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Sep 29 2009

Breaking: patriarchy is actually real

Blamer maidden writes:

While I understand Jill’s position on the badness of a member of the sex class performing a submissive role in the bedroom (or dungeon, as the case may be), I haven’t been able to find her opinion on the opposite situation: dominant women. Could somebody point me to the appropriate posts and/or comments? Or perhaps she herself could clarify.

She herself could clarify! With pleasure.

What maidden refers to as “the opposite situation” isn’t opposite at all. Any practice that furthers the interests of patriarchal oppression, regardless of the sex, gender, race, diet, type of refrigerator, underwear, or political affiliation of the practitioner, is crappy and antifeminist. This includes sexay domination practiced by women; these behaviors are dictated by male fetish. As are all feminine behaviors.

Then maybe somebody could explain to me how it’s possible for a woman to participate in any (heterosexual) sexual activity without subjecting herself to fulfilling a dude-centric fantasy of some kind.

It isn’t. Sorry.*

Is it down to a choice between lesbianism and asexuality?

Not even lesbians and asexuals are 100% patriarchy-free. Its ubiquity, see, is what makes patriarchy the dominant paradigm. The invisible, indefeasible pervasiveness of the culture of domination is the key concept of this blog. Sadly, I fear that many readers are reluctant to fully embrace the horrific truth that patriarchy isn’t just some abstract academic conceit. The don’t wanna face that they themselves, as members of an honest-to-fuck sex class, are well and truly screwed.

This reluctance is completely understandable. The enormity of domination culture is physically sickening when confronted for the first time. It is physically sickening when confronted for the 435,647th time, too.
______________________
* Yes, I know. You have a deeply fulfilling sex life with your Nigel. That’s nice. Please refrain from describing it in detail in the comments section. Also, consider this: whether he likes it or not, when Nigel hoists up his Dockers and saunters out of your dungeon into the public square, he’s enjoying the privileged status he has had the pleasure of internalizing all his life. You are not.

129 comments

  1. estraven

    Hi. Thanks for your, as ever, beautiful column. May I check whether I understand you correctly?
    Namely, you say that patriarchy is involved in every aspect of our lives, from the most public to the most intimate. You are not saying that people who enjoy safe and consensual BDSM, or just consensual sex in any of its various forms, should stop doing so; just that whatever they do is tinged by being in a patriarchy, and that the best we can do is try to improve things a bit. By blaming.
    Well, actually that’s just what I understood. If I got it wrong, please be patient.

  2. maidden

    Then women can’t exist at all in a world dominated by patriarchy without enabling it in some way. If even asexuality isn’t a way out, we’re reduced to mass suicide (and maybe even that would enable the patriarchy). What if some of us actually prefer living, and even want to enjoy sex once in a while, do we just have to bite the bullet and be feminists extra-hard the rest of the time? And if every sexual act is fulfilling a dude-centric fantasy, there doesn’t seem to be a point in looking down on one kind of sexual act over another. Are some fantasies less OK to play out than others?

  3. weeza

    Mass suicide? Why do the women have to die? Reminds me of a very annoying ‘story’ doing the rounds, that children of women who work outside the home are less healthy than children of those women who don’t. Because no one else is responsible for the raising of children, are they? Grr, arrgh.

  4. maidden

    And, uh, I don’t have a Nigel, and I’m not kinky, this is a theoretical discussion for me. Oh, I forgot, you didn’t wanna know.

  5. other_orange

    What I dislike about so many of the arguments revolving around BDSM and bedroom politics is how often they ignore that the bedroom isn’t the only room women have to live in.

    So your take is enormously appreciated.

  6. k8

    estraven – not tinged. Dictated by.

  7. Jill

    Hey maidden! This post wasn’t aimed at you personally! I merely used your comment as a springboard! I appreciate your patronage!

    Hey estraven! Your summary is close enough. If you can find any passage in which I have written “you people should stop having sex,” I would be grateful if you’d bring it to my attention!

    !

  8. Beth

    Hey–Maidden–you’re onto something here. The patriarchy is absolutely pervasive in our lives. Yes. You’ve got it. But please–why mass suicide? Why not mass homicide? Actually, you might pick up The Female Man by Joanna Russ (excellent blamer/author) which articulates some of these selfsame ideas. But what I really want to say is that you can’t have it both ways–you can’t, as many want to do, participate in patriarchally-infused activities and then call yourself a blamer. How can we participate in “femininity” and reject its constraints at the same time? Of course you are “free” to reject or accept any or all of the accoutrements of feminine comportment, but if you accept them then you are indeed accepting subordination. If you reject them, well, you may not receive the benefits the patriarchy wishes to bestow upon acquiescing lovelies, but then again who wants the benefits, really? We’re trained to think that they are benefits. And also, this is all theoretical? Really?

  9. Jill

    But whoa there!

    “Mass suicide”! Jeepers!

    The solution is feminist revolt. It is the blog’s other key concept. Who’s with me?

  10. nails

    Hey, you people should stop having sex.

  11. procrastinatrix

    Realizing that patriarchy is real, and is the “matrix” in which every single action of every group and individual takes place–in the bedroom or out, is sickening, but also can be freeing.

    Not freeing from responsibility to try to make change and to live a life according to one’s moral code, but freeing from that sense of “I’m doing everything “right”, why 1. can’t I reach my goals, 2. do I feel so awful all the time, 3. don’t people’s actions correspond to what they’re saying, 4. etc.”

    For me, the gut-level realization of just how pervasive and powerful the patriarchy is, which I only achieved at 37 years old, in part from reading this awesome tell-it-like-it-is blog, has given me a framework to understand the world that finally makes sense. It sucks but it’s logical and consistent with observed reality and lived experience.

    Feminist authors have written of both the unease before and the sense of fit after realizing that *gasp* patriarchy is real, so I’m far from the first person to note this.

  12. Jill

    “But what I really want to say is that you can’t have it both ways–you can’t, as many want to do, participate in patriarchally-infused activities and then call yourself a blamer.”

    Well, actually, you can. We all do, every day. It’s kind of an important point that the bogus set-up has it fixed so that blaming must proceed from within a strictly patriarchal matrix. Nobody is 100% patriarchy-free, and I mean nobody.

  13. Jill

    Hey procrastinatrix! We both said “matrix” at the same time! Jinx!

  14. Kelly

    maidden, it’s okay if you “prefer” to go blissfully back into the Matrix and “enjoy” your artificial steak. The P tells you that it’s juicy and delicious. Eat up. But please don’t pretend that’s truly “living”.

  15. Beth

    To arms!

    Oh, I can’t wait for the feminist revolt.

    More topically: this seems eerily reminiscent of conversations I’ve had about vegetarianism/veganism. Talking about the meat and dairy industry and the environment has got me accused of classism, authoritarianism, arrogance, girliness, smugness and not knowing how good bacon is or understanding it’s importance to the speaker. People seem to hear any discussion of modern agriculture or the patriarchy as “I eat ethically and you don’t” or “I have feminist sex and you don’t”.

    To arms?

  16. Beth

    (its)

  17. Carolyn

    One of the things I’ve learned from reading this blog is to be more understanding of the fact that we all do whatever we need to do to get through the day, and that’s ok. I’m lucky that I can get away with bypassing a lot of the everyday gender roleplaying shit, but most women pay much more severe penalties than I do for not toeing the line, and plenty of women wouldn’t be willing or able to pay the penalties (e.g. not having the emotional and economic support of a privileged partner) that I’ve been perfectly happy to accept.

  18. Carolyn

    But, as Jill has said, there’s a difference between realising that we are all stuck with making our own choices about how to play the game and pretending we’re only playing it for fun or that by CHOOSING to play it instead of ‘being forced to’ we’re winning.

  19. thebeardedlady

    Count me in for the Feminist Revolt! Maybe the BDSMers can bring weapons.

    It’s just better to live in the real world and see what we’re up against, than live in a male fantasy and drive ourselves crazy wondering what’s wrong with us and why we don’t measure up.

    (Also: this blog has everything – brains, brawn, even someone who has read Joanna Russ.)

  20. Miranda

    First, this site is amazing. Life for women really sucks sometimes, and coming here reassures me that, contrary to the claims of most men, I’m not just making it all up!

    That being said, it can be really depressing to face the extent of the patriarchy. If women can’t possibly escape it entirely, what the hell are we supposed to do? The quote below is from VinaigretteGirl in an earlier thread, and hopefully it will help some fellow blamers.

    “Getting free is a bit like practising the Alexander Technique: changing tiny bad habits every day and countermanding them until they stop being habits and become has-beens.

    Start where you can: don’t stand in the middle of the grocery store saying “What kind of cheese does he like?” (if you have a Nigel). Get what you like. If other people don’t like your choices they can do the work and make *their* choices. Look at your life, bit by bit, from the fridge to the shoes to the office and say “Do I *want* this?”. If the answer is “Actually, no” then find a way to get rid of it. If the answer is “Yes, at least for now” fair enough, keep it and revisit the decision.

    The way to be free is to BE it and deal with the consequences: start small, little and often, until that becomes your nature. The big stuff will accrue.”

    The great thing about this approach is that you don’t have to give up every single anti-feminist thing right away (which would be impossible anyways). You do what you can. Following some patriarchal norms doesn’t make you a “bad” feminist; it just means you’re trying to cope in a society that constantly devalues you. (Thank you, Twisty, for making this clear!)

    This is admittedly not going to bring the patriarchy crashing down, but damned if I know how we can ever make that happen. For now, women have to do what we can to resist an oppressive system, and help other women do the same.

  21. Mare Island

    Sign me up for the revolt as well. What’s the first item on the revolutionary agenda?

  22. Cimorene

    “What if some of us actually prefer living, and even want to enjoy sex once in a while, do we just have to bite the bullet and be feminists extra-hard the rest of the time?”

    That’s what I try to do. I recognize that the simple fact of heterosexual sex is anti-feminist, inasmuch as it is only (currently) possible to have sex within the patriarchy, and heteroism is pro-patriarchy. Even if I went to outer space and had sex with a dude there, it would still be patriarchal, because, having been raised in a patriarchy, and therefore a constant perpetuater/participant in it, I can never escape the patriarchal aspects of my personality–because I am as much defined by my history (a patriarchal one) as by my genetics (basically neither pro- or anti-patriarchy, because simply biological), all my wants/needs/desires/actions are patriarchal.

    Ok, but now I have a question. Jill, you say “whether he likes it or not, when Nigel hoists up his Dockers and saunters out of your dungeon into the public square, he’s enjoying the privileged status he has had the pleasure of internalizing all his life. You are not.” This is where my outer space thing comes in–because Dude has been able to internalize patriarchal male privilege, he is always going to be privileged, even in outer space where there are no people to constitute the active patriarchal culture. If all women have been inculcated to be women (and thus play into the gender system of the patriarchy) and men, men (and thus play into the gender system of the patriarchy, and even worse for being the beneficiaries of its fucked-upped-ness), has anyone figured out how the revolution will work yet?

    Because if we all carry the seed of the patriarchy within ourselves, and are unable to escape it no matter how hard we try, how will humans (all part of the patriarchy, subjected to, subjectified by, and enforcers/perpetuators of) ever escape it? Even mass homicide won’t work, because if we get rid of all the menfolk (for example), won’t we just continue to repeat the sins of the patriarchy via our socialization into it? Won’t we continue to be “women” even if we remove “men” from the equation? Because no matter how much I am able to intellectually recognize the moral depravity, dangers, and illusion of the gender binary, I still call myself a woman and still self-define as woman, and am a woman. Even if I can imagine myself existing in a world in which “woman” isn’t even a word, because the concept of dividing humans into categories based on silly, not-even-universal traits is incomprehensible (because in this imaginary world, gender does not exist)? Gender, for me, will always exist. So I can never live in a post-patriarchal world.

    I suppose that nobody’s been able to figure out a way around this yet, or we would have been on that shit like flies on dog poop. But am I just missing something important?

  23. slownews

    A wise colleague told me, about one’s environmental impact, that there’s no way we can live in this society and not be complicit. I think that applies all around. Sign me up.

  24. Carolyn

    Hi Cimorene–I’m going to take a stab at responding to (not answering) your question, since I’m here (slow day today!). Yes, we all have been shaped by the patriarchial culture we grew up in, and we can’t get away from that. But what we can do is SEE it, then maybe question it, then maybe change it, one little thing at a time. I was out on my motorbike a while back, and was having trouble getting it started after I stopped for gas. A no-doubt well-meaning man came over and ‘helped’ by which I meant got in the way and offered unsolicited advice. And do you know what I did? I said ‘oh thank you’ and smiled at him gratefully as he ineffectively futzed with the bike, and listened to him pontificate, and talked to him in a nice voice, and reassured him that I’d be fine, etc. Do you know what I wish I’d done? I wish I’d said in a firm curt voice, thank you for offering to help but I understand this bike and you don’t, and I’d like you to go away please. Because I’ve been trained to respond to men in the former way rather than in the latter way, and in the back of my mind I was thinking ‘what if my response to him makes him angry?’ and that made me afraid. But although I wasn’t aware of what was going on at the time, I’ve certainly thought about it since then, and recognised the way in which my girl-training channelled my response. If something like that happens again, I may, despite wishing I wouldn’t, respond in exactly the same way, because the penalty for not responding gender-correctly is ‘bitch’ or worse, and I’m very vulnerable on a bike. But being aware of it is better than not being aware, and acknowledging how much pressure is being put on me to be gender-correct is better than being ignorant, or even than blaming myself for not being more assertive. OK that was long and rambling, but maybe it might be of use to someone….

  25. maidden

    Count me in the revolution!

  26. agasaya

    Sex isn’t patriarchal. It is a normal, human function. Having sex involves the patriarchy if one of the participants is male (by default, so choose wisely) and the rest of us enter the fray with varying degrees of its taint.

    Unfortunately, it isn’t feasible to attack the multi-gender perpetrators of oppressive patriarchal acts because the ‘actors’ are mostly beyond control. The controls were designed to ensure it. That leaves the description of oppressive acts or customs for what they are, (i.e.’blaming’), as the only form of education which can make the battleground slightly more accessible to women. We need female blamers entering law school, med school, boardrooms etc. Blogs do the teaching because schools fire educators who mention such things.

    Collaboration for purposes of survival isn’t the same as promoting oppressive acts as a worthy option for all to pursue. The patriarchy taught us to esteem tortuously shaped bodies and postures as art, (you ever see a ballet?), and poison as a form of elegance. Did you know the California Air Board just ruled air fresheners and deodorants have to reduce their toxic, VOC ingredients to ONLY 30% of the product? What the hell are they currently? Yet people forced to inhale that crap and sickened by it in the workplace are mostly persecuted by women asserting their rights to keep the place smelling (anti)’feminine’ fresh.

    Sweat is to be feared but toluene dresses up really well. IBTP

  27. Beth

    I agree, agasaya, that “sex” isn’t inherently patriarchal. But assuming that sex equals heterosexual intercourse (h.i. for short) is patriarchal. Sex for reproduction is necessary, if reproduction is deemed important (not sure it is). Why is sex equated with h.i.? Sex can be many things and is not just that particular act. Perhaps we can refer back to Ms. Dworkin who analyzed h.i. in terms of its conformity to patriarchal values.

    By the way, that stuff about the VOCs is truly frightening.

  28. kdingani

    jinxtrix!

  29. Miranda

    Agasaya (and all other blamers with ideas on this),

    I’m a female blamer in law school. I didn’t discover blaming until this year, and now that I have, I want to change my career path to fit my new blaming ways. The problem is that I don’t know how to go about that, and the career counselors at my school don’t have much advice for me. So I’m throwing this out there in the hope that the blaming community can help. How can I use my degree to feminist ends?

    Sorry about all the “I”s in this post!

  30. ivyleaves

    Going further, there are plenty of patriarchs amongst women; those who live a male role and practice domination of women and children as if they were men. I’m pretty sure they would only become more numerous if all of the men were removed. Taking up arms”\ to foist a poorly-visualized anti-patriarchy revolution is seductive to our desires for revenge, and a bit fun to imagine, but will do nothing to correct the culture of domination.

  31. procrastinatrix

    @Jill at 10:17 am. My possibly inappropriate and embarrassing fan-lady reaction: Omygod! I said “matrix” at the same time as Jill. I was thinking a similar thought to Jill’s at the same time Jill was. Swoon!

    Okay, fan-lady fit over.

    When I was a kid, whoever said “jinx” first got a Coke from the “jinxee”. I’d be honored to buy you any beverage of choice if we ever meet in meatworld!!!

  32. Shelly

    Estraven:
    whatever they do is tinged by being in a patriarchy

    Patriarchy is like the air around you, in that you are drowning in it, and there is no avoiding that fact. You can try to ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t change the reality that it permeates every aspect of your life.

  33. Shelly

    Agasaya:
    Having sex involves the patriarchy if one of the participants is male (by default, so choose wisely) and the rest of us enter the fray with varying degrees of its taint.

    As long as women are the sex class, *every* sex act will involve the Patriarchy.

  34. yttik

    Mass suicide?? That cracked me up. Now there’s another patriarchal concept, if you can’t be sexually fulfilled then you might as well just jump off a bridge because your life is crap and you have no value. Stuff and nonsense.

    “It isn’t. Sorry.”

    Confronting the fact that there really is no way to have a healthy, equal male/female relationship within the patriarchy (beyond a few moments of delusional bliss here and there) is actually really freeing. At least in my experience it’s not suicide inducing at all, it takes a great weight off your shoulders, all that self blame and doubt and various garbage is suddenly put in perspective. Suddenly things make sense, it’s like a whole new world out there.

  35. Wendy

    Patriarchy hurts. It’s better to know that the patriarchy is real and that it permeates every aspect of our lives than to internalize it and wonder why the hell you feel so crazy.

    But it hurts and thank you, Jill, for having this blog. It helps.

    Hell yeah, I’m in for the feminist revolt!

  36. Aestas

    Thanks for this. Saying that dommes bring equality to BSDM sounds to me a bit like saying that Margaret Thatcher brought equality to politics.

    As for the feminist revolt, count me in!

  37. The Nerd

    This makes me wonder: what would BDSM look like were it conceived outside of the patriarchy? Can we even envision such a thing? (I obviously am at a loss.)

  38. Katherine

    The trouble is, realising the pervasiveness of the patriarchy matrix is fucking depressing.

    Can I have a red pill please?

  39. Squiggy

    Yeah! What are some of our first acts of the revolution? I’m in.

  40. agasaya

    Beth – no assumptions about sex solely consisting of het intercourse. Homo and auto-erogenous behavior is part of sex throughout the animal kingdom. Sex is a normal drive, corrupted by those wishing to dictate the form it MUST ASSUME, (whatever the hell that’s supposed to be); profit from selling it in its various and sundry forms; or taint it with the the promise of orgasmic bliss in return for prostituting your soul.

    The bliss is supposed to nullify the prostitution of values and self-regard. Doesn’t seem to be working.

  41. Shira

    Children can be convinced that their own sexual abuse is something they wanted and asked for, but it sure as fuck doesn’t make sexual abuse any less damaging.

    BDSM is the same way. Sexual pleasure is related to blood pressure in your groin and nerve sensitization. And guess is one way to increase blood pressure and sensitivity: adrenaline, which can be jacked up in turn via fear and pain.

    But the joke is on the superstrong submissives, because now, whenever you experience sexual pleasure, you get to experience fear and pain. Your body will bypass your conscious mind and someday you’ll jerk away from a soft touch as from a hot stove. You don’t get to turn it off without months of conscious effort and therapy. It’s addictive that way. Because it’s traumatic. And often, the addiction came first, via childhood sexual abuse.

    You think you get to choose your way out of oppression – that nothing bad will happen by inflicting this trauma on your body, this memory on your mind, as long as you think you are choosing it freely at the time. WRONG! The world does not work that way. Your brain physiologically does not work that way.

    Deluding yourself, dissociating into a magical world where women are equal to men and neurochemistry is a myth and then a miracle happens so getting tied up and beaten and then fake-raped isn’t oppressive or damaging or just cruel, is a clear sign of the massive cognitive dissonance of BDSMers.

  42. Shira

    The best solution is to keep all fetuses female and then let children choose their own puberties depending on what physical traits they want to develop and when. Then if they want they can get a stem-cell penis attached when they turn 18 and pass a test to get their dicker’s license, subject to revocation by the state if convicted of misuse. Of course sex toys would be more bountiful than spray on body condoms.

  43. Jezebella

    Cimorene, I imagine the first generation of women to live without patriarchy will be like new immigrants, who cannot leave their old culture behind entirely and do not fully understand their new home. But their daughters will be even further removed from the old country, and by the third generation, the granddaughters will have assimilated to the new order entirely. This is bad news for you and me, as we are already infected with the old world order. But someone has to take the first step so that the next generation of women might live as human beings.

  44. Shelby

    Breaking: Patriarchy is actually real! I come here most days because you people get that. I’ve been told I’m sexist, a whinger, bitter, a fruit and nut job – you’ve heard them all before. You can see people’s eyes glaze over as soon as I open my mouth. I even annoy myself sometimes with my relentless blaming. As all of you are no doubt aware, it’s lonely when the blinkers have been pulled off. I’m not sure if I’m happier or not holding the book of truth, but I do feel a compelling responsibility to pass the facts onto others like some crazed bloody missionary – try and pull their blinkers down for a bit so that they too can glimpse the truth. Maybe that’s the way the revolution will take place, like Miranda said, with small acts which are seemingly innocuous – ‘teaspoons’ as they say. I love my son – would die for my son – and I could not take up arms against him. How many generations will it take then?

  45. Kristyn

    ”I love my son – would die for my son – and I could not take up arms against him. How many generations will it take then?”

    I’m pretty sure that the jokes about mass homicide of teh menz were more or less exactly that — jokes. (With or without undertones of wishful thinking, no doubt, but humor me.)

    No one is saying that you are not a feminist if you don’t wish to murder your own son. It would seem that, instead, you are being freed, and encouraged to raise that son in a way that is preferably less patriarchal than the mainstream.
    Allow him to play with stuffed toys instead of just plastic soldiers. Let him know that it’s okay to cry if he is sad or hurt. Unteach gender stereotypes by pointing them out and refusing to treat them as real. Teach him the value of honest communication. Teach him to do laundry. Teach him to cook. Teach him about what consent means. You get the idea.

    Maybe your child could be part of the first generation. His children, if he chooses to reproduce, could be even further removed from this patriarchal hell. Shit, maybe if enough parents got on board with this, a small populace of human beings could be able to grasp the reality of equality in, say, three or four generations. A bit late for us, but maybe not for humanity.

    Optimism doesn’t feel natural. IBTP.

  46. Nolabelfits

    Teach him to clean the toilet. Most boys seem to be exempt from that particular training.

  47. Shelly

    Shelby,
    I’ve found that public blaming is a thankless task. People are *really* invested in maintaining the Patriarchy, and they don’t appreciate having that pesky fact pointed out to them. Makes them cranky as all fuck. Hell, most of them would prefer not to have to acknowledge the Big P’s existence, period.

  48. Jonathan

    And if every sexual act is fulfilling a dude-centric fantasy, there doesn’t seem to be a point in looking down on one kind of sexual act over another.

    If there’s no point, then why jump in so strongly for BDSM on a non-BDSM blog? Why pick a side of the chessboard if you don’t think there is a game going on?

    Or is the stuff that twisty is saying too dangerous to allow anywhere? Is she going to pull too many women out of the system that you’re depending on?

  49. nooBlamer

    Miranda, imo the blog “Feminist Law Professers” is almost right up there with IBTP, and that is saying a lot! I would seriously recommend giving them a visit, searching their archived posts/conversations, and perhaps even emailing them and posing that question to them directly.
    I’m sure you aren’t the only one looking for information on IBTP-type leanings in relation to legal studies.
    Everyone else, (incl. you Jill) if you haven’t come across the FLP blog yet, I highly recommend it. Completely different style, but they seem to be pretty aligned philosophically w/IBTP

    Also, re: feminist revolt
    SIGN ME UP
    —————————————————————————————————————————————–
    —–I’m a female blamer in law school. I didn’t discover blaming until this year, and now that I have, I want to change my career path to fit my new blaming ways. The problem is that I don’t know how to go about that, and the career counselors at my school don’t have much advice for me. So I’m throwing this out there in the hope that the blaming community can help. How can I use my degree to feminist ends?

    Sorry about all the “I”s in this post!

  50. nooBlamer

    Erg…please ignore my seriously embarrassing misspelling of the word “professors.” I’ve been stuck in the land of JERICHO for the past four days and am completely out of touch with everything.

  51. nooBlamer

    I just realized that I didn’t even include the darn link…
    SEE WHAT I MEAN?
    Feminist Law Professors Blog:
    http://feministlawprofessors.com/

  52. Comrade PhysioProf

    FLP is an awesome fucking blog.

  53. Satchel

    @Shelby: I believe the new term for what you’re describing is “a strident old ranty-pants.” Cf. the (London) TimesOnline, via Jezebel: http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/article6849600.ece

  54. nakedthoughts

    The thing about men and patriarchy is they are not the same. Men make up patriarchy, but patriarchy isn’t a man, and men are not patriarchy. The same way a traffic jam is not a car, and cars are not individually a traffic jam. it is the interaction with other people and our interaction with culture that creates this bigger than ourselves paradigm.

    so though heterosexual relationships are tinged with patriarchy, they are not patriarchy themselves.

    Plus, If you participate in submission to patriarchal standards to keep sane and deal with it, then good. better to not burn out before the revolution. Understanding that EVERYTHING we do is within a patriarchal construct is similar to understanding that we are all racist against non-white people. the culture embodies it and we are raised in that culture. The shame is in sitting idly by or turning a blind eye to it. But it is freeing to know that perfection is not required, and not even possible.

  55. Shelby

    @Kristyn. Sweet baby jesus Kristyn, this is what’s wrong with the interwebs. Miscommunication. I do realise that I don’t need to eat my male offspring in order to be considered a feminist. What I was getting at was this is a revolution like no other. It pits family member against family member. It won’t be won with violence or money, but because of this it’ll take how many more hundreds of years to come to fruition, if ever?

    @Satchel. Great link, except for all the ‘you bitches should stop whingeing about this stuff cause what about the poor menz’ comments.

  56. incognotter

    My tired eyes missed the colon in the title the first time around and thought you were announcing you had broken the P. I was all set to start a post-revolutionary life of gardening and knitting and Blaming NPR for not telling me about the important things. Luckily it’s pretty much the same feminist life either way, so my tomorrow is unchanged. “The revolution” is a generational struggle and the goal is to leave the world less patriarchal than it was when we entered it.

  57. Carolyn

    You know, thinking about my little story again, it really does almost always come down to a fear of physical violence. Sure, I’ve done Model Mugging and am typically not afraid to walk alone etc. but let’s face it, I was on a bike and this guy was in an SUV, what kind of self defense training would help if he decided to drive in an intimidating manner after I blew him off? And we certainly hear about and experience enough daily violence that that possibility isn’t completely paranoid. What can we do about this very basic threat to our lives and safety if we don’t play along?

  58. Carolyn

    Ha yes or even if we do.

  59. MCF

    What a glorious thread. Thank you Twisty, thank you all of you.

    Miranda – yes, FLP. Bitch PhD is also superb, but you might be particularly interested in M LeBlanc’s posts.

  60. slythwolf

    A Feminist Revolt could not succeed at this time. There ain’t enough of us right now. We have to build up our ranks some more.

    Which is exactly what maintaining an internet presence and bloviating about all this patriarchy shit actually does! I myself was a fun feminist porn apologist only four or five years ago. You too can open your eyes to the reality of the patriarchy. Like many important things in life, the process is painful, but worth it.

  61. arfeuse

    Revolting feminist Arfeuse present and correct SUH! Or should that be MAAM? Anyway, this is one of my facourite posts & discussions ever.
    I do appreciate the humour here but agree that it is worrying just how easily suicide, mass or otherwise, will slip into a conversation about how to exist in a fulfilling way while trying to ignore we are functioning under conditions of servitude to the Big P. It is horrifically challenging to think that a core part of your identity, i.e. femininity, which is so highly valued and reinforced, is in fact a form of collusion with the forces of eeevil. One must take refuge where one can, which for me personally is in crafting, puppies, blaming & pointing out how some men are also victimised under the P. – which in no way means that they give up the hegemonic privilege pertaining thereto – and neither does it help advance the non-sex-class-ness of women. But it makes me feel better so nah.
    Gender’s just stupid. Let’s try live without it for a bit.

  62. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Sometimes the insidiousness of the Big P (it’s like a fart in an airlock, y’all. There’s no getting away from it.) makes me feel like jumping off the roof and cutting my throat on the way down in case the jumping doesn’t work. So I distract myself with heartwarming nature crap, what to have for dinner, and my four-legged family. And I visit here for revolutionary marching orders and reading recommendations.

    Incognotter and slythwolf are right. It’s a process.

  63. speedbudget

    Jill: You are probably the only writer in the universe who uses the word “enormity” correctly. Thanks much, from a grammar dork’s heart.

  64. SargassoSea

    My mom is a blamer from way back. She shared the ‘secret’ with me and I in turn share it with my daughter.

    The revolution was then, is now, and will be. Intergenerational, indeed.

    Keep spreading the word!

  65. agasaya

    Nakedthoughts – Patriarchy = Men.

    Yes, men are persecuted by and through their own partriarchal system all the time but it is a male creation and power is maintained via sex and money. Sex is peddled because even the most powerless man is accessible through his dick and can be manipulated in that manner. Keeps them from overthrowing the order and losing that last bit of power.

    Think of it this way. No matter how low on the totem pole a man is positioned (e.g. a serf), the soothing concept of “You too can have a woman beneath you.”, in all possible interpretations of that phrase, offers some sense of superiority and agency. This was codified in family law through parental rights and husbandly privilege, all under threat of eternal damnation for those who fought the order in any number of religious faiths. Throughout history.

    Of course women are brainwashed, being raised in it and raising others in it. The Renaissance has to come before the revolution and that is via the dissemination of facts and philosophy. We’ve had a technological renaissance but continue exhibiting medieval mindsets in which magical thinking (alchemy) still reigns supreme.

    Once you accept the fact that we still live in the Middle Ages, just cleaner and better dressed, the battle may seem more comprehensible.

  66. Jezebella

    Satchel, that is brilliant. “Strident old ranty-pants” is entering my vocabulary with a vengeance, and has already been added to my Facebook sig.

  67. Miranda

    nooBlamer,

    Thank you so much for the link. I’m loving it!

    nakedthoughts,

    Your post is great. The analogy you used makes perfect sense to me, and it should really help me explain the patriarchy in my mission to convert new blamers.

  68. Jill

    “my mission to convert new blamers”

    I wish you success with this. Hipping women who don’t wanna be hipped is a thankless and almost always fruitless pursuit.

  69. Natalia

    The solution is feminist revolt. It is the blog’s other key concept. Who’s with me?

    I am, but I’m bringing a trunk full of pink lace and some boy-toys, so make room in the back.

  70. Miranda

    MCF,

    For some reason I missed your post initially. Now that I’ve seen it, thanks for the suggestion! I checked out a couple of M. LeBlanc’s posts, and I’m pretty darn impressed thus far.

  71. yttik

    “my mission to convert new blamers”

    My mission is to convince women to stand together in solidarity, to rally around each other. Another fruitless and pointless mission because years of patriarchy have taught women to hate other women. It serves the patriarchy well, separate, divide, control.

    Nothing provides a better example of how women have learned how to persecute other women then a celebrity rape case that pulls hundreds of women out of the woodwork eager to blame the victim and to find ways to pity the rapist.

  72. thebeardedlady

    Strident old ranty-pants may well be my nickname too. But what are you supposed to do with all the rage? I hate that rapist fucker Polanski, and I am face-smashingly furious with all his apologists. I blame the patriarchy and I also HATE the patriarchy. The only mild relief I get is ranting about it at anyone who stands still long enough to listen. I fear this does not serve the cause well.

  73. Anna Belle

    I love my Nigel, but we’re not having hot sex much, if ever. He’s as crushed beneath the wheel of patriarchy as I am, and that tends to have a negative influence on the sex drive.

    Also, I’m all in for the feminist revolt. Let me know when the rest of y’all are ready to grab weapons. I sure as heck ain’t going down alone, but I am on the street as soon as I hear the word go.

  74. Doctor Nick

    Twisty, you have a lot of patriarchy blaming on your site (which is to be expected from the title!), but a dearth of actual revolutionary science. You talk about wanting to revolt, but I want to know how you want to revolt, how it should be organized, etc. Are you a communist among the authoritarian/Leninist branch? or a more libertarian socialist?

  75. Felicity

    My aim is to try and make feminists have self- confidence in the cause. That’s the biggest first step. Then it’s finding a balance between inclusivity and striking for change.

    After numbers, it’s killing time! (As much as a patriarchy can be killed – mostly it’s putting up a strong, content, self- assuring resistance; where men have to suffer in their own way for their slight loss of power, and we no longer have to suffer for a complete loss of power.)

  76. virago

    ““my mission to convert new blamers”

    I wish you success with this. Hipping women who don’t wanna be hipped is a thankless and almost always fruitless pursuit.”

    But Jill, there’s always seeds of discontent to be sown among women patriarchy defenders. A woman I work with is very catholic, VERY pro-life, and thinks women lie about rape,etc, blah, blah, blah. However, even she has uttered the dreaded, “But men think they’re better than us” when she complained about her mini-patriarch’s refusal to make decisions without considering the impact on her and the children. As soon as I heard that, I pounced. Did I succeed? Probably not, but for a few moments, she saw what I was talking about, and she even agreed with me. That said, she complainms about her daughters rebelling against male authority (their father), and these girls hang out with my niece (whom I indoctrinated long ago). Maybe someday, there’s hope for her yet. Until than, IBTP.

  77. Hattie

    Catching up with you and your ever more wondrous blog!

  78. Cimorene

    Re: converting new blamers:

    Besides getting a job at a high school, which is both hellish and wonderful, as they tend to be hotbeds of patriarchy (= misery) with pockets of thoughtful humans who want to be hipped so bad it hurts (= goodness), I have found the best way for me to get women to start blaming is to listen to them.

    It’s astounding, really. So few women are actually listened to, and when someone does listen, they often dismiss womens’ emotions, thoughts, and experiences as unimportant, unreal, or the result of some sort of hysterical woman thing. Like several times when I’ve seen a woman have a negative emotion (anger, sadness, confusion, frustration), and they tell me “I don’t want to sound crazy but…” or “I know I’m just being crazy/obsessive/etc. but…” I usually then explain to them that their feelings are entirely rational responses to shitty situations–like, if their boyfriends watch porn and it makes them upset (which boyfriend then defines as “hysterical woman who’s jealous but i love you baby” etc) I tell them that it’s ok to feel upset, and that they shouldn’t dismiss their emotions just because they think they should.

    And I can’t even count the number of times I’ve gone into a spiel about how much I hate the narrative of “crazy woman,” or how emotions are girly and that’s BAD, and how having an emotion makes you a crazy girlfriend or daughter or wife. I try to put their immediate experience into a larger frame of reference, in which they are right and now crazy and not imagining things, and when I point out how annoying it is that the men in their lives dismiss their emotions, and how dismissal is something teachers do to their students, not something people who are equals should be doing. This almost always leads to a slow but steady awakening–on 13 year old girls and 40 year old women, as well as a bunch in between.

    For people who aren’t feminists, I think there’s a perception that we just want to push our “agenda” onto people’s lives, and not have any fun, and make women stop shaving their legs and having sex with boys. So when they see that my feminism, which is visible from miles away and is generally the trait by which I’m known (“Oh Miss Cimorene, she’s the crazy feminist lady” etc.) , is less about making them feel bad and more about making life better for women, they are totally fuckin’ shocked. Like, I am a strident shrill mean old feminist, right? So how can it be possible that when someone tells me about their problems I don’t respond with a lecture about how they fucked up by being straight/wearing make up/talking to men? The shock, I think, that I’m not really mean (I mean, except when I am, but I’m almost never mean to women, and I don’t care about men) leads to a rethinking of feminism in general. My compassion (it’s true! it exists!) for women, especially concerning problems involving explicitly misogynist or patriarchal things, surprises them and gets their guard down. Then the fact that I not only listen and am nice but actually respond with “you are not insane. you are right. I’m on your side, not the patriarchy’s.” leads to even more shock, and usually eventually leads to an announced conversion of feminism.

    Life frequently makes me want to stay in bed reading young adult fiction every day. Working at a high school nearly killed me. But I am probably most proud of the few successes I had there, the inroads I made–not only for feminism and the inevitable and much anticipated revolution, but for the sanity and well-being of the girls I talked to (and women). When a teenager is having all the “normal” responses to being sexually assaulted–like anger, sadness, confusion–and is obsessing over the event, but has no vocabulary to talk about what happened to her, and is hearing from all her friends that she should just forget about it cuz what’s the big deal anyway, and is feeling doubly crazy because she thinks that she shouldn’t be feeling crazy, being able to give her words and validate her emotions is not only something that makes the revolution stronger (she did a project on violence/media depictions of women!), it also makes her life just a little bit easier.

    So yeah, now that I thought about that I want to go to sleep for a decade.

  79. figleaf

    “…whether he likes it or not, when Nigel hoists up his Dockers and saunters out of your dungeon into the public square, he’s enjoying the privileged status he has had the pleasure of internalizing all his life. You are not.”

    Isn’t your point, though, that said Nigel enjoys that privileged status whether he’s sauntering out of a dungeon, sauntering down the aisle of a church, sauntering through the produce section at Whole Foods, or sauntering (or maybe wheeled on a stretcher) out of an alley where he was just beaten and robbed? If it’s patriarchy at all it’s patriarchy all the way down.

    I don’t get the part where you say all sexually dominant women just conform to men’s fetishes though. I don’t think you’d let someone assume gay women just want to give men “hawt girl on girl action” so why make those kind of assumptions about dominant women? It’s just silly and it drives them crazy.

    Side note: You know who hates male-indulging “dominatrixes” worse than anybody? Dominant women who have to put up with those kind of assumptions from everybody else. Like, check out Bitchy Jones, who says stuff like “…never forget [submissive women paid by men to "dominate" them] are going to be way better at fulfillling your dom-dom fantasy than me. Which is why you pay them and have them standing on the doors at all the nightclubs and ignore me, which is understandable as I am, at best, completely annoying. ‘Cause me? Your fantasies? I fulfill my fantasies” and “it strikes me more and more that what I am actually looking at when I look at femdom’s *stuff* is some kind of cross dressing version of mandom (like a mandom panto version) that has been somehow misfiled as femdom. And actual femdom has been lost in the cataloguing system. And that makes BJ cry. So, cross-dressed mandom has become the femdom norm. And that’s annoying. And that’s a lot of what I write about. And thoughts I have had in my head (which is where I mostly think) about why that should be the case has led me to write a lot about gender and sex and feminism.”

    Other side note: while Jones happens to be straight it totally spins some dominant women’s heads right off their necks when folks claim they all are.

    figleaf

  80. figleaf

    Dang it all! I said “If it’s patriarchy…” I meant “When it’s patriarchy…”

    figleaf

  81. Judi

    How to carry out the revolution:

    A bunch of us get together and go to Saudi Arabia. We go into the streets, dressed like ordinary human beings, heads uncovered. We each go up to a random male and look him in the eye, straight and level. Then we go home. Our humanity is all the ‘weapon’ we need.

    See, apparently those Saudi guys are so fucking terrified of the sight of female hair, and so fucking terrified of eye contact with a non-related female, that they’ve constructed an entire legal system to keep women covered up and to enforce gender segregation.

    They think we’re THAT powerful. Maybe they’re right.

    Every restriction that the patriarchy piles upon us reflects the patriarchy’s own fear, and our power.

    The ghastly gender apartheid practiced in Saudi Arabia (to choose one of the most extreme examples) is not irrelevant to us. It’s the same system as here, they’re just less duplicitous about it. And it’s the same system that has extinguished the lives of more than 100 million girls in the past few decades, through ‘son preference’ in Asia. The air everywhere is fouled with the stink of misogyny–the life-crushing assumption that females are worth less than males.

    Of course there are some practical problems with the Saudi Arabia invasion plan: getting in, and then getting out without a visit to a very unpleasant prison. Until we work that out, we can find ways to use our economic power to challenge misogynous assumptions. American companies (Starbucks, McDonalds, Pizza Hut) support apartheid in Saudi Arabia by having separate entrances, and separate, shabbier, service areas for women. Why do we put up with this? Pending the invasion, the very least we can do is buy our coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts instead of Starbucks, and let Starbucks know what we’re doing and why. I know, this is not a new idea, but if we keep passing it around maybe it’ll catch on. Put on your ranty-pants!

    see, “U.S. Companies Support Gender Segregation in Saudi Arabia”
    http://www.now.org/nnt/summer-2002/gender.html

  82. Jezebella

    Oh, christ, not another “the patriarchy lives in the Middle East” post. It’s everywhere, Judi, not just in those foreign countries with odd religions and strange-sounding names and brown people. Criminy.

  83. Laughingrat

    Hipping women who don’t wanna be hipped is a thankless and almost always fruitless pursuit.

    So true! But–there are a lot of women out there who don’t know they want to be hipped until they happen across something that makes a connection for them, something that speaks to their experience and relates it to the experiences of other women. That’s when it hits them that there’s a system to all this, and it’s real, and it’s not that they’re bad girlfriends or that they’re crazy or whatever load of BS the Big P fed ‘em that day. For all that people kick back at you and other big-name feminist bloggers, there’s got to be women who stumbled across your writing and said, “Thank dog–I’m not insane after all!” I mean, even more women than the ones who already publicly thank you and other bloggers for hepping them to the jive.

    That knowledge has kept even insignificant, ranty ol’ me going when it seems there’s no fuckin’ point in talking about this shit. Just when I’m about to throw in the towel and start posting nonstop YouTube vids of opera clips, someone will say, “You really helped me make sense of this experience I had.” Now if we could only firm up and coordinate our plans for the Mass Feminist Uprising, we’d be all set.

    Cimorene–your point about listening makes a tremendous amount of sense. Thanks for the tip.

  84. NullityPersonified

    If even asexuality isn’t a way out, we’re reduced to mass suicide (and maybe even that would enable the patriarchy).

    Mass suicide yields no benefit. As beings who flourish without dominating and destroying members of their own species, females ought to exist, since their irenic comportment has a correlative macrocosmic purpose.

    Males, the creators and beneficiaries of patriarchy, must evanesce to protect the objects of their oppression from inevitable destruction. Transitory creatures, males have but a germinal
    role in nature. Hence, that which is greater than inconsequential Homo sapiens males should continue in perpetuity, untainted by their barbarism. Striving for such a world is a moral imperative.

  85. SargassoSea

    Yes, Cimorene, very well said and something I’ll keep in the fifth pocket of my ranty-pants.

  86. procrastinatrix

    *waving at Kelly and kdingani*, my fellow “matrix/jinxtrix” cohorts.

    Reading through this thread, I am reminded of my privilege relative to others around the world as a white, cisgendered, able-bodied, citizen of a developed country.

    And with privilege comes the responsibility to kick anti-feminist ass wherever possible! It’s been a fun thread.

  87. Judi

    @ Jezebella: you’re right, the patriarchy does not live only in the Middle East. As I said (apparently not quite clearly enough, or maybe you were put off when you saw “Saudi Arabia” and commented before reading the whole post), it’s all the same system, and its stink is absolutely everywhere. If it’s the same system everywhere, we can attack it everywhere by attacking it anywhere. I just really like the fantasy image of going over to Saudi Arabia and putting the fact that women are actual humans right in their faces, of seeing them tremble all over at the sight of all that hair (how about BIG hair – the nucular option).
    Starbucks is both there, helping to enforce the local version of patriarchy, and here, taking our money. That looks like a nice opportunity for us to undermine the system a little bit, by letting them know that we are not OK with that. You could say that access to coffee is just a small thing (isn’t it right there in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?), but when it comes to challenging the assumptions of patriarchy, even the small things are big things.

  88. SeattleBlamer

    This woman’s take on pre-history is that all of humanity was originally matriarchal. http://matriarchy.info/ It was only when climate change caused some tribes to become nomadic and the men to separate from the women and children and form raiding parties that things got so effed up. Before that there was no violence, child abuse, sexual repression, Brazilian waxes, pole dancing, or high heels. Having only one half year course in pre-history I have no idea if she is even remotely correct, but it’s nice to think that matriarchy is really our natural state.

  89. Carolyn

    Laughingrat–that reminds me of another story…I was in a graduate class on organisational behaviour, and the teacher was talking about some kind of patriarchal whatever, and a middle aged woman asked him about how that worked, why women were treated so badly, whatever, and he said ‘that’s called patriarchy, that’s how the patriarchal system worked.’ She was outraged. ‘Well who the hell thought of THAT, some MAN???’ *DING*

  90. Natalia

    I just really like the fantasy image of going over to Saudi Arabia and putting the fact that women are actual humans right in their faces, of seeing them tremble all over at the sight of all that hair (how about BIG hair – the nucular option).

    A fantasy is a fantasy, and I’m not in the habit of knocking them (a lot of my own fantasies are… well, we won’t talk about that, hah), but I hope you do realize that any significant change in the Middle East has to happen on the local level. I haven’t lived in Saudi, but I’ve lived in Dubai and Amman, and ultimately, the best thing you can be over there as a foreigner is an ally. You don’t get to lead the charge – it doesn’t work like that.

    Feminist activism does exist in the Middle East, even in Saudi, and if I was a Middle Eastern activist reading what you’ve written here, I’d be seriously taken aback.

    Also, as an aside – I lived with an Arab man for nearly 6 years. He knew darn well that women are human beings. I got tired of explaining that “no, actually, he doesn’t force me to wear a burqa or chain me to the radiator when he goes” pretty quickly. And now that he and I are sadly over, I am equally tired of explaining that no, I didn’t leave in some “Not Without My Daughter”-style escape.

    I know you don’t mean any harm, but unfortunately, your words perfectly illustrate the reason why so many Arab and Muslim women generally don’t engage with feminists from abroad.

  91. kdingani

    *wave*

  92. yttik

    I met a couple of women from Saudi Arabia, domestic violence advocates. They were outspoken, radical even, and pretty much erased any notions of women from the ME being meek or unable to speak for themselves. It’s actually a disturbing concept for some women in America to confront, because it’s a nice delusion to believe that we are too uppity, outspoken, aggressive, to ever allow ourselves to be oppressed in a similar way. And yet in many ways we already are, we just can’t see it. The news will bring us a horror story from Saudi Arabia, some woman sentenced to jail for being raped. I guess we allow those stories to outrage us because they are so far away. Here at home we somehow manage to ignore the 16 yr old girl beaten by the cops in Seattle or the pregnant woman tased or the endless parade of dead women’s bodies on the nightly news. We’re horrified that girls can be married off at 13 in some places in the ME and yet we can’t even look at our own children living on the streets as prostitutes. Patriarchy looks a little different all over the world, but it’s really just the SOS.

  93. Judi

    @ Natalia: oh, poo. Can I still have my fantasy?

    Yeah, I know all that, and you’re right. It still makes me mad enough to scream, and I’m still not going to Starbucks. And I’m writing them a letter, dammit. That’ll change everything.

    I know that neither Arab women nor men are anything like the caricatures that exist in our minds (my mind, anyway, sometimes). I apologize for any offense conveyed, but hey, I’m not proposing that we kill anyone, just look them in the eye and show them our hair. And if anyone were seriously taken aback thereby, I’d borrow Mr. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner.

    Serious question: are there any ways we can be allies to Middle Eastern feminist activists, from over here?

  94. Dr. Righteous

    “Maybe the BDSMers can bring weapons”–Haw!

    “…dicker’s license, subject to revocation by the state if convicted of misuse”–HAW!!

    This has been possibly one of the best threads ever.

    But seriously. The P. is real, and it is everywhere. I have minimized its impact on my working life somewhat by being self-employed for many decades. However, recently I have been forced by economic realities into partnership with others. There are six women partners here, and five men.

    Recently, I accidentally stepped on one partner’s dong toes. First, instead of dealing with me on this directly, he went to another male to complain. Then he came by my office (twice) to yell a bit*, after which wandered off to complain to yet another male.

    When I returned to work the following morning, I was confronted by the two fellas he’d complained to and interrogated about the incident.

    Not one of the women ever said a word to me about it.

    Thusly the patriarchy operates: Out of a eleven equal partners, it is the men who gang together to deal with a transgressing female. The other women are nowhere to be seen.

    *Now my Nigel is as mired as–more mired than?–any man in the Pat when it comes to sex, as well as some other less pressing issues. But dog bless him, it was he who first pointed out, when he heard about the yelling bit, that “he wouldn’t have talked to one of the guys that way, if they had done the same thing.” Then, alas, he reverted to type and offered to go to the clinic to beat somebody up for me.

    IBTP.

  95. Dr. Righteous

    that’s “out of eleven”. Eek.

  96. Hedgepig

    Judi, I think many of us have had a similar fantasy to yours at one time or another. I fear that when confronted with unclothed western women such men will just think “Ah yes, western whore orifices”, rather than “Ah yes, virtuous possession of a dude orifice”, which is probably what they think when they see a properly veiled woman.

    My feeling about supporting feminists in developing countries or countries with a non-liberal version of patriarchy is that we should at all times make it clear that we don’t want or expect them to overthrow their patriarchy in order to be more like our patriarchy. Also, make donations to grassroots organisations, rather than bigger western orgs like Amnesty. Of course, this is contingent on having a lot of spare money.

  97. io

    @figleaf, 5:44pm: “I don’t get the part where you say all sexually dominant women just conform to men’s fetishes though. I don’t think you’d let someone assume gay women just want to give men “hawt girl on girl action” so why make those kind of assumptions about dominant women?”

    and keeping in mind the original point of Jill’s post: “Not even lesbians and asexuals are 100% patriarchy-free. Its ubiquity, see, is what makes patriarchy the dominant paradigm.”

    Let’s add: dominant women are not 100% patriarchy-free. If they have a male partner, they are doing things soaked with patriarchy (even Bitchy Jones, much as I love her). Dominant lesbians are not 100% patriarchy-free. Recreating dominance-submission is aping patriarchal oppression.

    Women in a sweet, gentle lesbian relationship are not 100% patriarchy-free.

    ((If you’ve been there, perhaps, you may have had that moment where you’re laughing in bed with you’re girlfriend about Jesus-shaped-cheetos and suddenly realize, together, that this isn’t what girl-on-girl porn looks like and it was only a split second where some imaginary male audience was NOT kinda in the back of your mind.))

  98. io

    @maidden, way up at the beginning of the comments: “And if every sexual act is fulfilling a dude-centric fantasy, there doesn’t seem to be a point in looking down on one kind of sexual act over another. Are some fantasies less OK to play out than others?”

    Yes. Pretty easy to figure out. Somewhat but not entirely partner-dependent.

    All fantasies should be played out *consciously*, too.

  99. io

    *your girlfriend. Doh.

  100. FemDoc

    I have no Nigel, just a Dude, who once made a drunken remark that “your feminism is ruining our sex life.” Truth is, the patriarchy (and possibly my aging hormones) has “ruined” my sex life, as I grow more and more bored with adolescent, dude-centered sex. Of course, if I try to hip him to this, he does the equivalent of putting his fingers in his ears and screaming “lalalala!”. I don’t expect that those who were born into privilege are going to want to give it up so easily, as it may mean actually taking responsibility, which men gave up way back in the Adam and Eve story. How to raise my boys and daughter in this atmosphere is a daily struggle. The first thing I did was refuse to “religify” them. Hey, it’s a start. Kristyn has some good points. It burns me up, though, that only 2 of the 3 beings I gestated and brought forth into the world can enjoy privilege. Their creator (me) and my little daughter are somehow lower on the totem pole. IBTP.

  101. procrastinatrix

    @yttik 3:43. Wow, that is eloquent, true, and difficult to hear-which is a good thing. Blaming starts at home :)

  102. Tupe

    Agasaya -

    when you say that sex will be patriarchal if one of more of the participants is male *by default* so “choose wisely” — are you suggesting that trans men do not have male and patriarchal privilege and are inherently safer or more feminist than cis men? Cuz that’s effed. Trans men can have male privilege without having cis privilege.

    Like was said above, sex is patriarchal as long as women are the sex class.

    And to sum up one general response this entire thread:

    Not everything you do can or need be revolutionary.

  103. Rolan le Gargéac

    Carolyn @ September 29, 2009 at 11:31 am

    and in the back of my mind I was thinking ‘what if my response to him makes him angry?’ and that made me afraid.

    The Fear, it’s always about the fear. Fear of Hell, Fear of Iran, Fear of Change, Fear of Climate Change etc. We are all being gamed, all the time, it’s just that someplaces are a little better than others. There is no hope and no forgiveness.

    Greed & mediocrity rule !

  104. Rolan le Gargéac

    The Nerd @ September 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    This makes me wonder: what would BDSM look like were it conceived outside of the patriarchy? Can we even envision such a thing?

    BDSM is all about domination, control, humilation but these are also social tropes so why would it not exist ?

  105. agasaya

    Tupe:

    In a relationship in which one participant is a woman, she will lack the privilege of the male partner. If a trans male is having sex with a woman, there is no way to estimate the degree to which vestigial privilege affects that person. While openly trans men are far more likely to be violently assaulted by men than any other gender identity group, this discussion is about women in BDSM relationships, regardless of the gender of their partners.

    Question:

    Is BDSM a radfem issue at all?

    Let’s start by losing the acronym and spell it out. Bondage, Discipline and Sadomasochism. If performed by mutual consent between a woman and her sexual partner, but not extending beyond sexual activity, it is merely a game for their mutual entertainment. No one cares what people do for fun.

    However, if you look only at the dominant in BDSM activity (even if it shifts between partners), you have a legal problem. Rape, assault and indecent assault (doesn’t have to involve touching), are crimes. A district attorney doesn’t need the victim to consent before prosecuting a perpetrator as long as other evidence exists. The infliction of physical, or instigation of fear that harm may occur, is illegal. So we see a societal issue if it goes beyond the bedroom or exceeds ‘game’ proportions within the bedroom.

    As others have pointed out, even if the submissive withdraws consent, a history of such play removes the incentive of law enforcement (or the public) to view participants as real victims. Simply the statement of the dominant partner is enough to brand the case as basically nonexistent.

    In this thread, there was mention of ‘coercion’ as if it were equivalent to trying to cajole a partner into sexual play when they are disinterested. Huge difference. Coercion means defeating consent rather than requesting permission or ‘arousing’ interest. Sexual partners always have to establish boundaries with regard to the how, when and where of initiating sexual activity. But it is rare to need to set up conscious rules between equals as happens in BDSM where the illusion of coercion appears to be part of the allure.

    If permission is required (versus consent), you automatically lack equality in the relationship. Trust is a huge issue in male-female sexual relations because of physical differences. It is only safe by permission of the male and by self-control on the part of the male. Sure, women can hurt men but that takes volition more than control in conventional, heterosexual activities. And the threat of retaliation is far greater in such cases to make it unlikely.

    No, I am not saying het sex is undesirable to heterosexuals. It is the concept of dominance in the mind of anyone engaging in sex which is hazardous. And pervasive in society.

    Radfem politics would seem to demand its removal in interactions between the sexes, as anything other than a game.

  106. Carolyn

    Rolan, I see a difference between ‘fear of Iran’ and ‘fear of climate change’ and ‘fear that if you trigger a man you’re interacting with by acting like a person instead of a woman he’ll try to run you off the road in his SUV for laughs.’

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/carolyn.dougherty1/carolyn.htm

  107. Carolyn

    [oops stupid--I meant to put the link to my home page in the 'website' box, not the comment box....]

  108. speedbudget

    Rolan: When the patriarchy is shattered and no longer exists, domination, control, and humiliation would cease to exist with it. Those social tropes exist now in order to keep the status quo.

  109. Guinevere Barnes

    The criticism here of BDSM – or Dominance/Submission – in terms of radical feminism trumping someone’s right to have mutually consensual sex in the way that happens to turn them on reminds me of the so called radical feminist unpleasantness about how transsexual women are all really men attempting to invade women’s spaces yada, yada. Julie Burchill being an exponent.
    D/s for those who practice it is not coercive, any more than lesbians are all deluded and would be happier with men.
    From the outside, some of the practices, no doubt look unpleasant, but: confusing “I wouldn’t like that if it happened to me” with “no-one could possibly honestly consent to that” just shows a lack of imagination. Good D/s sex (like any sort of sex) is loving on both sides and intensely creative… and can take the participants to mental states and physical pleasures that are not reachable in other ways.

  110. Jill

    “attempting to invade women’s spaces yada, yada”

    Yada, for those who may not know, is Yoda’s twin sister. May the Force be with you, Guinevere.

  111. Kelly

    confusing “I wouldn’t like that if it happened to me” with “no-one could possibly honestly consent to that” just shows a lack of imagination. Good D/s sex (like any sort of sex) is loving on both sides and intensely creative… and can take the participants to mental states and physical pleasures that are not reachable in other ways.

    Oh, so it’s an imaginative, creative expression of patriarchal dynamics that really, really gets you off. That’s totally different.

    Is your excruciating misuse of punctuation meant to approximate the experience?

  112. Flamethorn

    Jill, can you enlighten us on which sex acts (and with whom) *are* considered acceptable and non-patriarchy-enabling?

  113. Amananta

    “D/s for those who practice it is not coercive”

    This is the biggest lie of the BDSM scenesters. It’s such a huge lie all I can do is laugh, bitterly. How can you even live with yourself after saying such a thing?

  114. Jill

    “Good sex is intensely creative.”

    Well, it’s happened. I’m that chick. The chick with the blog where people write, with a straight face, goop like “good sex is intensely creative.”

    Where did I go wrong?

  115. trex

    “confusing “I wouldn’t like that if it happened to me” with “no-one could possibly honestly consent to that” just shows a lack of imagination”

    Imagining the physical actions that occur to be unpleasant is not the issue at hand, the mirroring of hierarchical P stuff is. No matter how “loving” the relationship, one is playing out actual-factual domination in vinyl-clad miniature, and oppression has been internalized to be eroticized that way. So, yeah, “dirtay sexay sex” can be fun and happen within the confines of a relatively (and oh, my, that leaves a lot of room) supportive and decent relationship, but it still exists solely because oppression and the P do.

  116. Jill

    “Jill, can you enlighten us on which sex acts (and with whom) *are* considered acceptable and non-patriarchy-enabling?

    No. Because — and once again, this is the whole gist of this whole blog nothing women do, nothing anyone does, may transpire except under the auspices of patriarchal oppression.

  117. Rolan le Gargéac

    speedbudget @ October 3, 2009 at 5:48 am

    When the patriarchy is shattered and no longer exists, domination, control, and humiliation would cease to exist with it. Those social tropes exist now in order to keep the status quo.

    I don’t see this as true at all. For example, hyena social groups are not patriacrchal but domination, control etc still exist. Why would a human society be any different ?

  118. Rolan le Gargéac

    Unless we can develop a culture le The Culture in I.M. Banks’ novels. I alopogise for bleating on mais j’ai le vin noir !

  119. Jill

    Rolan,

    Not to speak for speedbudget (one of my favorite all-time screen names), but it’s the culture of domination that’s really at issue here. I call it “patriarchy,” since that’s currently its most recognizable incarnation, but it wouldn’t be any great coup for Truth and Beauty if a post-revolutionary society merely reinstated the culture of domination under a different guise.

  120. Rolan le Gargéac

    but it’s the culture of domination that’s really at issue here. I call it “patriarchy,” since that’s currently its most recognizable incarnation,

    aie..La vérité fait toujours mal…the trouble with having a penis is not so much that you think with it, it’s that you keep having to protect it.

    It stunts your view.

    Thank you, Jill, you have a great clarity. I nearly said “merci’ but that was too close to a similar word in english whereas the french word for “mercy” is “misericode’, which was a dagger used to put people out of their misery.

    I think I need one now.

    Merci.

  121. marj

    I think about this all the time. But shit, girls gotta get laid.

  122. speedbudget

    Jill: Thanks for the compliment! It was my dad’s nickname for me when I was a kid. Apparently, I crawled at mach III speed.

    Rolan: Jill said it better with “culture of domination.” In a post-revolutionary utopia, the need for domination would no longer exist since there would be no need to force people to toe the party line. I would hope that with our system of culture and language, we wouldn’t need to resort to violent domination a la the hyenas.

    The whole point of the revolution is to do away with the need for a controlling paradigm.

  123. Natalia

    Well, it’s happened. I’m that chick. The chick with the blog where people write, with a straight face, goop like “good sex is intensely creative.”

    Where did I go wrong?

    So the other day, I saw this leather belt I really liked and…

    OOPS! Sorry! Wrong window!

    ;)

    I don’t get enough of those comments on my wee wittle site. Clearly, I need to start poaching.

  124. Jill

    I like you, Natalia.

  125. ma'am

    Twisty is a chick?!

  126. Natalia

    :D

  127. Jezebella

    Ma’am, of course she’s a chick. Can’t you hear the bok-bok-bukaaaawk of chicken noises every time you click over?

    Is that just me?

  128. Cathy

    …the trouble with having a penis is not so much that you think with it, it’s that you keep having to protect it.

    That may be true from your perspective, Rolan, but from the perspective of the unbepenised, the trouble IS so much that you think with it.

    In spite of evidence of peaceful matriarchal societies before the desertification of “Saharasia,” it seems likely that male H. sapiens have always oppressed the females, because they could.

  129. mockthefundiez

    The mass suicide is a valid idea, though an extreme measure. Homicide is also. That is the truth of our world. So anyone balking pegs herself as a big mouth…..a naive little flower…..an untrustable. Don’t break your fingers clutching the pearls.

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