love the discussion generated by Twisty’s comment “When women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy.” Thanks to you all for a mentally stimulating and emotionally vitalized morning.

    My metaphorical take on patriarchy is that it is the sea we swim in, but it is getting pretty polluted, so we better evolve the capability to escape and create an alternate reality — and women are best suited to do this because we are the ones most poisoned by patriarchal pollution.

    But to become motivated enough, we need to become aware of the sea and its pollution. We need to raise our consciousness(es). So, to turn to Scratchy’s lobster pot analogy which points out that attempting to crawl out is not easy, I would point out that those lobsters who stay in get their goose cooked, and those who manage to crawl out survive — and perhaps provide a bridge for others to crawl across. I think Scratchy is absolutely right in describing anti/non-patriarchal actions (crawling out of the pot/sea) as vitalizing. They point the way to survival.

    Like Scratchy, I have found that making myself aware of my emotional reactions to a given situation (am I feeling vitalized or depressed?) has been an extremely valuable guide in helping me identify the many faces of misogyny in our culture and have often prevented me from colluding with it. Blogs like this one make me feel good because they are truly consciousness raising.

    So, even though our actions may be dictated by patriarchy because we are reacting to patriarchy, it is at least a step in the right (left?) direction. I think the idea of some sort of completely free (human?) agency is a snare and a delusion. For that matter, we don’t even know what “human” is, as it, like everything else, has been defined by patriarchy to mean male. That is, those characteristics usually defined as human are associated with male humans (as male is defined by patriarachy, that is.) I guess that’s enough of that.

  51. vera

    I’m currently ruminating on how this contingency causes patriarchy to reproduce itself

    Perhaps it has something to do with patriarchy’s demand that women produce as many offspring as possible?

  52. vera

    Fascinating discussion, and damn, I’ve got to go to work. Let’s see how quickly I can write.

    Lately I’ve been pondering this:
    Patriarchy = human culture
    Definition of “human” depends, in part, on a definition of “nature”
    Patriarchy is destroying/may have already destroyed nature

    Hmmmm. This fits in nicely with the notion that every system contains an element that cannot be contained within the system, which, I believe, has been proven in mathematics and in the Matrix film trilogy.

    It implies that we’ll have to wait ’til “human” goes away before we get rid of “patriarchy.” But we’ve already waited a long, long, time. And doesn’t it feel like the end is near?

  53. Bookyone

    Hi all,

    I LOVE this blog and agree with just about everything I’ve read herein. I just had to comment on this topic as it makes me especially angry to see young women (for whom the hard line feminists of the 1960s and 1970s fought a long and difficult battle to gain reproductive freedom, educational opportunities and better lives all the way around) tossing their hard-won gifts away like so many pearls before swine, (the swine in this case being the fraternity/patriarchy). It’s too bad there isn’t a Betty Friedan or two out there these days to enlighten these young women as to what things were like in the bad old days and what they have to lose (quite a lot) if they continue to suck up to the patriarchy (figuratively and literally in some cases) without making a better effort to develop their own minds and inner qualities. Kudos to those girls who were kicked out of the sororities, now they will be able to use their God given intelligence to better their lives and the lives of those around them instead of painting their faces and starving their bodies in hopes of becoming some Greek idiot’s trophy wife.

    Twisty, you ROCK!!! :)

    Best wishes from bookyone :)

  54. J

    “But the concept of “status” itself exists merely because everyone has agreed that — never mind, I’m turning this into a post. To be continued.”

    Yes. I’ll be very interested to read it. I will be especially interested in how you address the arguement that “sex” is as much a socially constructed (and in a certain sense chosen) status as much as race, gender, religion, age (as in categories like child or adult, not numerical age) and so forth.

  55. Bitey

    Twisty said, “But the concept of ‘status’ itself exists merely because everyone has agreed that — never mind, I’m turning this into a post.”

    Not to trample on Twisty’s impending post, but, yes, this is it exactly. This is why it’s so hard to talk about the patriarchy, let alone to do anything about it. “Status” comes from agreement, but the basis of the agreement is faulty. The patriarchy isn’t merely a system that oppresses women, it is a symptom of a pathological system of thought, which system is characterized by false dichotomies, artificial hierarchies, and primitive linear thinking. Everything that we think of as being a “natural” dichotomy or hierarchy is in fact entirely constructed: food chains, segregated restrooms, kids’ meals, private property, human vs. animal, city vs. country, homelessness, marriage, classification of species, yin and yang, profit, fences, vocational vs. college prep, weed killer, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

    One might say that these hierarchies and classifications are necessary, but that’s only because we are all so steeped in this this-or-that, us-or-them nonsense that we can’t see past it. Maybe the ability to divide the world into “good” and “bad” was at one time a helpful survival skill, but it’s an extraordinarily poor thinking skill. It’s an imposition of human needs and human values on the non-human world. Shockingly, the rest of the world exists for its own purposes, not for ours, and each human exists for her own purposes, not for society’s. Why don’t we look at commonalities rather than differences? Why should society have a hierarchical shape, rather than any other shape? Don’t accept the answer that it’s “natural.” “Natural” is just another way of saying “I don’t know.” Nothing in society is “natural.” It’s not “natural” to wear clothes or drive cars or brush our teeth, but here we are. Neither should we accept any argument about hierarchies in animal groups, either. We are animals, but we are reasonable animals. What is the reason that a man should be “higher” than a woman? What is the meaningful difference between a man and a woman? There is none, and there’s no reason for any other hierarchy or dichotomy, either.

  56. J

    “The problem with the above analysis is that if we are all ‘in it’ (patriarchy) then we surely cannot talk about it. We are, after all ‘it’.”

    Yes and no. My point is that, if patriarchy is the over-arching ideological system, then you face the problem (or rather, the impossibility) of getting outside of it to speak “objectively” about it. So, one option is to junk that idea and accept a decentered role to patiarchy. If “it” isn’t the ultimate “it”

    Twisty brings up how her view of patriarchy is a bit more general than simply a system of suboridination between men and women, but of dominance and submission period. This is interesting, and I’d like to see how she develops it. It reminds me of, as spoken through a lens of psychoanalysis, the buddhist problem of ever having anything we desire, where the flawed method for practically everyone has to been to create a personal fantasy of dominance of everything.

    In this sense, our infantile experience of getting what we want seemingly as our desire for it arises (a questionable premise, I know), what Lacan calls the Imaginary, without having to use language to ask, forms the basis of our flawed grasping for dominance. Because once we learn to talk, and our desires become mitigated by this maddening requirement to ask and hope our requests are satisfied, we embark on a quest doomed from the start to regain that original sense of satisfaction. This leads to a hierarchy of domination within the symbolic order (primarily based in language), which then generates social forms of domination, like patriarchy, racism, etc.

    My second option will have to come later today, though it already is constituted from the above paragraph, Foucault’s reasoning that ideology and discourse at fundamentally on our bodies and not simply our minds, and the use of “practice” in the idea of “buddhist practice.”

  57. Sylvanite

    My previous comment is still hung up in moderation. Oh, well.

  58. Loosely Twisted

    Robert Jordan wrote a series of books called the Wheel of Time, and in it he described some people as having fate direct their actions. They were imbeded in the fabric of time but were acted apon from outside forces to complete the necessary threads by which their lifes directed.

    This follows reality in quite an interesting way, in such that certain people regardless of their ability to see the patriarchy, they directly and purposely are acted apon to conform. Others such as Twisty, those in this thread and myself see these threads and can see the effect they have on those around us, and inso doing have become resistant to the pull of the patriarchy.

    Something in our past, or present setout of reality so harshly that it’s pushed our reality away from the fabric. We can feel the pull, and we can point to instances where this pull is so great it brings with it our most feared oppression. Otheres have experienced this in greater or lesser degrees but it’s there none the less. It’s directing a great number of people. Call it fate, or call it something else, but it’s definately there.

    Twisty happens to be one of those people that fate has chosen to wrap around and events just happen around her whether she notices them or not, the ripples are sent out wards and are felt by those who recognize the same things she speaks about.

    If you have read the Wheel of Time, it’s familiar in SO many ways that it scares me sometimes. Robert Jordan just doesn’t realize that what he is speaking of is something else entirely.

    Still others are able to pull on the fabric and change it. Their whole lives change the fabric and change the way it moves.

    I had something going, and lost my train of though forgive me, I am bowing out now. hehe

  59. Betsy

    I like to look at things from an economic perspective: who benefits economically from a cultural arrangement?

    I was going to say that those brainy math-and-engineering sorority members would have the last laugh, as being presumably more able to contribute financially to the organization in middle to later life. Woe betide the sorority that kicks out too many of those gals!

    But then I remembered that patriarchy confers economic rewards on sexbot sisters — and, with near total control of society’s overall financial resources in the hands of patriarchy’s minions, these economic benefits are likely to be far in excess of anything a mere electrical engineer could conjure during her working lifetime.

    Sexay women land the resource-controlling men; sexay women can donate more patriarchal dollars to the organization. It follows that if the organization can recruit sexay-er sisters into the Ponzi scheme — it will win big.

    Forget “cherchez la femme”; follow the money!

  60. Theriomorph

    Thanks for this post, Twisty. Been frothing at the mouth with sudden onset rabies a lot lately; appreciate your coherence and wit today even more than usual.

  61. yankee transplant

    “When women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy.”

    Twisty, you are brilliant.

  62. FemiMom

    This has made me reflect on all the woman-on-woman mean-ness I have witnessed (and suffered) over the years. Petty situations: the “older” secretary who would constantly “lose” my work orders when I was a young dept. head. Stupid stuff. Old chicks vs. younglings. Cute chicks vs. “uglies”… When women hate women, they are battling for scraps.

  63. NickM

    Long-time reader, one-time poster. I’ve been lurking and chewing over what I’ve been learning.

    The below-linked letter to The Depauw, the Depauw student newspaper, contains a defense of the national sorority that basically illustrates, again, how the patriarchy operates. Somewhat awkwardly I note that the defender of the sorority system is – no surprise – a man who doesn’t have any investment in or right to speak out on sorority issues. The letter’s worth reading, however, just to see how well the theory of patriarchy explains and predicts its actual practices.

    http://media.www.thedepauw.com/media/storage/paper912/news/2007/02/27/Opinion/Letter.To.The.Editor.Dz.Coverage.Not.Balanced-2745369.shtml

  64. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    What’s worse, I’m smitten with remorse and shame at the woman-on-woman meanness I’ve been responsible for in the past.

  65. Kali

    “If women can only hate women because these feelings originate in men (aka The Patriarchy), it seems problematic to say that non-misogynistic values (feminist values) don’t also come from The Patriarchy. The ideological dog-collar that makes it possible that when “women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy” necessarily predicates all female agency, over which other people have shown a concern.”

    A hating B for cutting him/her off on the highway is different from A hating B because B is female, gay, black and/or not acting in ways approved by the male-devised, and male-benefiting patriarchy. In the latter case we can say that “when women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy.”

    Anyway, in neither case is anyone’s agency denied. Just because something is induced by the patriarchy doesn’t mean it is determined by the patriarchy. And living within the patriarchy definitely makes it more difficult to acknowledge, critique and erode the patriarchy, but it doesn’t make it impossible. Just as living in polluted waters may make it more difficult to see and change the pollution, but not impossible. Feminism is an example of resistance to the patriarchy. In the sense that feminism is a response to patriarchy, it “comes from” patriarchy. In this sense justice comes from crime, light comes from dark, etc. However, it does not mean that feminism is conducive to the patriarchy or vice versa, any more than crime and justice are conducive to each other.

  66. octogalore

    Betsy said “I like to look at things from an economic perspective: who benefits economically from a cultural arrangement? I was going to say that those brainy math-and-engineering sorority members would have the last laugh, as being presumably more able to contribute financially to the organization in middle to later life. …But then I remembered that patriarchy confers economic rewards on sexbot sisters …Sexay women land the resource-controlling men; sexay women can donate more patriarchal dollars to the organization.”

    I disagree. For one thing, the math/engineering members might be sexay too. Even assuming the dichotomy that you suggest, I think the smart woman would have more economic rewards than her sexay sister, because she wouldn’t be dependent on a man. Any man who picked someone just because of sexay would transfer her out for a younger model, leaving her economically vulnerable. The smart ones can make their own money. I was at a nerdy dorm in college — at my school, pretty much all dorms were — and some of my female college friends, some married and some single, control mucho resources irrespective of any men in their lives.

  67. Blue95

    The same thing happened to my sorority at Duke. Since this is my first post, I should probably defend my decision to even join a sorority. I didn’t want to join one. I didn’t even do that silly “rush” thing until I actually had to recruit new members myself (and trust me, I did not have a good time at that either). But I happened to fall in with a bunch of cool women who (for the most part) didn’t buy into the Greek beauty system and were interested in forming a real female sisterhood. The group was actually still reeling from the fall out of accepting the first openly gay member the year before. For me, that was one of the reasons I joined, thinking that an inclusive group like that was worth being a part of. Little did I know that our National organization was not nearly as happy with the strong, supportive, intelligent sisterhood we put together. I’ll never forget one of the first meetings with our national rep who suggested we wear bows in our hair to help our image and boost our recruit numbers because we were falling behind. We didn’t have housing (no sororities at Duke do), so I still can’t figure out why we had to have a certain number of members to begin with. Shouldn’t a sisterhood consist of people who enjoy spending time together? How can you put a number on that or even recruit through some arbitrary rush process? Anyway, we all showed up to the next meeting with the most hideous bows you can imagine. The look on our rep’s face was priceless. In the end, our National decided to do the same thing as the sorority in the article. They gave us all alumna status and recruited a “beautiful, popular” freshman legacy candidate to restart the chapter in the right mould. I’m still proud of one of the three recruits we got the last year who had the guts to look our National president in the face and say “Bullshit”. Now, that’s someone who fit in! Needless to say, we were devestated that they pulled our charter. Luckily, our relationships were based on more than the stupid rituals of the sorority and more on the fact that we really liked being with each other. In the end, we didn’t miss the sorority except that structure of meeting regularly and holding group events helps keep people together amidst busy lives. I still consider those women my sisters but would never dream of calling myself a member of that national group. I still get the alumna magazines and try to throw them away before anyone sees them.

  68. maribelle

    Blue95–thanks for sharing that story–I am still giggling imagining the bowes on y’alls heads. Tee hee.

    Shouldn’t a sisterhood consist of people who enjoy spending time together? How can you put a number on that or even recruit through some arbitrary rush process?

    This highlights the truth about the sorority system–it is a competition, not a community. Even worse, it is corporate, so numbers and quality control are key. And they must be a “quality product” or they will be shuffled out the back door.

    Once again, the woman is both the product and the exploited worker.

    Just another tired commodification of women, worse than most because it’s women reinforcing other women to follow the patriarchal norms or suffer real world penalties; financial, social and academic.

  69. Urban

    Kali: Thank you for your post: That is exactly what I was getting at, but couldn’t quite put my finger on.

  70. Betsy

    Octogalore, great point. I was aware in writing the post that someone could be both brainy and a sexbot (though it still is the case that every hour a woman dedicates to making herself over in the image of the patriarchy is an hour less to excel in studies, or accomplish anything else worth while), and it did give me hesitation.

    My illustration was inexact and the objections you raise seem valid. I’d only say, the greater point I was trying to make is this: It’s worth looking at the way resources flow through a system. It’s worth examining how the patriarchy and its participants ensure that a greater proportion of resources flow to itself (versus to dissenting persons, life patterns, and social systems).

    Ecosystems biologists trace the flow of energy through an ecological system; how does the flow of resources through our social system support and perpetuate the patriarchy? what steps does it take to ensure that dissenters are disadvantaged economically? how does it arrogate resources to itself?

    Insert analogy to cancer cells here; I have ventured far enough afield.

  71. j.a.c

    Thank you Twisty. You are brilliant and an inspiration for novice blamers like me.

  72. maribelle

    Betsy–Context is all, and your analogy works perfectly in the context of this article, where “smart” students are punished (at a college! the mind reels!) for not being sexy enough and the sexbots are rewarded for being less scholarly.

    You hit it on the head with “follow the money and see who benefits.”

    (though it still is the case that every hour a woman dedicates to making herself over in the image of the patriarchy is an hour less to excel in studies, or accomplish anything else worth while),

    Yes. Where you put your energy determines what you make manifest in your life. This sorority’s insistence on enforced compliance with arbitrary female beauty standards keeps women focused on trying to please someone outside themselves for their approval, affection, status and even livelihood.

    It is particularly self-defeating in this case because the dictates of sexbot-hood are diametrically opposed to the dictates of scholarship and intellectual inquiry.

    We could write it off with a headshaking, except that once again, real women are encountering real dangers due to compulsory femininity.

    PS the “sexy and smart” engineer isn’t neccessarily going to be “dependent on a man”–why should she be?

    Insert analogy to cancer cells here;

    Blame it, sister.

  73. octogalore

    Betsy said “Ecosystems biologists trace the flow of energy through an ecological system; how does the flow of resources through our social system support and perpetuate the patriarchy? what steps does it take to ensure that dissenters are disadvantaged economically? how does it arrogate resources to itself?”

    Interesting. I agree, there are many ways in which patriarchy ensures (or tries to) its continuation through resource flow. I think if we reach an equilibrium in the ecosystem in which an equal number of women are economically independent from men as vice versa, a number of other more advanced issues will, if not fall into place, at least resolve into a less oppressive dynamic. Patriarchy definitely benefits from different factions stemming from different schools of feminist thought being at war with one another and less focused on the common goals.

  74. maribelle

    Here are the NY times letters to the editor responding to this story. The last one, by a guy, is particularly interesting.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/27/opinion/l27sorority.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

  75. flawedplan

    “If you are within an ideological system, and you want to resist that system, is your resistence something you really generate apart from the ideological system, or is your resistence always already determined from within? In other words, is there an extra- or non-ideological vantage point we or anyone can claim, from which some True and Undistorted view can be expressed?”

    Yes, it’s called schizophrenia.

  76. vera

    Well, people do call us crazy.

  77. roamaround

    I’m looking forward to Twisty’s future post alluded to above. Race, class, religion and status are all socially constructed, but I cannot go there with J who seems to be saying that sex is just as socially constructed.

    We’ve been through the femininity thing (redux), and I accept that the way gender is defined is socially constructed, but blood, birth and lactating breasts are not mere constructions. Bitey is right that there are artificial hierarchies that are oppressive, but to say that nothing is natural is oversimplifying.

    If we really want to get rid of misogynistic ideologies, I suggest we start with Marx, Lacan, and Foucault who cared little and understood less about the uniqueness of women’s oppression.

  78. ripley

    Regarding the forthcoming (and eagerly awaited) post on children, and in response to Vera, I would suggest that the patriarchy appears to have different demands/rewards/punishments for breeding based on the race of the woman. (or that different patriarchies place different demands? or that other things besides patriarchy make demands?)

  79. Betsy

    Octogalore — It *does* open up a whole new world when you start looking at it in terms of energy flow (resource flow, or economics) — at least, it did for me. (I like your hypothesis about equilibrium. I wonder if there is a situation somewhere on which we could test it!)

    Re: the economics of patriarchy — I have my feminist law professor to thank for opening this particular window for me. Now I see a lot of things in terms of how law & policy place additional resources in the hands of the Patriarchy-obedient.

    For example, I have this little idea that the real reason we won’t calm down and just enact a sensible national health insurance plan is that it would remove a major remaining incentive for women to marry breadwinner males: that is, they often come with health insurance.

    Interestingly (and tending to bear out my theory), the benefit only accrues to those who emulate the patriarchal ideal as closely as possible. Working-class males don’t often have health insurance. Thus, if you’re acting as a *rational* fembot, you seek out white-collar, high-earning, breadwinner types: the top of the patriarchal heap.

    Thus, from a resource/economics viewpoint, “availability of health benefits” (the resource in question) is linked both to “high-class employment” and “marital status” (the social systems in question) in a way that helps to perpetuate multiple patriarchal ideals:

    – it tilts women’s choices in mate selection toward top-ranking males, and away from black/poor/blue-collar males;
    – it ties women’s well-being to their continuing attachment to a male, tilting their investments in relationships toward men, and away from other women;
    – it links women’s well-being to their continuing attachment to a male SPOUSE specifically (since you can’t get health insurance from your brother), thus tending to focus women’s investment in social attachment on romantic relationships (rather than say, investing in long-term friendship, or sibling attachment, or committing to any other household paradigm than a heteronormative one);
    – it ties children’s well-being to their mother’s continuing ability to please a male spouse, thus leveraging the strength of the mother-child bond in the service of the wife-husband bond; …

    I’d go on, but it’s late, and I think I could spend half a lifetime discussing the patriarchal incentives within other examples — from social security survivor’s benefits, to child care tax credits, to unemployment insurance.

  80. octogalore

    Betsy – great example on health insurance. That makes a lot of sense. Not only does the limited access through workplace put a premium on white collar (and predominantly white) guys, but also a premium on full-timers, who are a higher percentage male than the male percentage of the entire workforce.

    I think the economic independence equilibrium idea fits in there, as it would render irrelevant such motives and maybe, if your hypothesis is correct, remove a key obstacle to universal healthcare. I really think this is the key step that will then lead to a significant lowering of oppression in all the more nuanced ways that we often debate here, such as femininity requirements. If women had equal access to the power aphrodisiac, we wouldn’t be so dependent on the femininity one.

    “(I like your hypothesis about equilibrium. I wonder if there is a situation somewhere on which we could test it!)”

    I can’t think of any statistically sound ways to test it, but maybe families or small communities are a way to get a peek. In families I know in which the woman has economic independence (the ideal, of course, is equal or greater economic power), there does seem to be a more equal balance of power in matters of financial decisions, housework, childcare, sex, etc. There also seems to be more of a balance in terms of age, expectations of one another vis a vis appearance, and other issues that are typically unbalanced in a patriarchy. Of course, this is flawed because my analysis is only anecdotal and also these families are within a context of the patriarchy in which the norm is different from their example. So they are still plagued with some patriarchal elements. But it’s a start.

    How to get there is a different topic, of course.

  81. M The Pedagogue

    whoa, this whole “inside vs. outside” the patriarchy debate is so Hegelian it hurts, but I’m not the person to describe how… I’m sending my Hegel scholar friend over here so she can have a whack at it.

    But pathetically bare bones, what I’m talking about is:

    If Thesis=patriarchy, our Antithesis=feminism, what’s the Synthesis?

    If there were no patriarchy, there would be no feminism, because there would be no dialectic partner for it.

    Or something. Does a fish know it’s in the water? That’s the other version of the question being asked. I don’t know about the fish, but I’m pretty damn sure I know I’m drowning in my environment.

  82. kate

    “though it still is the case that every hour a woman dedicates to making herself over in the image of the patriarchy is an hour less to excel in studies, or accomplish anything else worth while…”

    Exactly, but as you said and others said, many women still see the rewards of making a good ‘catch’ far more stable than tending toward intellectual or skill development to acquire independent earnings.

    I see the economic path as the large vein that runs through the entire system, it is indeed a large part of what keeps the structure in place.

    “Not only does the limited access through workplace put a premium on white collar (and predominantly white) guys, but also a premium on full-timers, who are a higher percentage male than the male percentage of the entire workforce.”

    This is certainly something seen only in one context. Working class women strive to find guaranteed earners, but not necessarily white collar earners. The division of class is so distinct that rarely do women or men move upward in class and most often it is women who have the best chance and only then, by virture of offering themselves as probably trophy wives, who must either be taught to navigate through their new cultural system, or at least keep quiet so as to not expose themselves. Said exposure can quickly move one back down to where they started, or freeze them from moving further forward. Anyway, working class women do in fact find their own traditional bread winners. Why the hell do you think the trades are still male dominated?

    When we speak of whether women have agency, that is have a choice as to whether to engage in the patriarchy and to what degree, we cannot ignore economics. Economic oppression has been the heart and soul of oppression of women and still the threat of falling downward on the heirarchy serves to keep many women compliant.

    I would think that agency is indeed an individual development as experiences among women vary widely. Some women pick up peices of independence from older women, some as a reaction to extreme direct oppression and others from formal education. ALso, in each type of learning experience, a different angle of observation is taken, which is easily done in when we’re talking about a social system as all encompassing as patriarchy.

    So therefore, when a woman I may have worked with for an entire year on feminist issues and shared with me mutual disgust at the patriarchy, turns to me one day and proclaims, “You aren’t the high maintenance type, you know, not feminine.” can say this without flinching at all. I mean, not only was she wrong in her assumption, but her willingness to define my women quality based on some artifical construct of something which she claimed all along to be aware of and disgusted with made no sense to me. But later, it did.

    I would think that those whose entire construct of self orginates from a paradigm which from the start labels them as evil, is going to have some conflict along the way of coming to terms with herself as a woman, clean and free of original sin.

  83. Spinning Liz

    Betsy: excellent example of the US health insurance imbroglio. I am the patriarchy’s poster child, their Look What Happens If You Don’t Follow The Rules negative role model that they wave like a flag to keep other women in their place. I dared to be gleefully single, to quit a high-paying job that I loathed, to turn 50 and to have a few pre-existing conditions that caused my individual health insurance premiums to skyrocket beyond my means. And then WHAM! Just like they warned, just like everybody’s worst nightmare, I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and lost everything I’d worked for all my life. And yet, you know what? If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t do a damn thing different. Especially not marriage.

    It would be interesting to know how many people in the US, women and men, stay in miserable marriages and/or jobs they hate just because they can’t afford to lose the health insurance. Tightening the reins of access to health insurance is indeed an extremely powerful tool of patriarchal control.

  84. ginmar

    You know, it’s all very well and good to blame the patriarchy for womens’ acts, but what in hell do you do about sisters who actively go around behind your back, bitching at you for male-disapproved of shit? You can be all saintly but I’ve got fucking Belledame endlessly reposting just one link over and over again every time she comments anywhere, without mentioning that the person she’s defending just loooooved the war I fought in. What do you do about women who claim the title of feminist only so they can play good feminist and make you the bad one?

  85. roamaround

    People are getting so materialist here, I’m having a hard time waiting to break out Shulamith. One more day, right?

    “If women had equal access to the power aphrodisiac, we wouldn’t be so dependent on the femininity one.” Octogalore, I agree with much of what you say about women’s economic independence leading to more egalitarian relationships within the system, but that is way too reformist for me. I hold the radical view that the “power aphrodisiac” of capitalism is central to the problem. What it comes down to, I think, is which side are you on?

  86. hedonistic

    I believe what Octogolore is saying is: This is the only game in town!!!!!!! (But certainly she can speak for herself.) Most feminists are reformists because it’s more practical (not to mention easier) to be a subversive than a revolutionary. I personally find this to be the case.

    Speaking of which, we need more hottie feminist wannabe subversives marrying billionaires and then waiting for said billionaires to off themselves so that said billions may be rechannelled to subversive antipatriarchal ends. We need more Theresa Heinz (ketchup money going to women’s startup businesses) and Melinda Gates (All Africa Women and Children, All The Time!) feminists out there.

    I’ll git right on it. News at 11!

  87. saucysaucy

    Well shit, I think you’re a hate filled wacko, but that’s just the patriarchy talking. Glad to know I can’t form my own opinions or anything. Hey, don’t get pissed or anything, I’m just a poor, dumb, patriarchy-addled girl, and you’d just be blaming the victim.

  88. Twisty

    Sadly, ginmar, I cannot offer much advice in the way of combatting the phenomenon of “feminist”-on-feminist violence. Standing by one’s convictions is the only honorable path.

    I recommend ignoring the sniveling Belledame22, however. In her case it’s just ill-mannered toadyism; I was recently apprised of a post she wrote condemning my feminist cred because I love my father and belong to the wrong socio-economic class. I mean, come on.

  89. Twisty

    Saucysaucy earns the recognition of the moderator for having written, with only one punctuation error, only four lines in order to not advance the discourse one iota; generally the tedious insist on taking up more space.

  90. ginmar

    Okay, loving your dad damnages your cred? But if you’re one of the ‘good’ feminists, shouldn’t that be de rigeur? Are we supposed to try and be good feminists or what? “Good feminists” meaning sex poz, blowjob-loving, sports corset-wearing and all. And what the hell is the wrong socio-economic class? I’m blue collar, and I get it from poor men, rich men, and non-feminist and pseudo feminist women. I don’t need fuck me pumps and designer shit to be happy; I just want to read every good book ever written and throw darts at a poster of James Frey and Oprah.

  91. Mar Iguana

    “Speaking of which, we need more hottie feminist wannabe subversives marrying billionaires and then waiting for said billionaires to off themselves so that said billions may be rechannelled to subversive antipatriarchal ends.” hedonistic

    Unfortunately, the billions are not controlled by the widows. Steinam found this out when trying to raise funds for Ms Magazine. The billionaire boys make sure before they die that their bucks will be managed by their executor boys, the widows getting control of merely their “allowance.”

  92. saucysaucy

    Glad to be a waste of your time!

  93. saucysaucy

    Shit, I forgot to capitalize Patriarchy, didn’t I?

  94. hedonistic

    Mar Iguana: The sick part is that her “allowance” was probably worth more than her own income from work or retirement.

  95. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    Kate said:
    “I would think that those whose entire construct of self orginates from a paradigm which from the start labels them as evil, is going to have some conflict along the way of coming to terms with herself as a woman, clean and free of original sin.”

    I really all comes back to this. Thus, we have some well-groomed, designer-clad CHURCH LADIES enforcing the whole paradigm. (*superior dance in progress*)

    I escaped from misogynic religions long ago. One cannot easily escape the secular branch of the patriarchy, as posters have articulately pointed out.

  96. Vera Venom

    saucysaucy – I have a serious question for you.

    What – specifically – are you taking issue with in this post?

    you’re not making any sense.

  97. KMTberry

    I think if we reach an equilibrium in the ecosystem in which an equal number of women are economically independent from men as vice versa, a number of other more advanced issues will, if not fall into place, at least resolve into a less oppressive dynamic.

    Hence the major BROUHAHA following that article that said 51% of American Women were living “without men” around 24/7 to “see to” them.

  98. octogalore

    Roomaround – to answer your question about which side, I do agree mostly with what hedonistic said about this (the existing power structures) being the only game in town – now. I think revolution will come from infiltration, so has to begin with subversion. You need power to change power, and you can’t do it from a position of none. So yes, I think many obstacles – femininity requirements, submissiveness expectations, being put on the mommy track, people like Switchblade holding doctor/male over nurse/female – can be most quickly alleviated, if not resolved, by economic equality.

    And that’s the first step. When we’ve gotten to that point, and not until then, we can begin to question the system of capitalism itself. It sounds much more admirable to come at things from the radical viewpoint, and technically I agree that the existing system is quite flawed. But to the extent that we’re living in this world and not analyzing it from a distance, most of the time, we have to look at not what side we’re on (which seems divisive to me), but how to get shit done.

    I agree with what hedonistic is saying about channeling money from billionaire inheritances to help women’s causes and especially entrepreneurialism. But I think our role models and heroes should be women who themselves earned (and not by marriage) the rewards which, directed towards feminist causes, created the change.

  99. roamaround

    There are sides to be taken on the subject of economic privilege, Octogalore, whether it’s divisive or not. The heroism of entrepreneurship? Ick! The system that rewards some workers at the expense of others is based on exploitation and injustice and is not neutral. I don’t care if it’s Bill-the-entrepreneur-Gates or wifey Melinda who is using unelected noblesse to influence the way schools in my city are run, just for one example. The fact that they used different talents to get undue power is irrelevant.

  100. octogalore

    Roomaround – I am advocating, not that entrepreneurship is saintly or women seeking economic equality are going to be able to do so without sometimes taking others’ (maybe, men’s) places. I am not saying not wonderful, flawless, or utopian. I am saying that, in the real world, women gaining economic equality and thus economic privilege, is the only way to get the kind of platform we will need to get things done. You don’t like how the schools are run? You feel schoolteachers are underpaid and I-bankers overpaid? You feel there are glass ceilings in corporations preventing women from having the same opportunities? When women are 50% of city or state politics or corporate management, these things may change. We can argue about whether this power is “undue” or not until the cows come home, but without it, the people making decisions about the things you call “injustice” and “exploitation” will be men. Even if the structures are imperfect, I personally would prefer that the voices heard in the debate about how to work within them, or how to reform them, include female ones. And I believe the microphone allowing our voices to be heard is economic power.

    SMMO: we’ve discussed the LATIMES article about the Gates foundation here before. There’s corruption everywhere – politics, “charitable” foundations, and industry. There are also corrupt people lower down on the food chain – slum lords, pimps. Making lots of money does not need to involve poisoning little children, etc. While I’ve said before and will say again that the CEOs, heads of law firms, government officials, etc. of the world are mostly very imperfect, I still think that more, possibly very imperfect, WOMEN in these positions would be a big improvement.

    I agree – women like Kerry and Gates bootstrapping their husband’s positions to do charitable works are only going to be one-offs, not phenomena that’ll bring about systemic change. When women are in the positions that John Kerry and Bill Gates are, though –then I think we’ve got a much better shot at it.

  101. smmo

    “Making lots of money does not need to involve poisoning little children, etc.”

    Honey, please.

  102. octogalore

    SMMO, let’s take a few examples:

    – a small female-run law firm handling local real estate matters

    – a search firm placing high tech execs in companies

    – a group of pediatricians

    How do women at high levels in thse companies poison little children?

    Also, stop with the “honey,” if you would. I’m not sure the snark factor really adds anything.

  103. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    I think that ssmo is referring to corporate entities. All of the examples that octogalore listed are not corporate entities.

    Corporations have limited liability unlike partnerships or professional corporations (LLCs). Professionals in a partnership or professional corporation are personally liable for the professional decisions that they make.

    Corporate officers can make decisions without personal liability. There’s a completely different standard for the corporate officer, and it enables the corporate officer to make decisions with impunity. This makes a difference in how business is carried out with respect to the public interest.

  104. octogalore

    Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma: clearly your grades in Corporations 101 helped you get into law review, and that’s all to the good. However, the quote that SMMO took exception to was:

    “Making lots of money does not need to involve poisoning little children, etc.”

    This quote did not specify being in a certain environment.

    Moreover, just because corporate officers can make decisions without personal liability and this enables more corruption, it does not mean that all corporate officers have taken advantage of this. Nor should it mean that women should avoid these environments because of the potential for corruption. There’s potential for corruption in the sandbox too, but I still want my daughter in there so that she can have access to the toys and be where the action is.

  105. roamaround

    “We can argue about whether this power is “undue” or not until the cows come home, but without it, the people making decisions about the things you call “injustice” and “exploitation” will be men.”

    Octagalore, there is nothing to argue about here: power gained through economic advantage is undue. Period. And, feminist though I am, I frankly don’t care if it’s men or women doing the exploiting. Any movement I’m willing to be part of will aim to overturn that undue power by any means necessary. I’m not willing to be patient and see if, when the men die off, their women will be kinder despots. History doesn’t bode well for that.

    The things I call “injustice” and “exploitation” include imperialism, racism and deadly economic inequalities. Why the mocking quotation marks?

  106. octogalore

    Roomaround — no mocking intended, just using quotes to reference the exact terms used.

    I do think there’s an argument here: there are women who have earned their economic advantage by merit. Sure, it’s not fair that some fields are better compensated, but it’s also not throw all the hard work under the bus and say it’s undue because not everyone’s benefiting. Believe me — if you picked up a business in your spare time, and it made some bucks, and you were able to buy yourself some time at the end of your working life to smell the roses and try to invest money and time in making a difference, you’d be playing a different tune when someone suggested you were exploitative.

    I’m a child of academics and always thought the disparity between incomes of friends’ parents in business jobs and my parents’ income level was unfair. And I still do think teaching is unfairly underpaid. But that doesn’t mean I think women in business who’ve made it up the hill (part-way, anyway) are profiting from ill-gotten gains.

    How do you think we can “overturn that undue power” via a revolutionary movement? I’m curious; if you can convince me there’s a way, I’m on board.

  107. smmo

    Octogalore: (is your name a James Bond reference? If so, ew.

    You bring up law and real estate, two of the most parasitic professions I can think of. My point is, nearly anyone with loads of money is complicit with corporate interests. You may not work for Monsanto, or Pfizer, but somehow your money is doing their dirty work. This is true of anyone with any money at all. In fact, I’ve really got no idea what the pathetic amount in my IRA does or for whom.

    “if you picked up a business in your spare time, and it made some bucks, and you were able to buy yourself some time at the end of your working life to smell the roses and try to invest money and time in making a difference, you’d be playing a different tune when someone suggested you were exploitative.”

    I try to be honest about the privilege I enjoy at the expense of others. It is the least I can do.

    The vision of a child in the sandbox with their Blackberry and briefcase is a depressing one.

  108. roamaround

    “if you picked up a business in your spare time, and it made some bucks, and you were able to buy yourself some time at the end of your working life to smell the roses and try to invest money and time in making a difference, you’d be playing a different tune when someone suggested you were exploitative.”

    I’m going to respond briefly, Octo, and then stop since I think the class divide isn’t the only one yawning here. What if you worked just as hard all your life and were faced with cat food instead of roses at the end? I’m not saying that anyone in any situation is inherently good or evil, but the economic merit you speak of is a MYTH that kills.

    As for the revolutionary movement that will overturn the system, might I humbly suggest The Dialectic of Sex: the Case for Feminist Revolution, by Shulamith Firestone? Drum roll, please!

  109. M The Pedagogue

    thanks roamaround. I was freaking out at the “picked up a business in your spare time” moment too. whoa.

    This is exactly why we need to continue our excessively radical critiques of capitalism: capitalism is not just about market forces, but a mind-twisting set of ideologies, much like patriarchy, and, in my view, basically inextricably bound together with patriarchy.

    If we’re so busy trying to get shit done that we can’t even see the huge, glaring errors in our beliefs about economic opportunity, then we’re doomed from the start.

  110. octogalore

    Roomaround – where are you getting a yay capitalism argument from these points:

    1) It happens to be the current system
    2) I think women can make a difference within it by attaining power within it, and then possibly changing the system itself
    3) Not everyone who has made the system work for them is exploitative

    I have never, and will never, argue that there are not may people who work extremely hard and are unfairly not benefited from it within the current system. That’s why I’ve said numerous times that it’s quite flawed (but of course you’re not pulling those quotes).

    I liked The Dialectic and am looking forward to our discussion of it, but I don’t think we have the organization or mass incentive structure to pull that kind of thing off from where we are now. It works wonderfully as a theoretical concept, and I think it’s a brilliant tool for making a lot of things much more clear. But I didn’t really see a workable game plan there.

    M The Pedagogue: why freak out? It’s a serious question. A friend, for example, is a schoolteacher who started a tutoring business to help pay the bills and also cover expenses for school supplies that are sorely lacking. She’s now finding it to be more lucrative than she had thought and has been able to put more away as well as donate to a children’s cause that is close to her heart because of a family situation. Granted: not everyone gets lucky that way. Granted: it’s not fair that not everyone does. Granted: there are many problems with the current system such that these opportunities are not available to everyone. However: is what she did exploitative? Does she need to feel bad about this? Can she feel good about the fact that she has worked the system to make a difference? Why are these issues freaking you out?

  111. octogalore

    SMMO: “The vision of a child in the sandbox with their (sic)Blackberry and briefcase is a depressing one.”

    So, where are you getting “Blackberry and briefcase” from “toys” and “be where the action is”? The action in the sandbox, I think, is shovels, trucks, and the occasional remains of an overflowed diaper.

    But far be it from me to object to your black-and-whiting my arguments so as to set up a strawenemy. It’s fun, it’s completely unproductive, and it’s exactly what I thought this post was supposed to be critiquing.

  112. smmo

    I don’t think vigorous debate = lack of sisterhood. Feminism, for me, isn’t making nice with women I disagree with. Sorry.

    As for sandboxes and business – you made the analogy.

    It is simply that I rebel against the idea that individual women making it in a man’s world does jack shit for women in general.

    I recently saw Carly Fiorina on Real Time with Bill Maher. She was obviously intelligent, well spoken, nicely put together. And every word that came out of her mouth was totally sanitized double-talking BS. Her soul had obviously been sucked out, but she remains loyal to the world that fucked her over completely. Caveat Emptor.

  113. kate

    “we have to look at not what side we’re on (which seems divisive to me), but how to get shit done.”

    I agree with this in the pure sense. As the patriarchy is the soup we’re stuck in, in order to fashion change, subversive work within the existing system must take place. There is no other way. Even those who engage in an academic postulating on a white paper about the finer vulgarities of the patriarchal ‘paradigm’ or the ‘dialectic’ of feminism, have acquired their positions through privilege granted by a system of power and exploitation. Or the alcoholic crack addled prostitute, who possibly strapped with rage against “The Man” that she knows full well oppresses her, must survive and thinks first of her fix and only when the fist flies, is reminded of the oppression she wishes so much to escape. We’re all to blame, we all contribute to the furtherance of the system as it is.

    But, no change will not come from the top. Every major movement in this world has come from the bottom has it not? unless I am wrong. When the lower echelons of a social system, who support the furtherance of accumulation of capital, with their blood and sweat, find the suction of the uppers too constricting, they will rise up to gain another foothood. Not of course, because of any high ideals about changing existing paradigms that bring about their oppression, but because they are damn hungry and tired.

    I have felt pretty close to that point since I embarked into the big wide lie on my own known as patriarchy as a young idealistic girl. I am tired and continue since no one down here seems ready for a revolution yet, their resilience I have to say is amazing, or is it ignorance of any other way out?

    Ms. Heinz and the rest will never make change. Not only do they have little interest in doing so, but also, they have very little idea of what change they are supposed to want. I doubt very much that they can define oppression in the way that I see it, or possibly the way that you see it. And as I am sitting here today, I find myself on the lowest rung of Maslow’s heiarchy of needs, rationing food, but determined to hang in there because of some silly ideal I hold that a large portion of my success lies in standing up against the hurricanes of damage and destruction that the patriarhcy tends to throw my way.

    What if I sold my computer for food, which I guess if I were more practical I might, so I could have some meat products and dairy for a couple of weeks. But then, how would I get to this blog and connect to others that give me the lifeblood of energy to carry on? Would I then sink into an abyss of ignorance myself with only moldy paperbacks of dead philosophers and feminists to succor me? What then? Could Ms. Heinz ever contemplate the position I’m in without either 1) feeling uncomfortably guilty about her excess and possible contribution to my misery ( in a long view) or 2) blame my failings on my personal choice to not conform and thus write me off as solely responsible for my own misery? Is that not in fact the wingnut mantra, that everyone starts at the same gate and if you don’t get around the track with the others, well that’s cause you took a snooze half-lap? I know that the dominant culture, whether left or right politically holds the latter view, they have to in order to continue to function comfortably within their own structure of success.

    In fact, if change were to have come from the higher ups, then universities would serve more as halls of revolution rather than factories for conformist development and furtherance of capital. That it is fashionable for the elite to assume they understand the dialectic of the oppressed classes is simply a symptom of and exercise of power, not any true effort to change its orientation. “Look you little people, not only do we have clothes, houses and positions you’ll never have, we understand you like you never will!” And thus another paper goes forth and is published stating that women are oppressed while ten more strip clubs open up unhindered.

    Ginmar:

    I can relate to your frustration as there is nothing worse than finding what you thought an ally in mutual struggle to be diddling precious energy attempting to pry your fingers off the cliff’s edge.

    It seems some people get confused with what working toward social change really means. We are all flawed, I don’t know where feminism mandates personal perfection, because if it does, I’m going to have to drop out right now. We have to accept our flaws and make a point to work together for the larger goals, I’d think. I think that this is one reason why the right does so well with organizing as they come from the born again precept that each new member is welcomed with their flaws and by their ‘coming in’ they are cleansed and are renewed into the movement.

    We need that, us women. We need to nurture each other and accept each as cleansed, no matter what part of the ladder we are on, just so long as we’re all trying to get to the same goal, there’s plenty of room in the world I envision.

  114. M The Pedagogue

    Octogalore – so you have a friend who discovered privatized means of educating students paid more than public education? There’s a shocker.

    So many who want their cake and to eat it too use the straw man of the small business owner as entrepreneurial hero. It’s apples & oranges. Your tutoring friend is not exploitative. When did I call that exploitative? (Hey, some can pay for extra tutoring and some can’t, but that’s not her problem. Or something.) It’s the unholy alliances between governments and corporations like Enron, Halliburton, Blackwater, etc, profiteering via every possible antitrust loophole, insider trading, and rigged deal in the name of “free markets” that creates the exploitation. It’s the difference between blaming a man and blaming the patriarchy. Surely you get that.

    Whether we’re ideologically up for it or not, it’s looking more and more like we’re all going to have to give up an awful lot of comforts. An entire global economy set up on transporting goods via petroleum fueled vehicles – that’s not gonna last forever. In fact, even the oil industries got that memo and are adapting things like cars for alternative energies. So the end of capitalism is probably not going to come out of anybody’s revolution, but by the system imploding on itself when the oil runs dry. Or rising temperatures create such an outbreak of disease and death in the tropics and subtropics that even the western industrialized nations will feel it enough to have to care. It’s perpetually amazing to me that even feminists get defensive if you question the ultimate supremacy and clear victory of capitalism and call anyone who denounces it some kind of silly adolescent who has yet to grow up. That thinking pretty much ensures that we won’t be able to see a viable option should it present itself.

    Anyway, I highly recommend reading just about anything Kevin Phillips has written, but in particular, _Wealth and Democracy_. Capitalism has not always looked the same to everyone at all times. Did you know that there used to be jobs that only required a high school education and paid enough to raise a whole family on – and then still provided a reasonable pension? Suggesting those kinds of wages or that businesses ought to pay their share of taxes, healthcare, and retirement makes you a commie pinko idealist now. But that was life in working-class America before deindustrialization, privatization, Reagan, and everything that came after.

    But I’m glad it’s working out so well for you, octogalore. I guess that means it’s not such a bad system after all.

  115. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    SSMO specifically referred to oil companies and vaccine companies–both corporations in the U.S.

    It’s incorrect to compare corporate responsibility to professional responsibilty. Professionals do not have personal immunity, and professionals have ethical duties enforced by professional boards. Octagalore, that’s how you framed the discussion, and it’s not correct.

    We can disagree whether corporate ethics are an issue. I can think of many recent examples in which corporations have acted against the public interest. As a consumer, I would feel more comfortable if my interests were adequately protected. Corporations have not been as powerful as they are today since the 1920′s. Today, corporations donate to both sides of any campaign, and they clearly have power in Washington.

    BTW, corporations that make vaccines have federal immunity. Anyone injured by a vaccine must rely on a federal fund for compensation.

  116. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    M wrote: “It’s the unholy alliances between governments and corporations like Enron, Halliburton, Blackwater, etc, profiteering via every possible antitrust loophole, insider trading, and rigged deal in the name of ‘free markets’ that creates the exploitation.”

    Now, there’s some excellent corporate blaming! Nice job.

  117. octogalore

    SMMO – I don’t think anyone’s arguing with “the idea that individual women making it in a man’s world does jack shit for women in general.” No individual woman should be held to that standard, although it’s certainly an impressive one. But she shouldn’t be convicted of corruption, either.

    By definition, as long as it’s “a man’s world,” isolated actions won’t do “jack shit” for women. My point is that if a multitude of women did “make it,” as compromising as that might be, I think we’d see change. I agree with kate that the movement will need to come from the bottom too. But I think a necessary element is that the constituency of the folks at the top will be a significant portion female. We can all point to the Carly Fiorinas of the world; it’s hardly fair to women to judge everyone by one example.
    M the Pedagogue said: “But I’m glad it’s working out so well for you, octogalore. I guess that means it’s not such a bad system after all.”

    I could go back and cite the words, like”corrupt” and “flawed,” that I’ve used to describe the system, M, in making the point that more women in charge of a flawed system is better than more men in charge, and could lead to flaw reduction. But, if you’re intent on making me out to be a smug apologist who can only see beyond my silver-toed boots, go for it.

    Kate – great points. I’m curious as to what you mean by why anyone would “blame my failings on my personal choice to not conform and thus write me off as solely responsible for my own misery?” Do you mean someone making an assumption that you “took a snooze half-lap”, without having any further data? I’m curious as to the context here.
    I think you’re right that the wingnuts do comfort themselves with these assumptions to reassure themselves about their own privilege. I’m not sure everyone does, though. Many on the left do not believe everyone starts at the same gate. They do see a gap between their own circumstances and the fact that not everyone has the same starting position. I agree that there’s a lot of condescending and patronizing that goes on, of course.

    I do find it interesting that you would comment on strip club openings as part of the oppression. In some ways, that’s true, but many of the women in them would resent anyone trying to limit them from making more than minimum wage or lower, and calculatingly taking advantage of the current system to better their situations. I wonder if these women would say of you what you’re saying of the wingnuts: that you claim to understand them better than they understand themselves.

    I love your point about why the right does well with organizing. Exactly. The rad fems and other feminist groups are about 10x more intelligent than the wingnuts, but the result often is high level disagreements when there is so much low hanging fruit that we can come together to deal with, if we could stop arguing enough to agree to do so.

  118. smmo

    Octogalore said: “I don’t think anyone’s arguing with “the idea that individual women making it in a man’s world does jack shit for women in general.”

    It seems to me you’re making precisely that argument, octogalore. That women becoming powerful within the framework of patriarchy is good for women. I guess I’m too cynical to see it that way.

    “I do find it interesting that you would comment on strip club openings as part of the oppression. In some ways, that’s true, but many of the women in them would resent anyone trying to limit them from making more than minimum wage or lower, and calculatingly taking advantage of the current system to better their situations.”

    As heartening as I find the idea of bands of feminists closing down strip clubs, I don’t think the women oppressed in them need to fear losing their crap ass jobs. That right there is a growth industry. I will say that it is pretty common knowledge that the vast majority of women who “dance” don’t make much money. Shockingly enough, their employers tend to exploit them. The whole “putting herself through law school by stripping” thing is an urban legend.

    Didn’t Anna Nicole Smith get her start stripping? Yeah, that turned out well.

  119. octogalore

    SMMO – wow, you certainly seem to have a lot of info about this. Any of it firsthand? I have some of the latter, and believe me, it’s no urban legend.

  120. saltyC

    Octagalore, you mean to say you put yourself through law school stripping?

  121. saltyC

    I mean Octogalore,

  122. Sam

    I read somewhere about 5-6 years ago that the average yearly salary of a stripper is 25k a year. Not independently wealthy wages, but still double what minimum wage brings in a year.

  123. octogalore

    Salty, I’m gonna plead the fifth. But let’s just say that I do know of what I speak.

    The $25K sounds like very, very part time. On a good night, four figures is very doable.

    I’m not defending SCs as bastions of empowerment, but I do feel that we should ask the women working therein directly, rather than SMMO, about how “crap ass” these jobs are, vs other available options.

    I find it extremely shortsighted that someone could say “heartening as I find the idea of bands of feminists closing down strip clubs…”. Why is it the role of feminists to remove choices about which patriarchal employment is better than another option?

  124. saltyC

    Four figures on a good night? How does that make sense?

    Anyway I guess someone might know you personally somehow so you don’t want to admit being a stripper though that’s what you said in your previous post, but I have been a dominatrix and can tell you in my experience, stories of good money in the sex biz are greatly exaggerated. People don’t brag about being exploited, they usually say how much they make in a good night but don’t average in all the slow nights. keep in mind that a “good night” means sexually satisfying more smelly strangers.

    I’ve seen nights at a strip club when the strippers made less than the servers, because the clientelle just watched the stage shows, which are not very lucrative for the strippers, and had few lapdances.

    The money earned does not factor in the cost of sex work, which is extremely damaging to women if they do it long enough. Playing a role to someone who does not respect you, and helping them ejaculate on that very concept has an emotional toll. Women in the biz are acutely aware of terms like bitch slut and whore and use them wuite frequently, as I’m sure you know. This toll is why so many never actuallt go through law school but become drug addicts.

  125. Twisty

    Drink the kool-aid, Octogalore! Read Shulie’s first chapter!

  126. smmo

    A List of Ways Strippers are Exploited that Doesn’t Even Include The Nature of the Work that SaltyC already covered:

    No health insurance
    No workers’ comp
    No sick pay
    No vacation
    No overtime
    Table fees
    Stage fees

    All because they are considered independent contractors. And before you tell me about the wonderful club where everyone had all those things, Octogalore, I’m saying that this is the situation in most, not all strip clubs.

  127. octogalore

    SaltyC: yes, that is why I am being cautious. But because I do want to speak openly about it, I’ll come out and say you’re right.

    Four figures may not be the norm everywhere, but in three cities I’ve personally experienced, one of them Vegas, many didn’t go home without being three quarters of the way up there, and most of the time it did get all the way up and sometimes much further. How it makes sense? Like any business. Develop regular clients, demand $250-400/hour for your time, and clarify the limits upfront. I am not saying this is universal, but back in the day, I could point to fifty women who could say the same. Keep in mind, many of these people worked peak days and hours.

    So that this is very clear: I am not disputing that (1) there are often unpleasant strangers involved; (2) it can be very damaging especially over time; (3) women without a solid grounding in their own self worth can be vulnerable to the derogatory terms used; (4) SMMO’s list is 100% true for every club I worked in. I am not saying this work should be a goal for anyone. I am simply arguing that the idea of a band of feminists charging in, in 2007, and closing down the clubs, is not a very “heartening” one.

    Clearly, I’m not a good example. I had the verbal ability, education, and general bitchiness to cater to a group of men who liked to think they were at a “gentlemen’s club” and were willing to pay the additional freight for a mean Ivy League rebel. Before someone jumps down my throat for saying something self-serving, my intent here is to acknowledge why my experience might have been different, not to toot my horn. But I knew many women without college degrees, who were smart and knew when they needed to get out to stay sane, and who could make big money. Again – I’m not saying this is a wonderful choice for them. But compared to the alternatives, I’m saying it should be there decision to make it — not mine and not yours.

    An example was one twenty-four year old, let’s call her Ann. I knew her well. Ann had a high school education, a baby being taken care of by a grandparent, came from a minority broken family, and her previous employment was as a bank teller. She claimed, and legitimately appeared based on traffic, to be making upwards of $800 per night. Her goal was to help her mother out with medical expenses and save to become a cosmetologist. After several years, she was able to do this.

    Not everyone has this kind of nice story, and I completely believe and have seen a number of the horror stories. (Then again, I have a lawyer friend who tried unsuccessfully to overdose on sleeping pills and an investment banker friend who did too, in her case not unsuccessfully). But my point is – doesn’t Ann have the right to make this kind of decision?

    Twisty – as I’ve said, I did read The Dialectic, and am not quite sure exactly which part of the first chapter is relevant to what I’ve said. Please elucidate –many thanks.

  128. smmo

    Don’t get your G-string in a twist Octogalore. My “bands of feminists” crack was in response to this:

    “I do find it interesting that you would comment on strip club openings as part of the oppression. In some ways, that’s true, but many of the women in them would resent anyone trying to limit them from making more than minimum wage or lower, and calculatingly taking advantage of the current system to better their situations.”

    You brought up the idea of anyone preventing a woman from making that choice. I merely took it to an absurd extreme. I may be an asshole but I’m not a fascist.

  129. saltyC

    Who’s saying she doesn’t? I’m saying it’s not a good state for women to be in making such choices.

    And what is a broken home? One where the gambling, lying parent is still around to be a burden on the household? Or if the responsible parent successfully ejected such party, which case I would call a repaired home.

  130. saltyC

    Any job which justification is primarily money is not a healthy thing, though most proles like myself face sad choices, and some of us opt to be poorer rather than sicker. And investment banking is one of the sickest.

  131. octogalore

    SaltyC — I agree, it’s not a good state to be in, but the choices shouldn’t be dictated by either the patriarchy or any more benevolent group.

    Who’s saying she doesn’t? I’m saying it’s not a good state for women to be in making such choices.

    “And what is a broken home? One where the gambling, lying parent is still around to be a burden on the household? Or if the responsible parent successfully ejected such party, which case I would call a repaired home.”

    No argument there either, but in this case, there were many areas of breakage, and not because of the ejection of the dysfunctional portion, which I agree is a solution rather than a problem.

    “Any job which justification is primarily money is not a healthy thing, though most proles like myself face sad choices, and some of us opt to be poorer rather than sicker. And investment banking is one of the sickest.”

    Agree here too, but again my only point is that it’s an individual decision. For you, it made sense to get out. For others, maybe it’s a staged and calcuated situation where the money enables a different kind of choice. Either way, there shouldn’t be one feminist-approved right situation.

    If what Twisty is getting at is that the revolution posited in TDOS would render such decisions unnecessary, I agree. But that’s not the world we live in right now. Without a larger context shift, tossing whatever cool aid I’m drinking in the posts on this topic would only be a band-aid solution, and an ineffective one at that.

  132. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    NEWS FLASH!!!! PORNALICIOUS FEMALE IS REWARDED BY THE SYSTEM!!!! THE SYSTEM WORKS!!!! SUCCESS IS AT HAND, STORY AT 11 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (Um, I’m drunk. Anyone out there try Banyuls with chocolate? It’s insane.)

    $400/hr is the going rate for call girls in Vegas, but I’ve not heard it’s the going rate for strippers. No matter, it’s all the same, just a matter of degree. Marriage falls somewhere in the spectrum.

    Rent, lease, or buy. Whatever. If you’re a woman, you pay if you play, and you pay if you don’t play. For instance, some pay by choosing poverty over their potential pornaliciousness. Others make different choices, and still pay in the end.

    Anyhoo, don’t hate on my snark: I’ve had my highly rewarding pornalicious moments in time and I DON’T apologize for them. This here hag (moi) is still cashing in, only to a lesser degree. Maybe you are too. Maybe you just don’t want to admit that the way YOU’VE played the system to your own ends actually counts. To which I say: Feh: If you ever married for the health insurance you played the system. Get over it!

    I don’t believe we’re smarter than Octogalore by calling her on what we believe are delusions, just (meaninful ellipsis) older, more experienced and presently less rewarded (i.e., privileged) than she is. Someday Octogalore will get a rude awakening and realize, oh, shit, it’s all rigged: The sisterhood, old and young, black and white, pretty and ugly, we’re all screwed in the end. Right now she believes she succeeded in this System primarily by her wits, her brains and her cleverness (another meaningful ellipsis) because she HAS TO BELIEVE IT. She has a whole life to get through and she needs to sleep at night. She will understand, someday, just not now, not while she’s still cashing in, because even this 30-something married attorney is still cashing in on her pornaliciousness. Smart has nothing to do with it: This comes from the bowels (for you New Agers out there, the Orange Chakra). This about survival.

    Patience.

  133. roamaround

    What you said, HP, except I don’t know about Orange Charkas, and what’s up with the self hagging? Stop that.

    In a whacky coincidence, I stayed home on this snowy night to watch the 1935 Mae West film “Goin’ to Town” where she sings, “I used to dance in a nightclub, but now I’m a lady!”

    Most of us compromise to survive, but what is at issue is how we characterize our choices. I like what Mae said, “”When caught between two evils I generally pick the one I’ve never tried before.”

  134. Anon

    HP: lay off the booze. As is not atypical, you’ve completely convoluted what I’ve said to put it into a IBTP-friendly, easy-to-demonize soundbite. And you’ve got your BFF chiming in, in sorority-style agreement.

    Where,pray tell, did I claim the system works because of my experiences? I went overboard to spell out my point: the system sucks, but until a new one is in place, it’s not anyone’s place to dictate women’s choices.

    What about that strikes you as system-complicit?

    Also, I believe I am only two-three years your junior, and if I’m not mistaken, you’re not qualified to judge our relevant life experience levels.

    And, what makes you believe I’m cashing in on my pornaliciousness? My CURRENT career (and how many times do I have to say I’m not practicing law any more?) was not contingent on appearance (as yours apparently was, or at least at one point was). My most significant role model is in her 60s and believe me, is cashing in MUCH more than I am. She gets work handed to her, I still have to hunt it down. I’m hoping that as I get more age and experience in the job, I don’t have to fight as hard.

    Still, since you obviously have a lot at stake in both my marriage and my career petering out on me, please maintain whatever your current illusions are.

    I’ll say it once again loud and clear for you: one woman’s success in the system does not validate the system. As an adherent of subversion, you should have been able to pick up on the distinction between defending the essence of something, and defending someone’s decision to do it under current Patriarchal conditions. Please don’t misquote me again. While you’ve seen fit to use my confidences here to trash me in a personal way, I haven’t gone there with you. You don’t want that to happen.

  135. Octogalore

    Oops, a colleague changed the name and I forgot to change back. Corrected.

  136. roamaround

    Octogalore? Anon? Your “lay off the booze” and “you don’t want that to happen” comments to HP are going way overboard. You may feel overexposed, but don’t take yourself so seriously. None of us knows if anything others here say is true or not, and I for one don’t much care. It’s the ideas that count. Some of your ideas get challenged. So? It’s not about you.

  137. Octogalore

    So Roomaround, you’re not objecting to someone licking her lips and saying let’s have patience, her life will turn to shit soon enough, hee hee. But you’re objecting to my being somewhat understandably horrified that someone I’ve respected would say something like that? Despite your obvious allegiances, that’s shocking to me. And it’s also shocking that nobody would’ve called out the “patience” post.

    I understand people challenging my ideas, as you put it, and after all that’s why I keeep coming here, very few do it as well as the folks here. You don’t get why the “patience” post was something different?

    Yes, I agree, after I posted, I felt that my last comment was over the top, and I regretted hitting the button. But please don’t claim that you don’t believe there was any provocation.

  138. Twisty

    Octo, I was just trying to make a joke with that kool-aid remark. Not funny, I guess? Alas, they so often aren’t. Especially when they’re on “The Sarah Silverman Program.”

    My unauthorized re-interpretation of Hedonistic’s “patience” remark — which I agree appears to express something of an anticipatory schadenfreude — is that, as they age out of prettiness, many (but not all!) women of your obvious intellect come to view the whole patriarchy dealio as untenable. Some change their minds about stuff they once held dear. Clearly this has happened to Hedonistic, although she somehow (and I’m still not quite sure how) manages to cheerfully coexist with a high-heeled shoe collection.

    It happened to me, too. It may surprise the commentariat to learn that I did not spring from the womb the glistening radical feminist you now see before you. I am one of the unlucky ones who finally concluded, after years of fuitless effort, that I would be unable to beat patriarchy at its own game.

  139. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Ah, I see. The reading into the written word is fraught with these pitfalls: What did she really MEAN by that? Please don’t imagine some kind of anticipatory glee at another person’s future demise. Try visualizing instead a sympathetic wince?

    Octogalore, I believe part of the reason you came out about your past employment here (as opposed to some other forum) is because deep down you know that the radfems and other commenters here, more than anyone else, understand exactly where you’re coming from and are probably the LEAST likely to hate on you for it, because we’re wise enough to know we’ve ALL DONE IT. Even the woman who loses her virginity on her wedding night is engaging in a cash-for-flesh exchange calculated to improve her lot in life. We so get it.

    (PS: I may not have ever engaged in pure cash-for-flesh, but you can be damn sure – hell just read my blog! – that I’m willing to give it up in exchange for a good story, stories being like currency to me.)

    One of my first jobs out of high school was cocktail waitressing. I had to where white hotpants and a tight t-shirt with a nipple-level dashed line on it and the words “Fill up to this line with margaritas.” It was a means to an end: I used it as a stepladder to a bartending/hostessing job where I SUPOSEDLY wouldn’t have to derive income from my sexuality.

    How deluded I was to think I could jockey my way out: That job, as well as every other job I traded up to, from food service to pink-collar-ghetto to the relentlessly masculine (government professional) environment I find myself in today, sees my membership in the Sex Class – as PRIMARY.

    I though I was so smart! but as Twisty explained, and as I’ve learned the hard way, the game is rigged. There is no “winning” except temporarily and at the expense of the less-privileged. Your 60-year-old coworker is (most likely) protected not by her brilliance but by her socio-economic (i.e., patriarchal) privilege. Mark my words: The System will suffer her presence because it’s in their best interests today, but will sell her down the river the minute it becomes convenient.

    (Mind you, in case there is any question, this will NOT make me happy. Au contraire: It will piss me off to no end.)

    I have more thoughts, but I need to BLAME now.

  140. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Roamaround: My self-hagging was actually an ego-tripping pat on the back because I was using the word in the Mary Daly sense (“revolting hag”). I tried looking it up on the online Wickedary but didn’t see it. Drat!

    Here’s an analogy to show what a suckers-game femininity is: One may compare it to the financial investment industry, which is rigged to screw millions of lumpen-investors so that a few fat cats can fly around in their private jets, drinking scotch partying with call girls and calling it “work” (i.e., writing it all off as a business expense). Think of the young professional who’s so proud of his participation in the game: He just put all his saving in a money market account that’s going to make squillions in interest! He’s gonna be RICH! While he’s busy counting his unhatched chickens it doesn’t dawn on him what the bank just required of him: An enormous up-front investment plus a substantial penalty if he withdraws, and QUARTERLY administrative fees that eat away at his investment whether it makes money or not. One day he realizes he would have been better off putting his money somewhere, ANYWHERE, else.

    Let’s say money is power. Not such a stretch, eh? Let me suggest that every little feminine activity costs ONE power point: Every lipstick, every little submissive tilt of the head, every Valleygirl squeak, every red “power” suit, every “yes sir.” Let’s say that at the end of your busy day you’ve spent only FIVE power points. Not bad for a day trying to keep the Patriarchy from taking you the fuck OUT! Then this Patriarchy rewards you for your good behavior by giving you THREE power points and patting itself on the head for being so generous. So, anyone want to do a quick ROI on that transaction? Don’t bother: It sucks.

    Time to switch analogies. I no longer see femininity as a means to an end; rather I see it as a privileged indulgence that brings me absolutely NO long-term benefits whatsoever. Sort of like junk food: It tastes good but it’s sooooo bad for you. Hell, I just spent THOUSANDS of dollars on vintage chiffon lingerie, and I’m talking Valley of the Dolls here, so for Goddess’ sake don’t think I’m putting myself out here as an example to follow. What’s the saying? “If you can’t be an example, at least you can serve as a terrible warning?” Or something like that.

    Oh, why do I love my high heels? Twisty, they’re my junk food. I also work out 3 nights a week and eat fudge for breakfast.

  141. smmo

    Getting older, getting fewer temporary and ultimately worthless strokes from patriarchy – this has been a good thing for me. Sure. there are regrets, but mostly over stupid choices I made. The perks – more wisdom, more love for other women, more time, more money, more peace – are for me the opposite of a life turning to shit. I had a baby at 40 and and am so happy I waited, because I have total confidence in my decisions as a parent. It wouldn’t have been that way in my twenties or thirties.

    I’m not saying I’m free of patriarchal pressures. As HPS and her high heels and glam lingerie proves, it’s about a state of mind.

    And unlike you lucky two with your daughters, HPS and Octogalore, I have a son to raise. How do you teach a boy not to reach out and take what nearly every single voice he hears tells him belongs to him? To what do you ascribe his desire to whack the 13 lb. dog in the head – being male or being two?

  142. Octogalore

    Twisty – appreciate the reinterpretation, and Hedonistic’s corroboration thereof, although I believe the schadenfreude was pretty glaring and therefore, if we’re being straight up here, the nobler thing to do on her part would have been to admit, apologize, and move on. But I’m a big girl, and if we want to reinterpret the post as a sympathetic one, I’ll accept that.

    As to your reinterpretation – well, I’m confused, because I NOW view the whole patriarchy dealio as untenable in the ideal world. I’m not sure aging twenty, thirty, whatever years will make me believe that’s the one we live in. My co-worker (who is 62, to be exact), for example, still likes her femininity trappings, and doesn’t feel her marriage is some sort of illusion. When we’ve talked about it, she says she still thinks the business world is largely bullshit, and that there are fundamental problems with gender inequality that would take a sea change to correct. But she likes making money, using some of it for fun and some of it for philanthropy, and doesn’t seem to feel that her understanding of the patriarchal foundation of our world means she can’t enjoy a cool pair of boots.

    I imagine I will think similarly at that point in my life, rather than deciding that my whole way of life is somehow wrong. I don’t get scared at the idea of looking like her, or my mom, and neither are Hollywood-ready. I have to wonder if there is some projection here, because this desperate, clinging-to-pornaliciousness creature who’s being described is not someone I recognize.

    This does not entail a conclusion that I or any woman can “beat the patriarchy at its own game,” just that I think enough subversives could equal an eventual revolution, and I don’t think subversives are necessarily destined for lives of regret.

    I also do not believe every job sees membership in the Sex Class as primary. Again – please don’t misinterpret – not saying the business world doesn’t have plenty of corruption, or that Sex Class never enters in. The claim that my 62-year old coworker is protected by privilege rather than brilliance isn’t any more true than for a man in her role. She gets a lot of law firms to trust that she can merge them or help them grow effectively and ethically, because of track record. She’s the first in her family to attend college. While she’s fit, she’s nobody’s idea of a pin-up, and unlike me, has never traded professionally on that image. So while sure, she’s more economically blessed than some, it’s not quite fair to suggest that she’s teetering on some kind of brink. If you knew her stature in the industry, you would understand that’s not the case.

    Again – not to say “because she made it and I hope I will, it’s all good” because it’s NOT. But the somewhat patronizing prediction of inevitable defeat isn’t constructive or accurate. The better analysis is, how do we make it easier for more to subvert, so that eventually a groundswell has more horsepower – IMHO.

  143. Mar Iguana

    “Playing a role to someone who does not respect you, and helping them ejaculate on that very concept has an emotional toll.”

    That is just one damn fine sentence, saltyC.

  144. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Octogalore, I’m sorry you took my “patience” the way that you did. It was really more of a call to the commentariat, a reminder that (pardon the cliche) the most important lessons are usually learned the hard way. I also wince a little bit every day I that send my daughter off to school. I can talk to her about boys until she passes out from boredom and she’s STILL gonna get her heart broken someday; it’s just the nature of the Beast.

    I hear you on the subversion: Some critical mass could make a difference. Unfortunately we aren’t at critical mass. We’re not even close. I’m not despairing or desperate, just realistic about how little our petty and personal little subversions matter to the big picture. I’ve come to realize that feathering my daughter’s nest might be my one great feminist accomplishment. If even that!

  145. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    OMG!!!! Shoes! Everyone, come to the dark side!

    http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article2303022.ece

  146. roamaround

    Octogalore and HP, it’s this kind of talk about subversive nest feathering that got us going on class four days ago. We’ve now come full circle. Aargh.

    Octa, could you please get my name right? It feels a little silly to make an issue of a whimsical B52’s reference I came up with late one night, but it’s roamaround not roomaround which is just nonsensical.

    About the patience post, I agreed with HP about the system being inherently flawed. I was applauding that, not the demise of your pornaliciousness or your career or your marriage, which don’t concern me at all. From the mostly civilized tone of our debates, I hope you’d assume that I wouldn’t wish you ill. You and HP have agreed to disagree with me before, so don’t get so offended already.

    I’m not attacking you personally, just so you know for sure, but I still think you don’t get it at all. You use terms like “economically blessed” and “stature in the industry” in a way that shows you admire the business world and the “successful” women in it. I have heard your comments about corruption and flaws in the system, but they are all “sure it’s bad, but…” remarks, reminiscent of “sure the Superdome was bad but those people were poor anyway.”

    We disagree fundamentally: I believe the business world is parasitic and predicated on direct oppression and no number of women in it will change that. This is an important split (and not a new one) because I would not be willing to put energy in a feminist movement that saw more red power suits in the corridors of power as the goal. Sorry, but I don’t see women with money as feminist success stories, no matter how they made it. Like Mae said, goodness has nothing to do with it.

  147. Octogalore

    Roamaround, sorry for the name error.

    “Economically blessed” was an allusion to HP’s “economic privilege” argument that not everyone has the ability to even successfully subvert. Not that I believe it’s somehow an exalted state, or a corporate mantra. But yeah, being able to pay bills, pay for education etc. – that’s an advantage.

    “Stature in the industry” was in reference to the prediction that my colleague was tottering on the brink of a reversal. Surely, you get that this is meant in refutation to that prediction. Pure and simple. Not a placement of her as businesswoman above women I know who are volunteers, educators, etc.

    Let’s get our context straight before deciding who “gets it.”
    That said, I guess we do seem to disagree here, and I appreciate your statement that you’d like to keep this on a civil footing.
    I am curious to understand the foundation of your beliefs that women can’t change or possibly even demolish and rebuild an oppressive system by volume. How do you know this? Or, of possibly more relevance, do you think the system can be demolished by women on the outside without women on the inside in union with them?

  148. Octogalore

    Additionally, I don’t think anyone would dispute that “women with money “ or “more red power suits in the corridors of power” aren’t the end goal, but could be the means.

    I think it takes a platform to get a message out, and that the platform has to stem from two things. First, a groundswell of women on a grass roots level. Second, women who have access to whatever the centers of power are in the current system. To dismantle something, you need access to it, because there’s a reason it’s the current power structure: it’s fucking powerful. Grass roots rebellion, in and of itself, cannot shake the foundations of a structure without people supporting that rebellion inside.

    If you think women in business, law, government, etc., isn’t a positive thing, do you think we were better before this was possible? Do you see an incremental change based on women’s entry into those areas?

    And on a family scale, do you not agree that equal economic household power is the best way to alter the family balance? And, don’t you think this could have larger ramifications?

  149. roamaround

    Octogalore, the passive term “economically blessed” in any context attributes the economic advantage to a neutral, or worse divine, source. I’m not trying to say that your friend is evil, as I’ve said before, but the process of acquiring and maintaining wealth necessitates the oppression of others.

    As I sit here in my warm comfortable home while mercenaries and economic conscripts protect my energy supply at the cost of thousand of lives, I’m guilty too, not “blessed.” I don’t believe in wasting energy on guilt, but it’s important to name things.

    My evidence for the prediction that wealthy women in power do not consider poor women allies is all of history. I know you make a distinction between women who marry money and women who earn their own, but I have no reason to believe that women will give up economic advantage any more easily than men. After all, they have their children to protect; I would do the same under the current system.

    I don’t have the big answer, but the economic system has to change or feminism will benefit only select women. And revolution doesn’t really happen from within, despite what Gloria Steinem would like to think.

  150. roamaround

    Sorry, I should have said that mercenaries and economic conscripts are protecting my energy supply at the cost of *tens of thousands* of lives. Oh the waste.

  151. Jodie

    Smmo, it’s probably just being two. Both my kids had to dry pulling the cat’s tail and whacked the dog at least once. Then there’s this:

    At that age, my daughter had brand new shiny shoes with a hard sole, and she was very proud of them. She saw a cricket on the sidewalk and STOMPED it.

    Afterwards, she looked at the squished cricket for a good long while and then bent down and patted it, as though somehow that would make things all better.

    She turned twenty-two yesterday. She rescues dogs and always has a foster or two around her house. My son turned out even gentler and captures bugs in the house to release them alive outside (and has been known to rescue drowning worms).

  152. Octogalore

    Smmo — I think it’s being two too. Most of the kids my daughter’s age (2-1/2), seem to be sporadically aggressive, whether towards each other, pets or parents.

    I think raising kids of each gender in a patriarchy presents interesting issues and would love to discuss this here sometime. “Beyond Dolls and Guns” I found interesting.

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