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Jul 20 2008

Pornulation empowerfulizes us, say humorous ironic hotties

Gawd, remember that hipster burlesque crap from the 90′s? I thought it was over, but no, it lives on. An article in today’s Kansas City Star about a “neo-burlesque” show in town is headlined thusly: “Burlesque’s practitioners find humor, art and feminism in their risqué shows”.

Fun feminism, that is.”Neo” burlesque is funny and ironic, see. So it’s rebellious and iconoclastic and artsy. The Star runs a photo to illustrate the pertinent bits of the story. The photo is of neo-burlesque practitioner Honey Valentine’s headless, enbustiered torso.

Burlesque practitioner and funfeminist Lola Van Ella says “[What’s happening now is a feminist movement in burlesque] because it’s women saying, ‘I can be ultra feminine and I can shave and wear makeup and red lipstick and G-strings and pasties. Men may or may not enjoy it, but I’m doing it for myself.’”

How is fun-feminism different from regular feminism? Not at all, except that it’s antifeminist. It’s when you capitulate to, participate in, embrace, and openly promote rape culture in exchange for approval, claiming that it empowerfulizes you.

Van Ella said that contemporary burlesque appeals to both genders and that she has as many female fans as guys. And there’s a reason: Modern burlesque performers are clearly in charge of their own destiny.

“I have nothing against commercial stripping as a business, but it is that,” she said. “It’s a sales job. But burlesque is a tease, and that is the big difference. The woman doing it is completely in control of her own sexuality. She decides. And she says, ‘I’m gonna give you this much but not any more and if you want more you’ll have to beg.’”

Are you fucking kidding me?

It sorely chaps the Twisty hide when women get all cutesy with pornulation, misconstruing irony for agency.

The idea that women’s public sexuality can so precisely mirror traditional male fantasy while simultaneously existing in a kind of pro-woman, I-do-it-for-myself alternate universe is the cornerstone of funfeminist “thought.” The flaw in this reasoning is that all women must participate in patriarchy regardless of what they say motivates their participation; patriarchy is the dominant culture, and there is no opting out. Which means there is no opting in, either. Do it for me, do it for you, whatever; the primary beneficiaries of women’s participation — willing or unwilling, ironic or sincere — in patriarchy, are men.

134 comments

17 pings

  1. ginmar

    Oh, for fuck’s sake, already. Yeah, yeah, I know, blame the patriarchy and not the woman, but I get sick of this crap, especially after dealing with the damned sex poz brigade.

    We all are stuck under the patriarchy, but some people actively collude with it.

    Funfeminism is basically saying, “Here! Don’t bother to oppress me, I’ll step right up and do it for you!” If it just hurt the woman doing it, well—but, damn, then it hurts other women. We all have to resist.

  2. marsha

    yeah, the biggest problem that I see, having TONS of friends who do these shows in NYC, is that these women are blind to the patriarchy completely. They don’t see how they are sucking in the ideals of men. They are insecure about their bodies and crave the sexual approval, which is the only approval a woman recieves in today’s society. They want to put it in art and feminism contexts so they don’t have to feel bad about themselves needing men to tell them they are pretty.

    I don’t know how to fight it. I do keep telling them all the stuff I know but they simply won’t hear it and I just hope that at least the women I like best will grow out of it.

    It garners a great deal of attention and approval and that is a hard thing to see as wrong.

  3. ginmar

    Is it too much to expect youngsters to actually fucking do some research these days? They seem to think that women have had these rights all along. It’s not coincidence that the most radical feminists are older women. Once you reach a certain age, you stop getting that attention no matter how fun a feminist you are. These fun feminists are really setting themselves up for a bad fall.

    I wonder what they’re hiding from themselves, too. One of these fun feminists in the blogosphere who absolutely despises radfems keeps it quiet that she’s had her nose broken four times. Hey, it’s empowering!

  4. ::wendy::

    Urrgghhhh. I see variations of this over the place

    How is fun-feminism different from regular feminism? Not at all, except that it’s antifeminist. It’s when you capitulate to, participate in, embrace, and openly promote rape culture in exchange for approval, claiming that it empowerfulizes you.

  5. Nine Deuce

    But don’t you see the difference? We new-school strippers have TATTOOS. Our hair is BLUE! That means we’re resisting the status quo and shit.

  6. ginmar

    Totally! New! Even though they’re just as surgically assisted as those non-tattooed strippers.

    God, this is the wave Diablo Cody is riding. She’s offered to sign admirers’ scrotums, because that’s so fun and transgressive and all.

  7. RebelRebel

    You know, I’m actually more pissed that they call it feminism than that they’re porning it up for dude approval. The latter, although disappointing, is an unfortunate par for the course, but the former actively dilutes/confuses a message that I strongly believe in.

    IBTP

  8. Lar

    Fun feminism for me has always been infuriating. I’m 24, I graduated from university a year ago… I was surrounded by it. It’s hard on women my age who don’t buy into that stuff because it makes us feel completely alone in the world. You’re ostracized, a feminist in college nowadays feels much like being in one of those “invasion of the pod people” type movies. You think someone you met is pretty cool until you go for some drinks and “Oh no! They’ve got you too?!?!”

    To make matters worse, my field of work has led me to live in Mexico. I live in a town about 45 minutes outside of Cancun, so you can imagine what 100% of the men who live here think I’m like. Letsee… she’s young, she’s American = fun feminist (or in their words “easy prey”). Because of countless fun feminists coming down here to “liberate” themselves every year all men here automatically think my body is public property and treat me accordingly on a daily basis.

    So yes, I think fun feminism not only leads to more abuse of its participants, but to the rest of us as well.

  9. the baboon

    This is a nice follow-up to the “baby wears heels in bed” post. After an early youth of being groomed to be feminized sexual objects, girls get to enjoy a moment of “power” — which is to say, men looking at them — before being expected to decline into an adulthood of invisible powerlessness. They mistake their moment at the apogee of this process for something real, et voila: funfeminism.

  10. Odrade

    I hear you Lar. How sick am I of women my age (early twenties) telling me that subsuming myself within the infantile wank-fantasies of men my age would be somehow empowering? Very fucking sick.
    My best mate from forever came and visited the other day with her boyfriend. Spent 45 minutes explaining to me all about how powerful you are when you’re trussed up in porn drag and they’re telling you you’re a goddess.
    All hail the wank goddess.

    IBTP.

  11. TP

    DeLuxe (Susanna Lee) said burlesque was vaudeville’s “bluer cousin,” meaning it could be rawer and more sexual than typical entertainment. She said it represented a rebellion against the restrictive prevailing morality of the time.

    “I think what we have to rebel against now is a bit more complicated than the original morals they were rebelling against,” she said. “I think burlesque now allows us to make comments about sexuality. … It gets to a point where so many images of what a female is supposed to be and what a male is supposed to be get so overwhelming. It’s like a pressure cooker. I’m tired of looking at Paris Hilton. I think burlesque is what happens when you can’t take it anymore.”

    Seems obvious that these women have been disconcerted by the porn world we have found ourselves in, but their response is to simply add punk rock style to the conventional dude-pleasing porn purview, and then they think they have somehow sanitized it.

    This rejection of eastern european slave trade porn styles, which are identical to the Paris Hilton model-skinny styles of dude-pleasing, makes them believe themselves feminists. Add this to the common idea that if women are sexually aroused by it, then it must be feminist, and you have the entire picture of what they think feminism is.

    Personally, I don’t think any of these women will be able to avoid becoming more enlightened as to what feminism really stands for – the elimination of male supremacy – because many of them feel oppressed by male supremacy but haven’t figured it out yet. Yeah, they need to do the basic research. But we all know how simple and easy it is to pick up a feminist book. It’s not. The pickings are ridiculously slim in any library or book store.

    It’s not that these women are wrong – it’s that they live in a world so wrong that the tiny, marginalized voices of reason are drowned out by the twin roars of male privilege and their own hormonal storms.

  12. thebewilderness

    These are the things that bring home just how deep and wide the conditioning is. It is a bitter brew of contempt and self deception that they are calling feminism these days.

  13. ashley

    the defining characteristic of feminism is that it’s not fun and it costs dearly in social acceptance.

    when guys approve, it’s a great guage of whether or not something is feminist at all.

    who doesn’t like to dance around naked? we should all be able to do it without any rules or judgment or without having invited physical assault on ourselves.

  14. Azundris

    Marsha,
    Sometimes it’s not so much a question of lacking the knowledge or insight, but one of not having the strength to say no to the patriarchy on every count every single day. Of calling this failure “picking our battles.”

  15. Lost Clown

    Yes ashley, and even with other women. The other night we were out and Colin Farell came up and I said I hated him b/c of the whole comparing prostitutes to pizza thing and one of the women at the table was like “Is this a Sarah Lawrence thing?” When I said no she kept asking me where I went to school. SInce it was none of the Seven Sisters and only art schools and the big state uni I’m in now she was mystified. Because, y’know, a woman can’t hate the patriarchy without being “brainwashed” by some crazy feminists or anything.

  16. Citizen Jane

    I hate how the patriarchy is constantly trying to prevent me from shaving my legs and wearing make up and being “ultra feminine.” I’m totally going to go and paint my nails pink and get me some stilettos and bleach my hair and wax my crotch so I can stick it to the man. Maybe I’ll go do a striptease for some guy so that I can show him how much I’m in control while I jiggle my boobies at him.

  17. Lara

    “the defining characteristic of feminism is that it’s not fun and it costs dearly in social acceptance.

    when guys approve, it’s a great guage of whether or not something is feminist at all.”

    Exactly, Ashley! I am always suspicious of something that’s been acknowleged in an uncritical or positive way as “feminist” by any mainstream venue at all. It signals to me that whatever this “feminist” thing is is capitlulating to patriarchy and male approval.

    Let’s break this down shall we?:

    “Van Ella said that contemporary burlesque appeals to both genders and that she has as many female fans as guys. And there’s a reason: Modern burlesque performers are clearly in charge of their own destiny.

    “I have nothing against commercial stripping as a business, but it is that,” she said. “It’s a sales job. But burlesque is a tease, and that is the big difference. The woman doing it is completely in control of her own sexuality. She decides. And she says, ‘I’m gonna give you this much but not any more and if you want more you’ll have to beg.’””

    So the only or main reason that women would be attracted to something is because it’s inherently feminist? Really? Because last time I checked the World Wide Wrestling Entertainment shows have almost as many female fans as male fans. So does that make the wrestling shows feminist?…
    Also, why the differentiation between stripping for money and stripping for abstract male approval? It’s all the same shit in the end. How is a burlesque performer “in control of her sexuality”? Why does she have to perform in front of an audience, let alone undress, to be in touch with her sexuality? And why is “sexuality” something that has to be exhibited for other people’s approval? What is “sexuality” anyway? Only the way your body looks and moves? I don’t think so.
    How does making a man or woman “beg” for you to perform in a certain way mean you have control over yourself? If anything, you are just manipulating the ways your audience reacts to you, but you are not completely in control of yourself. You are not outside of the patriarchy’s influence. And no matter what you say, burlesque always has and always will be a male construction of “femininity.” Burlesque is not “by women, for women” it is made completely by men for men.

  18. Natalia

    Because of countless fun feminists coming down here to “liberate” themselves every year all men here automatically think my body is public property and treat me accordingly on a daily basis.

    So, you blame women for the bad behaviour of men?

    I’d take a burlesque dancer over that crap any day.

    Why does she have to perform in front of an audience, let alone undress, to be in touch with her sexuality?

    Why do some people wear saran wrap to be in touch with their sexuality? I don’t know.

  19. Sarah J

    Not to mention, why do you have to care what she does to be in touch with her sexuality?

  20. Gayle

    “The woman doing it is completely in control of her own sexuality.”

    That’s the saddest statement of all. Why is stripping even considered a part of any woman’s sexuality?

    Because we’re told it is, that’s why.

  21. Satsuma

    Feminism has never been fun. It wasn’t the popular choice for women in 1973 or 1975 or 1984 or 1997. Feminism and the liberation of women is scary for both women and men.

    Most women to me who plaster their faces with make-up and fall prey to fashion mania, breast implants, plastic surgery etc. are these same women 25-35 years later.

    What we have to ask ourselves is why do women feel so attention deprived in the first place? I don’t know why heterosexual women participate in that crazy culture known as glamour heteronormativity, nor do I know why women waste so much money on this type of life.

    I do know that it is hard for women to lose their addiction to male attention in the first place, and it is threatening to be an intellectual woman in the world.

    Feminism has and always will be a minority position. The very best life awaits those women who put 20-40 years of work into building a feminist life, and cultivating a feminist analysis. This pays off huge women if you’re willing to do the work, and lose the social addiction women have to “approval” of any kind.

    Once you are willing to stand completely alone in your convictions as a liberated woman — in the true sense of liberty, this power is so great, that you end up being 10 times more successful at everything you do.

    Feminism is about leadership and courage. Radical feminism is about understanding that there is a war on women called patriarchy. There is a war on women called male gaze and female objectification.

    You can be frivolous and fritter this away on cheap “show-biz’ stuff like fun feminism in burlesque or whatever stupid thing women choose to do, or you can see that perhaps a significant part of the female population really does seem like an air head or a blond idiot. It’s how straight women often appear to me as a radical lesbian feminist — this play acting, man pleasing, simpering public persona that I’ve always found profoundly distasteful.

    But if we are talking about freedom and transformation, and women being their highest selves, then we have to conquer the hidden worlds where little girls are raped, sexually molested or undermined by “appearance obsessed” fathers and mothers.

    When was the last time you ever overheard two heterosexual women look at a little girl and say, “My you have the look of brilliance on your face? Who’s your favorite author?”

    You can’t get women away from the make-up mirrors and make-up counters of the world, but you can unite with the women who want a world where women’s faces are real, and true and powerful.

    It’s the world we are creating here! Don’t bother to try to change “fun feminists” they are not very well informed to begin with. It would be like me trying to explain a financial plan to a drug addict or a street person. No matter how good the information, the person is not ready to hear about or capable of understanding the message in the first place.

    Be true to you, live out your feminism with power and by example, women will see this. Human beings are very drawn to authenticity. I don’t deal with the glamour pusses, or strip players or femmy sexy women to begin with. They’re dumb and bore me to tears, so don’t worry. Look for the really good women out there, and don’t throw feminist pearls before swine!

  22. thebewilderness

    Pardon me, Natalia.
    The menz have been thinking that women’s bodies are public property for thousands of years.
    That’s why they called prostitutes streetwalkers. That’s why the law, at one time, said that any woman in public unsupervised was a prostitute.
    I am sad for the pain that the fun feminists will know, because they will not understand how it could happen to them.

  23. Lar

    Nope, Natalia, I don’t blame the women for the bad behaviour of men. I see it quite the opposite – I blame the men’s behaviour for the rise of fun feminism. I do see “fun feminism” as irresponsible and detrimental to the true feminist movement, and it does frustrate me to see countless women my age submit to the abuse, or even believe they’re empowered or liberated by it. Clearly any person’s behaviour – man or woman – is their own responsibility. In the end, I blame the patriarchy.

  24. Twisty

    Sarah J: “Not to mention, why do you have to care what she does to be in touch with her sexuality?”

    I think the radical feminist cares when the expression of the sexuality in question is indistinguishable from traditional male porn fantasy. That’s because traditional male porn fantasy is the fetishization of misogyny. Radical feminists are generally against the fetishization of misogyny.

    Because she belongs to an oppressed class, any woman who leaves the house is making a political statement. Burlesque dancers are no exception. The critique of an antifeminist political statement is not out of place here.

  25. Gayle

    RebelRebel:

    “You know, I’m actually more pissed that they call it feminism than that they’re porning it up for dude approval.”

    Annoying, ain’t it? Lately everything from the blatantly anti-feminist to the just plain feminist-neutral is tied up in a big pink bow and tagged “feminist.” And if you dare say something is not “feminist,” especially if that something has anything to do with sex– stand back, sister! The choice feminists will jump all over you. “Who are YOU to say what’s feminist or not feminist?”

    Meanwhile, some of the most genuinely feminist women I know refuse to call themselves feminists. Lately I’ve been thinking dropping the word entirely might not be such a bad idea.

  26. Lar

    …and I blame cultural stereotypes. (i.e. “If one American tourist behaves this way, all American’s must behave this way” – not an excuse for the behaviour, just an explanation). Forgot to add that one.

  27. Belle O'Cosity

    I gave up on the fun feminists five years ago when I lived in Portland Oregon. Portland is supposed to be this ultra progressive cool town. Yeah, well not so much. When I lived there every feminist event was held at a frickin’ strip club and if a person complained that maybe that was not the most appropriate place a firm shut the fuck up was issued. The thing about Portland is there is zoning there that says you can have a porn shop or strip place every so many blocks, and so they did. Almost every pub had a little stage in the corner with a naked lady. I couldn’t believe it when I first moved there. Go to the corner local for a beer and a game of pool and there would be a stripper. They normalized it in such a way that no one seemed to question it at all. It made me sick; I moved after a year.

  28. Lost Clown

    Lara:

    I’ve found out that a large part of my sexuality is being downright silly. And, as the name suggests, I have spent many years traveling and performing as a clown so in a way I am performing my sexuality. the difference is my sexuality is not in line with the patriarchal prescription of sexuality.

    While in the circus I was disheartened by the other women trying to “outsexy” each other. I, of course, never felt the need to participate and tried to talk to my friends about the destructive nature of the “competition.” To me nothing was or is more sexy then putting on my so ugly they’re cute dresses (you have to see them to believe them) or other assorted clown gear and face paint and being wild and crazy and funny. And contrary to popular belief people find me sexy. I was always covered, I never stripped, I never felt the need to pornographize myself yet somehow I have had amazing feminist partners who find my silliness and independence sexy. Go figure.

  29. Lara

    SarahJ:
    “Not to mention, why do you have to care what she does to be in touch with her sexuality?”

    Eh? Someone wanna translate that for me?…

  30. Terri

    God, burlesque is still around? I thought the roller-derby thing had kind of overtaken my ire. Guess not.

  31. Lara

    Wow, Lost Clown, I never would have thought of an unsexy-sexy-clown scenario. Interesting.
    While I am most certainly still getting through LOTS of brainwashing in regards to my sexuality, I find that being my plain old unporntastic self (no makeup, saggery boobs and all) with a snappy sense of humor makes me the most intriguing and alluring. Hehe. I don’t know if I could ever be a stand-up comedian, but I would love to gain up the courage and more creativity to be one.

  32. keres

    *Sigh*

    It’s so saddening, enraging, etc. to see the myriad ways in which women’s desire for agency is recuperated into the dominant paradigm. Committing truly transgressive acts is very scary, and potentially lethal, so ladies, step away from the edge and back into this week’s flavour of faux-radicalism (and show us some breasts while you are at it).

    In Australia, there’s a lesbian web site called the Pink Sofa. Someone started a thread asking: Would you go to a sex club?
    Although the responses were mixed, most women thought it was OK (even if they would not pay, they thought that it was a valid choice [the other "C" word] for other women to make), while a few of us tried to give deeper meaning to the commoditization of sex.

    One (seemingly young) FunFeminist asked: What’s oppressive about a woman consensually stripping for another woman?

    It’s oppressive to make the stripper and the audience feels guilty for enjoying such things. The patriarchy have been censoring our sexuality for far too long – by claiming lesbian strip clubs are oppressive and thus censoring female sexuality, you’re continuing the work of the patriarchy.

    I replied with the following:

    Well you certainly got all the words right, even if it is clear you did not understand a one of them.

    Oppression (which you used incorrectly 3 times) is by definition hierarchical, i.e. someone has to be in a position of power or authority over someone else in order to oppress them. As lesbians who are mostly peers to the women in question, we are institutionally unable to oppress the stripper or her audience. Despite what many women here seem to think, challenging the activities or beliefs of other women is not in and of itself oppression. If however, one woman approaches another from a position of unequal monetary power, such as in offering to exchange money for sexual services, then the peer relationship no longer exists. Relationships based on inequality are by definition oppressive. In fact, I’d argue that inequality provides much of the attraction for purchasing sexual services. The buying and the POWER OVER another it represents, is the real “thrill” of the experience. Which is why a person who pays a “dominatrix” is the one with the real power – since everything and everyone else involved is subordinate to the power of his/her money and how s/he chooses to spend it. Just look at how spending money on luxuries and fripperies has become an end unto itself (“let’s go shopping”). What money buys is less important than the power, and the pleasure of feeling powerful, it represents.

    Censor(ship) (which you used incorrectly twice) requires that one be in a position of power or authority in order to suppress or delete ideas or information BEFORE they can be made public. See above for the dynamics of power over, and how they do not apply to criticism among peers.

    Patriarchy (which you used incorrectly twice) is the rule of the Fathers. Not, mind you, the rule-of-men, as large numbers of men are needed as cannon fodder, toy boys, etc. for the Fathers’ profit and pleasure. Again, in order to understand patriarchy one has to look at hierarchy — who profits and who pays. In the case of women’s sexuality, the profit flows equally to both the puritans and the purveyors. The former get something “evil” to rail against (and thus keep women “in line” and under their control), and the latter get the added value of selling an “illicit” product. Patriarchy only seems to “censor” female sexuality – mostly so that it can profit from female sexuality. Which is why the main concern of those you would brand “moralizers” is with the “profit” aspect of sex clubs – not the sex part.

    The following terms you only managed to squeeze in once. I guess you didn’t feel they were inflammatory enough to warrant using them as the blunt instrument you tried to make of the above words.

    Consent, at least in the context that most of us are using it, implies that no pressure is brought to bear on the ones who give it. Money is pressure.

    Guilt is the both a moralistic and a legalistic term. I’m not aware that anyone on this thread has labeled participation in sexual consumerism immoral or illegal. Rather the arguments against such activities have focused on the global ramification of comodifying women’s bodies and sexuality — none of them good. Besides guilt is a useless emotion, both to feel or to attempt to instill in another. Guilt is almost always a substitute for concrete actions and largely functions by assuaging the conscience of the “giver” (the feeling of guilt “cancels out” the pleasure of illicit thoughts and acts). This “equalizing” process nicely undermines any incentive to change behavior and keeps the status quo status. I’d liken it to giving someone the wrapping paper without the gift.

    As for your understanding of “female sexuality” (brutalized twice), you seem to be implying that female sexuality cannot be fully expressed without money changing hands. Or that money is a legitimate (innate?) part of sexual expression. Not that you ever used the words “money” or “pay,” “buy,” “hire,” etc., which are conspicuous by their absence in a discussion of sex work. Or perhaps you’re merely prejudiced against such tawdry words relating to filthy lucre – by which women of refinement such as yourself who can afford to go patronize exclusive sex clubs need not be sullied.

    Critiques of money driven sexualized activities are NOT synonymous with critiques of female sexuality.

    And feminist rhetoric is not feminism.

  33. Sarah J

    well, oh wise ones, tell me what clothing I am allowed to wear when I leave the house so as not to make an ‘unfeminist’ political statement? I wouldn’t want to offend or anything.

  34. ginmar

    Gee, Sarah, why don’t you try to miss the point by a wider margin? I’m voting that your next attempt will be, “You feminists are just hairy-legged, unfuckable, crazy ladies with cats who can’t get laid so you’re jus jellus of pretty ladies.”

  35. ginmar

    Gee, Sarah, why don’t you try to miss the point by a wider margin? I’m voting that your next attempt will be, “You feminists are just hairy-legged, unfuckable, crazy ladies with cats who can’t get laid so you’re jus jellus of pretty ladies.”

  36. Morganna

    But…if they say they are doing it “for themselves” or to make themselves happy, how is that “antifeminist”.
    Is it antifeminist to wear heels because you like them? It is antifeminist to put on a burlseque show because you want to, not becaue men tell you to?

    It may not be a feminism you agree with, but you hardly speak for all of feminism. Just becasue they are engaging in actions theat you tag as “antifeminist” or, more accuratly, pro-patriarcy (i.e. they wear heels so they are feeding into the pariarchal veiw of female sexuality and desierability) doesn’t mean that the action is antifeminist. People can do things that are steryotypically “male-pleasing” without attemtpting to please males. Instead, they are doing them because it pleases them.

  37. notmandy

    I don’t know about you Sarah J, but while I sometimes wear things like makeup and heels and even sometimes show some skin, I don’t take it personally when I read a feminist critique of such things.

  38. Chai Latte

    Barf.

    I’m a former art student, and the male gaze/female objectification is nothing new for me. So when I see nekkid wimminz (or nearly), I just sigh, “Oh God, not AGAIN.”

    That’s the thing–burlesque doesn’t bring anything new to feminism, (‘fun’ or otherwise).

    I’ve never seen the ability to turn men down as a ‘power’. That’s my RIGHT. As a HUMAN BEING. Which is why I get peeved beyond all reason when someone tells me I’m lucky to be a woman because I have sexual power over men. This usually gets a big “HA!” as a response.

    Also, Twisty, I love the word ‘empowerfulize’. XD

  39. Jen

    Anyone else think that it is ironic that a woman who is wrapped up in restrictive clothing, catering to rich elites, teetering on high heels, slathered in makeup, and vulnerably (almost) naked thinks of themselves as “powerful”?

    That’s the patriarchy talking. Every day is opposite day for women: power is submission.

  40. jbeeky

    This smacks of my hypersexual days when I slept with anything that walked just to be the perpetrator and not the victim for once. It also felt very liberating and empowerful. For a little bit.

  41. keres

    Sarah J, I don’t claim to speak for all “wise ones”, but whatever you leave the house wearing or not wearing, it’s not me who will “take offense” (or more to the point, it’s not you that I will find offensive, because IBTP).

    This blog isn’t a circular firing squad where women come to tear each other down for participating in a patriarchal culture that is ubiquitous in its scope and reach. But not blaming women doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t critique our behavior.

    Unfortunately, since we are constantly under-fire from men and their enablers, it’s hard to see the difference between critical attacks and critical discussion. And not surprisingly, this lack of distinction is encouraged, because if we are constantly on our guard – it hard to really hear other women.

    My advice, try finding the greater implications of what is being said. Or put, another way, PATRIARCHY is an institution, you are Sarah, and most, if not all, feminist haven’t got the time or the inclination to critique/deconstruct/blame you. There’s bigger fish to fry and not enough hours in the day to fry them. So relax.

  42. Bushfire

    Satsuma said: “It’s the world we are creating here! Don’t bother to try to change “fun feminists” they are not very well informed to begin with. It would be like me trying to explain a financial plan to a drug addict or a street person.”

    Why would a drug addict or a “street person” be incapable of understanding a financial plan?

    Anyway, about the post, I found the comment about being in control of one’s sexuality very interesting. If a woman is on a stage in a costume using the sight of her body to titillate others, what does this have to do with her own sexuality? She actually has control over the stage performance. She decides what the show will be. Her sexuality is not even involved in this. I’m trying to think of what “control over my sexuality” would mean. To me, having control over my sexuality would be having the leisure time and privacy to explore my own desires through masturbation and fantasy, and to decide who my sexual partners will be and when I will have sex.

    For some, being on stage could be something she enjoys, but it would only be a segment of the pie of her sexuality. Being onstage is not the way to gain control, it’s something a woman could choose if she wanted once she actually had control.

    If any commenters wish, I’d love to read a discussion on what “gaining control of my own sexuality” means to each of you, and what it would look like if it actually happened.

  43. zipper

    I am in total agreement that the ‘fun-feminist’ view is a load of crap. But at the same moment I roll my eyes at the burlesque, I have this horrible pang of empathy. They are so close, it seems, to seeing the thing– and yet so far. Would that we could all attain the age of conscious and have scales fall from our eyes. It took me decades to see the patriarchy. Even then, my fear of daily persecution keeps me clothed in a skirt, makeup, and heels.

    One day, I’ll throw out the last tube of lipstick, shred the last pair of pantyhose, donate those lovely shoes to the Goodwill. But that day is not today or tomorrow. Until then it will be enough that I don’t ascribe my ridiculous and pathetic acquiescence to feminism. I would prefer the fun-feminists understand this, too.

  44. Octogalore

    I think the major point of contention here is the claim that burlesque is either a feminist or antifeminist statement. I see it as neither.

    I don’t think it’s a feminist statement. To do that, it would have to state conclusively that women are equal. Which is a higher bar than can be met by most performance activities unless they are clearly satirizing or critiquing male-female roles or making a direct statement about women’s equality, neither of which I think this does.

    But I don’t think it’s an antifeminist statement either. I agree that this would be well-defined as, per above, “when you capitulate to, participate in, embrace, and openly promote rape culture in exchange for approval.” But we cannot read the performers’ minds. We cannot know if they are having fun with performing as they are, and dressing up, even femme dressing up, cannot be extended to rape without indulging in heavy dramatic license. “In exchange for [male/patriarchal] approval” is a reach. Why not: in exchange for money? We all need that to exercise our basic needs.

    So, to me, this discussion launches from a misplaced claim of active feminism –which the post is entirely justified to call out — to a denunciation of burlesque as actively antifeminist. As Chai Latte says, burlesque doesn’t make any kind of new feminist contribution. But it’s not actively setting women back either. In a male-run world, a show organized and acted by women whose revenue goes to women is way, way far down the line of structures which harm women. It’s tempting to take the post’s discussion of a misplaced word to the nth power, but a waste of energies much better spent elsewhere.

  45. Femsei

    Jen
    Jul 20th, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    “Anyone else think that it is ironic that a woman who is wrapped up in restrictive clothing, catering to rich elites, teetering on high heels, slathered in makeup, and vulnerably (almost) naked thinks of themselves as “powerful”?

    That’s the patriarchy talking. Every day is opposite day for women: power is submission.”

    I’m hearing the book/film “Female Perversions” by Louise Kaplan ringing in my ears.

    To some degree, I would say this is another way in which patriarchal discourse perverts the message of feminism(s) to suit the hierarchical order. Women pick up on this perverted message that is aligned with the perversion of femininity and the trappings of emporfulizement–it is the distorted version tossed out into the everyday through capitalist and communication systems (advertising, television, newspapers, magazines)–it keeps the order of the patriarchy going.

    In the end, this is not feminism(s) nor is our current enlightenment around female sexualities that “choose to” pretend on some level that they are subverting the perversion of the patriarchy.

  46. slythwolf

    I have never understood and will never understand how some people can think that the person dancing before another person for that person’s entertainment is the one with the power. Bzuh?

  47. WendyAnn

    I had toddled myself over to Sarah J’s blog (since she put it in her sig) and had a moment of enlightenment.

    I don’t expect to take her seriously from here on. I have no clue, since she thinks radfems are the “Mean Girls” who are jealous of “Pretty Girls” why she even bothers to read this blog.

    Her and her “Hustler Clad Ass.”

    I don’t usually click on the links in people’s sig lines because I find most bloggers to be boring, pedantic, ignorant and clueless.

    Oh, and so-called “Fun feminists” are either clueless or totally colluding with the enemy for personal gain. Seems to be a popular way to get through life. It’s an easier path, that’s for sure. Just ask Nasrin Sotoudeh.

    That’s my personal opinion and I’m sticking to it.

    No, poor dearie who might be reading this and getting her/his bad self into a huff over my use of the word enemy, I’m not calling all the poor little menz the enemy – I’m calling patriarchy the enemy. Duh.

    And if Twisty (and by extension radfems) are so wrong and aren’t speaking to women who know what they face in the world but haven’t been able to articulate it, why’s she so popular when so many of the “Fun Feminists” on the blog roll can’t even get a single comment to most entries. Sounds like a lot of people recognize the truth when they see it and have to keep coming back for more.

  48. RebelRebel

    Taking your clothes off on stage for the entertainment of a bunch of dudes means submitting to (and reinforcing) the sexual objectification of all women, which is one of the pillars of the patriarchal system.

    What’s so hard to get?

  49. Lost Clown

    Thanks RebelRebel, that’s it in a nutshell.

  50. Catherine Martell

    Octogalore writes: “But it’s not actively setting women back either. In a male-run world, a show organized and acted by women whose revenue goes to women is way, way far down the line of structures which harm women. It’s tempting to take the post’s discussion of a misplaced word to the nth power, but a waste of energies much better spent elsewhere.”

    It’s apparently worth enough of your energy that you’ve spent the time writing a long comment about it. Burlesque isn’t top of my list of feminist concerns, but that doesn’t mean any of us can’t show an interest in deconstructing it. As radical feminists, we understand that the patriarchy infects everything. An act such as a burlesque performance does not exist in isolation, and is connected to some feminist issues that are pretty high on my list, such as the existence of rape culture.

    I’m aware that burlesque can be quite complicated and, when performed by certain groups, claimed as countercultural (I’m not talking about middle-class women with blue hair and tattoos, à la Nine Deuce’s hilarious comment above). I’m even prepared to consider that there may be grey areas.

    But you say burlesque, in general, is not actively setting women back, and that’s where I really can’t agree with you. Because the dominant voice emerging from the burlesque scene, as I hear it, is the voice represented in the article above. It says this:

    “[What’s happening now is a feminist movement in burlesque] because it’s women saying, ‘I can be ultra feminine and I can shave and wear makeup and red lipstick and G-strings and pasties. Men may or may not enjoy it, but I’m doing it for myself.’”

    And I hear these lines, from George Orwell’s 1984:

    “WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”

    PORN IS FEMINISM. How do you consider that the surrender to Big Brother – and, crucially, the claim that one is doing Big Brother’s work as a radical act of one’s own free will – is not actively setting women back?

  51. Spiders

    “And I hear these lines, from George Orwell’s 1984:

    “WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”

    PORN IS FEMINISM.”

    Wow. Just wow. Excellent.

  52. tinfoil hattie

    One problem is that in a patriarchy, women cannot, by definition, make decisions that are for and about themselves. In the absence of patriarchy, would women have invented bustiers and stilettos and crotchless panties and thongs and all other empowerfulized accoutrements? My guess is no.

    It’s also impossible to be fully and freely feminist in a patriarchy. Because of the status of women as second-class citizens/sex class, we can never know the freedom of simply “being.” If I shave my legs, am I doing it because I have been conditioned to hate my hairy legs and I am ashamed of them, or am I doing it because I like the feeling of smooth sheets against smooth legs? If I wear jewelry, is it because I love the beauty of the item, or because I want to draw p-approved attention to myself? If I don’t wear jewelry, is it because I just don’t care for it, or because I am rebelling against the notion that says I have to decorate myself in a p-approved manner?

    This is one of the crazy-making aspects of patriarchy. We are simply not free to behave in an absolutely objective manner. Everything we do is tainted in one way or another, and we’re under constant threat of violence. This has been a sobering and very depressing lesson for me, and the more I open my eyes to patriarchy and radical feminism, the more friends I lose. It’s very isolating, because people don’t want to hear it. There’s a huge price to pay for being feminist and challenging patriarchy.

  53. Silence

    I suppose my questions to burlesque performers who think their activities are empowering would run like this:

    Would you still get the same attention if you were overweight?
    If you were over forty?
    If you were physically unattractive?
    If, instead of stripping, you recited Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’?
    If you didn’t wear make-up?
    Are people watching and cheering because you’re you or because you’re a female body on display?
    Where are all the men in g-strings and sequins?
    Do you feel the audience respects you for your activities?
    Does your activity have nothing to do with a paradigm of dominance and submission?
    Is this the career of your choice, or is there something you’d rather be doing, provided you earned as much as your male coworkers, got treated with respect, and had opportunities for advancement?

    And I could probably think of a few more. If all these questions could be answered in the affirmative, then perhaps I would believe that there might be something feminist about burlesque. But I don’t believe an overweight, middle-aged stripper without make-up would receive anything other than scorn. The woman does not have to possess outstanding talents or intellect (before anyone takes offense, I am by no means implying that all burlesque performers are stupid.) All it requires is a slim, reasonably attractive body, unlike other staged performances, like theatre or dance, which require acting skills or athletic abilities.

    Why is wearing ‘sexy clothes’ empowering? Everywhere I look, I see something of the same thing. Women in push-up bras and make-up adorn half the billboards I pass. I can’t turn on the television without seeing slim, made-up young-looking women, as opposed to the men, who run the gamut from athletic to dumpy. Make-up, heels and sexy clothes are the norm. It’s how the patriarchy wishes us to dress because it shows that we’re going with the flow. So if you’re wearing make-up and heels and doing burlesque, all you’re doing is publicly exhibiting your capitulation to the patriarchy. Of course you’re going to get rewarded for such behavior.

    That said, if you want to do it, fine. Obviously, you’re getting something out of it, whether it be a wage, attention, or affirmation of your worth. Just don’t expect everyone to stand up and cheer you for advancing the rights of women. Women have always had the power to dress sexy and be gazed at by men. Yes, they really have. you can trust me on this one; I’m a historian. This power, however, has never won them honest respect, the right to vote, the right to own property, or the right to be considered a person in and of themselves after they were married.

  54. ginmar

    God, I don’t like being right. “Mean girls” versus “Pretty girls”? Really? Fucking really? Boy, am I upset that I don’t judge myself like that. I’m so upset I surround myself with people who love me as I am and respect me for other things than my appearance. Oh, wait, they’re all feminists. Duh.

  55. ginmar

    Oh, christ, she’s got a picture of her ass on her blog? And she’s got Ren Ev commenting? Yeah, that’s empowerfulizing. RE’s had her nose broken four times in this emperfullizing career of hers as a stripper, but it’s the feminazis that are mean and awful to her. Jeezus.

  56. Octogalore

    Catherine Martell: I understand your concern, but I disagree.

    For one thing, I’m not sure the dominant voice in burlesque is that it’s a feminist act, or that even if this is claimed, it’s going to be taken without a grain of salt.

    As you say, it’s complicated, and difficult to isolate how much “surrender to Big Brother” there really is. Silence mentions women who are overweight or over 40 and queries as to how many of them participate in burlesque and are cheered and the answer is — quite a bit. I agree with you that the mechanism for getting cheers — removal of clothes — is echoing the patriarchal expectation for how women get approval. But burlesque twists this, and also includes women whom the patriarchy tells they are not attractive, and makes them feel that way. That’s what, to me, renders it neutral.

    Also, the audience for burlesque is a good part women. Men who are interested in paying to direct and control women as they undress, and thereafter, choose other venues.

    So yeah — I get why you’d be concerned, and I am too, when something that mimics, even with a twist, a patriarchal expectation gets labeled a feminist act. For me, that concern in this case does not extend to labeling it an antifeminist act.

  57. RenEv

    Ginmar-

    Let’s not do this again. Yes, my nose has been broken 4 times: Once in a car accident, once in a sports accident, and yep, by an abusive partner, who happened to be female. Never as part of my job, never due to stripping, or anything like that. My ex partner wasn’t a dancer or a patron of strippers, she was just a violent person. Also, once again dragging out my personal life to prove an argument, and distorting the actual facts of what happened, well, yes, I’m sick of it. My broken noses did not occur in the course of my job, and anyone saying so is not only lying, but very, very unethical.

  58. tinfoil hattie

    All it requires is a slim, reasonably attractive body

    “slim” and “reasonably attractive” going hand-in-hand, of course.

    And “reasonably attractive” — as defined by the patriarchy. A fat, squishy, voluptuous, curvy, saggy-breasted body is also attractive. A thin, breastless, surgery-scarred body is also attractive.

    We’re just forbidden to believe so.

  59. Pinky

    wait, tinfoil hattie, what’s wrong with crotchless panties?

  60. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    In a world where women didn’t earn .69 on the dollar, had control over their own bodies, didn’t have to starve and/or mutilate themselves to earn approval, and enjoyed human agency, there wouldn’t be anything anti-feminist about burlesque. But right now, I live in a country that can’t even pass a law making it illegal to discriminate against women. Hell, I live in a country where the prevailing culture makes such a law necessary.

  61. Catherine Martell

    Octogalore: “For one thing, I’m not sure the dominant voice in burlesque is that it’s a feminist act, or that even if this is claimed, it’s going to be taken without a grain of salt.”

    The dominant voice I hear from burlesque scenesters on the subject of female participation in burlesque performance (and audiences) is that it’s empowering, liberating, and a choice. I hear the word “feminism” less often, but it can’t escape your notice that these words are specifically connected to feminist discourse and ideas about women’s liberation.

    Octogalore again: “I agree with you that the mechanism for getting cheers — removal of clothes — is echoing the patriarchal expectation for how women get approval. But burlesque twists this, and also includes women whom the patriarchy tells they are not attractive, and makes them feel that way. That’s what, to me, renders it neutral.”

    There’s nothing neutral about that. What you’re describing is a situation in which women judged unfuckable failures by the patriarchy find solace in feeling temporarily like some small portion of the patriarchy has judged them to be fuckable, and thus slightly less of a failure. Is your argument that a negative act (showing your tits to men for approval) plus a positive feeling (gaining that approval) equals a neutral act? Because if so I would dispute your mathematics, as well as pointing out that there is no such thing as a neutral act performed by women under a patriarchy.

    It’s all about the context. Even if you personally get warm fuzzies by performing in burlesque, it’s too simplistic to think about that without acknowledging what you’re doing is part of an entire sociocultural and industrial system that tells men they can and must commodify and use women as sexual objects.

    I know that some burlesque performers argue that by demanding approval for their patriarchally nonconforming bodies they are subverting patriarchal notions of attractiveness. Maybe in some minuscule sense they are. I just don’t think that merely subverting those notions is particularly radical, because it leaves them in place and indeed supports the notion that they should be a mechanism of judgement. Radical feminism, for me, is about finding ways to discard patriarchal structures altogether.

  62. Octogalore

    Catherine: “There’s nothing neutral about that. What you’re describing is a situation in which women judged unfuckable failures by the patriarchy find solace in feeling temporarily like some small portion of the patriarchy has judged them to be fuckable, and thus slightly less of a failure.”

    That would be true if their goal was to convince the patriarchy or, as you put it, “showing your tits to men for approval.” I’m not sure that’s true. It could be they are having fun, it could be they are performing for other women, it could be they are performing for their daily bread.

    Similarly, if the “positive feeling” were “gaining [men's] approval,” I’d agree with you there too, but I’m not sure it is. Burlesque is really not viewed as men’s entertainment. There are plenty of other places where women perform in ways couched to garner male approval (as more the means than the end, though).

    So I think the way you set up the math, sure, I’m with you on that, but I think it involves a number of assumptions I’d be wary of making.

  63. Caroline

    Jesus Christ, I you guys know this thread is absolutely disgusting, don’t you? You do know that? Bullshit misogyny in the name of feminism, this is what I’m reading. I’m thinking a lot of you don’t know what sex positive feminism actually is, or else you wouldn’t be calling it ‘fun’ feminism. In fact, scratch that. I think a lot of people here just need a very basic Feminism 101. Like, for example, statements such as “when guys approve, it’s a great guage [sic] of whether or not something is feminist at all.” are an absolute joke. I, the sex pozzer, pay far less attention to the dudes than you. I tend to focus on women, not women-bashing. Being hell-bent on doing the opposite to what you think dudes want isn’t feminism, just so you know.

    And Jesus, talk about arrogant. Who the hell do you lot think you are, ‘The Feminist Gatekeeper’?! What makes you think you’re so intelligent and know what’s right for woman kind? Why the hell should you be in charge?? Fucking hell… I’d rather die than live in a world where thought was controlled by people like some of you. I don’t say that lightly.

    Anyway, I’m digressing. Ginmar, my little lovely? I need a word.

    “Yeah, yeah, I know, blame the patriarchy and not the woman”
    - But you’re just going to blame the women anyway, even though you’ve said yourself you’re wrong to do so? And, you know, you having to deal “with the damned sex poz brigade” – I really just wish you fucking wouldn’t. I’m not a sex worker. My academic interest is religion, so I gain nothing personally from supporting sex workers rights and trying to change society’s norms and values that currently put sex workers at such a disadvantage. I do it simply because it’s something I feel VERY strongly in, and half the battle is having to cope with bullshit like this. Because, the fact is, your attitude, and some of the attitudes in this comment thread, ARE the problem. So yeah, I really, REALLY fucking wish you’d just keep schtum. Now, I promise I will go through all of this this evening and even tomorrow if I have to and I’ll write on my own blog exactly why I think this is bullshit. For now though, can we maybe talk about Renegade Evolution? (Renegade Evolution incidentally, fyi, isn’t a burlesque dancer, so she’s not that relevant to this post, but I know she’s a sex worker and she more than likely is the only sex worker you’ve bothered yourself with, so yeah, I can vaguely see why she’s been brought up.)

    Firstly – “One of these fun feminists in the blogosphere who absolutely despises radfems keeps it quiet that she’s had her nose broken four times. Hey, it’s empowering!”
    - She keeps it quiet? Shall I tell you what I keep quiet? I keep quiet the fact that I broke my ankle when I was 7. Oh, wait, no – I don’t “keep that quiet”, I just don’t blog about it because it’s irrelevant. And so is her broken nose. You do realise that these breakages weren’t done when she was at work, don’t you? I mean, it totally hasn’t got anything to do with her being a sex worker, that was just, well, it’s private life / off-blog stuff that does not impact on your argument either way. And you know Ginmar – it’s bad form to drag people’s private lives into arguments when they have no bearing on the matter in hand – really bad form.

    And what’s with the “Hey, it’s empowering!” and “empowerfulizing”? Are we supposed to laugh because stoopid ol’ Ren got her nose broken 4 times whilst turning tricks?! Cos, well, as I say she wasn’t. She wasn’t at work, it wasn’t work related, and even if it WAS work related, is it really something you want to be pulling out of your bag triumphantly like that? Say she had been beaten up? Would you be pleased cos she’d proved your point? Shit – don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.

    “RE’s had her nose broken four times in this emperfullizing career of hers as a stripper, but it’s the feminazis that are mean and awful to her. Jeezus.”
    - You’re an idiot. You’ve used stories from her private life (when she’s obviously been in physical pain) against her in an irrelevant situation. You know, coping with these absolute lies as Ren has to do quite regularly must be fucking exhausting. I couldn’t do it. I think if she’s upset by this she’s every right to be. I think you’d be upset if I was making shit up about you to use against you. “mean and awful” aren’t my choice of words though. “Slanderous” maybe. “Nasty”, “disgusting”, “lying” and “manipulative” come to mind too. Why on earth do you think what you’ve said belongs in a discussion about sex work.

    Oh, wait. This isn’t a discussion about sex work. This is just a great opportunity for you to feel superior to other women. Well, don’t mind me. Back to your party.

  64. Bettyboondoggle

    “RE’s had her nose broken four times in this emperfullizing career of hers as a stripper, but it’s the feminazis that are mean and awful to her.”

    wait, I know this punchline – those that broke her nose* are just a few rotten apples that totally don’t represent the whole bunch, but all radfems are exactly the same – all mean, old, ugly, jealous bitchez. Right?

    * – seriously, FOUR times?!?

    Originally, I was going to object to the implication that getting injured on the job is indicative of that job’s empowerfulness (as opposed to real empowerment). But, then I remembered that both you (Ginmar) and I have (or had, in my case) jobs in which we were injured and yet somehow, we managed not to be fellating the patriarchy at the same time. So, not the same thing, really.

  65. Joan Kelly

    Personally, I am most aggravated by some burlesque folks’ persistent obsession with differentiating themselves from strippers. The whole “it’s a business,” and sales job references. How is that not a super thinly veiled (maybe not at all veiled?) way of implying stripper = whore vs. burlesque-er = “artist?”

  66. ripley

    “Women have always had the power to dress sexy and be gazed at by men. Yes, they really have. you can trust me on this one; I’m a historian. This power, however, has never won them honest respect, the right to vote, the right to own property, or the right to be considered a person in and of themselves after they were married.”

    hell to the yeah.

    one of the things I have been trying to learn as I try to untangle my own actions from the patriarchy, is that picking your battles is important. but I’m trying really hard not to confuse strategic capitulation with feminism.

    part of the thing that is so hard is that pleasure is not neutral (or for pete’s sake, in itself radical). It feels good to capitulate (at least sometimes), whether it’s just resting from fighting, or receiving praise and acceptance that we are conditioned to desire, from people we often do care about. but those things are seductive, and transitory, and do not help others who cannot capitulate as easily. And they support the status quo.

    IBTP

  67. Betty Boondoggle

    “It could be they are having fun, it could be they are performing for other women, it could be they are performing for their daily bread.”

    To patriarchy, this makes little difference. The end result is the same. They can be doing this for their own reasons, but that doesn’t negate the overall effect.

  68. Lemony Fresh

    I LOVE YOU, TWISTY FASTER! I just had to get that out of my system before commencing with the official rant! Your blog has given me the courage to cease obsessing over my appearance, to cease “acting out” for male attention, and the list goes on. I used to call myself a “feminist” in pre-IBTP days, and oh what an ignorant little p-approved tool I really was! I believed myself to be a liberated, empowered woman, and yet I was still continually plagued by vague insecurities I felt should have been transcended long ago. Now I am able to wholly appreciate the full extent of my patriarchal brainwashing. I was blind, now I see, yada, yada. THANK YOU a thousand times over, from the bottom of my heart, for being the wise and wonderful person you are and for using this blog to disseminate authentically empowering wisdom.

    I’ve never been a burlesque dancer, but I think I can relate to the overarching principle behind it. There was a time when I displayed myself in all my skintastic glory, in pornified poses, engaging in pornified activities, on the internet, and I called it “embracing my sexuality”. I would go so far as to say I that I felt “empowered” by acting the part of the come-hither sexpot. What I didn’t realize at that time is that I wasn’t “empowering” myself, I was feeding my flagging ego with male sexual attention and approval; it was a poor substitute for authentic self-esteem. The patriarchy says: “The highest level of status you can attain in this society, as a woman, is that of sex object. If you’re a good girl and can turn yourself into a good sex object, we will shower you with the positive reinforcement you crave.” The patriarchy takes advantage of women with poor self-esteem and little to nil self-respect; it rapes their minds before raping their bodies. We’ve been taught that a perfectly viable, acceptable and simple means for gaining self-esteem is to flaunt your body in ways that make the menz drool. Little girls absorb this lesson before little boys cease to be icky and gross. Unless we are taught differently by someone as knowing as Twisty, we’re doomed before adolescence even rears its ugly head. It comes as no great surprise to me that unknowing women frequently confuse objectification with empowerment. I was one of them! And for that, IBTP.

  69. Satsuma

    It’s kind of simple. White people don’t dress up in black face. Black people would be horrified if whites resurrected minstrel shows.

    Women reinacting the same old male fantasies is very similar. It’s not freedom to pretend to be a slave on the plantation, or to brag about eating watermellon– kind of like having a watermellon eating contest just for black people.

    We get the ethnic sterotypes that are hated by the group being made fun of or degraded. But women have a very hard time getting that they are playing right into the same old woman hating shows.

    I can’t imagine all this burlesque anyway. Wow, it must be kind of strange out there. I wouldn’t even remain friends with women who did this or went to strip shows. That would be a deal breaker for me.

    Guess there’s still this weird thing with women wanting to be porn feminists or whatever, or fun feminists… I personally think it’s just Gen X and Y making fun of a profound social justice movement that they have a hard time learning from or caring about a lot of the time. And it’s self-hatred to a degree that may even be unconscious for most women who are into this.

    Thank the goddess I just went to school, made friends who stayed away from that nonsense and kept up the life of the feminist mind. A weird world tattooed world out there; are we still hurd animals or what?

  70. Citizen Jane

    It’s a little irritating that we have to point out that someone’s nose got broken in order to show that a stripper is a victim of a fucked up power structure.

  71. Femsei

    I am going to have to side with Twisty, Silence, Catherine Martell, RebelRebel, and WendyAnn on this one. I also second the “hell to the yeah” on ripley’s response.

    One cannot profess to be offering up a “feminist” version of burlesque without knowing or acknowledging that it is so closely related and tied to the perversion of femininity which is a construct of patriarchal discourse—feminism and the construction of feminity do not work well together–it is anti-thetical, and therefore, anti-feminist.

    Who makes these fucking products (lipstick, nylons, garters, etc), anyway? Do you, fellow bloggers for the burlesque cause? I mean, seriously, I can’t even find a pair of women’s shoes to fit my feet let alone women’s underwear that do me a service~! Pasties, g-strings…whatever floats your boat, but, if I recall, the feminist movement was not built on these commodified objects to further relegate women into the realm of the objectified.

    Was the history of burlesque concerned with active agency for women? No, it was not. It’s main purpose was based on theatrics and entertainment before the rise of Hollywood cinema and strip clubs. Its main message concerned sex and transgression–audiences were mainly men and couples. In the end, who wins out? Is it you? Is it me? Is it the couple down the street who likes the idea of having their cake and eating it, too, so long as it does not upset their family or marriage apple-cart.

    Octogalore suggested that we cannot really measure the impact of what performances are transgressive, subversive, and support women’s agency. I beg to differ. As feminists and academics who have studied the performance arts, and have read considerably on Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and Undoing Gender and the notion of “performativity”, we can and we have. “We” know that history repeats itself and that the on-going commodification and objectification of women can find itself embedded in performances that are less than creating the equality, agency, and recognition in man/woman let alone woman and their expressions of sexuality. But, as Kelly Oliver might argue in the “Colonization of Psychic Space” and “Witnessing: Beyond Recognition” –the struggle for recognition in equality becomes the pathology. Recognition is a man-made product—we see it in citizenship and nation-building and the continuation of (multiculturalism) and identity politics. Recognition and equality are still tied to the dominant discourses of power, but that does not mean we give up or fall into this power embalance for the sake of wanting recognition or equality alone. And if Oliver is right in her theoretical vantage point that recognition is the pathology, then we need to rethink what recognition and equality mean in how we continue to survive and persist as women, queers, etc in the ‘mainstream’.

  72. DaisyDeadhead

    RE’s had her nose broken four times in this emperfullizing career of hers as a stripper

    Oh come on now. This is patently untrue.

    As Joe Friday used to say, just the facts, maam.

  73. Catherine Martell

    Octogalore: “That would be true if their goal was to convince the patriarchy or, as you put it, “showing your tits to men for approval.” I’m not sure that’s true. It could be they are having fun, it could be they are performing for other women, it could be they are performing for their daily bread.”

    Imagine a company that manufactures landmines. Most people who work there don’t actively want to get up every morning and blow the legs off children. And yet that is the net result.

    Some workers enjoy the work itself. This is equivalent to the “fun” crowd. Most of them would prefer not to think about the ultimate consequences of what they do, but this doesn’t make those consequences go away.

    Perhaps some of them think they’re working for the benefit of marginalised groups who need to fight for their part of the world. This is equivalent to the “doing it for women” crowd. This group probably doesn’t spend too much time asking itself just how much of the audience for its products really are oppressed peoples, or whether the fact that the customers themselves are oppressed makes the manufacturing of machines to kill and maim human beings any more justifiable.

    Some of them just need to do a job, any job, for the money. And, hey, fair enough. I’ve done a few unsavoury jobs just for the money too. But, again, the fact that you’re doing a job for the money doesn’t make the consequences magically disappear. They are still there; you just don’t have the privilege of being able to act to change them. The people in this position – equivalent to the “daily bread” crowd – constitute an oppressed group. Most anti-landmine campaigners would accept that low-status wage slaves are not the Big Bad. At the same time, no one is going to refrain from criticising the landmine industry for fear of offending the many people in it who just have to pay their rent. If we want it to change, we have to speak out against it.

    I blame the patriarchy, not its victims. I am not having a go at women who participate in the sex industry because they have to. I am having a go at the repackaging of pornulation as feminism.

  74. drakyn

    Just wanted to say that Ren’s nose was never broken as a result of her career. It’s been broken due to a sports injury, a car accident, and an abusive ex-girlfriend (who had never been into porn or strip clubs).

  75. Octogalore

    Catherine — I appreciate the distinction and that you are not blaming women.

    And again, I agree with loose rebranding as feminism — I get scolded for most if not all of my posts for criticizing “choice” feminism, in which all women’s choices are automatically feminist choices.

    I think the disconnect we have, though, is that I don’t think undressing or sexual/sexy play in public is automatically unfeminist. I do think the imbalance in men vs women doing this is a problem. But I like to look. I like the Abercrombie ads and prominent posters of semi-nude men, I like the increasing amount of men showing off their abs, I notice more women picking up Men’s Fitness (I’m one of them) and not just for the great glute workouts. All in all, I don’t believe a post-patriarchal world would not have men and women having fun with their sexuality for their own and others’ pleasure.

    None of this is a feminist act, but I don’t see it as a landmine either. Reasonable minds can disagree on this, but I don’t post-patriarchy will come through any kind of cessation of burlesque or sex work. I think women attaining equal economic and political power will be the necessary catalyst. It will only be then that we will see a dramatic reduction in women needing to flaunt sexuality (although some may still want to do so) and an increase in men choosing to do so.

  76. Octogalore

    Sorry, meant to say at beginning of 2nd para: “And again, I agree why loose rebranding as feminism is problematic”

  77. ginmar

    Drakyn, why are you here? I can easily show those here how you treat feminists.

    And frankly I wouldn’t trust anything RE said at all. She appears to have a miserable time as a stripper and porn actress, but she gets really infuriated at feminists who point that out. And she just plain makes shit up about radfems.

  78. Satsuma

    Now these comments are making a little more sense.

    Feminism is being rebranded, so that porn is ok as long as we label it “feminist porn.” Since I rarely hear women talk about feminism or even use this word all that much at all during my soujournes out into the wide world, it’s kind of odd to read it here.

    We are getting all kinds of rebranding out there — white fundamentalists are claiming they are great anti-racist activists, for example. Obama claiming he’s a big fan of equal pay for equal work. Fundamentalist christians saying they are pro-woman… Gen X and Y saying they are cool with lesbian porn, or lesbian strippers — this stuff happens all over Los Angeles by the way.

    So does feminism have an exact definition, and do people who are undermining it with “porn feminism” really get that they are just trying to get people riled up. Maybe the next generation has little idea of what feminism set out to accomplish in the first place.

    Kind of reminds me of a young black man telling his Dad, “But hey, I wouldn’t have sat at the back of that bus, I wouldn’t have put up with that for one minute.” This bravado was born in the present moment, not as a person who had grown up with Jim Crow and the KKK. Different time, different story.

    Feminism largely succeeded in creating alternatives for women in America. There are all kinds of things that I am doing and can do that my mother couldn’t do. Get credit in my own name, work in finance at the same pay scale as the men, travel alone around the world, eat by myself in a restaurant or hang out at a local bar and daydream.

    There are options. Now not all the women are forced to do the same thing. No one chids me for not being married, no one bugs me about not having children, nobody thinks I’m less then for not doing any of that stuff. The neighborhood is filled with non-married or never married single women, children are as scarce as hen’s teeth, and on life goes.

    This sexy crazy nonsense that passes for pop cultural trends, women stripping for “feminist” fun or whatever else they do, it is not feminist at all. It’s just women wanting to do “forbidden things.” Kind of like the aging boomers telling tall tales about the pot they smoked on the sly back in college, or perhaps it was my grandparents swallowing goldfish in college. None of that is feminism, and maybe women are a mixed bag.

    Maybe it is the very success of feminism that forces these “hottie feminists” to be defenseive in their choices, or defensive in their use of language. After all, it’s really the same old barbie mentality, but hey a stay at home Mom calls herself a feminist too. So who controls the brand name “FEMINISM?” :-)

  79. smmo

    All in all, I don’t believe a post-patriarchal world would not have men and women having fun with their sexuality for their own and others’ pleasure.

    Yes, but hopefully it would leave off men and women using their sexuality for profit.

    You bring up Abercrombie and Fitch. The transformation of that store from waspier than wasp to Kool Kids Inc. is on the surface puzzling, but really makes perfect sense. Yesterday’s stodgy captains of industry are today’s Steve Francis. Real money lies in selling soft-core porn to children of privilege. But what a sad and narrow sexuality they are peddling.

    In the words of tinfoil hattie:

    “reasonably attractive” — as defined by the patriarchy. A fat, squishy, voluptuous, curvy, saggy-breasted body is also attractive. A thin, breastless, surgery-scarred body is also attractive.

    We’re just forbidden to believe so.

  80. Dan

    I really liked this post.

  81. Octogalore

    As Citizen Jane and Drakyn suggested, criticizing individual women doesn’t aid the discussion in any way and in fact detracts from it. Even if RE were absolutely miserable, which I think a fair read of her site belies, it wouldn’t make any point. One could similarly point to women with different beliefs and professions and claim (much more accurately) that they are miserable. I know female lawyers, women’s studies professors, teachers, etc., who have had physical ailments and have complained about their jobs. Getting into this kind of ad hominem argument is colluding in what Dude Nation wants us to do as much (or more, IMO) than burlesque.

  82. Lisa Harney

    Since when is it feminist to cherrypick a woman’s past for incidents of domestic violence and use those to trash her career? Since when is it feminist to dismiss a woman’s words about her own life because they don’t fit into neatly defined stereotypes?

    Since when is it feminist to warp a woman’s life into something that fits those stereotypes against her will, and then block her attempts to comment in response, to refute that warping? That cherrypicking? That dismissal?

    Is this what feminism is about? To shout down all dissenting voices and erase their lives?

    Isn’t this itself patriarchal?

  83. Lara

    Why the direct correlation between “flaunting sexuality” and looks or use of the body? Isn’t sexuality just as much involving a state of mind? Why is it that nudity or undressing automatically signals “SEX!”? And why is that the case particularly when it comes to women’s bodies?

    And yes, I am also getting irritated by the distinctions made between burlesque performers and strippers. As if the former was more “artsy” and “thoughtful” than the latter. I went to go see the Sex Workers Art Show perform at my university several months ago and when I paid at the door to get in, I asked “Is this a strip show?” And the young woman taking the money and handing out tickets said “No, this is a burlesque performance.” And you know what’s so hi-LA-rious? The performers basically stripped and even danced around a pole….
    Oh, and I’ve been to a strip club before too and it’s the same shit in a strip club, except the strippers in the club had more conventionally-attractive bodies and they didn’t sing while throwing off their clothes. That was the difference.

  84. J.Goff

    Even if RE were absolutely miserable, which I think a fair read of her site belies, it wouldn’t make any point.

    And honestly, who, besides an anti-feminist, uses “she’s a liar!” as a frame for an argument? Work harder at that feminism, ginmar. Please.

  85. Kristin

    There is nothing feminist about untrue ad hom attacks against other women that cherry pick and distort their life experiences in order to make a point. This treatment of RE is shameful. As others have mentioned, Ginmar is drawing on RE’s past experiences with domestic abuse–which have NOTHING to do with porn or stripping–in order to condemn Ren. That is fucking disgusting.

    Also, why aren’t her comments being posted? Why isn’t she being allowed to defend herself here?

  86. J.Goff

    And really, ginmar, where is the proof that she’s a liar? Do you even have it, after all these threads where you keep posting, insipidly, that she’s a liar? I have never seen ONE shred of evidence by you, but you feel free to say the same, over and over.

  87. Octogalore

    Hi, SMMO!

    “Yes, but hopefully it would leave off men and women using their sexuality for profit.”

    That’s a whole other issue — would a post-patriarchal world be post-capitalist? You know my vote on that one. I think capitalist tendencies arise in both men and women.

    I think the kind of profit would be different — in that in a post-patriarchal world, women’s using sexuality for profit wouldn’t be required to mimic male dominance. But I think we’d still have people enjoying, and paying for, sexual imagery we find attractive. Let’s put it this way, I didn’t go see the Ocean’s movies for the plot.

    I agree that in a post-patriarchal world, we would not get performers whose performance, however ironic, hinged on clothing removal, labeling this a feminist statement. Of course, there would be no need for such a statement hopefully, but also hopefully, we’d know that no act which doesn’t advance our cause is feminist.

  88. Donna

    I just read Sarah J’s blog. Talk about missing Twisty’s and others’ points by a mile. Poor sad deluded thing. Criticism of social structures is not an attack on those who participate in them, willingly or not. She seems fixated on the idea that radfems are out to pick on pretty girls like her. Wonder where she got it from? The old divide-and-conquer at work again. IBTP.

  89. Twisty

    OK,it’s time to tone down the ad feminams and the hostile rhetoric. The subject of peoples’ broken noses is now CLOSED.

  90. Silence

    I think in a true post-patriarchal world there wouldn’t be anyone paying money for stripping because we’d all be able to walk around completely nude if we wanted to, because nudity wouldn’t automatically equal ‘opportunity to get off.’ Bodies would be viewed for exactly what they are — our physical containers, capable of walking, running, dancing, eating, shitting, thinking, reading, and yes, sex if we choose it.

    And I hate capitalism.

    My perspective on this debate is that women have the perfect right to pole dance, appear in burlesque, have sex for money, etc., etc. Some do it because they desperately need the money, and my heart goes out to them and IBTP. For the others, who do it by choice, I still blame the patriarchy for making stripping/whatever seem like an attractive option because it brings them attention and some sort of self-esteem (all quite transitory, I fear.) All I ask is that they do not try to cloak their actions under the label of feminism. Real feminism is not about having fun; it’s about trying to fight back against a patriarchal system or at least recognize it for what it is. You cannot make gains without a few sacrifices. It just doesn’t work.

  91. Betty Boondoggle

    “For the others, who do it by choice, I still blame the patriarchy for making stripping/whatever seem like an attractive option because it brings them attention and some sort of self-esteem (all quite transitory, I fear.) All I ask is that they do not try to cloak their actions under the label of feminism.”

    yes, exactly. Personally, I don’t care if what a woman does for a living if she’s doing it because she wants to. (exploitation and desperation are other matters). However, don’t call it feminist when it’s clearly not. Don’t call it feminism when you live under a system which denies free choice. Don’t call it feminism when it serves to help reinforce the system that oppresses us all.

    Of course you can say you want to do it, you can totally love doing it – partiarchy doesn’t care. It will use whatever pieces of you it can to reinforce its own power structure. That’s something I can never seem to get across clearly.

    Of course women can chose to be whatever. Of course they can feel empowerful and liberated when doing it. But regardless, they’re doing it in a gilded cage, blinded to the bars around them.

    “I’m doing [exactly what the partiarchy tells me I exist for] for me!” is exactly what patriarchy wants to hear.

    As for ad feminams, Natalia Antonova’s pingback is just deliberate dishonesty and obvious flame-baiting.

  92. MaryK

    Silence-great point.

    So, I like to dance. Besides the more mainstream-approved types of dancing, I like pole dance and aerial silks. I admit I have an addiction to hanging upside down. And, you know what? I sure as hell don’t call it feminist.

    However, the entire issue of dance is problematic. Anytime women’s bodies (any female body, for that matter) are in movement and on display, they will be pornified, commodified and objectified. During a performance of The Nutcracker, even, I heard this one dude beside me make a rude comment about the Sugar Plum Fairy’s legs and “what they could do.” I’ve heard similar rude comments about ice dancers and gymnasts, too. Shows like “Dancing with the Stars” with their pornified costumes aren’t helping, either.

    What’s a girl to do? There is no winning in the patriarchy. There is no opting-out. The best one can hope for is to minimize the damage. In the case of belly dancing, pole dancing and silk dancing, the closest I’ve come to figure is restricting it to women-only circles. At least there’s a lot less leering in that situation than, say, in a ballroom.

  93. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    MaryK:

    “What’s a girl to do? There is no winning in the patriarchy. There is no opting-out. The best one can hope for is to minimize the damage. In the case of belly dancing, pole dancing and silk dancing, the closest I’ve come to figure is restricting it to women-only circles. At least there’s a lot less leering in that situation than, say, in a ballroom.”

    Yeah, verily! I’m part of a belly-dance troupe. It’s mostly an all-woman thing. At the gym where we take classes, at least there’s glass between us and the occasional leering idiot. We have all ages (college gals right up through great-grandmas), cultures, and body types (willowy and slender, the changes childbirth hath wrought, and us Big-Boned Gals).

    It’s taught me how to stop hating and enjoy my non-P-approved body and to appreciate all the beautiful differences among us imperfect humans. What a great educational experience.

  94. ginmar

    J. Goff, have you EVEN read the shit that the sex pozzes say about radfems? And I see the sex poz brigade has shown up. Sex poz=anti-rad fem. I do love it when those guys do the shit they whine about others doing—without cause. But then again, they have to blame radfems because otherwise they have to take a good long look at the empowerfulization of their chosen careers. RE’s long said she’s not a feminist and that she hates radfems and wishes them to die. Drakyn’s wished for my rape. I’ll be damned if I can figure out how that’s feminist. It sure is empowerfulizing, though.

    Burlesque is a privileged woman’s game. It’s a neat recasting of sexploitation. Burlesque workers traditionally got to keep some of their clothes on. Strippers these days often don’t have that option. Just because a woman calls it feminist doesn’t mean it is. And just because a woman does it doesn’t mean it’s automatically feminist nor acceptable.

    And when I see the sex poz brigade show up, I’m not engaging them. They’ve long proven themselves to be dishonorable. Sex poz is a word game that implicitly labels its opponents sex neg. Nice trick.

    There’s lots of relabeling and rebranding going on the pornization world. Doesn’t make it feminist, but, boy, do its buyers want to rename it empowering. For the poor women doing it out of desperation, it just hides them and focuses on the empowerfulized brigade. When people minimize how wretched that empowerfulization is the desperate and the trafficked and the majority a feminist is perfectly entitled to question that move.

  95. Sarah J

    I am not your poor deluded little thing, Donna.

  96. Sarah J

    And if calling women “thing” isn’t objectifying, what the hell is?

  97. Jennifer-Ruth

    Ginmar – “Burlesque is a privileged woman’s game”

    WORD.

  98. Betty Boondoggle

    “I am not your poor deluded little thing”

    Fair enough. Do you get why she said it? Got any rebuttal? Do you seriously think we’re all “ugly girls” just jealous of you? I’m interested in your opinion in this respect. More often than not, whenever I try to ask a “sex pos feminist” any questions, I get accused of various wrongdoing. Trying to work through that.

  99. drakyn

    Excuse me Ginmar? I have never wished for yours or anyone’s rape. What the hell are you talking about? I made fun of you a while back for how you got all conspiracy-theorist about Feministe’s comment issues; I have never wished rape on you.

  100. Donna

    I didn’t say you were little, Sarah. You did. And how does parsing every single word I and others on this thread say address the points we are making? I noticed on your blog and Natalya’s blogs that all y’all did was cherry-pick a few statements out of the larger context of comments so you could throw them up and go “A ha! I caught those radfems hating on us!” What do you hope to accomplish with that? A little more approval from the doodz? Hope you get it.

  101. other orange

    A friend of mine asked the question, “Is this what feminism will become ? A defense of our right to fuck dudes ?”

    The idea of sex-positive feminism comes from such a place of privilege, it’s astounding. Feminists have always worked against misogynist prostitution laws that punish women, feminists have always worked for better education and more opportunities and protections for women who enter sex work out of desperation, feminists have always fought against the violent and objectifying porn culture, feminists have always tried to equal the power dynamics between women and men; in other words, feminists have spent decades trying to create a world in which women can have healthy sexual encounters and relationships without punishment or shame or pressure. But mostly they have worked so that these women can just live their lives.

    And now some people have come along and put “sex-positive” in front of “feminist” and they want a goddam cookie for it. As if their orgasms were a sign unto all nations.

    I feel like the most important thing is not that a handful of middle-class white girls get to hang onto their tassels and bikini waxes and not feel bad about it. The most important thing is that we are all under the bootheel of the patriarchy, and no amount of lipstick and saying “it’s for me” will change that. Work will change that. Acting out and opting out will change that. Activism wil change that. Solidarity will change that.

    We fight together or we fuck alone.

  102. Westy

    You put it exactly right.

    My friends and I have always called this the “Madonna Complex.”

  103. RenEv

    Twisty- Thanks.

    For the record, I never said stripping was a feminist thing to do, just to clarify.

    Betty- Some of us would be more than happy to answer your questions, but if you’re willing to believe anything and everything other people tell you about us and don’t come from a place of interest in logical debate, well, that makes things rough.

    And…I’m outta here.

  104. Betty Boondoggle

    “Some of us would be more than happy to answer your questions but if you’re willing to believe anything and everything other people tell you about us and don’t come from a place of interest in logical debate, well, that makes things rough.”

    *lol* Is it really conducive to “logical debate” to couch some backhanded insults to my intelligence and character in there? I get that there’s a lot of bad blood round the feminist blogosphere, but I haven’t been round all that long and I’d appreciate it if I were not painted with the broad brush. You know, the way y’all don’t like to be.

    I asked SarahJ for her opinion. Hers is the one I’m interested in. Hers.

  105. RenEv

    I never insulted your intelligence, I suggested believing everything you hear from others makes things rough…and thus far, you’ve demonstrated that tendancy. It’s entirely possible that demonstration is not indicative of anything, but it is an observation. I’m sure Sarah would gladly engage with you on her blog at any time, really. She seems to be pretty mellow and open to that sort of thing.

  106. Not a Whisper

    The most important thing is that we are all under the bootheel of the patriarchy, and no amount of lipstick and saying “it’s for me” will change that. Work will change that. Acting out and opting out will change that. Activism wil change that. Solidarity will change that.

    We fight together or we fuck alone.

    WORD!

  107. Donna

    RenEv, what I’d be interested in, from you and your sex poz compatriots like Sarah, is a discussion of holding men accountable for their role in imposing patriarchal demands on women. All I seem to see are frequent reminders that “not all men are rapists so stop hating on da poor widdle menz!1″

    Any interest in a conversation about why all the trappings that funfeminists adopt to feel all empowerfulized just so happen to be the same behaviors that the patriarchy expects of females?

  108. Twisty

    I sense that my comments section has been commandeered by an old blogfight the delicate nuances of which which I am unacquainted. I don’t like this. Seriously, if your comment contains “you do this” or “you think that,” don’t post it. I don’t wanna read this shit while I eat my lunch.

  109. RenEv

    Donna- I’d be happy to discuss that sort of thing with anyone who wants to so long as they can be civil. It seems Twisty is rather over things at the moment though, so another place might be better for it. I can start a thread at my place, no problem, or if someone else would like to do so, not being comfortable with my blog as the place, that’s also cool. No problem with it at all. As for calling out men for their bad behavior, it does happen. People who don’t read sex positive blogs might not see it, but yes, indeed, it does.

  110. Sarah J

    Actually, if any of you want to go back and read my past year or two’s worth of blog posts under the “feminism” tag, have at it.

    Obviously, I don’t think I’m deluded. I don’t think you’re deluded, either, which is where the difference comes in.

    I’ve also opened up space on my blog to talk, but you guys seem incapable of bringing the conversation to my or Ren’s space, so whatever. It’s cool.

  111. ginmar

    Drakyn, post the link and let others parse it for themselves.

    I see sex poz as a recasting of the traditional dichotomy that women face, only slightly altered. Before it was virgin or whore; now it’s “I like men/I’m empowered” versus “Prudish/frigid/hates men/hairy-legged” etc., etc., The term sex poz implicitly labels others as its opposites. That’s sneaky. We don’t need that kind of thing in feminism. While women should do whatever they want, whatever they want to do is not feminist in all matters, and feminists have a right to point that out, especially when it’s a multi-billion dollar business that men support.

  112. ginmar

    Oh, yeah, and Drakyn, that means without belated editing.

  113. Julia

    drakyn: Excuse me Ginmar? I have never wished for yours or anyone’s rape. What the hell are you talking about? I made fun of you a while back for how you got all conspiracy-theorist about Feministe’s comment issues; I have never wished rape on you.

    Bullshit. You’ve made it friends only, but I remember very well the hentai rape porn you posted on your lj as a rape threat Ginmar and other radfems. Your buds in this thread said zero. I guess like you they think rape is funny. But if it wasn’t a rape threat, how about letting everyone here take a look.

    What is drakyn doing here, ginmar? Same thing the rest of drakyn’s buds here are doing, stalking radfems, making shit up.

  114. Bushfire

    It’s odd that a bunch of feminists are in a fight over this. Radical feminists don’t have a problem with women expressing their sexuality. This topic is about women taking charge of their own pornulation, so that men can just sit back and watch it, instead of having to actually do the pornulating. Radical feminism takes issue with pornulation, for obvious reasons. If women were performing burlesque for their intimate partner or for other women, I don’t think anybody here would have a problem with it, but they might still point out the influence of the patriarchy on people’s intimate sex lives.

  115. smmo

    Hi Octo!

    I agree that in a post-patriarchal world, we would not get performers whose performance, however ironic, hinged on clothing removal, labeling this a feminist statement. Of course, there would be no need for such a statement hopefully

    Yes.

    but also hopefully, we’d know that no act which doesn’t advance our cause is feminist.

    But isn’t that true now? I’ve just never gotten this “I’m going to thumb my nose at patriarchy by shaking my booty for men” thing.

  116. Betty Boondoggle

    “I’ve also opened up space on my blog to talk, but you guys seem incapable of bringing the conversation to my or Ren’s space, so whatever. It’s cool.”

    What’s wrong with right here and now? Why do we have to move it?

    Look, I understand why I might be viewed suspiciously, so let me just state this now – I’m not interested in whatever backlog of bad blood there is between the camps. I wasn’t around then, it’s got nothing to do with me. I asked for your opinion because I was interested. If you don’t want to talk about it, fine. I’m not following your around begging for answers. I asked you here. if you’re not willing to answer me here, then why should I go to your place? That makes no sense.

  117. Betty Boondoggle

    “now it’s “I like men/I’m empowered” versus “Prudish/frigid/hates men/hairy-legged” etc., etc., The term sex poz implicitly labels others as its opposites. That’s sneaky. We don’t need that kind of thing in feminism.”

    Prezactly. “sex pos” feminism is just feminists labeling themselves in sexual terms, which is what we’ve been fighting against women being defined as (or with, whatever). It makes no sense to me why any feminist would want to be label in sexual terms.

  118. ginmar

    What’s wrong with terms like doctor, lawyer, soldier, professor, CEO, and—-Oh, yeah, that’s right. There’s this little thing called discrimination. There’s also this thing called the sex class. How is it rebellious to uphold the status quo? I mean, it’s the sex poz position that radfems are doing the questioning one way, but it goes both ways and it’s vicious.

    I always wonder what happens to these empowerfulized women when they age out of their professions. There’s always this appetite for new flesh—and it better be tanned, thin, and large-chested. That’s exactly what the patriarchy demands. This is conforming.

  119. On a Different Wavelength

    “Look, I understand why I might be viewed suspiciously, so let me just state this now – I’m not interested in whatever backlog of bad blood there is between the camps. I wasn’t around then, it’s got nothing to do with me. I asked for your opinion because I was interested. If you don’t want to talk about it, fine. I’m not following your around begging for answers. I asked you here. if you’re not willing to answer me here, then why should I go to your place? That makes no sense.”

    Translation for those of you who can’t grasp the obvious – she probably doesn’t feel like having a “discussion” in front of a freakin’ lynch mob, and that’s her prerogative.

    Betty, your “I’m really not part of this blogwar, but dammit, you owe me an answer right here and now” is more than a little dishonest. If you really want a conversation with this person, go over to her space and have that conversation. Otherwise, you really should drop it.

  120. pepper

    is anyone here a burlesque dancer?

    because i am, and i think without knowledge of the community, you’re misjudging by a mile.

    what that performer said about being “ultra feminine” and wearing gstrings? that’s her OPINION. she doesn’t speak for all of us.

    as for the questions asked by silence above:

    Would you still get the same attention if you were overweight? Yes. some of the most famous and well respected burlesque dancers are what would be considered overweight, sometimes even obese.

    If you were over forty? absolutely. again, some incredibly well-respected and admired performers in this category. Catherine D’Lish, though i’m not sure exactly of her age, is likely close to 40 if not above. Satan’s Angel is possibly the most mesmerizing performer i’ve seen, and she’s in her 60s.

    If you were physically unattractive? this is a matter of opinion. not everyone finds me attractive, i’m sure.

    If, instead of stripping, you recited Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’? first of all, let’s make it clear that reciting ‘song of myself’ would be an entirely different show. that said, it’s entirely possible. it wouldn’t surprise me on bit to hear that it’s been done.

    If you didn’t wear make-up? there are well-known numbers where performers do not wear makeup, or even remove their makeup on stage.

    Are people watching and cheering because you’re you or because you’re a female body on display? that’s exactly the issue, i think. burlesque is about YOU, when done right. you cannot just go up there and be pretty and expect to be successful because it’s not enough. burlesque is defined as a performance including ribald comedy, dancing and striptease. to be intelligent, to be clever, to be entertaining… that’s the important part.

    Where are all the men in g-strings and sequins? i see you’ve not ever met tigger!, nor waxie moon. nor rose wood, hot toddy, sexy mark brown, albert cadabra, dizzy swank, bobbie burlesque, nor scotty the blue bunny- to name a few.

    Do you feel the audience respects you for your activities? i absolutely do.

    Does your activity have nothing to do with a paradigm of dominance and submission? i don’t see that at all. there’s nothing submissive about performing in a style that pleases me. i show what i want, when i want, if i want. if i decided not to show pasties? not to remove my skirt? there’s room for that here.

    Is this the career of your choice, or is there something you’d rather be doing, provided you earned as much as your male coworkers, got treated with respect, and had opportunities for advancement? this is something i do as a choice. i actually work during the day at a highly respected global corporation, where i am paid and respected at least as much as my male counterparts.

    i would be glad to respond to any other questions that are posed in a non-aggressive manner.

  121. Octogalore

    SMMO: “But isn’t that true now?”

    Well, it should be. But the problem is, it gets warped in the current system because it can temporarily appear to bring an abundant amount of power. Approval from powerful people, money, attention. So the narrative goes — it makes me feel good, it makes me feel powerful, it’s therefore empowering to me, I’m a woman, so it’s feminist. (For the record, many sex workers do not attempt to employ this narrative).

    (The skills used to obtain the power are not unimpressive. While the CW is that it’s all about “shaking my booty,” there are elements of psychotherapy, profiling, business skill, and dance skill. None of this, however, equates to a feminist statement).

    This kind of narrative is easier in the current system because there are fewer ways for women to derive this outpouring of apparent (or real) power. Women are not as valued for business, economic, literary, logical skills or accomplishments. In a post-patriarchal world, you would not see as many Hefner-with-five-girlfriend scenarios and the ones that did exist would be balanced by female-male equivalents.

    So there would be nothing unique about the power derived from, say, stripping, as a woman. It would be one more kind of work that both genders occasionally do. And therefore less easy to tell oneself that it is some kind of special power-as-a-woman-and-therefore-feminist. That’s my theory, anyway.

  122. RenEv

    Donna- okay, what the heck, why not?
    I will also state here and now, I am speaking for me and only me on these matters…not anyone else, at all, in any way, just to make that crystal clear.
    Now, in response to your first question I can say is this: I’ve seen a lot of sex positive (and yes, I too dislike the term) feminists call out men on all kinds of behavior. Most recently, I’ve seen all kinds of women engage in a blog-blitz on Kyle Payne in response to his vile behavior, I’ve seen feminists of all kinds, even some people who don’t claim to be feminists, call out male feminists on their privilege and behavior. I’ve seen tons and tons of rebuttal, outrage, debate with, fisking of, and disgust towards MRA screed- on subjects such as beauty standards, abortion, fat-bashing, slut-shaming, racism, sexism, classism, body and sexual expectations and well, a whole lot of other stuff that counts as patriarchy upholding behavior. If you need proof, well, feel free to read some of “my or my compatriots” blogs. It’s there.
    In response to question two, I think you’re over-generalizing somewhat. I also think there is a huge move to insist that for something to be empowering, it must also be feminist, and that simply is not the case. Now, I don’t for a second think that all of us, to varying degrees, aren’t influenced by society, culture, the patriarchy, what have you. I do believe that we are. I also think that some things we generally start doing because we are expected to, we also truly enjoy or come to truly enjoy for ourselves (leg shaving is a simple example), and if that is the case, and the reasons have been examined and cultural influence accounted for, well, then I really see no reason why women, if they do enjoy the activity, shouldn’t continue to do it. I also think there is a tendency for some to only see the trappings they want to see. A sex positive mentions enjoying pole dancing? It’s flagged and filed away for eternity and she is henceforth characterized as “fun” (silly, ditzy, unempowered, so on). If a sex positive mentions training for a triathlon, or working on a thesis on economics, or engaging in some form of activism or outreach, or countless other “unfun/unsexy” undertakings, these things are widely ignored and forgotten. I mean, I don’t think too many men expect or find it sexy when a woman plays a full contact sport, or spends time pulling garbage out of rivers, or stripping engines, but there are sex positive feminists that do these things. I mean yes, I personally (once again, only speaking for me) have traits/hobbies/preferences that are absolutely Pat Approved. I have traits/hobbies/preferences that are not. I suspect this is true of many women, for many reasons. I also feel that intentionally doing the exact opposite of what men expect/like is also allowing men to dictate and control what a woman does. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, as it were…which I why I am big on people doing what works best for them, be that burlesque, or not burlesque…and while no, I don’t think burlesque is a feminist thing, I can see where women could find it empowering, and the fact that they can make the choice at all? Well, thank you feminism.
    Not sure if this is what you wanted, or in depth enough or whatever, but it’s a start. And I’d be happy to discuss it further with you if you want and Twisty is cool with it, after all, she is the house music.

    Betty: A lot of sex positives have stated they think the term is problematic because it implies non-sex positive feminists are anti-sex. I think it’s unfair when people propagate the mentality that non-sex pos feminists hate sex…because I don’t actually think that’s the case at all. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen any sex pos call someone a fat, ugly, hairy, whatever whatever either. Not saying it may not have ever happened, but I’ve not seen it.

  123. lb

    I suppose my questions to burlesque performers who think their activities are empowering would run like this: Would you still get the same attention if you were overweight?
    I am

    If you were over forty?
    I’m close and many of my fellow performers are over forty.

    If you were physically unattractive?
    Eye of the beholder.
    Personally, I love showcasing what makes me unique.

    If, instead of stripping, you recited Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’?
    Sort of like asking a tap dancer “instead of tapping…”

    If you didn’t wear make-up?pagent
    If it lends itself to the performance, sure.

    Are people watching and cheering because you’re you or because you’re a female body on display?
    Because I’m a clever genius with charm and charisma to spare.

    Where are all the men in g-strings and sequins?
    Winning the Mr. Exotic world pageant and performing all over the world.
    Google “boylesque”

    Do you feel the audience respects you for your activities?
    yes

    Does your activity have nothing to do with a paradigm of dominance and submission?
    No more than being a court jester does

    Is this the career of your choice, or is there something you’d rather be doing, provided you earned as much as your male coworkers, got treated with respect, and had opportunities for advancement?
    I chose to be a performer- I also happen to have another job where I earn as much as my male coworkers, get treated with respect and have opportunities for advancement.
    Guess I am pretty lucky.

    I’ll be dedicating tonight’s performance to this thread.
    thank you for the inspiration
    xo
    -lb

  124. Lar

    “…but when I got to the part about how evil sluts are responsible for men harassing nice, upstanding young ladies (and don’t give me that crap about how it’s really the men causing the bad women to cause the men to attack the nice women), I spilled my midnight delight of a beer down my shirt.”

    If you want to misconstrue what I say, fine. But please don’t put words in my mouth (especially words like “slut” which I’ve never used or even alluded to, please).

    I’m going to try to make my point crystal clear here and then I’m done. If you don’t like it or you disagree, fine that’s your right.

    I.don’t.blame.women.for.men’s.behaviour.

    If it came out that way it was a misunderstanding. I just live in the Spring Break capital of the world where amateur porn, Girls Gone Wild tapings, and naked jello wrestling in front of a crowd of men screaming “Show your tits” are not only considered the norm but are somehow considered liberating or empowering. When people say that that kind of abuse is “liberating” men usually use that as an excuse to keep abusing or to try to coerce people into participating (i.e. how men constantly defend the porn industry as something that empowers women). Do I think that men would continue to treat us as public property anyway? Yes. So I do *not* blame women for men’s behaviour. What I was trying to convey, perhaps not clearly enough, is that this attitude that pornulation is empowering (which is an ideal heavily advertized by the patriarchy – so yes I do blame men for the “libration via pornulation” lie) is something that’s widespread in my generation, and I think it’s both frustrating and detrimental to what feminists have worked against for so many years.

  125. ginmar

    You know, I just think it’s basic feminism calling out MRAs and stuff. I mean, I think it ought to be everyone’s concern. Rape, abuse, the abuse of prostitutes, the acknowledgement of the damage of porn and other things like that, spreading the reality of domestic violence, talking about male privilege, and other basics. Those are things that there’s no disagreement on or shouldn’t be.

    I think we should be considered sex not, in that Twisty’s right in saying our default condition should be no. What porn, etc, does is offer men the idea that women are always willing—or in some porn, unwilling and degraded.

  126. ginmar

    You don’t have to see it called explicitly fat, ugly, hairy-legged. The implication is there. The setup is there in the phrase ‘sex poz.’

  127. RenEv

    Gin- I don’t want to fight with you. Seriously, this is not the place for it. But I will state again- I do think the sex positive term is problematic due to what it implies: that other kinds of feminists are anti-sex. Other folk who generally would be considered sex positive agree with this as well. An alternate, new term would be better, no disagreement there. Yet there is unpleasant stereotyping on both sides, and I think we all know that.

  128. mir

    We, all of us, function within the patriarchy. We, all of us, concede different bits of our selves to function within the patriarchy. Some of us shave our legs, some of us fuck strangers for money to feed our kids, some of us wear sexxay clothes and do extra sexxay things, some of us marry dudes, etcetera. And when we DON’T shave our legs or we DON’T hook or we DON’T dress sexxay, or we DON’T marry a dude, etc, we’re still, all of us, functioning within the patriarchy.

    Personally I do all sorts of dumb shit just to remain beloved by the P. I know it, and I hope I do less and less of it over the course of my life, but it doesn’t get my nose all out of joint to hear that something I do is patriarchal horseshit. Because it is.

    (ps I can’t follow the internecine sex-poz/rad-fem blogger back and forth at all and I wish those of you participating in it would post a primer for us unenlightened folks because without a primer it’s effing boring.)

  129. buggle

    Mir, it’s boring even with a primer.

  130. Natalia

    Hey Lar – here’s what you said upthread:

    “Because of countless fun feminists coming down here to “liberate” themselves every year all men here automatically think my body is public property and treat me accordingly on a daily basis.”

    If that’s not blaming someone for someone ELSE’S bad behaviour, I don’t know what is.

    Now, maybe that’s not what you were trying to say to begin with. But then again, you go on to say that while you blame the men, the women are “irresponsible.” Which one is it? You can’t be irresponsible without first having had a certain responsibility to begin with.

    Personally, I don’t think other women owe me anything besides basic kindness and understanding. What we owe ourselves, however, is a deep and personal and profound matter, I believe. We change the world around us by holding ourselves to a standard we deem good, not by demanding that others (you know, those people, Them, the Others) hold themselves to ours.

  131. other orange

    Natalia,

    The true enemy of women is the patriarchy. That doesn’t mean one can’t point out behaviors of the oppressed class that fall in line with the agenda of the oppressor.

    It shouldn’t involve condemning individual women and sometimes that line gets blurred, I do agree. But behaviors ? Practices ? Fair game. I think mir said it very well: it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that certain behaviors are colluding with the patriarchy, because obviously, when you live inside such a system, not every daily action is going to be a blow at its heart. Sometimes you just shave your legs and roll with the agenda. It’s when people start to claim that survival and collusion can be liberation that I start to get itchy.

    And personally, I’m of the opinion that one changes the world by a combination of exhibiting and demanding change. I have high standards for myself, it’s true; that doesn’t mean I shrug it off when people act in a racist or sexist or classist manner, just because their internal standards don’t match mine.

  132. Natalia

    First of all, if you’re going to call someone out, you might try doing it without being sexist. It’s just a thought. A thought that seems to have slipped a whole of a lot of people’s minds here, I think. Furthermore, I am not talking about not being able to speak out, I am talking about changing the world. How do you do that? You change people’s minds, in a positive way. Now, I seriously doubt that most burlesque dancers will go, “omigod I totally see the light I’ll NEVER do this again, pinkie swear” but they might gain new respect for your position, broaden their horizons, probably get you to do the same thing. It would be a dialogue, furthering the exchange of ideas, and, consequently, furthering feminism.

    What happened right here is the perfect example of How Not To Gain New Understanding. And I think it sucks.

  133. Caroline

    Say, Ginmar? Where’s RenEv’s apology, by the way? You know how you lied about her and have been proved wrong and stuff? Used an incident of domestic violence against her to prove a point about sex work? Calling her a liar? All of that? You going to say you’re sorry?
    As for the rest of what you say, well, that can be my post for tomorrow.

  134. Twisty

    OK, that’s IT. My blog is not the appropriate venue for these personal attacks. The world is shitty enough without the Blametariat degenerating into a squabbling rabble. Jesus, there went lunch and dinner.

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