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Mar 02 2009

“The authors conclude that feminist stereotypes appear to be inaccurate”

I know. It seems implausible. But I read it on the Internet, so it must be almost true.

Today’s headline comes from this here link, which I’m promoting from the comments because, although the article was published in October of 2007, it is so rare and unexpected and seemingly anti-antifeminist it deserves another look.

The article summarizes a 2007 study wherein researchers inexplicably asked the question “Hey, what say we find out if feminists really are frigid man-hating hags?” After surveying a bunch of straight couples, they concluded that, despite the enormous popularity of myths describing feminists as the most miserable, “sexually unappealing” abominations on the planet, hetero relationships wherein feminism is somewhat embraced are “healthier” for both women and men.

Good news for straight women who are constantly plagued by fears that feminism is incompatible with heterosex.

Still, I have to wonder how many of the women identifying as “feminist” in the study were in fact the sort of feminist for whom “pole dancer” is a synonym. What I suggest is not altogether an unlikely scenario, since this species of feminist is, as we know, much more common than the feminist kind of feminist. Feminists who use their empowerfulization to reclaim femininity, you know, for themselves goddammit, would of course enjoy the reinforcingly pleasant side effect of appeasing dudes who are threatened by non-patriarchal gender roles. Which just might account for the male satisfaction with feminism found in the study.

I mention this because, in accordance with the dominant pornulated rape culture paradigm, women who really do defy traditional femininity and identify as human beings would, pretty much by definition, be sexually unappealing to today’s men of action. And by “men” I mean “male persons invested in the notion that women = sex.”

Of course, men who identify as “feminist” are subject to the narrowed eye of suspicion right off the bat.

115 comments

1 ping

  1. Sophie Lagacé

    I’m happy to report that the study matches my experience and my husband’s. Empirical evidence indicates that equality is a pretty damn good basis for a relationship.

  2. dr. fantastic

    Aww, Twisty. Thanks for being analytical when I’m too tired to do it myself.

    I would say, though, that most women who can come out as a feminist to an academic interviewer might be a bit more radical than woman = pole dancer.

  3. Aunti Disestablishmentarian

    So when can we expect the washed and groomed masses enlist in the Feminist army, now that they don’t have to be hairy and ugly to join up?

  4. Pinko Punko

    A narrowed and jaundiced eye, one presumes. Tis the lens of the beam of obsteperon particles bombarding the unaware.

  5. yttik

    “Of course, men who identify as “feminist” are subject to the narrowed eye of suspicion right off the bat.”

    The first step to becoming a feminist is to double your workload and cut your wages in half. But by all means, come on down and join us.

    “…hetero relationships wherein feminism is somewhat embraced are “healthier” for both women and men.”

    Absolutely. We don’t even need a study to tell us that. Patriarchy is unhealthy for everybody, for relationships, for the world, for children. All that wasted energy spent oppressing the talents of half the human race makes everybody miserable.

  6. Jonathan

    I hate poorly worded studies. All they had to do was provide three choices for the “Are you a feminist?” question:

    1. No
    2. Yes
    3. Yes, but: [clarify in the box below]

    At which point we would have been able to differentiate the feminists from the funfeminists.

    Despite the ambiguity, I’m inclined to believe the study. I’ve noticed a strong correlation between marital “bliss” and porn use among my 20-something peers. Namely, the more hubby worships porn, the more of a trainwreck the marriage is. I don’t know many coupled feminists personally, but I assume the inverse of the porn rule may be true as well.

  7. Ayezur

    HA!

    And in other news, science has also confirmed that water is wet and fire, improperly used, will burn you.

    Feminism is the best of all possible ideological bases for relationships because it begins with the notion that all participants are people and proceeds from there.

  8. TP

    Identifying oneself as male is enough to prove you really don’t get feminism. Though in a het relationship myself, I prefer to think of my partner as a roommate rather than a spouse. I judge my actions around the house on he basis of whether I’m a good room mate or a good parent rather than as whether I’m a good man or woman.

    That said, the slightest tendency towards enlightenment does bring about much greater happiness between het couples. Because without feminism and plenty of understanding of gender roles, everything between men and women is this frustrating mystery that doesn’t make any sense at all. It sure has for me, though I’m sure my partner and I have a far way to go.

    File this post under a new, whiny category: What about the hets??!?

  9. lawbitch

    Science Daily has some charming woman-hating material like: “Modern Life-making Women ‘Ignorant And Ill-equipped’ To Cope With Motherhood.”

    GAHHHH!!!!

  10. Kathleen

    I wonder if the study corrected for wealth and education — a man who identifies himself as “feminist” is really likely to have gone not just to college but a particular kind of high-end college, ditto for the women he is likely to encounter and date. One of the many horrible aspects of the class system is how unlikely you are to encounter feminist literature that can help you articulate your conviction that things are effed up the farther down you go in it. It’s just one more injustice, that the rich people get all the goodies, including feminism.

    sort of off-topic: about a month ago there was an article in my local Canadian newspaper about the trial of a guy who’d repeatedly raped his then 10 year old niece. In her victim-impact statement, she described how she’d dreamt of one day giving her virginity to her husband, and now she’d been robbed of that opportunity, and would that special guy now “even want her” when she met him someday? From the description of the conditions of her home life it sounded like the family was poor.

    So one more crime on top of the first one she went through that the only narrative in which she knew how to articulate her suffering is so punishing *to her*. Like, because of her uncle’s crime *she’s* now damaged goods. This was printed straightforwardly as “what a tragedy”. It made me think about what Twisty has said about this incredible human-rights emergency that just gets ignored: the crying need for that girl and girls like her to get more than ham-fisted social services but also a way to understand what happened that is, well, feminist. How could no one with whom she interacted in the justice system have countered the self-hating narrative that spilled out in her account?

  11. Hedgepig

    “Good news for straight women who are constantly plagued by fears that feminism is incompatible with heterosex.”

    Managing as best we can under patriarchy involves feminism in hetero relationships, but what about destroying patriarchy? I’m starting to seriously doubt that revolt is compatible with heterosex.

  12. Twisty

    Hedgepig: “I’m starting to seriously doubt that revolt is compatible with heterosex.”

    It is incompatible with heterosex as we know it. I theorize that once the sex class has its humanity restored, heterosex will no longer be about power and domination. Thus, revolt — or, more precisely, revolution — is the only way to save it.

  13. Comrade PhysioProf

    Of course, men who identify as “feminist” are subject to the narrowed eye of suspicion right off the bat.

    Why you gotta bust on Hugo like that? HAHAHAHAHAH!

  14. Enid

    Twisty’s point is so clear; why do I find myself needing it repeated pretty much endlessly? It’s like that SNL skit “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford” where the “program” for staying out of financial trouble is, If you don’t have money, don’t buy stuff. Or, If you want stuff, and you don’t have money, DON’T buy it!

    Women are humans.
    Women are humans.
    Women are humans.

    Do I get it yet?

    Women are humans.
    Women are–ooh, don’t tell me I’ll get it–sexbots?
    Women are there for the sake of pornulation–

    Women are humans.
    It’s so crazy it just might be true!

  15. orlando

    “Feminists who use their empowerfulization to reclaim femininity, you know, for themselves goddammit, would of course enjoy the reinforcingly pleasant side effect of appeasing dudes who are threatened by non-patriarchal gender roles. Which just might account for the male satisfaction with feminism found in the study.”

    You’re making some huge assumptive leaps here, based only on the belief that genuine feminists are rare. How about the possibility that more equal relationships really do make everyone healthier and happier? Looking at this study I might conclude that this is one more tedious insistance that feminism is only good if it’s good for hetrosex, but I see no reason to assume that people who report experiencing personal benefits from feminism are most likely not really feminist.

  16. atheistwoman

    Who the frack cares if feminists are frigid man-hating hags. The point of feminism is not to be un-frigid, man-loving, “beauties.” The point of feminism is the liberation of all women from the multi-tiered hierarchy of dominance and submission that we like to call the “patriarchy.”

    But then again what do I know, I am just a frigid man-hating hag.

  17. Twisty

    orlando: “You’re making some huge assumptive leaps here, based only on the belief that genuine feminists are rare.”

    I get what you’re driving at, but how many “genuine” feminists do you know? I mean, in person? Feminists are rare.

    “How about the possibility that more equal relationships really do make everyone healthier and happier?”

    Of course I believe that feminism benefits everyone, so I am completely down with the concept that a diminished power differential might benefit hetero relationships. Although I’m not sure about the phrase “more equal”!

    “I see no reason to assume that people who report experiencing personal benefits from feminism are most likely not really feminist.”

    This is not my assumption, it is only a speculation, based on a) the article’s synopsis and b) my own suspicious nature. Studies purporting to unlock the mysteries of heterosex are often patriarchy in sheep’s clothing. It would be helpful to view the raw data and know who funded the study and why, but alas, not possible.

  18. Twisty

    atheistwoman:”Who the frack cares if feminists are frigid man-hating hags.”

    An excellent point, and one which kind of illustrates my last point above, as the study’s focus can easily be interpreted as feminism’s usefulness to the sport of dudely pronging.

  19. Jonathan

    When I showed this entry to my S.O, she brought up the following points:

    1. Feminists aren’t compelled to date asshole dudes.
    2. Assholes are terrible at sex.
    3. Thus, feminists have better sex, QED.

  20. otoc

    In trying to find that link last night I came across these which might shed some light on the motivations for the study (or not):

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/relationships/study-finds-feminists-make-better-wives/2007/11/20/1195321743204.html
    http://rudman.socialpsychology.org/
    http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~rudman/vita.html

    http://www.onrec.com/newsstories/23614.asp (this is about another study she’s done that shows that even online, there is no correct way for a woman to interview for a job)

  21. Katrine

    There was a take on this study here: http://viv.id.au/blog/?p=1044 and nothing seems to indicate that it’s anything but junk.

  22. ChelseaWantsOut

    “I get what you’re driving at, but how many ‘genuine’ feminists do you know?”

    You know what? Way more than I did a few weeks ago. Once I started speaking up about misogynist bullshit instead of just putting on my headphones and ignoring it, other feminists started coming out of the woodwork. So, about 3. Which is a lot, considering the male to female ratio at my school (my graduating class will consist of about 150 men, 8 women, and 1 transman).

  23. norbizness

    Twisty: A little Googling around, and it appears like a relatively low-cost, university-funded study, with 1000 questionnaires distributed. It appears that the two researchers (one professor, one doctoral candidate in social psychology) study the concept of “counterstereotypicality” in race and gender relations. Therefore, it wouldn’t appear that she was studying whether one’s self-conception actually aligned with a normative standard of feminism.

  24. Aunti Disestablishmentarian

    Jonathan:

    I presume your SO is being flippant. I get her point, but I gotta bring up a few points.

    Feminists, like non feminists, date a huge variety of personality types. From blamers right here at Twisty Town we hear of a large number of assholic Nigels and Nigellas. Indeed once shacked up to Prince/ss Charming, many women suddenly discover nascent feminist stirrings as a result of the reality of the “happily after after.”

    Assholes are not necessarily terrible at sex: Examples of abusive partners who are good in the sack abound. It’s an effective method of keeping a woman on the line.

    The flip side is that even a strong relationship based on mutual blah blah blah still may not produce good sex. Bummer.

  25. Sabayon

    I’ve decided to de-lurk to ask a related question of the blametariat:
    I always wonder, is it better for people to only call themselves feminists if they fully accept the tenets of radical feminism (ie, to paraphrase Enid: women are humans, try not to get confused and replace humans with sexbots), or is it better if more women consider themselves feminists, even if at present they embrace personal empowerfulness and not the liberation of all women. At first it seems obvious, but perhaps by considering yourself a feminist you become more open to true feminist ideals, read actual feminist theory, and come to be a real feminist. Of course, then there is the problem of women saying “I’m a feminist and I think porn is totally awesome”, so modern dudez think it’s fine to use women as sex objects. Still, I think maybe wider acceptance of the label “feminism” could lead to wider distribution of feminist ideals. Or it could just cause more of this, which is the sixth hit you will get if you google “feminist dating”: (uncontrollable sob warning) http://www.askmen.com/daily/austin_100/120_fashion_style.html
    What do the blamers think?
    Will more people considering themselves feminist lead to more feminism, or more backlash under the banner of feminism?

  26. Kali

    “That said, the slightest tendency towards enlightenment does bring about much greater happiness between het couples. Because without feminism and plenty of understanding of gender roles, everything between men and women is this frustrating mystery that doesn’t make any sense at all.”

    Point conceded, but I see it as a less bad spot along the spectrum of patriarchal reality. I question the possibility of a truly equal hetero relationship pre-patriarchy-smashing-revolution. Even if an individual man is respectful, conscious and considers himself to be a feminist (hmmm… skeptically arched eyebrow), the dominant culture, regional and global economic systems, cosmologies of major world religions, and even the languages we use to communicate are all relentlessly misogynistic. Whether or not a man personally buys into patriarchy, he still benefits from it as a member of the dominant class. Whatever his intentions are, when the whole culture supports the patriarchal system, it will creep into the relationship in some insidious form or another. The relationship doesn’t exist in a hermetically sealed bubble, it is conducted within a patriarchal context. This is assuming a best possible scenario in which the woman in the relationship is an actual feminist. When she isn’t and the unexamined tentacles of the patriarchy are anchored in her being, she will also help to perpetuate patriarchal systems within the relationship. Naturally, IBTP.

    I haven’t even gone into the disempowering and divisive effects of heteronormative gender socialization on the female psyche. I think that the optimal pre-revolutionary solution is for women to couple with their own kind, where both parties start out with the unquestioned assumption that they are both human.

    “Who the frack cares if feminists are frigid man-hating hags.” Right on, athiestwoman! And, Aunti Disestablishmentarian~ ain’t nothing wrong with being hairy! (Not to give the impression that I’m a frigid hag, so far just hairy, the hag part will come with time.)

    Twisty~ thank you SO much for the chicken justice league option the other day, I was so happy to take that and leave off reading the rest of the rape simulator game post. Yay, chickens!

  27. gare

    Empires that can be abbreviated with initials like the P, GM, and the ROTC (two out of three?) might be no diff than Rome, the Third Reich, and Papa Johns Pizza (PJP), they all rot from the inside out, then fall. As with Asimov’s Foundation, they are usually followed by 1000 years of barbarism, anarchy, and suspension of parking tickets. The P is falling now though we see it not, but people on the Titanic, if they looked hard enough, could eventually note the decks were tilting! The P’s decks are tilting. There aren’t enough lifeboats either, I’d say families arent getting off, most hets will have to swim for it, and me, I’m going to see if the band is still playing and if they know any Steppenwolf.

  28. Kraargh

    “I get what you’re driving at, but how many “genuine” feminists do you know? I mean, in person? Feminists are rare.”

    We’re out there. People have a tendency to seek out those they feel they can connect with, and I’m notoriously extroverted and picky to boot. A quick mental tally of feminists in residence came up with roughly one third of my circle of female friends and family, including one radfem and many more who haven’t bought into the pornulation-is-empowerfulising argument. The regular, non-radical* feminist is not necessarily a believer in the goodness of pole dancing for the soul, merely unsure of how to proceed. Case-in-point: my Beauvoir-quoting mother, who stopped playing by the rules thirty years ago and shows no signs of giving in. I realized we don’t actually discuss feminism a lot by name, because assuming certain things (IBTP) are the foundation on which our world views are built.

    My problem with that study, amusing as it is to quote, is that it views feminist-identified women as women are traditionally viewed by the male: are they attractive? Are they good in the sack? Do they add to the happiness of the male? Defining people who are trying to break away from the norm by the very same norm seems counterproductive.

    *) Of course, any feminism is radical, because asserting women are human is still news to great many people.

  29. Purple Pooka

    “unflattering feminist stereotypes, that tend to stigmatize feminists as unattractive and sexually unappealing”

    Unattractive and sexually unappealing? I never realised feminist stereotypes were so diverse…

    The problem with this study (as explained in that brief article, anyhow) is that its only concept of a feminist stereotype concerns physical attractiveness, while I think the more widespread and harmful one is the idea that we hate men, hate sex and (deep down, of course) hate ourselves. If they busted that myth, the conclusion would change from: “Well, who knew, feminists can be sexually available and easy on the eyes!” to “So…hating and exposing patriarchy isn’t about hating men indiscriminately, redefining sex in non-patriarchal terms doesn’t mean celibacy and joylessness, and doing both of the above helps you to stop hating yourself, thereby allowing for more fulfilling relationships generally – sometimes even with men.”
    But that wouldn’t make such a pithy headline.

  30. orlando

    Re. “more equal”: point taken. Inching along on our bellies in a direction we hope will prove to be less bogged in the primeval ooze? Equal is an absolute, but one can be closer to or further from it along a continuum.

    Also, I think I’m in love with gare.

  31. Twisty

    Norbiz linked to a blurb about the study at Rutgers (thanks!). From the blurb:

    “Rudman designed two surveys, one for college sophomores administered in person to 513 students and one for adults between the ages of 18 and 65, taken online by 471 respondents. Both surveys asked how respondents felt about career women and whether they identified themselves as feminists. Relatively few did, though more women did than men. There followed a series of questions intended to the health of the respondents’ relationships – quality, equality, stability, and sexual satisfaction.

    Their study ‘showed that there was no correlation between self-identification as a feminist and homosexuality,’ Rudman said, and that feminists or people whose partners were feminists were more likely to be satisfied with the quality, equality, stability, and sexual satisfaction in their relationships than non-feminists or their partners.”

    I gather from this that a) there are no lesbians at Rutgers, and b) the nature of the feminist ideology (“choice” feminism, funfeminism, “equality” feminism, anarcholezzy feminism, etc) with which “relatively few” respondents identified was not specified or taken into account. This doesn’t prove my suspicion, but it doesn’t disprove it, either. My suspicion, to refresh the memory, is that women’s identification as funfeminists was likely, and would likely produce more contented male respondents than would, let’s say, second-wave feminists.

  32. undercover punk

    “I question the possibility of a truly equal hetero relationship pre-patriarchy-smashing-revolution. Even if an individual man is respectful, conscious and considers himself to be a feminist (hmmm… skeptically arched eyebrow), the dominant culture, regional and global economic systems, cosmologies of major world religions, and even the languages we use to communicate are all relentlessly misogynistic. Whether or not a man personally buys into patriarchy, he still benefits from it as a member of the dominant class. Whatever his intentions are, when the whole culture supports the patriarchal system, it will creep into the relationship in some insidious form or another. The relationship doesn’t exist in a hermetically sealed bubble, it is conducted within a patriarchal context. This is assuming a best possible scenario in which the woman in the relationship is an actual feminist. When she isn’t and the unexamined tentacles of the patriarchy are anchored in her being, she will also help to perpetuate patriarchal systems within the relationship. Naturally, IBTP.
    I haven’t even gone into the disempowering and divisive effects of heteronormative gender socialization on the female psyche. I think that the optimal pre-revolutionary solution is for women to couple with their own kind, where both parties start out with the unquestioned assumption that they are both human.”

    Kali, are you suggesting LESBIAN SEPARATISM as a means of limiting the presence of oppressive patriarchal influences in a woman’s life?? OMFG, let’s talk PRE-REVOLUTION LIFESTYLE STRATEGIES!!

  33. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    In the event that dudesex and feminism are determined to be incompatible, I’ll need approximately 3 seconds to consider which principle gets the ol’ heave-ho. Hint: it’s the one that doesn’t require hardwired underwear.

  34. Anna Belle

    What do you mean “once women have their humanity restored?” When did we ever have it, and can someone please invent the time travel machine if we did? I want to go there!

    I do agree that heterosex is incompatable with revolution, and since revolution is what’s required to end patriarchy, we’re all just fucking ourselves in the end. Guilty as charged, myself.

    But I dream of a day when American women take a page from the Lysistrata.

  35. gare

    Thank you Orlando .. Can you reduce the prices at Epcot? No? Thanks anyway.

    Hetro = Retro. Repeat this .. Hetro = Retro ..

    My approach to sexuality? Ace hardware. Home Depot. You can buy a Nut without a Bolt. Washers optional .. I’m not into that weird threeway stuff. WD40 is in Aisle 4.

  36. yttik

    “In the event that dudesex and feminism are determined to be incompatible, I’ll need approximately 3 seconds to consider which principle gets the ol’ heave-ho.”

    I’ll second that! I’m not “plagued with fears that feminism is incompatible with heterosex”. Heterosex must find a way to be compatable with feminism, if it can’t then out it goes.

    As to those who call themselves feminists but aren’t really, it’s very difficult. I want to choke the ones that go on TV as patriarchal tools and promote women hating. But I want to support those who have only stuck their toe in the feminist waters and can’t yet go farther because they’re stuck trying to survive as best they can within the confines of patriarchy. Yes, I’d like more women to call themselves feminists, just don’t go on TV or write articles as “feminist experts” in ways that serve the patriarchy.

  37. Marilyn

    “Sex and orgasms matter very little next to the constant hourly, daily, incessant struggle against oppression that fills up our lives.”

    Yes, yes, yes. Happy home lives, just like happy work lives, and happy play lives, revolve around a hell of a lot more than sex. Sex isn’t something I spend much time thinking about – I have it or I don’t. What’s that got to do with being a feminist?

    Any study that doesn’t ask respondents to describe what they think feminism is is fatally flawed. There’s no way of knowing if satisfaction in a hetero relationship has anything to do with “feminism.” It’s also does not identify the role that feminism plays in the relationship.

  38. CassieC

    Dear Blameatariat and its fearless leader, thanks as usual for brain-clearing discussions.

    My hetero 2c:
    - growing up as a girl was pretty rough in terms of sexual expectations, even though I was never really directly exposed to porn,
    - some of my lovely (and dare I say feminist, since they seem to consistently treat women as humans) boyfriends really helped me gain a better view and experience of sex. Maybe because becoming a decent human being is even more difficult for males, I think they had already had to free themselves from a lot of bullshit, so they helped me see beyond stereotypes as well.

    So my point is that decent men in equal relationships really helped this feminist with her sexuality.

  39. Carolyn

    Thanks Kali. My last (male) lover was as ‘feminist’ as a man in our culture could get–as far as we two were concerned, we were reasonably equal (there were a few things he didn’t get, and I wasn’t good enough at explaining the issues to him–I’d do better now–but we did OK). However, there was constant relentless and ongoing pressure from his friends and relatives concerning how he should be behaving in a relationship, and how I should be behaving in a relationship (his mother was appalled that I wouldn’t change my last name when we married–for immigration convenience–and I can’t remember who it was who expressed some surprise that I didn’t do his laundry). And to be fair, there was some of that going on on my side as well–but I knew enough to understand that it was happening and either ignore people or expose their assumptions. Needless to say, I finally had to give up and let him go. Girls only from now on.

  40. ChelseaWantsOut

    Sabayon said: perhaps by considering yourself a feminist you become more open to true feminist ideals, read actual feminist theory, and come to be a real feminist.

    This is exactly what happened to me, so it does happen. How often it happens, though, is anyone’s guess.

  41. lauredhel

    “There was a take on this study here: http://viv.id.au/blog/?p=1044 and nothing seems to indicate that it’s anything but junk.”

    I’ve followed that up here, once I had the full paper in my hands.

  42. AngryYoungFemme

    “I’m happy with the present state of affairs and you guys should be too.”

    “If anything, women are more like men these days and we have feminism to thank for it. So I, for one, love feminism — here’s why.”

    “Chivalry is dead and it’s all about girls gone wild…”

    Quotes from the askmen article Sabayon posted the link to (and that’s just on the first page). Sob is right. And yet that’s what this crap all boils down to: “Chivalry is dead and it’s all about girls gone wild.” Just, uh, ask men and they’ll tell you they’re “happy with the present state of affairs.”

    I’m with Twisty. This shit isn’t going to stop until revolution and I, for one, have had it with the wait-and-see-academic approach. Joe Six-Pack ain’t reading my radical feminist senior thesis, that’s for sure.

    This revolution isn’t gonna work without violence. Why would we ever think that the hardest liberation fight of ALL TIME (at least insofar as humans go) could ever be won passively? We’ve got to dominate the oppressor and then, while holding them down Clockwork Orange style, force them to relearn how to be human.

    That and we need to use technology. It is feasible to organize a global protest via text message. Like those people who all meet up at some public place and do the same thing, like freeze all motion, for the exact same amount of time just for shits and giggles. Only, we’d be taking down patriarchy. Who’s with me?

  43. Sydney

    @ AngryYoungFemme: I have to admit, I cringed at the phrase ‘Clockwork Orange style’, simply because that movie is one of the most sexist films I have ever seen. Just look at how much of an ‘icon’ a rapist character has become.

    Anyway, enough of that. I’m inclined to believe that this study at least has some truth to it. Even the couple that considers itself feminist but really isn’t (by our standards) is an improvement over the 100% ‘patriarchal and proud of it’ workaholic man and ‘adoring’ housewife. And hopefully there were couples that really were feminist. So, would they be happier over couples that didn’t even call themselves feminist? Pretty likely, I think.

    I personally am of the opinion that considering each other to be humans would do wonders for a relationship. Are there going to be dudes that feel threatened by a relationship with a woman that doesn’t think he is better than her? Yep. But I don’t think that woman is likely to keep his sexist ass around for long.

  44. Tigs

    The violent revolution model is flawed–particularly so for the feminist revolution. Against whom do we use violence? Our fathers? Our brothers? How about our sons?
    What about black women who have often had black men as better allies than white women?

    I have nothing against a forceful and active opt-out, and I think the revolution will need to be coercive, but recreating oppression doesn’t seem terribly productive.

  45. Itxaro

    If I’m not on a feminist blog and I post something unashamedly feminist, I’m immediately interrogated as to my relationships with my boyfriend, father, and male friends. It has also become de rigueur amongst many of my third-wave sisters to exclaim loudly that Irina Dunn’s quote (used more famously by Gloria Steinem) of, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” is passé and no longer represents their opinions, because GEE, we’re all in this together and we need each other and we’re one big hand-holding circle singing Kumbaya.

    of course, most people miss the goddamn point.

    The point is that both Dunn and Steinem saw the backlash coming. And the message of the backlash was what some people were already saying: “If you are a feminist or a ‘liberated woman’, men won’t love you. If you want men to love you and find you attractive and have sex with you, you need to jump through these hoops.”

    The point is: Men’s opinions have been held over the heads of women seeking liberation.

    It was done to the suffragettes, proclaiming that women who wanted the right to vote were “mannish” and therefore unattractive to any proper gentleman.
    It was done in the 1980s, with the huge spate of movies directed at career women, portraying these career-oriented women as truly unhappy individuals who would only find real happiness by submitting to a man’s charms– and to do this, they had to lose their feminist trappings.
    It’s still going on. The overwhelming message girls get growing up is that “if you want to be attractive, you do things this way”– submit to the beauty industry, accept pornified sexual norms, do this, this, and that regardless of what you actually like because otherwise men won’t like you.

    You can’t compromise your desire for freedom and equality based on what other people want, or even on what you are TOLD other people want.

    If women believe that they need men to like them, and they need men so wholly and desperately that they are nothing without them, feminism dies wholesale.

    If you want freedom, you can’t be afraid to go against your oppressor. As long as your love for an abstract concept (maleness and men) can be used as blackmail to shut you up and keep you in line, it will be.

    Oh, and hey, you know what? This even applies to all those funfeminist witty little “I can get a man too!” blog posts. They’re fucking unnecessary. So long as we keep trying to justify ourselves by saying that we can have happy relationships with men, too, we will be furthering the idea that women are only worth what attention men will grant them.

  46. dr. fantastic

    Umm, what is up with the look of the blog?

  47. thebewilderness

    Criminy! What the hell have you done now?
    The sidebar is on the bottom, and the header is twelve feet tall.
    I kinda like it.

  48. PatriarchySlayer

    So, are we all just agreeing on this post that there is no way in hell that a hetero relationship can be a feminist-friendly relationship? And our only option as ladies is to become lesbians? So what happens to those ladies, (like myself) who are strongly driven to be heterosexual. Trust me I have thought about turning to women only, but I’m not a lesbian. Even though it would make my life so much simpler. My biological make up will not allow me to.

    Similar, I’m sure to some women who could never be hetero. So yes, as a feminist and a hetero woman, of course I am concerned with hetero-sex. I like sex, but I do want to have it, and be in a relationship with a man, in a healthy, feminist way. I know it would be difficult, but are we all saying it’s totally impossible?

  49. Nolabelfits

    patriarchyslayer-just don’t get married.

  50. Jezebella

    @patriarchyslayer: I don’t believe in living in the same residence as a man, never mind marrying one. I think it’s possible to have a sort of friends-with-benefits relationship with a man if one craves heterosex, though. I just don’t want a man all up in my house with his entitlement and his expectations and assumptions and whatnot. I don’t want to be responsible for some dude’s health and well-being. Look at it this way: married men live longer than single men; for women, vice versa. If I marry a guy, I am literally shaving years off of my life expectancy and handing them over to him. Eff that.

  51. yttik

    I think the question is just backwards. It’s not that feminism is incompatible with heterosex, it should be heterosex must become compatible to feminism. If it doesn’t, it isn’t worth it.

  52. Rosa

    My Nigel is pretty feminist, and we’re not married…but having a baby dropped all the negatives of marriage on our heads, just without the financial benefits.

    And it’s not like we can give the baby back (or necessarily want to) – I just thought I could squeak past the worst parts of nuclear familyhood, and I couldn’t.

  53. slythwolf

    Jezebella, I just had a thought. I bet a large part of the reason unmarried women live longer than married ones is that dudes so often kill their wives.

  54. jael

    tigs, it’s so good to see you.

    The violent revolution model is flawed–particularly so for the feminist revolution. Against whom do we use violence? Our fathers? Our brothers? How about our sons?

    word.

    violence and physical oppression are tools of the patriarchy. violently forcing anyone to anything is manifesting the patriarchy; it makes us the same. they they hit the hardest shoudln’t be the one in charge.

    This revolution isn’t gonna work without violence. Why would we ever think that the hardest liberation fight of ALL TIME (at least insofar as humans go) could ever be won passively? We’ve got to dominate the oppressor and then, while holding them down Clockwork Orange style, force them to relearn how to be human.

    the thing about clockwork orange (atleast, the book) was that – after the incident with the victims husband – the government had to reverse the Ludovico treatment. Indeed; the novel closes with Alex back to his live of ultra violence, even if half heartily. he considers departing it when he meets one of his old droogs who left “the lifestyle” and had children of their own (ie: under this own compulsion. note, this occurs in the 21st chapter, which was cut from US editions until 86). Kubric’s film adaption doesn’t extend to include even this possibility of redemption.

    but whatever – putting someone in a position where they are incapable of defending themselves (like the situation of many women now, perhaps?) is not right.

    Swapping places with the oppressor will not make us the more virtuous dominant force, it will just make us the oppressor.

  55. speedbudget

    Hey. How do I get the cool little avatar?

  56. Jezebella

    Slythwolf, you may be onto something. Imagine what womens’ life expectancy would be if men weren’t constantly killing us!

  57. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Patriarchyslayer: What Jezebella said.

    I’ll add: Learn a series of useful trades so that you can afford/maintain your own pad. Then “keep your powder dry” and guard your personal space. Perhaps get a dog.

    My daughter observed once upon a long time ago: “This is a GIRLS HOUSE. Boys can visit, but then they have to go HOME.” She was five at the time, but twelve years later it’s still true: If I want hetsex I just go git it, but the boundaries are always CLEARLY articulated. Any man barging into my space unannounced, and/or with untoward expectations (“make me a sandwich”), might find himself with a face full of (metaphorical, perhaps literal) buckshot.

  58. Azundris

    «Against whom do we use violence? Our fathers? Our brothers? How about our sons?»
    Isn’t that very much the Nigel Defense?

  59. Claire

    Unfortunately, I do think the feminist revolution, if there ever is one, will eventually come to blows/some sort of violence. It’s pretty much inevitable. Men are not going to let go of their power without a fight.

    Physical resistance to oppression is not becoming the oppressor. It is resisting the oppressor. Dominating those who have oppressed you once you have successfully resisted is where the line gets crossed. We obviously don’t have to (and hopefully won’t) do that.

    I can’t see a revolution on the part of women being successful without some form of physical resistance. I’m open to suggestion, but it doesn’t seem likely or plausible.

    Anyway, this study means dick. Literally. It is for dick and by dick and of no use to feminists or feminism. As are most studies, as most studies are conducted by men for men.

    I think that, once past all the conditioning, all women would be happier without men fucking up their lives…at least in their current incarnation. After the revolution, who knows?

  60. Claire

    By the way, Twisty, love the new look!

    My avatar picture appears on other sites, too. It’s old. I thought I replaced it. I’m completely baffled as to why it keeps coming back.

  61. buggle

    Patriarchy slayer- I live with a dude. I may feel differently in 10 years or something, but for now it’s ok. A lot of work sometimes though. Just don’t get married, don’t have babies, and don’t depend on him financially. Have your own job, your own friends, and your interests. And hopefully, have some sort of support system with other feminist women who date/live with/have sex with men. It’s not easy at times, even though my dude is a good dude, he’s still a dude, and we still get swept up in these yucky sexist currents at times.

    Here is an interesting piece written about hetero feminists and men:

    http://www.terry.uga.edu/~dawndba/4500orchids.htm

    I got this from some lesbian separatists and found it to be useful. Kind of depressing, but mostly true and good to keep in mind.

  62. AngryYoungFemme

    @ Syndey: you’re right. Clockwork Orange = horrible example. I was thinking of the eyes-held-open movie indoctrination scene, but I agree, I did not put enough thought into that comparison (probably because I’ve blocked most of it from my memory).

    RE: Feminist Revolution

    I agree that force and domination aren’t something we want to co-opt into feminism or whatever post-patriarchy will be. I was ranting; I just get so angry.

    Still, I just don’t see how we can expect a revolution to happen without, you know, revolt? Confrontation? What’s that going to look like? Or are we just expected to carry on like we are for the next ten thousand years until, finally, one day, we’ve worn the last bit of misogyny out of our existence?

    To set the record straight, I don’t mean killing people (again CO was a bad film to choose (I also hate that movie, by the way)).

    I guess I can’t imagine confrontations between the oppressor and the oppressed, in which the aim for the oppressor is to keep on oppressing and the aim for the oppressed is to stop being oppressed? Or to stop the oppressor from oppressing them? Without there being some sort of collision of forces? I feel like that smacks of the passive language used in media reporting on rape (‘she was raped’ not ‘he raped’) along with all the victim-blaming crap (‘she shouldn’t have been walking alone at night, she got herself raped’). When do we hold men accountable? And which men? I guess they’ll have to choose a side. Feminist or not.

    Feminist people vs anti-feminist people. Sounds like a war, doesn’t it? Only the two sides would be clearly defined, which, as Tigs points out, isn’t so easy to do. Is there any way for us to make it so? For people to pick, feminist or anti-feminist, and then we carry on and get this patriarchy-overturning thing over with already.

    Tigs: if this is so: “The violent revolution model is flawed–particularly so for the feminist revolution.”

    How do you reconcile that with this: “I have nothing against a forceful and active opt-out, and I think the revolution will need to be coercive, but recreating oppression doesn’t seem terribly productive.”
    If one is defending oneself from violent oppression, is that defensive violence oppressive? And, if beyond the moment of defending oneself, one is no longer violent and has made amends/come to terms with the ex-oppressor, I don’t think that means we’d be recreating oppression. At least, it would not be part of the new feminist world order beyond whatever is necessary to end the P.

    I have no answers. Social change is too fucking slow for me, I guess. I’m angry that I’ve been born into this time and not the magical billions-of-years-away post-patriarchal one.

    Sigh, le fucking sigh.

    Anyone have tickets to that mythical radical feminist island? I need some.

  63. AngryYoungFemme

    @ Claire: what you said. Sorry, I posted before I read your posts.

  64. VibratingLiz

    buggle, thanks for that Orchids in the Arctic link. Excellent reading.

  65. Itxaro

    I, too, am a hetero feminist and don’t think that heterosex is incompatible with feminism.

    It is true that people outside even the most equitable hetero relationships try to re-frame them to fit in with their patriarchal norms, but that’s not the participants’ goddamn problem. I don’t think that it is necessary to sacrifice something so hard to find under the current oppressive system– real honest love– just to try and stick it to the P. I think it is necessary to sacrifice social constructions like marriage and the nuclear family, but mutual love is not something the Patriarchy has ever endorsed, and is by definition subversive.

    I feel like I’m mostly there with my current Nigel, although I understand the limitations of our milieu, and I think that the real and only way to have a feminist hetero relationship comes from a place of mutual love. That must, by necessity, exclude finding partners within the misogynist ‘dating scene’, playing the wine-and-dine game, and buying into the corporate-fascist concept of “romance”, but I believe it is possible.

  66. undercover punk

    I’m not sure if Twisty’s gonna allow these links, but I found an old blog post last night that it made my eyes tear up. “Revolution” within the confines of existing power structures is only REFORM. REVOLUTION *requires* DISENGAGEMENT from the dominant paradigm. SEPARATISM is controversial and inflammatory but–in my humble opinion, and comparatively speaking–it IS our Best Choice. In fact, it is the ONLY path to REVOLUTION.

    I honestly don’t know what to say to a woman who refuses to give up HetSex for any reason. That’s your choice. I have no solution for you besides celibacy. I have literally ZERO interest in “what about teh menz??” conversations. Who fucking cares! I’m not sure that a truly radfem “man” would either. In my book, any question that involves consideration of teh menz or how they feel is in direct conflict with RADICAL FEMINISM.

    This is what I’m TALKING ABOUT. It’s an excerpt from ‘Lesbian Ethics,’ by Sara Lucia Hoagland.

  67. undercover punk

    I like Orchids in the Arctic too. Thank you VERY much.

  68. AngryYoungFemme

    Here here to the Orchids in the Arctic. Rock.

  69. zooeyibz

    Housing-on-demand should be available to any woman who wants it, instantly liberating millions from the shackles of co-habiting for financial reasons. *That* would be fucking revolutionary.

  70. undercover punk

    AngryYoungFemme, for whatever it may be worth, the alternative to violent confrontation and coercion is peaceful *separatism*. Unfortunately, this tool of the Feminist Revolution (as distinguished from mere reform under the current paradigm) seems rather unpopular–even amongst self-identified RadFems.

  71. Margaret

    As someone who has experienced first hand the shattering of real love by the patriarchy, I can say that the Patriarchy is a true enemy of love. It is jealous and angry whenever love shows itself.

    Oh well, we had almost a year together before that happened. It was almost 40 years ago and I didn’t have the tools to blame the patriarchy then. Now I do.

  72. thebewilderness

    “This revolution isn’t gonna work without violence. Why would we ever think that the hardest liberation fight of ALL TIME (at least insofar as humans go) could ever be won passively?”

    Passive resistance works. That is why it is usually met with violence by the oppressor.
    If you stand up, they will knock you down any way they can. From screaming obscenities to rape, murder, and arrest.
    Isn’t that what is happening right now. Every day.

    What do you do when you see someone stand up, speak up?
    What does your nigel do and say when you stand up, speak up.
    Does he stand behind you? Not stand up for you. No.
    Does he have your back.
    Do we have each others back.

    In the words of everyone’s favorite Spinster Aunt: Violence against women is a human rights disaster unparalleled in human history.
    What are you going to do about it?

  73. PatriarchySlayer

    Well that puts me in a bit of a predicament. On the one side, I have religious leaders telling me the only proper and true relationship where sex is not a sin is in the sanctioned relationship of marriage (which we’ve established is bursting with traditional patriarchal bullshit), and on the other hand I have some of ya’ll suggesting that in order for me to be a true radfem, I should again be celibate in attempts to overthrow the patriarchy.
    In both instances, people are asking me to sacrifice sexual freedom for the greater good..take one for the team, so to speak. I’m not suggesting that sex is the most important thing in my life. Of course not. But, I guess I am not quite ready to throw in the towel on something that is (whether I like it or not) a part of who I am, and a part of my life.

    By the way, thanks ladies for writing in about your own Nigels. I appreciate the support. So, in all honesty, do we not believe that men can be feminists? That any sort of “tolerance” or tiny concern for the male gender means that we’re not feminists? Can’t we hate the patriarchy without hating all men?

  74. Hedgepig

    PatriarchySlayer, if you’re prepared to trawl through hundreds of men you might find one that passes for feminist. Of course, you may strike it lucky in a few goes, but I reckon you’ll need to devote years and years to the task.
    Instead of this possibly endless quest, why not be a Down With Love Girl, Level 3? Just accept that men are not going to fulfill your emotional needs, get that from close female friendships, and enjoy having sex a la carte with whatever males tickle your fancy. As other blamers have recommended, DON’T share your abode with one, DON’T ever allow yourself to become financially dependant on one, or even pool your financial resources, DON’T have a baby with one, or if you’re the sentimental kind, share a dog with one. These things are ties that bind and it’s damn hard to reverse them when/if things go wrong.
    It’s not separatism, which I agree with undercover punk is the only way to defeat the patriarchy, but it’s better than the “intimate colonization” that most het women undergo when they insist that their sexual partner must also be their significant other/life partner.

  75. orlando

    For the sake of Patriarchyslayer I am going to out myself as a believer in heterosexual relationships (not above or to the exclusion of any other kind, of course). While responses to her question that point out the incompatability of heterosex with revolution have told the truth and nothing but the truth, this is not the whole truth.

    In the absence of an actual revolution (I’ll be right there with you when it comes, but I ain’t seeing it today) I’m going to focus my energy on getting more respect for women into the world. I don’t think cutting myself off from men is the most effective way to do this. Negotiating a respectful, fully human relationship with a man and then modelling that relationship for any child we produce is going to represent a big chunk of my power to increase, rather than decrease, the accumulated amount of respect for women out there right now, today, in our current reality.

  76. Claire

    I wouldn’t say I’m a believer in het relationships. I’m actually more of a separatist, at least at heart. My current partner is male. I don’t know what to say about our relationship right now.

    Once you have kids with a dude, though, shit gets difficult. That I can say with resounding certainty. So amen to those saying don’t do it. I love my son very, very much. I don’t regret him.

    Would I have him over again, knowing what I know now? No. Fucking. Way. It’s not him, it’s patriarchy. It binds female parents to men in any and ever way that it can. Try to fight it, or break that bond, and you get shafted. You will probably lose your child(ren) (I’ve been threatened several times already). It is an absolute shit deal.

    My situation is unique. But overall, it mirrors closely those of many, many women with children. We are chained to men to keep ourselves and our kids alive/together.

    I could really use a glass of wine right now.

  77. Claire

    Sorry for beginning my post with “I”, Twisty. Bad habit.

    Please also excuse the lack of a ‘y’ on the word that was supposed to be ‘every’ in the second sentence of the third paragraph.

    I could really use a glass of wine right now.

  78. AngryYoungFemme

    @ undercover punk: that’s definitely worth something. All the articles from this thread, the radical feminist ones, have got me thinking, thinking, thinking.

    I feel that I used to be a rad-femme not OK with separatism, but now that I’m single (and have finally gotten over ex-Nigel) I’m seeing so much now that I didn’t see while I was still with him that my mind is not only spinning, but it’s beginning to change.

    Perhaps that’s the next frontier in feminism. To get to the point of being able to implement separatism in large enough numbers to make an impact on the menz, to get the point through to the world that women will not tolerate second, sex class status.

    That moment, when separatism is practiced and acknowledged as what the P will surely call a phenomenon (out of the blue! we had no idea!) THEN, that’s when the true test of whether violence of any kind need play a factor in revolution will come to light.

    Right now, that’s the only feasible beginning to the revolution I can see. Feasible in that it’s surely possible, but making it happen is another thing entirely.

    La di fucking da! IBTP! Oh, how I blame it!

  79. Nolabelfits

    Claire said:

    Would I have him over again, knowing what I know now? No. Fucking. Way. It’s not him, it’s patriarchy. It binds female parents to men in any and ever way that it can. Try to fight it, or break that bond, and you get shafted. You will probably lose your child(ren) (I’ve been threatened several times already). It is an absolute shit deal.

    My situation is unique. But overall, it mirrors closely those of many, many women with children. We are chained to men to keep ourselves and our kids alive/together.

    I could really use a glass of wine right now.

    Claire, My situation exactly. Once you have kids you are screwed. And I hate to break this news to you if you haven’t figured it out already, but the whole system is set up to conspire to make that binding shit deal a life sentence.

    Its why so many of us are winos.

  80. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Martini hags.

  81. Tigs

    I have a glass of wine! Well, at least for five more minutes anyway.

    Separatism is fine for those for whom it works. It doesn’t work for everyone. Again, some of us have regard for men– even those with whom we do not wish to have sex. I have a brother. I love him. He’s decent for a dude.

    My bro aside, men are going to be around. And while all men have male privilege, not all men are white, able-bodied, bourgeois assholes. If we want to get anywhere, the revolution needs to be based on multiple solidarities. It needs to be collective. It needs to be active, but non-violent.

    Coercion is not synonymous with violence. What Gandhi did was coercive.

    Women will die in the revolution. I have no doubt about that. However, more women will die without the revolution–which is the whole point.

  82. AngryYoungFemme

    I really think it can come down to two sides, those that identify as feminist whatever sex, color skin or capitalist-social status they may have, and those that don’t.

    Tigs: if your brother is feminist, no problem.

  83. AngryYoungFemme

    On second thought, the more I think about it, the more that doesn’t make sense. The whole point is to deprive men of their masculinity, since it is defined by what it is not–femininity. It simply won’t work otherwise. Else it’ll be ten thousand years down the road. No one said revolution would be all snuggles and quickies. Bringing down the most pervasive oppressor of all time isn’t going to be easy and it’s definitely not gonna be a walk in the park. Extreme measures will need to be taken. This shit is tough, yo.

  84. AngryYoungFemme

    Perhaps “pervasive oppressor” should be “pervasive oppressive system”. The point of separatism isn’t to be separated always. It’s to be used as a tool, part of the revolution’s strategy. Once the system is brought down, we can desegregate; we’ll have hit the reset button and begun a new game.

  85. PatriarchySlayer

    Seriously, this blog is one of the best I’ve read in terms of postings and responses. But now that we’ve established that the path of revolution is going to be difficult, and may require some sacrifices on the part of us heteros (as well as the rest of us I assume), here’s my question: how can you begin a revolution if no one will listen to you?

    Some days when I visit this blog, I breath a sigh of relief. In my everyday non-internet life people are so oblivious to their surroundings. It’s exhausting trying to find feminists in the real world? Where are they?? And what do I do until I can find some co-revolutionaries (if that’s an actual word) to depend on?

  86. PatriarchySlayer

    @orlando, by the way thanks for the sacrifice of your outing. I do appreciate everyone’s comments and it does help me sort through this mess in my head.

    “Negotiating a respectful, fully human relationship with a man and then modelling that relationship for any child we produce is going to represent a big chunk of my power to increase, rather than decrease, the accumulated amount of respect for women out there right now, today, in our current reality.”

    I do agree with that. There are different tactics one can use to get the job done, but personally, trying to live the life you should have in a patriarchy-free society (even if it’s quite impossible)is sometimes the hardest tactic to use. But is this effective? Can we change the minds of men (and some women) by imploring this technique, or are we just fooling ourselves? I would love to think that we can change the world one hetero-relationship at a time, but maybe I am just in denial.

  87. jael

    just a one liner as in passing, however occured to me one of the reasons that violence isn’t too hot an option (over and above the above) is that men, in and of themselves, are not the problem. The problem is a system that lets men get away/encourages/creates incentives to behave the way they do. the system, not the men, are the problem. the men manifest problem behaviour we need to respond to/deal with, but the system is the problem; not the agents therein.

  88. AngryYoungFemme

    @ Jael, yes, with caveat. We still need to confront those that manifest patriarchal behaviors, because, after all, the system’s gears can’t turn without its cogs.

    There will be men we’ll have to confront as the face of the system, those that are so invested in their privilege they’ll never let it go. (In my brain, “invested” flashed as “infested;” interesting.) That, I think, is part of why it’s so hard to reconcile separatism as part of revolution–we have face the truth that every man benefits from the privileges patriarchy bestows upon them, but they are not necessarily conspiring consciously about it. The men are not the system and yet, the system wouldn’t be what it is without them, so I guess that means we can’t hope to separate patriarchy from individual men.

    I’m with PatriarchySlayer. IBTP is the place to be for radical feminist debate. Twisty’s the most cutting-edge spinster aunt this side of blown obstreperal lobes.

  89. Antares

    Why is it that when the word “separatism” is used everyone jumps up and starts talking about their sexual lives?

    To me, separatism is about setting up structures that are _by women, for women_. Its about starting our own schools and businesses, as well as changing up the ways we engage in commerce and understand reality. It’s creating networks, gatherings, support groups and living arrangements that allow us to extend ourselves toward our potentials.

    This article comes to mind :: http://www.satyamag.com/jun07/lolosoli.html :: and is, I think, a good place to start.

    They won’t make it easy for us, that’s certain, but their structures are crumbling now so their resistance won’t last long.

  90. Jezebella

    Antares, that is the best question ever. I wish I had an answer. I wish people would see beyond the sex question and think seriously about the full notion of separatism.

    I mean, I can see living in a women-only community and just taking day-trips to visit a friend with benefits, should the need or desire arise for hetero-sex.

    I think we (hets, I mean) all could use 28 days of Man Rehab. It might give us some perspective on the things we can do without, that seem necessary right now.

  91. undercover punk

    Just accept that men are not going to fulfill your emotional needs, get that from close female friendships, and enjoy having sex a la carte with whatever males tickle your fancy. As other blamers have recommended, DON’T share your abode with one, DON’T ever allow yourself to become financially dependant on one, or even pool your financial resources, DON’T have a baby with one, or if you’re the sentimental kind, share a dog with one. These things are ties that bind and it’s damn hard to reverse them when/if things go wrong.

    Hedgepig, I believe that what you’ve described IS separatism. It’s refusing to participate in patriarchal methods of controlling and dominating women through dependence on male privilege. I’m not a militant separatist and I’m not a purist. Therefore, I love my feminist father and I embrace his supportive presence in my life. As for my brother, I try to help him become conscious and appreciative of his male privilege. My attempts are largely unsuccessful (think Alex Keaton!), but only *because* he’s my brother, I’ll keep trying.

    We change minds one at a time.

    As for other men, they didn’t ask to be born as *MEN* and I agree with you, AngryYoungFemme, that many/most of them are not conspiring consciously or collectively to further misogyny. That’s why it’s counter-productive to categorically Hate all men–or even one man before meeting him. I take them one at a time and treat them as individuals, assuming they offer me the same.

    Nevertheless, it’s not *my* job to educate them and point out the freaking OBVIOUS. Men MUST be held responsible for their *own* awareness of gendered privilege and corresponding behavior!

    If they want female attention and love in their lives, they had better PROVE that they’re worth it! Personally, I don’t have the energy or the patience to maintain a constant vigil against the “arctic chill” of invisible male privilege in my home. That’s my choice. Many of us, however, *are* willing to hold the hands of open-minded but perceptively impaired men and carefully explain how the realities of misogyny prevent women from being fully human. I even find myself feeling similarly altruistic on occasion! I’m just that kind of woman.

    In the meantime, I maintain an all-female household and seek satisfaction of my social and emotional needs exclusively from women (blood relatives and male partners of my female companions excluded for practical reasons, thought I rely on neither group for anything of particular importance). For the most part, the outside world doesn’t even realize what a separatist I am!! Not surprisingly, I’ve found that men have no use for me either. It works for everyone!

    Separatism is powerful on an individual level because it helps a feminist woman maintain her day-to-day sanity and express her full humanity within her private life.

    Separatism is powerful on a large scale because it enables women to recognize the incredible breadth and depth of our dependencies on male privilege and male attention that we are, necessarily, blind to while we continue to allow such dependencies to exist in our lives. What you are able to see when you methodically limit the power and presence of men in your personal life is TRULY MIND-BLOWING. Revolutionary, even. Now if I could just get everyone else to believe in the legitimacy of this perspective! In fact, nothing would please me more than to hear Twisty opine on the role of separatism as a tool of the RadFem Agenda.

  92. Jezebella

    @undercoverpunk: “I take them [men] one at a time and treat them as individuals, assuming they offer me the same.”

    You are making a mighty big assumption there. Since when do men treat women like individuals right off the bat? On the contrary, I think most men deal with women they meet by assigning them to one of two categories: fuckable, or un-fuckable, and proceed from there. They might accidentally get to know a woman or five, and thence treat those women as human beings, but it’s not their starting point. [Not to dude readers: if the shoe does not fit, do not wear it.]

    That said, I do like your notion that a kind of individual separatism is possible and powerful. It’s pretty much how I live my life, with the unfortunate exception of the asshole who runs my place of employment. It is also, alas, a possibility only for women who have the resources and skills to be financially independent. This is of course why education and reproductive freedom are so essential: they both allow us to be financially independent of men, and therefore live separate lives in which men are mainly fungible, or at the very most, minor characters.

  93. PatriarchySlayer

    undercoverpunk, you make an excellent point. In a sense I am doing this now as well, even though I never would have classified it as that. I live with women, and work with women and have very few male influences in my life.

    I wholeheartedly agree that we need to support women more. That has been, our one big failing as a gender. Men do it quite well. We, as women, somehow can’t seem to stick by each other’s side when the shit gets rough. Maybe it’s that whole points under the patriarchy thing. Regardless, it’s depressing, and if we don’t get together and try to help each other out we’re not going to get nearly as far as we hope to. By the way, there is an organization here in Edmonton that (as far as I know) was created by women, for women called http://www.womenbuildingfutures.com/cms/. Check it out if you have a minute.

  94. undercover punk

    @ Jezebella, no doubt! It is consistent with my personal experience that men, more often than not, treat women according preconceived expectations of appropriate female behavior rather than as unique individuals. I also agree that the first judgment a man usually makes about a woman is in reference to her physical appearance and her utility as a receptacle. Nevertheless, as a general practice, I try not to stoop to this level (without adequate provocation). It’s vulgar and de-humanizing. Yuck. I’m also stepping lightly due to the controversial nature of separatism and it’s presumed association with man-hating.

    I like your description of limiting men to “minor character” roles. That’s what I’m talking about!

    And AMEN to reproductive freedom! As a result of child abandonment on the part of men, an epidemic in itself, millions of single mothers have NO choice *but* to be economically independent. Even when child support is paid religiously, it’s not calculated based on what it would cost to hire someone else to perform 50% of the parenting work. THAT would be revolutionary!

  95. undercover punk

    @PatriarchySlayer, I think we *should* consider self-selected, individualized separatism as revolutionary. Whenever I share the fact I have ZERO male friends, people immediately assume that it’s irrational man-hating. (HA!) The Truth is that no man has ever supported me with the intensity or the consistency that women have. I realize that women engage in back-stabbing and “in-fighting,” which I’ve experienced firsthand, but I know of no man–not one!– who is capable of emotionally and intellectually fulfilling me the way that women do. I know of no man who is as reliable, loving, forgiving, and generous of self as the women in my life are. Not to mention how smart, thoughtful, funny, considerate, hard working, and resourceful women are! I live my life accordingly.

    PS: That website is awesome! I want Fix-It-Chicks in Boston!! Thank you for sharing.

  96. thebewilderness

    I wholeheartedly agree that we need to support women more. That has been, our one big failing as a gender. Men do it quite well. We, as women, somehow can’t seem to stick by each other’s side when the shit gets rough.

    Historically men have practiced separatism for thousands of years, by removing women from society. Restricting women’s role, women’s rights, and confining them to the home, for the use of men.
    There was a great struggle, that went on for hundreds of years, to achieve the right to participate as a member of society, and no longer be separated against our will.

    I think that is where the difficulty lies in advocating for separatism. The right to full public participation in society has not yet been achieved. So does it make sense to attempt to separate oneself. I think it does, but not in the same way we were forcibly separated.
    The question is, perhaps, how do we participate in society on terms that are acceptable to us. I do not think that is possible in a patriarchy. So it would seem that we would need to develop methods of interacting with women outside the limits that patriarchy imposes. Human methods, not approved patriarchy methods. Men are encouraged to bond over sports and their hatred of women. Women are encouraged to bond over shopping and their love of men. Human bonding, outside the dominance and submission conditioning of a lifetime is harder, better though, I think.
    I’m rambling now, so I’m shutting up.
    Out thinking the patriarchy is hard.

  97. Hedgepig

    Sabayon, whenever I think about your question (“Will more people considering themselves feminist lead to more feminism, or more backlash under the banner of feminism?”) my brain hurts so much I have to go and eat more thickly buttered Hobnobs. So I’ve been unable to formulate an intelligent response. But I want you to know I think it’s a very good question.

    thebewilderness, if your “rambling” produces gems like this “Men are encouraged to bond over sports and their hatred of women. Women are encouraged to bond over shopping and their love of men”, please continue.

  98. undercover punk

    Hear, hear! Bewilderness, please continue. That WAS good stuff. I thought the blog broke because of our radical conversation! Just kidding.

    I hear your point about the fact that women fought long & hard AGAINST separatism, to play on the same field as men—and that this “equal” access to resources is entirely necessary for independence. At the same time, I refuse to hold my breath for full public participation. It’s not going to happen! Case in point: Hillary. Enough said. We cannot allow our successes to be judged by male standards, to what degree *they* accept us and our full humanity. That’s where I’m going with the separatism theme. We MUST disentangle ourselves from men. At the same time we must also be careful not to define our separatism exclusively by reference to the patriarchy (though I don’t think that’s going away in my lifetime, so we have no choice but to acknowledge it’s awesome power with appropriate revulsion–trying to get to a place where it doesn’t exist at all would be nothing more than illusion). We must establish new definitions, identities, and goals for ourselves and our children. New sources of personal fulfillment that have NO relationship to men whatsoever! *Shout out to ART!* Decentralized separatism is an act of autonomous self-identity. I think it’s something feminists should be giving a LOT more lip-service to.

  99. Hedgepig

    undercover punk, I love your ideas for separatism. But, how do we stop our children from absorbing heteronormativity from books, films, TV and, most problematically, other children who have access to these things, even if ours don’t? The power of the peer group is paramount. Do you envisage a physically separate community? I like that idea except for the fact that ghettoization tends to make a group vulnerable to extermination.
    A big part of why I’m not having children is that I know that no matter what I tell them, the final word will come from society. An interesting book describing how the influences of the wider community trump parental teaching is…shit I’ve forgotten, I’ll have to go and look it up.

  100. undercover punk

    I think internalization is inevitable. I’m suffering from plenty of unpleasant cultural conditioning, even things that I knowingly embrace (like the high heels I’m wearing right now). Our best response is to keep vocalizing our dissent, refusing to be complicit with female dependencies on men, and articulating our unique “separatist” perspectives of misogyny. You already knew that. I just *have* to believe in the possibility of a better future for everyone—even merely in our own “backyards.” As I like to say: a woman HAS to dream; if I ain’t got dreams, I got nothing.
    I’m going to start my own blog on separatism, I think I need to. For the moment I’m too depressed to provide a starter post/link, but once I can muster the necessary energy, I’ll let you know. I’d also love to know if you (Hedgepig) tracked down that book you referred to above; it sounds relevant to developing educational/consciousness-raising strategies that seek to counteract the reinforcing influences of the patriarchy. SIGH.

  101. PatriarchySlayer

    @undercover punk, I hear that sigh and raise you a fucking hell. I was trying to explain to some of my male friends last night what this whole feminism thing was about, and just when I thought they were starting to get it, they would come out with comments like “stupid slut”, or start victim blaming. And these are the most enlightened of my guy friends. It’s depressing. What’s possibly more depressing is that some of my female friends are just as bad. So yes, please start more blogs, I can use all the reinforcements I can get.

  102. Jonathan

    @Hedgepig:

    “undercover punk, I love your ideas for separatism. But, how do we stop our children from absorbing heteronormativity from books, films, TV and, most problematically, other children who have access to these things, even if ours don’t? The power of the peer group is paramount.”

    I would love to see separatism become a reality. Women have never enjoyed the right to their own private, female-centric spaces. And to this day it is socially unacceptable for women to do so.

    Hell, I’d be happy just to see women get the right to ditch misogynist male “friends” without massive social repercussions. Once the room of one’s own is established and the attendant male anti-feminists are no longer mandated, separatism becomes possible.

  103. undercover punk

    Thanks for the pingback, Twisty! Honored would be an understatement. And now you will be liberated from my topic-diversions!

    I plan to revisit some selected (non-militant) separatist writings from the 70′s era to determine whether we’ve made any “progress,” then discuss possible new-millennium adjustments to the basic ideologies. That’s what I’m calling my “Undercover Punk” project. Comments welcome.

  104. Twisty

    thebewilderness: “Women are encouraged to bond over shopping and their love of men.”

    I’m down with everything you say in your comment, but I would take it a step further and submit that women are not encouraged to bond at all. We are encouraged to compete with each other through shopping and acquisition of male attention.

  105. Felicity

    Exactly, separatism doesn’t have to be about a whole world of women overthrowing governments and civilisation.

    I’m at uni and *most* people stay in their rooms on the weekends (student nights are in the week), forego most mass media (we can’t afford TV licences). I thought it would be impossible to feel so free but I do. There’s very little outside influence with students who can’t afford TV licences. I’ve found separatism in student culture!

    I watch the DVDs I want to, read all the time, have my non- sexist friends. It’s only when I’m couped up and adverts pop up telling me I should hate myself as a woman. I’ve blocked ads and older men out my life and now I’m better… (Younger men tend to make you feel less like a peice of meat, older men must get frustrated at being unsucessful pervs or something).

    You’d be surprised how much what we feel is our ‘culture’ is driven by media.

  106. Hedgepig

    undercover punk: The Nurture Assumption, by Judith Rich Harris.

    This is not a feminist work, and I think she’s got quite a few things wrong, but it is a fascinating read with lots of interesting ideas.

  107. thebewilderness

    I know you are right, Twisty, but there is something going on out in the kitchen where the women gather to assemble their food offerings to the men.
    I thought it might be bonding. Competing is more likely.

  108. undercover punk

    Hedgepig, thank you!! Nurture (parents) v. nurture (peer group) is very interesting, indeed! Ms. Haris’s hypothesis might support an argument for commune-style living, or at least for being conscious of the political & social atmosphere of the neighborhood you’re raising children in. Unfortunately, such a choice is available only to parents with the privilege of geographic and/or social mobility. Then there’s also the “blank slate” debate, which implicates one of my other favorite topics: the mind/body split and which has much relevancy to feminism.

    thebewilderness & Twisty, I can only speak for myself, but my experience with other ladies in the kitchen is one of great FUN and many pleasantries. It might be because of the people I choose to spend my time with, whether family or friend. I will admit that things DO get a little heated when we leave the kitchen while the food cooks in the oven for a round of Scrabble (no men allowed in our game!), so maybe that’s our outlet for competition that prevents it from entering the kitchen. Nevertheless, I think that the tradition of gender separatism designed by the patriarchy is not entirely detrimental to female relationships with each other. Certainly before the industrial revolution when the division of gendered labor was less centralized, women were each other’s primary companions. Maybe my historical vision of female relationships has been blissfully skewed by Lillian Faderman’s “Surpassing the Love of Men”— please feel free to correct me— but I wonder if the “in-fighting” and intense competition between women isn’t in some part a reaction to the “sexual liberation” that enabled us to have “new” relationships with men, rather requiring us to be “good girls” and virgins until marriage? Now that it’s more or less “acceptable” for women to have multiple partners, now that we’re “allowed” to have lots male “friends,” we see a new threat in each other. I’m thinking out loud here; what’s your reaction? I’m not sure that this theory would apply to familial relationships, women seem to be quite coercive and even abusive about their expectations for each other within the context of family units (which expectations are often patriarchy-based!), but do you think the causal relationship between sexual “liberation” and “in-fighting” might apply to our platonic relationships with other women?
    I have a vague recollection of reading this analysis somewhere before…anyone? If true, this is yet another reason to give heterosexuality the boot! Incidentally, I’ve found that some straight women who do not have many female friends are able to be friendly with my partner & I, probably because we’re not threatening to her (or, in turn, threatened by her) in her eternal quest for male attention.

  109. Jonathan

    @Aunti Disestablishmentarian:

    I presume your SO is being flippant. I get her point, but I gotta bring up a few points.

    Feminists, like non feminists, date a huge variety of personality types. From blamers right here at Twisty Town we hear of a large number of assholic Nigels and Nigellas. Indeed once shacked up to Prince/ss Charming, many women suddenly discover nascent feminist stirrings as a result of the reality of the “happily after after.”

    Assholes are not necessarily terrible at sex: Examples of abusive partners who are good in the sack abound. It’s an effective method of keeping a woman on the line.

    The flip side is that even a strong relationship based on mutual blah blah blah still may not produce good sex. Bummer.

    You’re right. My SO was being sarcastic about the study’s findings, and you are absolutely correct that the correlation between feminism and fulfilling relationships is much more complicated than the study lets on.

    But this brings up an interesting question: if this is yet another uncritical sociology study from the bowels of the Cultural Enforcement Department in academia, why isn’t it railing against feminism? Why didn’t they twist the results into yet another frothing anti-feminist rant?

    Perhaps some progressive trailblazing women have made it past the P’s guards and into publishing positions in the sociology field?

  110. Glowcita

    here in nicaragua, where i live, identifing yourself as a feminist is almost equal identifing yourself as a lesbian.
    People here have NO respect for women at all, i have my fights here, but i wish i could do more.

  111. Donna

    Housing-on-demand should be available to any woman who wants it, instantly liberating millions from the shackles of co-habiting for financial reasons. *That* would be fucking revolutionary.

    There is limited (and very inadequate) housing assistance available for women here in the U.S. But they get it if, and only if, they have procreated and failed to secure the sponsorship and supervision of a male. They also must be extremely indigent. Unpartnered childless women who are poor can fuck off and die, since they didn’t even succeed in getting their proper role half right.

    Still, I echo everyone else here who advises against having children. Inasmuch as my life has been a cavalcade of stupid mistakes and ill-advised decisions that have led me to my current position of being on the brink of bankruptcy, and facing the prospect of having to live with my Nigel, I look back with profound gratitude on the fact that I realized long ago that motherhood was a bogus trap and I opted out of it. Face it, any occupation that the Patriarchy slathers with so much unctious flattery as motherhood has got to be some of the most shitty unpaid oppressive bullshit imaginable. Hell, even nuns get modest accomodations and (usually) don’t have to fuck some entitled prick and birth babies for him.

  112. Felicity

    @Undercover Punk,

    Absolutely… I think you hit it with the link between sexual liberation and in- fighting. But P is never too far behind! Patriarchy has twisted our sexual liberation in every way possible. Making it about looking the best we can for men against all odds, turning it into a competition for them has turned us cold against each other.

  113. undercover punk

    Thank you, Felicity! Sexual “liberation” has *undeniably* benefited MEN, while women continue to face an ever-impossible double standard of female conduct and social responsibilities. For example, consider the modern idea of a “SLUT”. She behaves as society instructs her to, as man’s object, and is rewarded with public shaming and insults to her character. Spirella Bones has a wonderful BLAMING post on this here. Even the “slut’s” female friends ostracize her. Nice!!
    The Man is not going to change this. It benefits him! As usual. WE, as women, must take the matter into our own capable hands and acknowledge the HARM & DISTRACTION that seeking male attention brings to our relationships with other women.

    The reach of the patriarchy’s toxicity is truly mind-boggling.

    Please stop giving your energy to men.

  114. Spirella Bones

    Thanks for the shout, undercover punk! FYI, I posted up a sequel blog entry, and a lot of it is responding to exactly what you’re talking about with the sexual liberation thing. Quote:

    “It seems that men can happily re-appropriate the word “slut” if they simply re-appropriate feminist outrage. Outrage about women’s unyielding subjection to shame is, of course, the logical segue into outrage about men’s ever-threatened right to be promiscuous.”

    The sarcasm may be lost on some dudes, though. Post is here.

  115. PatriarchySlayer

    @Donna, I agree with you on that post. But I did read something recently that gave me pause. I can’t remember where exactly, but someone mentioned that one of the reasons that the patriarchy continues to exist is because conservative patriarchal families tend to have more children thus perpetuating the problem. Because they tend to have more issues with the use of birth control and abortions, they end up with more kiddies. So by not having children we may maintain our freedom a little better,but we are also not quite as effective in passing down our values to the next generation. Does the make sense? Is there a way we can still pass these ideas forth without popping out the babies?

  1. GENDER SEPARATISM! The way forward! « Undercover Punk

    [...] The way forward! By undercoverpunk Ok, it’s time for me to stop wishing that Twisty would support decentralized gender separatism as a tool of the anti-patriarchy and to start propagandizing it myself! This is not a complete [...]

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