Mar 23 2011

Spinster aunt takes a moment

Still life with MacGyver and plastic chair

No time to post! Awaiting me in the bunkhouse rec room are a plate of nachos, a frosty marg, and 4 hours of MacGyver on DVR. Do I recommend MacGyver as primo Savage Death Island viewing? You betcha. There are no actual butch TV action heroes, so I pretend MacGyver is a handy-dyke who exemplifies the resourcefulness, anti-gunniness,  spunky can-do attitude, and mullet that every feminist will need to make it through the revolution.

That theme song! It sounds like it was played on a keyboard macgyvered together from a tube sock, a Timex watch, and an Olivetti.


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  1. MPMR

    I play that scene where his friend gets eaten by ants in my environmental mathematics course every semester. That’s some heartwarming nature crap right there.

  2. Owly

    Hey, I watched a few episodes last night! One of them was really, really racist though, I think it was set in China so you can imagine what it was like.

    From now on I’m going to picture MacGyver the way you described. Sounds like more fun.

  3. Nora

    I’ve never really thought about changing the man leads into butch dykes. Usually I just pretend that the femme-y girls fighting over him and secretly in love and only trying to throw everybody off.

    @Owly: that sounds so gross. This is why we can’t have nice things.

  4. Friend of Snakes

    That flat screen is sinful.

  5. Comrade PhysioProf

    Twisty, care to share your Spinster Aunt Margarita recipe?

  6. Pinko Punko

    MacGuyver should brand a utiliskort featuring a solar powered dremel, ball point pen (natch), and a bunch of other good stuff.

  7. Hedgepig

    Is that a rather fetching chaise longue at the edge of the picture? I deduce from its position vis-a-vis the screen that it hasn’t displaced the green recliner as the auntly viewing seat of choice.

    By the way, Owly, I really like your name.

  8. Triste

    Ohhhhh god I do this. With the most absolutely embarrassing things, too. I am constantly pretending that male video game protagonists are actually butch ladies. Of course this is unsatisfying with the dumb gristly head-smashing trash-talking trying-too-hard meatbags who are the main characters of so many American games, but the lovely lovely androgyny of Japanese-import protagonists makes this fun. Ethan here is my pixelated fake-lesbian crush:


    Dykeyness makes Pokemon so much better. And now I have outed myself as a terrible, terrible dork. Oh, the shame.

  9. Bushfire

    Wow, Twisty, what a beautiful view? When are you inviting us all over for margheritas?

  10. Bushfire

    Oops sorry about the typo. First ? should be a !

  11. Sunhat

    It does give me much much hope for my essentially dudely, not-really-so-feminist partner that he adores MacGyver. It’s another thing to build on as I bring him along the down-with-patriarchy highway. (And in the meantime, I am totally invoking my feminist-given option to choose whom to love and partner myself with, however imperfect of a feminist he may currently be).

  12. Hedgepig

    Sunhat, how can it be a feminist option to have an imperfectly feminist male partner? I agree that it is most definitely your right to love and partner a non-feminist man, but how is it in any way feminist to do so? I’m not having a go, I just believe it’s just an important distinction.

  13. Sunhat

    Hedgepig: I welcome the question. My professional and life’s work is as an activist against domestic and sexual violence, and I have a pretty decent handle on feminism and the impact of patriarchy. I sometimes observe that our anti-VAW movement sometimes fails to provide adequate safe space for women (feminist or not, survivors of DV/SA or not) to process the very complicated feelings about (and even more complicated logistical details of) loving and/or being partnered with an imperfectly feminist man. I fear that we replicate one of the problematic features of patriarchy when we judge women for their choice(s) in partner(s) instead of walking alongside them as they think about how they want their lives to be.

    Granted, nothing about Twisty’s post insinuated any of this. Her post made me think about my dear partner’s crush on MacGyver and I wanted to note it here. Then I thought, “How can I reference him here? He’s no hero to these readers.” And then I thought, “Ugh, why am I censoring myself?” And then I thought, “Wait, feminism doesn’t actually require me to have a perfect partner. Feminism strives to liberate me to have full choice about whom I partner with, when, and for how long.” And even though it was grammatically incorrect, I was so gratified by thought that I wanted to call it out. That’s all.

  14. AlienNumber

    This implication that a batterer is “an imperfectly feminist man” is quite the hyperbole. Are rapists “imperfectly feminist men” too?

    p.s. didn’t seem like Hedgepig was judging the woman’s choice in partner (well, maybe she was judging the partner, a.k.a. the man), she was just curling the ole lip at the idea that one has feminism-given rights to do patently unfeminist things.
    If you like to pole dance or date “imperfectly feminist” men, just say so, but please don’t say it’s feminist of you, or a feminism-given right. That’s all.

  15. Hedgepig

    As the years go by, the difference between liberal, or reformist, feminism and radical, or revolutionary, feminism becomes more glaring to me.

    The belief that feminism is about liberating women to be able to choose their partners freely from amongst their oppressors is very much a liberal feminist view.

    Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are liberal feminists. In fact, all of them are, really. Radical feminism is deeply unpopular among heterosexual women. It requires of us what we cannot do: give up our collusion with our oppressors.

  16. Barbara P

    Here are some things you can do:

    Get cosmetic surgery
    Take a man’s name
    Have all your body hair pulled out regularly
    Hang out with guys who tell blonde jokes
    Diet for non-health reasons
    Marry a man & have children
    Wear a bow in your hair
    Eat a cheese steak with “Whiz”

    While doing these things, you CAN also be:
    Acting within your legal boundaries
    A good person
    A feminist
    Someone who cares about women
    Someone with a high IQ

    However, the above-mentioned actions, without any other qualifiers, are not feminist acts. A feminist act actually does something to subvert patriarchy in some way (note: even if that occurs only in your own head – maybe especially then). You could argue that something like “dieting for non-health reasons” could include something like a hunger strike, or wearing a bow in your hair is subversive in a weird religious cult that doesn’t allow women to wear bows. But typically, these scenarios are not the case. It’s not so much that any specific activity is clearly “non-feminist”, as much as it is worth the time for an individual to consider whether the action supports or subverts. And to simply be aware of whether the action supports or subverts, even if she decides to continue doing it.

    Partnering with a non-feminist man (arguably, any man) is not an inherently feminist thing to do. Though I suppose if you’ve already decided you want a man in your life, choosing one who’s more feminist-friendly over another is a feminist act. But no one’s trying to pry you away from your enpenised lovers. I have my own “not-completely-horrible” dude, and if I recall correctly, he even likes MacGyver.

    Which reminds me of the main topic:
    Simply watching MacGyver is not a feminist act, but watching him and imagining he’s a butch lesbian might just qualify.

  17. Triste

    Crawling out of my shame corner to say: the “I can have whatever partner I want, I’m a goddamn feminist” thing is a complicated sort of issue, IMO. On the one hand I think all of us here as feminists can agree that our society’s tendency to judge women’s worth chiefly by what dude’s knob they are polishing is the freaking worst. On the other hand, as a radfem blog I think we are inclined to shy away from the whole godawful “everything I do is a feminist act because I am a feminist” shtick.

    I would say that I find it hard to believe that dating an unfeminist dude is a feminist act, unless your dating him transforms him into a fully repentant (lol) feminist, and even that is a little sketchy. That said, I don’t think that it is necessarily anti-feminist, either. Yeah, one might argue that the act of polishing this dude’s knob rewards him for being his unfeminist self, but it’s not all that hard to get your knob polished as a dude without everyone making a federal issue of it, and meanwhile a feminist lady might make a positive impact on this dude by not taking his dude shit. I think the key to such a relationship is that so long as one does not compromise one’s principles in order to please said unfeminist dude, such a relationship is not specifically anti-feminist, and if it’s not anti-feminist, I think it’s just fine even if it isn’t propelling the revolution full speed ahead. If it’s not anti-feminist and it makes you happy, all the better. God knows women need more happiness, particularly of the sort that doesn’t come at the expense of feminism.

  18. Lurker Lyn


    I was so disappointed when I found out my favourite character in a Final Fantasy DS game was supposed to be a boy. It was just never the same after that.

  19. tinfoil hattie

    I’ve never watched MacGyver. However, I now have the theme from “The Rockford Files” running through my head.

  20. Triste

    @ Lurker Lyn

    Ah, Final Fantasy games. They’ve disappointed me in the same manner more than once, and in the past they’ve had an annoying habit of pushing the female characters they did have into love-interest or plot-irrelevant roles. I have to say that I was impressed by the step forward they took in FFXIII, though. Of the playable party fully half were female, including the narrator character and the “main” protagonist. Lightning makes it to the end content with her lack of romantic prospects (nobody even makes a big freaking deal of it!) and the other two are pretty clearly (if not explicitly) in a relationship with each other. It’s nice to play a game so lacking in the usual demoralizing reminders that LADIES NEEEEEEEEEEEED A MAN.

  21. ew_nc

    Twisty, does DirectTV suck in Cottonmouth County as badly as it does here in NC?

    That is all.

  22. Comrade Svilova

    It’s problematic to say that any choice a woman makes is a feminist choice. But it’s also problematic to suggest that any imperfectly feminist Nigel is necessarily equivalent to a batterer. For one, that ignores the very real problems of abusive men, conflating abuse with a privileged resistance to feminist theory or lack of understanding of feminist theory.

    They’re not the same.

  23. Jezebella

    Comrade S., thank you for confirming my observation that nowhere prior to AlienNumber’s post had “imperfectly feminist” and “batterer” been conflated. I thought I was losing my reading comprehension skills.

    Choosing an imperfect partner isn’t so much a “feminist act,” but the ability and will to NOT choose (or leave) a shitty partner… well, those of us lucky enough to make that choice can thank feminism for it.

    I would aver that there is NO SUCH THING as a “perfectly feminist man”, and those of us who choose to practice heterosexuality should not be given a ration of shit for not waiting for the mythical Perfect Feminist Dude. For that matter, there is no such thing as a “perfectly feminist woman,” and it doesn’t seem to me that queer radical feminists are all giving up sexual relationships until they find the “perfect feminist” whatever, so let’s just all admit that nobody’s perfect, nobody’s partner is perfect, and move on.

  24. goblinbee

    Although I do agree with this sentiment: “…so let’s just all admit that nobody’s perfect, nobody’s partner is perfect, and move on (Jezebella),” I do not agree with this one: “Feminism strives to liberate me to have full choice about whom I partner with, when, and for how long (Sunhat).”

    Feminism strives to liberate women from oppression, period.

  25. AlienNumber

    “(feminist or not, survivors of DV/SA or not) to process the very complicated feelings about (and even more complicated logistical details of) loving and/or being partnered with an imperfectly feminist man.”

    There is clearly an implication here that some men – batters – are imperfectly feminist men. Whatever the hell that means.
    (That’s what I was reacting to. Since I don’t know what imperfectly feminist men are, I can’t tell whether or not they are all batterers).

    Also, we need to be careful about conflating anti-feminist with unfeminist.

  26. Kali

    I think the key to such a relationship is that so long as one does not compromise one’s principles in order to please said unfeminist dude, such a relationship is not specifically anti-feminist,

    But, isn’t having a relationship with an unfeminist man in itself compromising one’s principles in order to please said dude, assuming that the relationship pleases the dude?

    I agree with whoever said, do whatever compromising you need to do, but don’t call it feminist.

  27. tinfoil hattie

    AlienNumber: Please re-read.

    our anti-VAW movement sometimes fails to provide adequate safe space for women (feminist or not, survivors of DV/SA or not) to process the very complicated feelings about (and even more complicated logistical details of) loving and/or being partnered with an imperfectly feminist man.

    Emphasis mine. The comment refers to WOMEN in the clause you quoted.

    There is no such thing as a “perfectly” feminist man. All imperfectly feminist men are not batterers.

  28. Jill

    Radical feminism is deeply unpopular among heterosexual women. It requires of us what we cannot do: give up our collusion with our oppressors.

    Ain’t that the truth!

    By the way, if anyone was wondering, this minipost was quasi-facetious; I do not claim that watching MacGyver with nachos and margs is a feminist act. The point is that a blamer is more or less forced to re-gender all mainstream (and most non-mainstream) entertainment, because the radical feminist perspective is all but non-existent in art and media.

  29. Jill

    This implication that a batterer is “an imperfectly feminist man” is quite the hyperbole. Are rapists “imperfectly feminist men” too?

    Actually, this would be quite the understatement, but then, nobody actually said it, did they? Or even implied it, that I can tell. This is how those commenter feuds start.

    As I have mentioned many times, radical feminists do not spring fully-formed from the womb. I think nails was talking about it recently, that radical feminism is usually arrived at in stages. We’ve all had “imperfectly feminist” partners. It takes some major brainiacal gymnastics to get to the point where you can accept that all dude partners wield male privilege whether they like it or not.

  30. Darragh Murphy

    Sometimes I fell like the Nadia Komenich of that particular gymnastics event.

  31. Owly

    I’d rather be alone for the rest of my life than have a partner who didn’t share my worldview*.

    My current partner and I have helped each other grow politically. He is genuinely interested in radical feminist thought and I’ve definitely learned a lot from him. He’s not perfect by any means but he makes me feel comfortable. The last one did too. He went from being a secretive porn user to a guy who is now writing his thesis in philosophy on Simone De Beauvoir.

    Our conversations are actually productive because they don’t automatically get defensive and they’re willing to examine their own prejudices and privileges. The discussions remind me to examine my own as well. Maturation and improvement are possible for receptive and intellectually honest people. They’re unfortunately rare though. I got lucky twice in a row.

    Glad you like the name Hedgepig. I’m a horribly owly person so it fits. Oddly enough, I was admiring your name yesterday. I get a kick out of quite a few names on this blog, actually.

    *Well, maybe if they were as dreamy as MacGyver.

  32. Jill

    Twisty, care to share your Spinster Aunt Margarita recipe?

    2 parts tequila
    2 parts orange liqueur
    1 part fresh lime juice

    Serve over ice, on a porch, veranda, balcony, patio, or other homey outdoor venue.

  33. Tigs

    damn, I can’t wait until it’s warm enough in these parts to sit outside with a margarita.

  34. AlienNumber

    It’s Nadia Com?neci.

    I keep rereading that paragraph and to my feud-prone brain, it still sounds like it contains some strange implications – for example another one is that the – already stretched – anti-VAW movement should provide safe space facilities to women who aren’t victims of DV/SA. But I’ll stop beating the dead horse. (I’m also brain-fried because of mid-terms, so I apologize. Thanks for understanding. I love you all.)

  35. AlienNumber

    (The little a with the uphat was replaced by a ? in Nadia’s name above. Shouldn’t have tried.)

  36. ma'am

    Twisty, can you get any good Mezcal down there? I was into the Scorpion brand a while ago (which is the only kind I can get here). Complete with real exoskeleton inside — mmm, it was so strong and tasty!

  37. Sarah

    I like to pretend emo bands fronted by impossibly-banged boys in skinny jeans are actually headed by Amy Ray. This, much like watching MacGyver through dyke-o-vision, helps me to like the music of the era a bit more, and makes life more tolerable.

  38. Hedgepig

    “I would aver that there is NO SUCH THING as a “perfectly feminist man”, and those of us who choose to practice heterosexuality should not be given a ration of shit for not waiting for the mythical Perfect Feminist Dude.”

    It doesn’t matter how feminist or un is the man: when a woman chooses to partner a man, any man, she is assisting in the perpetuation of the patriarchal system.

    The idea that the type of man makes a difference to the relationship’s compatibility with feminism is like saying the master/slave relationship is acceptable if the master is a kind one. It’s the model that is flawed.

    The woman who waits for the mythical feminist man is simply deferring the unfeminist act of partnering a man, probably for quite a bit longer than those of us who’ve settled, but partnering a unicorn is just as antithetical to revolution as partnering a typical dude.

    I used to think patriarchy could be reformed one relationship at a time, but I just can’t believe that anymore.

  39. orlando

    “I used to think patriarchy could be reformed one relationship at a time, but I just can’t believe that anymore.”

    Funny, I still do. Or intend to go on as if it is the case, at least. We’ll have to talk about this some more.

  40. tinfoil hattie

    I partnered with a man in 1985. We’re still partnered. We have two sons, ages 14 and 10. While I always had a strong feminist bent, I didn’t begin to understand or appreciate or believe in radical feminism until I stumbled upon this blog in 2004 or 2005.

    Assistance to the patriarchy notwithstanding, I remain unwilling to divorce my husband and toss my sons overboard so I can achieve Eagle Radfem status. I love them and they love me. Nigel is an anti-porn, pro-feminism unicorn. My boys are being raised thusly. They’re privileged. I know it and they know it. It is what it is. I’m at peace.


  41. janicen

    It would be an interesting exercise for women who are partnered with men, to try the MacGyver test. Substitute a female partner for Nigel. Analyze every interaction between the two of you and ask yourself if you would behave and react differently if your partner was female. Having done it myself after reading this post, I’m sure that I have. Things are going to change.

  42. Sunhat

    “to get to the point where you can accept that all dude partners wield male privilege whether they like it or not.” – I totally agree with this.

    But I am worried about this: “It doesn’t matter how feminist or un is the man: when a woman chooses to partner a man, any man, she is assisting in the perpetuation of the patriarchal system.”

    I am genuinely curious to hear your thoughts about how the radfem revolution is going to happen if it requires women to disavow hetero impulses or refuse that part of themselves who may love or have compassion for boys and men in their lives. That feels like an exclusionary approach, and doesn’t resonate with me (and I thought I was a pretty ardent, if not radical, feminist. I guess I’m not?)

    A colleague states, “When we are a movement with relatively few followers, and the targets of our liberatory action (that is: women) actively reject association with feminism, our project is failing. ” And that worries me more than anything.

    (And just to be clear: I was never trying to imply that batterers or rapists are simply “imperfect feminists.” I wasn’t referencing batterers or rapists to begin with.)

  43. AlienNumber

    “hetero impulses”


    (I know, I know, Winner of the Most Mature Comment Award, March Edition) Really though, sexual orientation is a social construct, and, therefore, changeable. Those anti-gay activists are onto something (bite me, anti-gay activists!)

    Let a statement by the magnificent Harriet Tubman stand as reply to the “our project is failing”/”but I loves my Nigel.” When asked how she managed to save hundreds of enslaved African Americans via the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, she replied bitterly, “I could have saved thousands – if only I’d been able to convince them they were slaves.”

  44. Nora

    @AlienNumber: I don’t think you’re being as productive as you think you’re being. Sexual orientation is a social construct, but sexual attraction isn’t. And moreover “just date women” is overly simplistic and intellectually lazy. There *is* dating violence among queer women (or at least, queer female youth. I haven’t seen any numbers about adults), and there *are* queer women whose actions towards their partners are very anti-feminist.

    Pretending like this isn’t the case actually just marginalizes queer women further because it tokenizes us and endangers us by cutting off from resources some of us might need (domestic violence shelters, for example).

  45. Nora

    My ~Gob~ I need to start proofreading. Sorry, all.

  46. AlienNumber

    I wasn’t under any illusion that I was being productive. (This mid-term is obviously not writing itself.)

    One doesn’t have to date women. One can just not date men, despite those pesky innate impulses. Or at least one can consider not dating men to be a viable option.

    Also, you’re being exceptionalist when mentioning how some females are being anti-feminist against their females partners, when these rare females are obviously not the problem. And nobody’s cutting off resources from battered lesbians, what planet do you live on? The bigger access problems are faced by the battered men, if we’re to get really exceptionalist and technical here.

  47. AlienNumber

    On a personal note, it troubles me how resistant even some self-proclaimed radical feminists are to the idea that the development of strong female-female bonds should be their relationship priorities (instead of this tired male-female bond a.k.a. the foundational piece of the patriarchy).

  48. Nora

    Sure, you could not date men. (And I guess the non-fact that sexual orientation is “changeable” was in support of that suggestion, riiiight?).

    I’m really not being exceptionalist; I actually, like, know and have worked with (multiple!) queer women who’re survivors of same-sex domestic violence. And really, even if it were only one lesbian who had this problem, it would still not be acceptable to erase/belittle her experience. Particularly because there is exactly zero payoff for doing that.

    As for obstacles faced by queer DV survivors? You should maybe consider googling it. By which I mean please don’t pull your data out of your ass.

    Men, by and large, have the resources to leave abusive partners. Not to mention, they have a whole culture telling them that they deserve basic human dignity, which I imagine would be helpful. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve empathy? I’m not seeing the merit in your comparison.

  49. tinfoil hattie

    Alien Number, battered lesbians might be “cut off” from assistance if they believe they should be ashamed for being battered, or if they believe only men batter, or if they believe they will be ridiculed for being batterd by a “mere” woman, or (fill in the blank).

    I am curious to know what you think we who are partnered with men and/or mothers of boys should do. Deny our sexual feelings and give up sex for the good of feminism? Try to become sexually attracted to women? Stop being feminist? Ditch our partners and kids?

  50. Hedgepig

    AlienNumber: “I could have saved thousands – if only I’d been able to convince them they were slaves.” Should we suggest to Jill that she should drop “Everythang I do gon be funky from now on” and have this on her banner instead? (I actually got goosebumps when I read that quote.)

    The issue of what women who are partnered with men should do is fraught because of the ties that bind – something the patriarchy relies on absolutely for its continuation. There are two main reasons there will never be a feminist revolution:
    1. Almost all heterosexual women think they don’t have to end their intimate involvement with men in order to advance the cause of feminism.
    2. The few heterosexual women who do think they need to do the above won’t do it because a) they are already too deeply attached and enmeshed with said male partner and b) they know that unless everyone else does it too they’ll be making the sacrifice for naught.

  51. Margaret

    “Radical feminism is deeply unpopular among heterosexual women. It requires of us what we cannot do: give up our collusion with our oppressors.”

    As a hetero woman and a radical feminist, I can tell you it aint pretty. IBTB. Thanks to being of a certain age and income level, there is no oppressor dwelling in my home and it is going to stay that way.

    Even so, that is still not enough distance from the oppressors because every institution with any power over me is headed by the oppressors. And that included a horrible weasly building tradesman who though this little old foreign lady couldn’t do sh*t about it when he cheated me bigtime. He is mulling over the error of his ways now that his professional association is handling the case. There’s no assurance of a good outcome even so – for they too are in the oppressor class… There is no escape. Just respite.

  52. Zoe

    @Hedgepig: There is one and only one reason there will never be a feminist revolution: men can beat us up. Again, we need transhumanism to end the gender fiasco.

  53. TotallyDorkin

    I’m wondering about the argument behind the idea “x is a social construct, so x is changeable”. Social constructs might be created and broken on a macro scale, but what would make us so sure that a single individual could break down a social construct in their own mind? A conception of self is a social construct, yet the expectation that anyone could get rid of it is a ridiculous prospect. The idea that other people are individuals with emotions comparable to others is also a social construct, and another one that is integral to human existence.

    Just because it’s socially constructed does not mean it is changeable.

  54. Sabine

    So Jill is MacGyver a feminist show? Can I ask for fun, you can ignore the question, apart from MacGyver what other shows do you consider feminist.

    I am a newbie feminist and so what I might say maybe stupid. I can understand what Hedgepig is saying. I do not want to marry an unfeminist man, would a jew marry an anti-Semite, would a black man marry a white racist woman. So why do women marry sexist men and why are feminist marrying such men. The truth is heterosexual women want love and need love, hey we are human beings after all. But chances are we will most likely end up dating men who are not feminist, is either that or go without sex.

    I think that both choices will leave us unhappy. Finding out a man you are dating or worse are in love with is not feminist can be heartbreaking or just annoying as you have to start the whole dating process again and going without sex, well that will leave us unhappy as well unless you want to pay for a male prostitute.

    So the last part of Hedgepig’s comment whereby unless everyone does it too they’ll be making the sacrifice for naught is so true, unless one is rich and can afford to pay for male prostitutes. Nobody wants to be unhappy and go through life miserable. That is just so difficult to do.

    One of the main reasons why so many young women are resistant to not just radical feminism but they are resistant to feminism, period is because they are afraid to be lonely, unloved except by their mothers and girlfriends ( I am sure there are fathers who would rather their daughters not be feminist). Hey everyone wants true love but what they don’t realize is love from an unfeminist men is not true love. It is the equivalent of black man loving a white racist woman. No black man will tolerate a white racist woman much less love one.

  55. Sylvie

    If Dawkins can imagine his ideal reader to be female while calling said reader ‘he’ then re-gendering popular media whenever necessary should be a piece of cake.

  56. speedbudget

    I am going to pipe up with the idea that I hate, absolutely HATE, how non-hetero women in these threads get to just be all “pfft, only date women” when the prickly problem of how to deal with your sexuality and feminism as a hetero comes up on these threads. If I were to respond to the problems of lack of gay marriage and lack of gay parity in housing etc. with “pfft, just date men,” I would be KICKED THE HELL OUT of here.

    You know what? Sexuality MIGHT be a social construct. It might not be. IT DOESN’T MATTER. Nobody is trying to force any lesbians to partner with men here. Yet the implication is that we heteros should just suck it up and partner with women. Look, some of my best friends are women (hurhur), but that doesn’t mean I want to partner with them. That would be deeply unsatisfying to me.

    You know what the feminist act is in this whole hetero minefield? To not date a man unless and until he shows and proves over time that he is pro-woman and a feminist. We shouldn’t waste our time as hetero radical feminists on anything less. That is not to say that I am going to thumb my nose at any woman who doesn’t hold out for the rare unicorn. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and as long as whatever man you’re with doesn’t make you compromise yourself, fine.

    But please, lay off the “just don’t date men” shit. Nobody here is telling you “just don’t date women” and be celibate and single the rest of your life. Unless that’s what you want, in which case, have at it.

  57. AlienNumber

    “Just because it’s socially constructed does not mean it is changeable.”

    Well, then, there is no hope. Let me go despair somewhere else.

    (Oh, and excuse my lesbian self for oppressing the heteros by suggesting that dating men may not be the existential imperative. It obviously is. Your own personal happiness and also the survival of the species depends on it!)

  58. Jill

    “[…] the implication is that we heteros should just suck it up and partner with women.”

    No advanced blamer is seriously making this unsophisticated argument, Speed. However, four observations on this topic spring to mind.

    1) Lesbians, whether by nature or nurture, intent or accident, do appear to have solved this sleeping-with-the-enemy problem. You can say you “hate” it if you like, but I think you know that lesbians — even lesbians who comment on feminist blogs that hooking up with women makes feminism easier — are not actually the problem.

    2) “What about the heteros?!” is unlikely to elicit much sympathy among queer women; as you know, what with the default culture being hetero, we’re pretty tired of having to identify with and reassure straight people all day long.

    3) Someone upthread said, “well, just how do you suggest I deal with my heterosexuality in a feminist way?” But it isn’t really up to lesbians to fix the problems straight girls encounter with feminism and sexual orientation. Only a straight woman knows how to be straight, so it’s up to straight women to decide how much male privilege they wish to endure in their own domestic arrangements.

    4) Ultimately, of course, feminist revolt would sort out straight (and all) womens’ problems with dude culture, but as somebody else pointed out upthread, with patriarchy’s highly successful domestic lockdown of hetero (and, increasingly, queer) women in nuclear family situations, revolution is unlikely.

  59. Jezebella

    AlienNumber, I am frankly astonished that you are suggesting that sexual orientation may be changed at will. If heteros can just choose to flip a switch, then why can’t queer folk? More to the point, however, none of us should have to change our sexual orientation to suit anybody else’s agenda.

  60. TotallyDorkin

    Jill, I would just like to applaud you on the small reference to the domestication of the queer in modern society. The idea that gay marriage is of paramount importance to the lives of all queer people everywhere is wrong and harmful to the rest of the queer rights movement. Because, after all, marriage is a tool of the patriarchy.

  61. yttik

    “dating men may not be the existential imperative.”

    Somebody put that on a bumper sticker.

  62. Kali

    What’s the big deal with heterosexual women avoiding sexual partnerships with men? I’m doing it. I’m happy. It’s easy. A bit of celibacy is not going to kill you. (Of course, I’m not talking about women who found radical feminism after marriage and/or kids. That’s a more complicated situation.)

  63. Fictional Queen

    Heh,how can you change your sexual attraction/orientation/whatever?I’ve been thinking about that for a while now.The only reason I would want men in my life (other than men who are already there and I can’t help it,like dad and brothers) would be because of sexual orientation.It’d be nice to know how to be a lesbian.I’ve never had a boyfriend but male priviledge is pretty damn intolerable,but I don’t wanna die without trying sex..!

  64. Fictional Queen

    @Kali:Some (or maybe most) human beings have innate sexual desires,imo.What do you think about not enjoying them because the patriarchy has ruined everything?I’ve thought about never being with men also.But sometimes it seems like being defeated,not enjoying your sexuality because patriarchy ruins everything!
    And radfems who have male partners,how do you deal with the male priviledge??

  65. Jezebella

    Kali, celibacy is your lifestyle choice, and it works for you, and that is awesome. For you. Do you comprehend that not everybody would be happy with that choice?

  66. buttercup

    So, a tube sock, an Olivetti, and a Timex watch walk into a bar.

  67. tinfoil hattie

    I didn’t read speedbudget as saying “lesbians are the problem”! I read her as expressing a frustration that a certain contingent of feminists would prefer to eliminate from the feminist club any heterosexual woman who partners with a man, emotionally, physically, or any other way.

    And which is it, Jill: heterosexual women who are partnered with men are in oppressive, unbalanced relationships – or they are “privilged” over lesbians who are not in said relationships? It seems like you’re trying to have it both ways here. I’m privileged because I’m heterosexual, yet I’m oppressed because I’m heterosexual in a relationship with a man. I assume it’s both/and?

  68. tinfoil hattie

    And by the way: I’m not leaving the club, and I don’t care who tries to kick me out. Feminism is stuck with me.

  69. lawbitch

    General crankiness. I can’t have margs with my chemo meds because that might pickle my liver. My life sucks. I’m still going to stick it to the patriarchy, though.

  70. Kali

    @Kali:Some (or maybe most) human beings have innate sexual desires,imo.

    Who said anything about not having sexual desires? But that is superceded by my revulsion at the idea of partnering with a man less feminist than me (which is all the men I’ve met in real life). Radical feminist consciousness (and the futile porn wars with liberal men) gave me that revulsion. I didn’t have it until my mid-20s at least.

    In any case, feminist revolution is not going to happen by going with “whatever works for me, to hell with the broader feminist implications” or by being unwilling to give up on any desires for the cause.

  71. Triste

    The whole het-vs-lesbian debate strikes me as a little bit disingenuous, since sexual relationships are not the only kinds of relationships that can occur between men and women, and indeed are not, in my opinion, particularly distinguished or special as compared to familial, friendly, or professional relationships. If het women are enabling anti-feminism by doing it with dudes, lesbians who maintain relationships with their brothers and fathers, who have male friends, who work alongside men, even, are doing the same. If we’re going to have a separatist vs. non-separatist debate, then let’s have it, I guess, but specifically focusing on sexual orientation is going to leave out a whole lot of important dimensions for this discussion.

  72. AlienNumber

    “I am frankly astonished that you are suggesting that sexual orientation may be changed at will.”

    Heterosexuality as an Institution is problematic the way it is now and I’m thinking that the first step towards changing it is for women – who can, with the means – to realize that they don’t have to do it the way it is done now. Go ahead and have all the PIV sex you need (or whatever else you heteros do), but maybe in a way that doesn’t make some man the Most Important Person in your life. What’s so wrong and astonishing with the suggestion that female-female bonds should be the relationship priorities?

  73. Kali

    sexual relationships are not the only kinds of relationships that can occur between men and women, and indeed are not, in my opinion, particularly distinguished or special as compared to familial, friendly, or professional relationships.

    Having a father or brother is not voluntary. Having a husband or son is. Platonic friendships and professional relationships do not have the same emotional intensity, i.e. the kind of emotional intensity which encourages compromises.

  74. Jezebella

    Well, because it implies that queer folk could simply “become hetero” if they set their mind to it. If it works one direction, it would work the other. This puts you on the same page as the “we can cure the gay outta you with prayer and brainwashing” folks. Are you sure you want to be on that page?

    I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that sexual orientation is easily zippity-doo-dah switched to whatever suits you. I do get that sexual orientation/attraction is far more fluid and far less binary than our culture wants it to be, but that’s a different ball of wax. I also can’t figure out how it’s feminist to tell me that I should change my identity to match yours.

    As there is a general moratorium on discussing our personal sex lives around here, I won’t try to defend myself regarding your prescriptions (and proscriptions) about what I can and cannot do in my own bedroom and life. I will say that I’m not such a dumbass that I haven’t ALREADY figured out that making the man the VIP in my life is a terrible idea. Hetero feminists are not all Stepford Wives, you know.

  75. Saurs

    Intra-female bonds betwixt heterosexual (and homosexual, and celibate, and asexual, and bisexual, and et al) women can take precedence over relationships with dudes, and one can fuck dudes without PIV-style contact, or any penetration, at all, for that matter. Like, ever. Heaps and heaps (or what counts as heaps and heaps amongst the infinitesimal minority of women who profess to radical feminism) of radfems attest to doing so on the interweb all the live-long day. The Problem With Radical Feminism Penetrating the Universal Psyche and Winning Over the Non-Converted is not down to heterosexual and bisexual women’s sex lives. No problem, ever, in the history of the world, can be chalked up to women’s sex lives. That’s the patriarchy’s solution to the world’s problems: women are bad, women are dirty, women are giving It up too often, too wantonly, with too many dudes or other ladies, in ways, means, and methods that are bothersome or threatening. Stone them!

    Heterosexuality shouldn’t be an institution, shouldn’t be normative, but that doesn’t mean women are ruining it (whatever It, is) for other women because they’re bedding the wrong sex.

    Also, what Triste said.

    Also, what Jill said re “lesbians aren’t the problem.” Neither are straight women.

  76. N/A

    AlienNumber is bang on with this one. reading radfem theory (on blogs and in books) has changed my entire perspective. having been het all my life, i’m now completely off men and relationships. talk about a monkey off my back!

    especially after reading ibtp and fcm, i’m all set to be a spinster for the rest of my life. (in my mid-twenties right now.) the only real hump now is becoming financially secure.

    and YES to female-female bonds! truly dramatic rise in quality of life.

    oh and totallydorkin’s: “The idea that other people are individuals with emotions comparable to others is also a social construct, and another one that is integral to human existence.

    Just because it’s socially constructed does not mean it is changeable.”

    do you mean that it is literally not changeable or it is something we shouldn’t try to change?

  77. AlienNumber

    “Heterosexuality” – and the homo copy of heterosexuality – “shouldn’t be an institution, shouldn’t be normative, but that doesn’t mean women are ruining it (whatever It, is) for other women because they’re bedding the wrong sex.”

    Yes. I agree. But how do we change it? Or we just wait around until men do?

    (Jezebella, really? I’m on the right-wing wagon like Catharine MacKinnon is. You’re also counter-arguing an argument I didn’t make; but it’s probably because I’m not so good with words since the brain-fry).

  78. Triste


    Firstly, having a father or brother is not voluntary, but once one is an adult, one can choose not to associate with their father or brother to the same extent that one can choose not to associate with male romantic partners – which is to say, there may be economic and cultural barriers, but those aside, it’s quite possible to cut ties with male relatives.

    Secondly, I don’t accept that sexual relationships are necessarily in any way deeper, more meaningful, more binding, or really in any way more powerful than platonic or familial relationships. Period. If it’s that way for you, it’s that way for you. It’s not that way for everyone. It’s not that way for me. I would suggest that the superlative importance our culture places on romantic relationships is to some extent a patriarchal construct, just like the nuclear family.

  79. Hedgepig

    This is a jolly interesting discussion. Speaking as a heterosexual woman in a heterosexual marriage-like relationship, I feel that people like me are the key to the problem, in the sense that our willing participation in heteronormative lifestyles is what guarantees the perpetuation of the P. I don’t disagree with Saurs that straight women aren’t the problem, the P is the problem, but het women are the KEY to solving the problem, in that we have the power to rend the very fundaments of the system.
    But according to Jezebella, we can’t be expected to sacrifice anything if that risks making us unhappy or unfulfilled. (“Kali, celibacy is your lifestyle choice, and it works for you, and that is awesome. For you. Do you comprehend that not everybody would be happy with that choice?”)I suppose my question to other het women in situations like mine is: how toxic do we think the system under which we live actually is? Do we care enough about it to make a genuine sacrifice?

    Another really interesting thing is that many of us here don’t actually believe that het relationships are the bedrock of patriarchy and without them the system would crumble. That intrigues me, as I feel it to be self-evident, but of course it is totally arguable as the experiment of eliminting said relationships has never been performed.

  80. Jill

    Uh oh, looks like I inadvertently kicked off another internecine rift! Queers against hets! What is it with me lately?

    Are you really wondering whether I advocate kicking straight girls out of “the club”? Really? Because Tinfoil Hattie, you know me better than that.

    As for your other point, that I’m trying to say that lesbians are more oppressed than straight women, and that heterosexual women are more oppressed than lesbians, and I can’t have it both ways, well, I beg to diffah. Here’s the dealio:

    The unique properties of patriarchy — which is, you’ll recall, the world order under the auspices of which every human person is obliged to languish whether voluntarily or no — make it so that everybody can be really fucking oppressed, all at the same time! Men oppress straight women and lesbians. Straight people have straight privilege. Lesbians may not suffer all the consequences of being attracted to the oppressor, which I suppose amounts, in some fairly inconsequential way, to a sort of privilege as well (although attraction is but a small aspect of human experience, and lesbians still answer to patriarchal controls, and are certainly not immune to dudely abuse). It’s all true. One contingency doesn’t preclude the other.

    In other words, the culture of oppression actually oppresses everyone. It’s not just an academic abstraction.

  81. Must Think of a Name

    As Twisty said somewhere in her backlogs, sex isn’t quite as important as the world makes out. I found this point of view refreshing at the time. I only came to this site a few months ago when I sorely needed it. I was sick of somewhat lame feminists sites, envisioned in my head exactly what I wanted and managed to find my way here in two clicks (the title sucked me in straightaway). It showed me the nascent glory of the spinster aunt lifestyle and I haven’t looked back. It’s rare (non existent) to imbibe such a message. It’s not an ideological necessicity perhaps but I don’t have a need to hook up and a world of fun is open to me the further I can exist outside society’s predetermined rostrum (I have a canny plan to achieve this). Of course, the partnered have their place in all this and so long as their ideas are sound, they are sound. But I would have thought the spinster aunts were the cool kids on this block because we never get to be the cool kids.

    We should be the cool kids.

  82. Anna

    It all boils down to this: do you want revolution or not?

    If you don’t, at least be honest to yourself about it.

    And no, I’m not a lesbian, and, no, I don’t believe one can change their sexuality at will. But guess what, I don’t care. Revolution is not possible without sacrifice.

  83. tinfoil hattie

    Are you really wondering whether I advocate kicking straight girls out of “the club”? Really? Because Tinfoil Hattie, you know me better than that.

    No, sis, I wasn’t saying that. I actually worded my comment poorly – I was speaking more generally to the commenters who maintain that het women in relationships with men whom they love and care about deeply are Not Good Enough for True Radical Feminism.

    As Jezebella said: “Hetero feminists are not all Stepford Wives, you know.”

    Oppression is like kids’ soccer: we ALL get a trophy!

  84. Hedgepig

    It’s not about the worth of the person, tinfoil hattie, it’s about whether we, as het women who love our menfolk, believe in the radical route to a patriarchy-free existence and whether we, under any circumstances, would be willing to act on those beliefs.

    For example, I believe in the radical way, but I fail spectacularly in the putting my money where my mouth is test. Does that make me not good enough for feminism? No. Does it make me a coward and a hypocrite? Yes. Wait. No. Wait, is it worse or better if you know you’re a hypocrite?

  85. Anna

    You’re not a hypocrite if you’ve admitted to yourself that what you’re doing is helping uphold the patriarchy, hedgepig. It’s good to be honest with ourselves and other feminists. Delusion and denial lead nowhere but straight into funfeminism.

    I agree with your comments upthread, and this in particular resonated with me:

    ” b) they know that unless everyone else does it too they’ll be making the sacrifice for naught.”

    I struggled with that for a long time, and for a while I thought that, since the revolution obviously isn’t coming, it would be pointless for me to make the sacrifice. But than I realized that all the men around me are (not so) deep down loving their dudely privilege, no matter how nice they might be appear otherwise. So it’s not really much of a sacrifice for me personally, after all.

  86. Anna

    “Hetero feminists are not all Stepford Wives, you know.”

    It’s not about that. It’s about the wider context. It’s about men as a class and women as a class, not about you and your Nigel.

  87. Solniger

    Yo, what do you do with that telescope? I bet out in Cottonmouth County, away from the light pollution you see some wonderous things. Care to share? As a life long city dweller and non-camper I feel I sorely miss out on the wonders of the heavens.

    Re: feminism in popular culture.
    I finally picked up that recent immensely popular swedish novel about the fiesty girl hacker (vol. 2) and was happy to read prostitution defined as rape. I mean, it wasn’t news to me but it may be to joe-schmoes and college students. I hope it sticks somewhere; afterall the back cover said 21 million people bought the darn book.

  88. TotallyDorkin

    I was trying to not make a statement about what one should do, and more about what is possible.

    I was responding to the idea that is something is a social construct, then any given individual is able to change it in their own construction of their existence.

    Simply put, I think that if something is a social construct, it does not follow that it is possible to change it. Sometimes it might be desirably to change it, and sometimes it might not be. That depends on who you’re asking.

    I’ve never met anyone from an ex-gay organization who was happy with their heterosexual situation (though I’ve never gone looking for them) and that seems like it should be one of the easiest social constructs to change, given the social pressures to do so.

    I’d be interested in other people’s experience though.

  89. Darragh Murphy

    @ Triste, “the superlative importance our culture places on romantic relationships is to some extent a patriarchal construct, just like the nuclear family.”

    Very true. I would go further and say the superlative importance our culture places on romantic relationships is the very KEY to how patriarchy maintains itself.

    Our culture incessantly bombards and batters girls and young women with the idea that LOVE is the absolute most important goal in life ever. Girls and young women are brainwashed into believing all they really want in life is to be loved and understood by another (man, usually, but this brainwashing affects young women who become/are lesbians as well I suspect).

    Love, love, love, marriage, sex, love, babies, love, sex, love, love, love. It’s all they hear and see everywhere they look. Music, tv, books, magazines. It’s everywhere, all the time.

    It’s what gives urgency to the Beauty 2.0 standards and drives otherwise intelligent and capable young women to abuse themselves mentally and physically in unspeakable ways to be “up to snuff” in the Beauty department. It’s what distracts otherwise intelligent young women, who once dreamed of being president or ships’ captains or opera stars, from pursuing their goals in favor of mooning away over some guy.

    The promise of love is the biggest fricken trick Patriarchy ever pulled out of its hat. Love is the secret nuclear weapon of P.

    Love is the carrot the culture holds out for women. It’s what we chase.

    Which isn’t to say that love doesnt exist. Obviously it does. It’s just that P has absolutely ruined romantic love for women, like it does everything else. I advise young women to be VERY skeptical of romantic love. Treat it like unicorns or mermaids: a very nice idea, but probably a myth.

    For het women, the culture promises love, but what it actually delivers is slavery. You think you’re signing up for love at the altar, but what you’re really in for is a life of wifework. Without wifework, capitalism and its sponsor, Patriarchy, would fall apart overnight. Which is why P is so involved in hammering home the Love Above All message to young women. They need the fricken wives! 99% of women fall for the trick every fricken time.

    Lesbians, I think, dont usually settle for relationships in which one partner is expected to be the servant, but lesbians are, as members of the class that is brainwashed for love obsession, susceptible to the (false) belief that love/sex/romance is the cornerstone of a fulfilling life. By placing undue importance on sex/love relationships, even lesbians can fall prey to the P-replicating virus of that obsession. Our individual relationships with men may be crucially important to understanding/dismantling patriarchy, but I agree with Triste (again) that we all (lesbains and hets) relate with men in ways that are specifically applicable to feminism in far more meaningful ways outside of bed than in it.

    Who fixes your car? Shoes your horses? Advises you in court? Who do you work for? Who works for you? How do you treat the men you work for? How about the men who work for you? What happens at family reunions? Who does the dishes? How do you treat your elderly father compared to how you treat your elderly mother? If you get on a plane and see that the pilot is a woman, are you reassured or nervous? Would you choose a woman brain surgeon over a man? These questions, and other more clever ones, are easily as important as who do you go to bed with, or who do you raise your children with.

    I’m hopeful. Revolution does begin at home. Not with stupid Nigels, but with our daughters. If we can wean them, one or two or three at a time, from the false and deadly belief that romantic love is the most important goal in life, we may actually raise a few daughters to be free, at least to some degree, of the most crippling aspects of P.

    @ AlienNumber, thanks for the spell check.

  90. Anna

    I don’t get why we’re even discussing social constructs when it comes to sexuality. Yes, heterosexuality as a normative institution is a bullshit construct, but I don’t get how anyone could think sexuality in general is a construct and not a bilogical reality (and I’m talking about sexual attraction here, not sexual practice). Could anyone explain to me why they believe that?

  91. Anna


    Sorry, something’s seriously wrong with my typing today.

  92. Darragh Murphy

    Anna, there is (I think, as I’m not a scientist and only read about this stuff in the mass media) compelling scientific research that seems to show that sexual attraction, for women at least, is far more fluid and flexible than our culture pretends. According to one study, which I will try to link, women are sexually attracted to anything that is, well, attractive; whether that is a young, fit, half-naked man, lesbians kissing, gay men kissing/embracing, a horse running on a beach, or a fit woman doing yoga. Interestingly, this didn’t hold true for men. The men in the study who identified as gay were only really sexually attracted to handsome men and/or men having sex with each other. The straight men were exclusively attracted to women (straight and lesbian).

    Which, if true, seems to support the idea that women can “choose” to be lesbian and “choose” to not have sex with men and still have a sexually satisfying life. The fact that this is not true for men, according to this study anyway, is tres interesting to me. It implies that heteronormativity really IS a tool of the Patriarchy.

    After all, the opposite of heteronormativity cannot be homonormativity in a post-feminist revolutionary world, right? It would seem that a woman-centered sexual culture goal would be fluid and flexible sexuality. Which would mean that a stop-gap measure of “choosing” to be lesbian until the Revolution has come to pass is not such a silly idea.

    Found the link:

  93. Saurs

    Just to be clear: I object to the notion that the world’s problems could be solved if only women would behave themselves, and that includes if only straight women would stop wanting to have sex with dudes and acting on that compulsion.

    My Post-Patriarchy Utopian Fantasy includes people having sex. What sex constitutes has simply changed. Are women in the best position to make those changes? Maybe, but I know my abstention from penetrative sex with dudes and other women has less to do with the perceived harm penetration will wreak upon The Cause, and more to do with the harm it’ll inflict on me.

    The world’s number one hobby is getting dudes laid, to the detriment of all women, all children, and quite a few other men.

    That doesn’t mean that sex is the problem. That kind of sex, the violent, dude-driven, church-sanctioned, porn-infused sex is a problem. The widespread belief that women need a penis or a penis-like contraption to get off is a problem. That women’s pleasure is unimportant. That penetration, as opposed to a means of conception, somehow, in some way, results in female orgasm. That orgasms are of All Important Grooviness. The fairly universal belief that sex is often painful for women (and they like it! ‘cos that’s how ladies are! pain-lovin’ masochists needing to be taken in hand!) is a problem, particularly when women’s partners think it’s cool to inflict pain on them because they think they’re pain-addicts, or summat. The position that somebody’s got be the recipient of sex and somebody’s got to be performing sex on that person’s body needs to be changed. That sex is about performance, period.

    Defining sex as necessarily orgasmic, making dudes’ orgasms the number one priority, and making penetration the means by which dudes achieve orgasm needs to be changed, totally. Straight women are certainly in an excellent position to lead to the world to these realizations, but they aren’t the only ones.

  94. Anna

    Darragh, thank you for replying, and for the link.

    I’m a straight woman who, if it were indeed possible, surely would have become a lesbian by now. And I’ve known so many self-hating lesbians, who, if it were possible, surely would have become straight by now.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t believe in sexual fluidity, I just don’t believe it’s true for everyone. And I don’t believe that women’s sexuality doesn’t have a biological basis.

  95. tinfoil hattie

    It’s about men as a class and women as a class, not about you and your Nigel.

    Sure, on the macro level. But on the very real micro level on which I live every day, my life is about me and how I live it. And on the one hand, “it” is not about me and my Nigel. But “it” is about me and my Nigel, as has been explained here, because I should jettison my Nigel. For the good of the cause.

    So which is it?

  96. FemmeForever

    Hetero feminists are not all Stepford Wives, you know.

    Yes, we are. That’s the point you’re not getting about separatism. If one partners with a man, with or without papers, it REQUIRES you to live in a one-down position every day of your life. He will require you to stroke his ego or your daily life will be hell. He will demand that you clean up after him or you and your children will die of filth-generated infections. He will demand that you be sexually obedient to him or he will make your daily life a living hell. He will demand that you treat him as master and commander and he will insist on treating you like a subordinate and a dim wit, instead of an equal. The whole point, in its entirety, of men wanting to partner to women is about subjugation, domination, and humiliation. The whole point. THERE IS NO OTHER REASON FOR HIM TO BE PRESENT. NONE. The ONLY way to avoid this subjugated existence is to avoid men all together. But I totally agree with everyone who said that separatism doesn’t mean changing one’s orientation. As if.

  97. Anna

    Tinfoil Hattie, I’m not saying you should jettison your husband and your kids. What I’m saying is that, IF we want a revolution, single childless women should not voluntarily put themselves in your position.

  98. Anna

    And by that I mean they shouldn’t voluntarily tie themselves to a Nigel and raise a nuclear family with him.

    Sorry, I’m sleep-deficient at the moment, and I don’t think I expresed myself very well in the post above.

  99. FemmeForever

    @ Darragh

    10 Standing O’s.

  100. Hedgepig

    Darragh, reading the first few paras of your post at 9:29, I nearly burst into “Killing me softly”.

    And I agree that teaching girls the lies of the P is the only plausible way forward, although I’m sadly pessimistic about the extent of a mother’s, or even a spinster aunt’s influence when it counters the mighty force of P (for patriarchal and popular)culture.

  101. nails

    Being with women doesn’t insulate me from things I fear about patriarchal culture. Lesbians experience intimate partner violence, and women have cruel personality disorders as often as men do. It isn’t hard to find people replicating patriarchal culture in their gay relationships.

  102. Nora

    @FemmeForever: “The whole point, in its entirety, of men wanting to partner to women is about subjugation, domination, and humiliation. The whole point. THERE IS NO OTHER REASON FOR HIM TO BE PRESENT. NONE.”

    That sounds a lot like misogyny. Suggesting that any particular woman can’t be loved for something besides her function within the patriarchy? Ick.

    Also, separatism in general becomes a big problem when you start to think about how to tackle patriarchy-codifying problems like racism/western-centrism/ableism/adultism/etc. If we were to count out all the people who’re privileged on any of the axes above, there would be very few people left. So it’s better to attack the system(s) and not just ignore the people who benefit from them. This is why I think education/community-based grassroots action is by far the most effective form of activism.

    @nails: Indeed.

  103. Anna

    nails, women do exhibit patriarchal behaviors, but they are not my oppressor. Are you seriously suggesting that, in this society, for a woman being surrounded by women is no different than being surrounded by men?

  104. N/A

    @TD: “The idea that other people are individuals with emotions comparable to others is also a social construct, and another one that is integral to human existence.

    Just because it’s socially constructed does not mean it is changeable.”

    just a small point to make about this. empathy/compassion (the bedrock of others being individuals like one’s self) is to a certain extent natural/biological/innate. so it is not ENTIRELY socially-constructed although many nuances of it are. however, it is also extremely changeable, very easily so. it’s how the capitalism/patriarchy operates: by dehumanizing large swathes of the population for its own ends.

    that said — i have no idea to what degree male homosexuality is socially constructed vs. innate. darragh murphy’s comment up there with the link makes a very interesting point about female sexuality though. i’d read something similar ages ago and now that i think about it, that’s when the first seeds of radfeminism were implanted in me. i thought: if i could be attracted to a woman just as much to a man, then what’s the point of men? they’re so useless/irrelevant!

    hah. now i’m hugely crushing on lisbeth salander (as i will inform anyone who listens =). just the idea of a man’s peen grosses me out now — sorry, but what awful dangly little things they are! urgh.

    it’s a radical reimagining, is what it is.

  105. FemmeForever

    That sounds a lot like misogyny. Suggesting that any particular woman can’t be loved for something besides her function within the patriarchy?

    Nora, I am very obviously not saying that women are unlovable. For you to pull that crap notion out of my comment is deliberately hostile and transparently dick-sucking.

    Men don’t give a shit what a woman’s personal qualities are. That’s right, he’s not with you because you’re cute or smart or any other trait. He’s with you because HE wants to enslave you to prop up his ego by dominating every aspect of your life. You are so far gone that you default to woman as less when I am clearly giving commentary on men’s motivations.

  106. FemmeForever

    Sorry. End italic at Nora…..

  107. Anna

    N/A, so are you saying that you are successfully changing your sexuality? Sorry if I misunderstood.

    FemmeForever, I wouldn’t partner with a man, but I think you’re wrong in assuming men can’t feel genuine emotions towards women.

  108. TotallyDorkin

    I think that there is a large tendency in modern thought to connect directly our “biology” with our “actions”, with nothing in between as a mediator. This is mostly because the other option is psychoanalysis, a field ridden with theories that range from more to less compelling, but have thus far failed to be testable.

    We are socialized nowadays to believe in statistics and experiments. I have nothing against these modes of inquiry, but I do feel like they have limitations in certain areas. One of these areas is the structure of the human brain regarding it’s thought process. We know very little about it, so we do large statistical studies to try and find a least common denominator. We look for patterns of behavior and try to explain them, some people through bogus patriarchal evopsych, some through radical feminism, and others some other way.

    My point is that the idea that sexuality is innate often comes from the evolutionary standpoint that heterosexuality was required for humans to reproduce, and therefore it is a biological imperative.

    This doesn’t seem obvious to me.* It seems like an assumption that trivializes the complexity and variance of the human brain, variance that can be seem throughout the many cultures in our world. The assumption that any given behavior is a biological imperative without possibility of conscious control undermines the basic principle that seems to be at the core of radical feminism (other than the obvious that I will not state here because Twisty enumerates them so eloquently both above and many times before).

    This is the principle that we are beings in control and accountable for our actions, that can review what we do with higher thought processes and make decisions based on these thoughts. Namely: human agency. Things that remove this agency are part of a system of dominance and submission that is at the core of Patriarchy.

  109. Linda

    “women have cruel personality disorders as often as men do.”

    Nobody here is suggesting that ‘being with women’ is some kind of free pass out of patriarchal abuse and I’m quite surprised you would infer that. Do you have a problem with lesbians?

    You also seem to be implying that people with mental health issues are somehow deliberately experiencing mental health issues in order to inflict abuse on others. This is a horribly ableist view of mental illness. Mental illness is not something that women use (in a cruel way) against men. That is a very male-centric view of mental illness.

  110. FemmeForever

    FemmeForever, I wouldn’t partner with a man, but I think you’re wrong in assuming men can’t feel genuine emotions towards women.

    Anna, it’s not an assumption. It’s a life long observation. Also, it’s not “can’t feel”. What is it, then? Men decidedly refuse to return the love that women freely give to them because they know women deeply need it. Let’s be clear. It is a sadistic, withholding, refusal to love, not an inability to love. Men love, protect, and support each other all the time.

  111. FemmeForever

    It is a sadistic, withholding, refusal to love, not an inability to love.

    This keeps us off balance and perpetually seeking, man-pleasing, and begging for emotional crumbs. Also, it keeps him in absolute control.

  112. Anna

    FemmeForever, are you talking only about male partners in straight romantic relationship, or about men in any situation? And do you believe that this is absolute and universal? Would you confidently claim, for example, that ALL fathers refuse to love their daughters?

  113. Nora

    @FemmeForever: I am very obviously not saying that women are unlovable. For you to pull that crap notion out of my comment is deliberately hostile and transparently dick-sucking.

    I didn’t mean to be hostile! I just didn’t assume good faith, mostly because you said “there is no other reason for [a male partner] to be present. None.” And, oh gosh, I can think of several reasons why anyone would want to be partnered with any particular woman. Though I guess you were going for “men are all broken and consequently deny their female partners love.” How on earth is that interpretation obvious? Was I supposed to assume that you were representing men’s feelings as objective truth (“there is no reason…” instead of “he has no reason…”)?

    I’m not accusing you of being a misogynist. Though even if I were assuming good faith, I would have a hard time wrapping my mind around “dick-sucking” as a non-patriarchal insult. Dick-sucking is very aggressively gendered as female by the patriarchy. If we’re to assume that homophobia stems from the patriarchy and not the other way around, then we also know that non-women are “degraded” to female status by being accused of dick-sucking (or by being out-and-out raped). So “dick-sucking” gets all of its power as an insult directly from the patriarchal re-appropriation and degradation of womanhood.

    And don’t even try to be like “yeah but sucking dick hurts your jaw and that’s what I was getting at.” Because then you would have just called me “inane-conversation having” or “English-majoring.” Both of those things are more of a hassle than fellatio. (Though actually that’s an assumption on my part; I’ve never sucked a dick, nor is there any “he” in the picture).

  114. Anna

    Fellatios are quite a hassle. Much, much more so than inane conversation-having. Anyway,I assume FemmeForever is using “dick-sucking” in the context of something men and the patriarchy demand of women but is only a hassle at best and a degradation at worst for the woman, depending on the interpretation. (This is just my attempt to interpret FemmeForever’s usage of the term, I have no desire to reignite the great fellatio wars of 2006 (2005?) whatsoever)

  115. N/A

    anna – what do you mean “successfully”? from your earlier comments it seems we’re in a similar boat (i.e. mainly het but no longer interested in men) — do you mean am i successfully turning myself homosexual? heh heh. no, i’m not.

    but my energies (intellectual, emotional, sexual etc) have undergone a radical shift away from men and that is extremely liberating on a personal level.
    how has your experience been?

    totallydorkin – was your comment a reply to me or just a general thinkaloud? in any case we seem to be agreeing re sexuality being innate vs. sexuality being constructed.

  116. Anna

    Yep, that’s what I was asking, based on this: “just the idea of a man’s peen grosses me out now”

    I was mainly asking because of the usage of the word “now”. I know that many het women are not too fond of peen, but it was the word “now”, implying that something has changed after your radfem awakening, that stuck out to me. Thanks for clarifying.

    It’s just that recently I’ve been seeing all this stuff in the feminist blogosphere about how heterosexuality is a choice. I have to admit I was previously not well aware of this theory’s existence in feminist thought, so I’m still quite confused about it. Thanks for clarifying.

    Anyway, yeah, we’re definitely in a similar boat. My experiences? Well, I definitely will not ever enter a relationship with a man. As far as sex is concerned, I am currently celibate. I do miss sex, and I do wish I could have it, but it’s not really a huge deal. I can’t say I’ll be celibate forever (I’m still sorting out my thoughts on non-relationship het sex on my terms). But if that does happen, it will certainly be a sacrifice, but it won’t be a tragedy.

  117. Anna

    oops, there’s an unnecesary “thanks for clarifying” in the second paragraph. I should definitely go to sleep now.

  118. speedbudget

    I never meant to start some kind of oppression Olympics. I just don’t like hearing, when a woman is genuinely asking how to negotiate her relationship in a feminist way, that she should just date women. It’s not a realistic solution, any more than it is a realistic solution for lesbians, when asking how to negotiate their relationships, to be told to just date men.

    But I do have to disagree that the only reason men ever get in a relationship with a woman is to be an evil overlord. I do agree that happens a lot of the time. And when that happens, it usually happens in concert with Darragh’s wonderful, incisive analysis of the construction of love in the P. It starts early, too. I remember reading somewhere a study about popularity in middle and high school and how boys derive their status from sports or academics or being involved in clubs, whereas girls derive their status from the boys they date. Girls are made to believe they need the boys in their lives, and that lesson continues later in life. I do agree that if we can train girls from a young age to understand that they don’t need love the way the P tells them, that what they need is companionship and trust and understanding and a true partner, that maybe those girls would be able to avoid the pitfalls of I Have To Be Married By Age X Or I Suck.

    I think a long period of celibacy for women is crucial to coming around to the idea that men aren’t necessary for happiness and fulfillment and that life can be pretty satisfying without them. In fact, it does become much simpler and more pleasant. This period of celibacy then allows those chains of I Need Love to fall off, and a woman can be much more discerning of which men she allows in for any kind of relationships, whether they be platonic, purely sexual, or romantic. And there are men out there who don’t want to spend every minute dominating, who don’t want to be cruel and mean, who want to just be people and enjoy another person. They are out there, and they are easier to find if you’ve learned that you can be single and happy and therefore don’t have to settle.

  119. Jill

    “Yo, what do you do with that telescope? I bet out in Cottonmouth County, away from the light pollution you see some wonderous things.”

    It looks like a telescope, but actually its a giant honkin’ telephoto camera lens. I use it to take pictures of birds. It may seem like overkill, but I am such a crummy photographer that I can never sneak up on birds and snap’em with anything smaller.

    But you’re right, there are some pretty good stars out here.

  120. Jill

    “Who [s]hoes your horses?”

    Women farriers exist! I have one. She was just out here the other day wrestling my testy mares. She is dainty, Canadian, looks like a model, wears a pink ball cap, has French manicured acrylic nails, and complains that nobody in the horse world is a Democrat. She has a husband and 2 boyfriends. The most recent addition to her collection is a 20-year-old she picked up at Home Depot. She calls the 20-year-old “hot” and herself a “cougar.” I love her.

    I mention the physical details because they are pretty much the opposite of what people think farriers should look like. Although, like all farriers, when she bends over a hoof there is visible cheek cleavage.

  121. tinfoil hattie

    I am such a crummy photographer

    I am now laughing. In a bitter, mirthless way. Crummy my Stepford Wife ass.

  122. Summerspeaker

    This debate gives too much rigidity to sexual orientation identities. In what sense do lesbians and straight women actually exist? What gender implications does reifying these categorizations have?

    P.S. Jill, your photos are amazing.

  123. Comrade PhysioProf

    Thanks for the marg recipe, Twisty! I like that it doesn’t sound too sweet, which is what I have despised about margs in the past. Do you salt the rim of the glass?

  124. AlienNumber

    Summerspeaker, great point.
    So, I know that lesbians exist because foreign ones can’t get Green Cards by marrying female American citizens.
    (it’s the argument ‘ad Green Card absentia’)

  125. TotallyDorkin

    argumentum ad Green Card absentia is on the of the best things I’ve heard all day.

  126. Jill

    CPP: “Thanks for the marg recipe, Twisty! I like that it doesn’t sound too sweet, which is what I have despised about margs in the past. Do you salt the rim of the glass?”

    Salt is optional. Some people like more lime juice.

    I also recommend a related cocktail, popular among the young drunks when I was a bartender in the early 90s: the Sandanista. Equal parts tequila and fresh lime juice; Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce to taste (chipotle sauce is nice); dashes of salt and black pepper. Strain over ice into a chilled glass and toss it back. Manages to say “party” and “warm, glowing contentment” at the same time.

  127. Comrade PhysioProf

    Sounds pretty goode, but I’m too fucken olde for shooters. The drinke of choice lately has been sweet potato shochu on the rockes.

  128. FemmeForever

    Apparently I need to back up and educate the funfems (I fully resent having to do so since these truths are freely available everywhere around you).

    1) Girls are raised to care about other people (a very good thing) to the extent of outright martyrdom (a very bad thing). Girls are taught that boys and girls are human beings both deserving of human rights. We go about our lives in truth and authenticity and seek to harm no none. Girls love girls (cultural misogynist training aside) and really love boys (cultural male supremacy included).

    2) Boys are raised to put themselves first at all times. They are trained and rewarded to be flawless narcissist assholes from birth. All the feminist mothering in the world doesn’t take because male culture immediately negates any human training mothers work so hard to instill. They are specifically trained to hate womanhood. Boys are taught by male culture that girls are sub-human. Girls have no human rights and are only born into this world for the purpose of serving them. Girls are a slave class just to make their lives more convenient. In other words, female people are to be obedient to male people at all times, just like any decent slave would. They go about their lives seeking to steal and destroy especially toward women. The last thing a man wants for a woman is happiness. Slaves are not entitled to happiness or peace, just obedience. Men/boys hate women/girls. They do not want what is best for you. They will not ever just leave you alone and let you live your life, let alone support your successes. They want what is best for them forever and always.

    3) Men are excruciatingly small, weak people. They are an empty, hollow, soulless shell compared to women. They can’t stand the thought of another person ever having success and happiness because in their mind that means the other person is taking something from them. If someone else is succeeding it means he is not on top and that is not allowed. Without exception he hates that person’s success and if he has any proximity to harm that success he will gleefully do it just out of spite. Men are woefully immature and petty. They have not reached anything approximating live-and-let-live. No, that concept requires a whole lot more maturity than men can muster. His goal is always to best you, to put you beneath him at all times. Everything is always a competition for his self worth because he has no intention of doing the things that are necessary to gain real self esteem, i.e. earning it through doing good in the world. Therefore, he’s always looking for someone to put down or control, especially women, because that is the only way he can gain some artificial self esteem. (Remember that video of the asshole who made a joke of his wife’s tears?)

    4) The P perpetuates a thoroughly false stereotype for males. Males are happy-go-lucky, well-meaning, funny, happy, strong, intelligent, mature, good-faith people who are just looking for someone to shower their love on just like women are. No, this is a description of women, not men. This image is the opposite of the truth. It’s goal is to fool you long enough to fall in love and get trapped and then you will make an excellent slave for the rest of your life (or most of it). Men are terribly unhappy, empty, evil, weak, human beings. There is nothing lighthearted about them. The outward appearance of joviality is both a manipulation and a sign of sociopathy. Women usually find this out too late, after they have bought the charade hook, line and sinker.

    (I was just watching on 20/20 last night – a beautiful successful woman hooked up with a man who first wooed her, put her on a pedestal, treated her like a princess. As soon as she moved in after the engagement he started belittling her. Calling her fat (at 105 lbs). Telling her she was a bad real estate agent (she was a gifted agent). Her entire personality changed and she started to fail at work where she had previously been a super star. Eventually, her life was ruined and then ended by this knight in shining armor. Other than the murder itself, he’s not a bad guy. He’s a typical, run of the mill, everyday, guy next door guy. And by that I mean it is possible to avoid the murderer but it is not possible to avoid the emotional abuser.)

    Bottom line – men will never want good things for you – never ever – and so given that is the case why would you want to hitch your wagon to somebody who is perpetually and secretly scheming against you. He will never be a partner. He is an antagonist.

    Now go and write this on the black board 100 times a day until it sinks in:





  129. tinfoil hattie

    FemmeForever: None of us needs your condescension or your misogynist slurs (“dick sucking”). We get that all the hell over the rest of the internet. We come here for the advanced blaming, and we stay for the advanced blaming. Not for the insults.

  130. Sylvie


    Everything changes

  131. Stella

    I’d like to chime in again with my perennial suggestion that everyone (and especially my fellow currently-male-partnered-and/or-het-radfems) check out Jaclyn Geller’s lobe-blowingly satisfying tome, “Here Comes the Bride: Women, Weddings, and the Marriage Mystique” (http://www.amazon.com/Here-Comes-Bride-Weddings-Marriage/dp/1568581939).

    I am also among those women who are predominantly heterosexual but perfectly willing to enjoy a long, happy life as a spinster, gleefully eschewing the nuclear family and getting on with my business (which, for me, includes cooking, eating, studying, writing, acquiring cats, and revolution).

    I do not think romantic relationships are more valuable or more legitimate than other relationships, and I wish I knew more women who agreed with me. I agree with Triste when she says, “the superlative importance our culture places on romantic relationships is to some extent a patriarchal construct, just like the nuclear family.”

    At 31, I am currently experiencing a disappointing and seemingly endless parade of flashy diamond rings, white dresses, name changes, smug satisfaction, and justifications of “but it’s my choice!” from virtually all of my otherwise intelligent female friends. It really gets me down. I just do. no. get. it.

    I currently have a male consort who may or may not be a figment of my imagination, seeing as how, during the six years that I have known him, he has yet to say or do a single thing disappoints me as a feminist (his love of The Police is very disappointing, however). And if he did, he’d be outta here. For real.

  132. FemmeForever

    Oh Stella,

    You reminded me of when my best friend from college got married. She is a fabulous person and a highly trained professional and she married a guy ten years younger who was still discovering himself in vocational school and living at home with his parents. And she even had to request the proposal, so he couldn’t even do that much. When I spent the night before the wedding at her house she was in tears that she couldn’t count on this guy to accomplish the simplest task without her following behind him and taking care of it herself. I met him. At least he didn’t seem to be an asshole on his wedding day but when I returned home from that trip I was the most depressed I have ever been because I could not fathom why. Why would my fabulous friend want to be married to someone who had absolutely nothing to offer her. She carried him financially and in every other way. She often talked about him as if he were a son instead of a partner (as in I want to show him the world language). I just don’t get it either. It sent me way down hill that such a fab person would sell herself so short. Just really very sad to my soul.

  133. Ticki Tumbo

    femmeforever, let me guess on this one. I’ll bet he latched onto her like an orphaned dog and she thought she could turn him into someone awesome, grateful and devoted if she just cleaned him up, gave him proper walks, and fed him a few treats. I’ve seen that one played out more than once.

  134. Jill

    “Apparently I need to back up and educate the funfems”

    But you really don’t. At least, not here. This blog is for advanced blamers. Remedial education is frowned upon.

  135. Triste

    @ FemmeForever

    If you have some need to vent your anger at men, by all means. It’s justified, we all do it. God knows I wonder why the fuck I bother with dudes, ever. We all feel that. We all feel frustrated with women who don’t seem to have any sympathy for feminism, who buy into Patriarchy as if it’s not specifically designed to fuck them over. I’m not going to argue with any particular point you’ve made.

    What I am going to argue with is you taking that venting and turning it into an excuse to lash out at the women here. That “blackboard” shit is really charming until you remember that we aren’t a bunch of children, and we don’t need to be instructed. The heterosexual women here aren’t too stupid to comprehend that Patriarchy exists, that they are members of an oppressed class, etc. These are women who understand these things and who have made conscious decisions to partner with men anyway, having weighed the pros and cons. You want to argue with the wisdom of that decision, fine. One can probably make a pretty strong argument there. It’s hard to disagree that engaging in a heterosexual relationship doesn’t at the very least reinforce, on some level, the cultural narrative that Male-Female Romantic Relationships Are All Important. If you want to engage in that discussion, fine.

    It’s not fine is when you then decide that not only do you know better than these women, but also that they are in fact mentally inferior to you, and must be educated the way children are educated by adults. This isn’t a school. You don’t get to waltz into this discussion and basically imply that the rest of us need to sit down and shut up while you tell us How It Really Is. You certainly don’t get to imply that we’re all just so damn dumb that we just forced you to come in and generously share your great wisdom, because you just couldn’t sit and let us wallow in our ignorance any longer, and since you’ve been so exceedingly kind in sharing with these unworthy souls a part of your great knowledge, we had really better not complain, ungrateful suckers of dick that we apparently are.

    I don’t accept people asserting superiority over me. I don’t accept it from men, and I sure as shit am not going to accept it from you. Asserting yourself as a teacher and implicating that we are all idiot students who need to copy lines on a blackboard because we’re otherwise just too fucking dim to understand this obvious truth to which you are privy is not a method of convincing us of anything, of expanding upon the discourse, or indeed of doing anything but establishing dominance over us. Dominance is the cornerstone of Patriarchy. Ergo, you may wish to try selling your “I am the alpha, show your throats before my awesome might” schtick somewhere other than a Patriarchy-blaming blog, where it probably will be met mostly with sneers.

    We’re not impressed when men tell us we’re too dumb to tie our own shoes and we need assistance to understand. What the fuck makes you think we’ll be impressed when you say it? You are not superior to anyone else here. This is not a place where you can come out on top in a discussion by establishing that the others involved in the discussion are inferior to you, and should therefore submit because you are just that damn great. No one here is interested in being taught like a child in a school. Try that out on your blackboard.

  136. Miriam

    Wow, sounds like you and I have had the exact same experiences with men (or else your powers of observation are excellent). But I want to say that while I have experienced men to be just as you describe, I still hope that you are wrong. That is, I hope that not all men are abusive like this, or I hope that they might be susceptible to change. If we believe women can change, why do we seem to believe men can’t? Or is it just that they won’t, due to the benefits of patriarchy?

    In the end, I still think there’s something redeeming about the hope many women hold out for men to actually become human beings who care about others. On the one hand, it is often tragic, as you note–and I know just as well as the next woman that hoping a man can change is exactly how he gets you to stick around so he can keep controlling/abusing you. But without this hope (on a grander scale, with or without partnering with men) there is simply no future for humanity, in my opinion. (I disagree with the separatists and do not view women’s separatism as a solution for the future of humanity). I personally find it discouraging that some radical feminists have given up hope that men can become human, and I refuse to do it.

    On a lighter note, celibate ladies, are you aware that, according to some Christians, we are “born again” into our virginity after 7 years of celibacy? I am just about to receive mine! ;)

  137. AlienNumber

    Nothing seems to upset straight women more than being told that their Nigels demonstrably do not love them.

  138. tinfoil hattie

    AlienNumber, nothing seems to upset some radfems more than being told that yes, our Nigels demonstrably do love us. Then it becomes “This isn’t about your Nigel!”

    Until it’s your turn, and then it’s all about “my” Nigel and how horrible he is, and that I’m too stupid to understand that underneath his kind, compassionate, caring, patriarchy-hating self is “really” a horrible abuser that I just refuse to acknowledge.

    You’re emulating the very patriarchy you despise, trying to set up some sort of faux feminist hierarchy where you are at the top of the heap, and all who navigate patriarchy differently than you do are beneath you.

    Triste, my hands hurt from clapping. Thank you.

  139. AlienNumber

    You are most certainly right, tinfoil hattie, some slave owners were quite kind and compassionate.

    Nobody is setting up a feminist hierarchy here, but it is an interesting interpretation.

  140. Anna

    I don’t agree with FemmeForever that it’s impossible for men to love women. I’m sure many Nigels out there love their wives/girlfriends. But these relationships are not conducive to a revolution. We’re supposed to be radical feminists. Well, getting all tied up in relationships with dudes, whether they have the ability to love us or not, is not radical. It’s the opposite of that – it prevents any sort of radical change.

    What I’m trying to say is, you don’t have to believe dudes couldn’t possibly love you to believe it leads nowhere to continue partnering with them. Just because some of them are not total jerks and could love you, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to shack up with them.

  141. Triste

    Invoking the paradigm of teachers and students is obviously setting up a hierarchy. Its purpose is nothing more or less than to shut down discussion by suggesting that you “win” by virtue of being superior. It is furthermore correct that this is the mechanism of Patriarchy in action.

    The assertion that all men are incapable of feeling anything resembling love towards women is obviously silly and demonstrably false based upon the lived experiences of various women. That said, it is a fact that even men who genuinely love and care for women nevertheless exercise privilege over those women, thereby oppressing them.

    Comparing men to slave owners is a misleading analogy. One is not required to own slaves – there isn’t a single plantation owner who couldn’t have legally given every one of his slaves freedom. Men cannot stop being men. Men cannot stop exercising male privilege. They cannot stop being, via the exercise of this privilege, a force of oppression.

    A more accurate analogy, then, is to compare men to white people in general. A white person can’t put aside their white privilege, but a white person can love a person of color, can feel compassion for a person of color, can have as deep a bond with a person of color as they can with another white person. That doesn’t make white privilege any less real or pervasive or a humanitarian crisis, unfortunately, but there you go.

  142. nails

    Well anna, I wasn’t saying it is the same, I was saying that it is not completely different. I have been in gay bars, heard butch women talk about how so and so was only good for sex, things like that. A lesbian friend of mine got beat up by her girlfriend. You can’t escape, might as well get with someone you like, eh?

    FemmeForever- That is true most of the time, but not always. Some boys have to take care of their siblings growing up because their parents can’t/won’t, and get their asses kicked at school for being too queer. It isn’t many, but I found one, so they are out there. A minority of dudes are extremely tolerable, personality wise, for whatever reason. Ruling them out completely doesn’t make sense to me.

  143. Triste

    To expound upon my last post, my real point here is that the question of whether or not men are capable of loving women or not isn’t actually all that relevant to Blamerism, because the possibility of men loving women doesn’t do anything to change the fact of Patriarchy existing. If it were possible to show incontrovertible proof of such a thing as love, and we were then able to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was a man who truly and genuinely cared about a woman as a human being, would we all just say, well damn, guess that Patriarchy thing is a bust! Let’s pack it up, ladies?

    Fuck no! Because it doesn’t actually matter. Insisting that all men are sociopaths and the ones who aren’t are still sociopaths who are faking compassion really well is just a giant waste of everybody’s time, because who cares if you’re right or not. Even if you’re wrong and men are full of warm fuzzy feelings, Patriarchy is Patriarchy is Patriarchy.

  144. Ayla

    It was a thread not unlike this one that caused me to stop reading IBTP shortly after discovering it, not because I was afraid or even necessarily insulted, but because I had some (COMPLETELY! LUDICROUSLY!) misguided notion that everyone round these parts was on board with certain commenters who were throwing around insults and setting themselves up as the Arbiters of Truth ™, and I figured, why bother?

    Luckily I woke up and got the fuck over that BS, and now I am fucking impervious to this stuff. Impervious, I tells ya!

    Nonetheless, I’m glad Triste is around just in case any radfem 101’ers have peeked in to survey the landscape.

    Here’s one woman who is certainly sticking around for the advanced blaming.

  145. Anna

    I’m just curious about people’s ideas of how there could ever be a revolution if we’re all entangled with dudes? I don’t see a way for it to happen under these circumstances but so many radfems believe it’s possible. I’m not trying to be snarky or anything, I’m just genuinely interested.

  146. Tigs

    So, if we’re all, men and women alike most likely, incurably formed by Patriarchal Programming, how exactly is it that any of us are here? Is it that having a few radfems out there typing away is useful to the P? Or perhaps is it that there are a few gleaming moments in our lives where we can glimpse and perhaps grasp at freedom and then return to our oppressed lives with a vision of hope, Truth, Beauty, Freedom? —a vision of what it means to be self-determinate?

    I assert that we (most broadly construed) are all in a damn bind, and that we are all capable of having moments of brilliant clarity and recognition.

  147. FemmeForever

    For the record, I don’t think women anywhere, let alone here, are stupid. Women know this stuff. That is my point and my continual frustration. Women live this hatred from men everyday and they still insist on cleaving to men instead of to women. It’s a loyalty issue for me.

    Men are a habit and a hope. Once you get away from repeated personal exposure it becomes very clear that men are severely detrimental to your psyche at the very least. Every day you stay with him he is changing you bit by bit into himself. This harms you personally and us corporately. It is effectively erasing womanhood from the face of the planet one woman at a time.

    Whoever said it is the hope that keeps us in bondage was absolutely right. Dropping the hope is key; it is how you get free. You don’t think I know it’s difficult and sad. I went through it and came out the other side. But once I made the decision I never looked back. When I realized that all men were going to be utterly useless in anything that I might want from them in a partnership, I was devastated. You don’t think I wanted the fairytale, too. I did. Deeply. But the fairytale is just that. It is unattainable. In order for the fairytale to work you have to have an ally on the other side of it and we don’t. Women and men have competing goals. Yours is the fairytale; his is perfecting the P. All you’re doing by staying and hoping is playing right into his agenda and extracting nothing at all for your own.

    I have always placed great value on a woman’s remarkable ability to love. But I have always maintained that the price of that love is respect and honor and cherishing that love in return. When we give our love regardless of how we are treated and regarded; it cheapens the greatest gift on planet earth. It devalues our very souls. And if that doesn’t support the P, I don’t know what does.

  148. copykatparis

    Good points everywhere.

    While out at a bar, a friend once asked me if I had a tampon as she needed one. I didn’t, so she said, “Oh well, I’ll just do a Ladies’ Room MacGyver.”

    I’ve used that phrase ever since.

  149. tinfoil hattie

    When we give our love regardless of how we are treated and regarded; it cheapens the greatest gift on planet earth.

    While fighting patriarchy is not about individual radfems and our Nigels, you and AlienNumber are making it about individual radfems and our Nigels. We are to blame, yes?

    Because even if we fell in love with Nigel 30 years ago, about 25 years before stumbling upon a nugget of sanity in the blogsopshere, and have continued to a one in one billion loving, kind, caring, committed, non-slave-owning relationship, we owe it to radical feminism to … do what, exactly? Leave? Kick them out? Why? So you can be “right”?

    Blame the patriarchy, not the heterosexual women you so despise.

    Neither you nor anyone else in this particular arrangement of the ether has any firsthand knowledge of what my life is like. So don’t go telling me I’m a slave, or that I just don’t know what I’m doing, or that I am being exploited without my knowledge. It’s insulting and “other”-ing. Don’t tell me it’s not about my Nigel and me and then make it all about my Nigel and me because you have some sadistic need to strike out at other women. Other feminists. Other (imperfectly!) RADICAL feminists.

    Shame on you.

  150. Cephalopod

    If all men were incapable of or witheld genuine love from women the patriarchy would be ineffective and the revolution would have come long ago.

    To claim otherwise positions men as infinitely clever and talented to mimic such emotions so convincingly and/or women infinitely daft and gullible to fall for such a charade.

  151. speedbudget

    You will never change another person, man or woman. Seriously. If you are in a relationship hoping to change a person, it won’t happen. Get out. That’s why I insist on the celibacy period. A period of many years of celibacy, of being self-sufficient, of being completely independent and free. Because if you stumble upon a person who looks interesting “if only,” you will think to yourself, “Self, I just don’t want to give up this good thing I’ve got going to deal with trying to ‘fix’ this person. I will just go back to doing what I’m doing and if a person comes along who doesn’t need my assistance to become a fuller human being, maybe I will take a closer look.”

    That said, I must say that I fully and totally disagree with the idea that men are a monolith as much as I disagree with the idea that women are a monolith. Many men are capable of seeing their privilege and working against it. If you believe men are incapable of changing (themselves!) or seeing privilege, you have to believe women are incapable as well. And I do agree with the idea that men need to reform the system from the inside, due to all the vagaries of a hierarchical system. The men at the top just aren’t going to listen to the ladies, but they will listen to the other men at the top.

    And I’m very sorry that the experiences some women here have had with men have been to a one horrible, horrible experiences. I have had many such experiences, but I was very lucky to have a (imperfect) feminist for a father. I had many good experiences with him and my brother. And some uncles and a wonderful grandfather. I am not going to throw all men away in a heap and say they are all evil and incapable of love. Because again, if I believe that, I have to believe that of women as well, and that is not a world I want to live in.

  152. FemmeForever

    Tinfoil Hattie:

    Blame the patriarchy, not the heterosexual women you so despise.

    Why would I despise members of a group to which I myself belong? Stop putting slanderous words in my mouth. I don’t despise women, including you. Perhaps you should ask yourself why you alone are taking this discussion so personally to heart. Could it be that my facts have touched you deeply because you know from your own life that I am right and you are pissed that I am? Might I suggest you direct that rage where it belongs – at men?

    This situation has been covered quite brilliantly upthread:

    Radical feminism is deeply unpopular among heterosexual women. It requires of us what we cannot do: give up our collusion with our oppressors. — Hedgepig

  153. Must Think of a Name

    It’s as if we keep getting to the nub of the topic when another, meatier nub layer is revealed.

    Much to think about here, people. Macgyver first and foremost.

  154. Jill

    The argument that women should eschew relationships with men because all individual men are “evil” lacks nuance (and accuracy).

  155. Killerchick

    Ambrose Bierce’s definition of “Bride”:

    “BRIDE, n. A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.”

    (Devil’s Dictionary)

    I don’t think Bierce was a blamer, but this one is pretty accurate.

  156. Tigs

    “There is no reason for you to try to become like [men]* and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old [friend], is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. The are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that [women] are inferior to […] men. Many of them, indeed, know better, but, as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger in the minds of most [male] Americans, is the loss of their identity. […] But these men are you brothers–your lost, younger brothers [ed. note: this means we have seen these men when they were children, before the world and they collided so frequently and hard and made them what they are today]. And if the word [equality] means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it. For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great [people] have done great things here. and will again, and we can make [the world] become what [the world] must become. It will be hard, […] but you come from sturdy, peasant stock, women who [raised strong children, worked the land, and did every kind of work that has been so very hard], and in the teeth of the most terrifying odds, achieved an unassailable and monumental dignity. You come from a long line of great poets, some of the greatest poets since Homer. One of them said, The very time I thought I was lost, My dungeon shook and me chains fell off.
    We cannot be free until they are free.
    -James Baldwin

    *My only hesitation in posting this, in this way, is that I think there are important and material differences between patriarchy and white supremacy, but I think the lesson is important enough that I can take the liberty with deep respect.

  157. Tigs

    Radical love is the only thing that will work, all other forms of reaction will either fail in their stated ends or will fail because they merely recreate the oppression that we hate so much and rage against.

    To love radically, even to love men radically, does not mean to submit and cater, but it means to recognize the dignity that is at the core of the person and respond and nurture that spark. It means to not allow anyone to treat you as less than human, and to demand to be seen and loved, and to know they you are worthy of the deepest kind of love.
    There is nothing radical in hanging about with a man who does not see you, but it is radical to love any human being enough to see hir as a human being– and to demand that s/he act like one.

    I believe in a radical politics of love (even when I am not so strong as to live it every day).

  158. norbizness

    Dignan: Why are you here right now? You’re always at lunch at this time!
    Workers: Not always.
    Dignan: Yes! Always!

  159. tinfoil hattie

    Femme Forever: Nice pop psychology, and nice tired old “you emotional woman, taking everything so PERSONALLY!” tactic – after you attacked me personally. (You too, Alien Number. “slave”? Really? You want to go there?)

    I am pointing out the flaws in your argument: that you want it both ways. That “not my Nigel” is a big fat lie all feminists tell ourselves, and that “my Nigel” doesn’t belong in a conversation about feminism in general.

    Except when you use the example of individual “Nigels” to lecture, and attempt to shame, OTHER WOMEN who are negotiating patriarchy to the best of our limited ability. It’s intellecutally dishonest, and beneath the level of advanced blaming I’m accustomed to here.

    That’s why I’m pissed. I’ve been blaming here since 2004 and wondering what was “wrong” with me since I was born – because patriarchy has never made any sense to me – and I don’t need your condescending, patriarchy-imitating, sanctimonious “Blackboard o’ Truth” to educate me.

    You know that here, we will NEVER call you foul names and threaten you as would happen were you to post your thoughts anywhere else on the internet. We all know WHY you hate men and WHY you are so full of rage, and because it resonates so deeply with all of us, you get a big pass. Even in my anger at your delivery, I GET why you are behaving in such an abusive manner. But it’s still NOT OKAY. Not when men do it, not when you do it. Please stop.

  160. Triste

    FemmeForever, whether or not you actually believe that women are stupid is irrelevant. We can’t read your mind, we can only judge what you say. When you use language implying that we require teaching and you are the one who has to teach us, the implication is that instead of having a dialogue between equals, we are going to have a lecture given from a superior to an inferior. It’s a tactic that shuts down discussion by playing upon insecurities and bullying people into silence. It may be that this was not your intention. It is nevertheless the effect that it has.

    As for whether or not men are capable of love. This is on some level a debate that can’t really have any conclusive answer, first of all because there is no accepted definition of “love” and second of all because even if there was, we have no method of gathering data which could prove whether or not all men can or cannot love women.

    That having been said, this is my take on it: I (and you, and everyone) experience love in two ways – one as a feeling that I have towards others, and two as love expressed towards me. I cannot experience love as others feel it for me; I am not other people. I only experience love others have for me as it is expressed, through words and through actions. Because speculation on the inner workings of another human’s mind is fruitless, I am not clinging to any hope when I say that there are men who love me. I am not praying that they have some feeling for me. I am saying that I have experienced that love as an expression, as an action. I don’t have to hope for support, affection, companionship, from my father and brother. I have them. I’ve had them all my life, and I don’t feel that I am deluding myself when I say that I will continue to have these for the foreseeable future.

    This does not change the fact that Patriarchy is real. Men, even men who love me, contribute to my oppression by exercising male privilege. My father and brother both do this, even though they love me. Similarly, even though I love my brother, I contribute to his oppression by being able-bodied and able-minded, while he suffers from disability of both. Exercising my privilege as a person without a disability contributes to his oppression. His oppression is not less of a travesty just because I love him, but I love him nonetheless.

  161. Miriam

    Thank you, I really appreciate you sharing that perspective (and quote). This is what I was trying to say above, and I totally agree with you–as difficult as it may be!

  162. AlienNumber

    The slavery analogy was just that, an analogy. But let’s expand: at the micro level, it may have worked at times for individual white AND Black people (although it sure as hell it did not work for the majority of the enslaved people). At a macro level, slavery is the foundation upon which this great American capitalist civilization was built. So: some white individuals benefitted greatly from slavery (ALL white people benefit(ted) some from it), some enslaved people didn’t have it all that bad and contemporary Americans are wealthier than pretty much all the other people in the world, thanks in large part to the 200-300 years of free labor they got from the enslaved people.

    The same thing with the Institution of Heterosexuality and its twin, the Nuclear Family. It is the cornerstone of the Patriarchy. It benefits all men, some men greatly, it even works for SOME women (tinfoil hattie proud representative of this groups, it seems), but by and large it is the mechanism through which free reproductive and domestic labor is coerced from women. Don’t believe it’s coerced? Notice N/A’s musing above wondering about how she was going to figure out her life financially now that she’s given up on heterosexuality. It’s very clear that the Patriarchy heavily penalizes women (yes, especially the women) who opt out.

    But luckily, not all of us who opt out lose our lives anymore. Thank you, previous feminists!

    In order for women’s liberation to come about we need to get rid of the Nuclear Family (if I may humbly suggest that here, without being accused of heterophobia or something insane like that). Unfortunately, my imagination is limited and the only way it looks like we may have a chance to get rid of the Nuclear Family is through slave revolt. Oh, excuse me, through instituting a temporary stop on the collusion with the oppressor.

  163. N/A

    femmeforever’s comment was clearly directed towards funfems. if the commenters here are all advanced blamers then what’s the problem? the “teacher” thing also seemed a rhetorical device to suggest that funfems have still got them some learnin’ to do. which they do, non?

    i also didn’t see femmeforever calling anyone stupid or dismissing them as dick-suckers. she specifically used that phrase to point out nora’s misinterpretation of her words as dick-sucking i.e. male-identified (to whit: commenter’s ACTION was metaphorically dick-suckish, not commenter herself.)

    also, twisty: “The argument that women should eschew relationships with men because all individual men are “evil” lacks nuance (and accuracy).”

    no one made this argument. femmeforever certainly called men a lot of names besides evil (weak, empty, pathetic, what-have-you, why is “evil” specifically being singled out?) but it seemed she was mainly interested in getting across the point that men don’t love women and are sociopathic in a patriarchy. which is a fair point.

    as triste says, there was some righteous anger in femmeforever’s comment and it was nice to read, very soothing for a ruffled soul.

    so what is happening in this thread? are people getting genuinely wound up or are we just having us some bored-blamer fun?

    also — what AlienNumber said. word.

  164. tinfoil hattie

    Triste. A voice of sanity. Thank you again. Very concise, very rational, much more articulate than I’ve been able to be.

    AlienNumber: (tinfoil hattie proud representative of this groups, it seems), Cheap shot, dishonest, and frankly bullshit. Again with the “you can’t talk about your Nigel unless I am making it about your Nigel and then I will pretend you are making you & your Nigel about everyone.” It’s crap, and you know it.

    Also: “slavery” is not just an “analogy” unless one is expressing one’s white privilege.

    And N/A: FemmeForever’s comment was clearly directed at people here whom she has decided are funfems. That’s the “problem.”

  165. Stella

    One more quasi-relevant thought just crossed my mind.

    My “liberal” women friends do not understand why I consider it a point of principle not to even fuck conservative and/or misogynist dudes (’cause 99.9% of liberal dudes are misogynists, too, in my experience). These women seem to think that they are exercising some kind of table-turning power by valuing “hot” dudes only insofar as they want to fuck them casually and then be rid of them. One of these friends even went so far as to call me “celibate” a few years back when I expressed my opinion that to ever have sex (much less a relationship) with a misogynist is intolerable and, ultimately, only rewards them for the behavior, even if you think *you’re* the one using *them*.

    I’d just rather not have sex with dudes than have sex with assholes. It doesn’t seem that difficult of a decision to me.

    I’d also like to nominate the professor, writer, and radical activist Robert Jensen as a Dude Worth Knowing. I don’t know him personally, but he is one of the few men (other than my Nigel) who has yet to disappoint me. He even goes around describing his politics not as “radical” but as “feminist.” He writes anti-porn books (http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Off-Pornography-End-Masculinity/dp/089608776X/) and books examining white privilege. I’d say he’s an ally.

    Another dude I dare to admire is Derrick Jensen (no relation). Not only is he close friends with the radfem Lierre Keith, but he has written hundreds and hundreds of pages criticizing the dominance and submission paradigm of our culture, often using feminist theory to do so. He is a tireless activist who has yet to say anything I find offensive from a feminist standpoint. I’d also call him an ally.

    The space of my own personal domestic-romantic relationship is most certainly not free of the influence of patriarchy. After all, my male partner is granted innumerable privileges in our society which I am denied, and that necessarily affects every part of our lives, separately and together. However, there has not been one single instance in which he has used the Dude Card on me; not one single instance in which he has attempted to dominate, intimidate, or belittle me; not one single instance in which he has avoided calling out friends or acquaintances on their misogyny; not one single instance in which, when asked to consider his privilege, he failed to do so (and eloquently, I might add). Like I said, I think he may actually be an imaginary friend.

    I don’t want to give the impression that all hetero women (much less all hetero radfems) have hope; au contraire. But since I have happened upon this particular Nigel who is, in fact, an ally and someone who *enhances* my life and my feminism and thus my ability to bring it into every arena, with every audience, spreading the meme that women are people – because of that, I am not going to kick him out just because some other woman is convinced I am deluded. In fact, I pride myself on my inability to suffer cognitive dissonance, and though I (like all people) am often complicit in supporting the kyriarchy, I am rarely if ever *deluded* about doing so. I’ve been in enough shitty relationships with shitty dudes to know one when I see one, and I have no qualms whatsoever about turning on my heel and walking away from anyone who spouts misogynist bullshit, including socially, professionally, and romantically. I am privileged to be in a position in which I am largely free to choose with whom I associate.

    And, like I said upthread, the first time my Nigel does something misogynist, he’s outta here. This ain’t my first rodeo, and I have better things to do with my time than mother or educate or suffer the whines or violence of grown men. And I would encourage my fellow radfems to do the same if their Nigels are less than allies. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

    Actually, no – it’s not hard. Putting up with the bullshit is hard; justifying male cruelty to friends is hard; lying to yourself is hard; dumping that motherfucking asshole is easy. I would, in addition, recommend that young blamers avoid tangling their finances or financial security up with a man at all costs. And if you’re not deeply, deeply called to do the very tough and thankless work of parenting, and you have a choice about it, don’t have kids.

    In closing, I suppose I just want to second what Jill said about the inanity of calling *all men* individually “evil,” and further applaud Triste’s reasonable and fair participation in this thread. There are some decent men out there. I wouldn’t encourage my fellow feminists to “find one,” though, because, frankly, it’s not worth the time and effort. If, however, one of these unicorns wanders into your life, I don’t think it’s antifeminist to fall in love with him.

  166. FemmeForever

    Tinfoil Hattie:

    after you attacked me personally.

    I would ask you to point to the phrase where I mentioned you in my comment but that would be pointless since you already know this line is lie.

    This will be my final word to you on this issue:

    I’m sorry Hattie that I cannot make you value yourself more than you value men. If I knew how to do this I would bottle it, sell it worldwide for $2 a pop, make a billion trillion dollars, and be able to fund the revolution single-handedly. But I can see that not that many of us really want revolution. Most of us want status quo plus a few more perks, I guess.

  167. TotallyDorkin

    Tinfoil Hattie, if ONLY you would get rid of your husband and sons, you could finally be happy and the revolution could begin!

  168. tinfoil hattie

    FemmeForever: Quit with the bullying, and with the pop psychology crap. I asked you politely to stop. I am asking again, and it’s my last time. I have no doubt I will continue to live a happy and fulfilled life without ever engaging with you again. I don’t accept abuse from anyone, least of all other blamers. The target you think you see on my back? Isn’t there.

  169. tinfoil hattie

    Thank you, Stella. Your words echo my thoughts and speak clearly what I am unable to express currently.

  170. tinfoil hattie

    TD, I KNOW! I guess I am not owning my Revolution Delaying Privilege. Sigh. It’s hard being the keystone.

  171. Sunhat

    At the risk of further derailing this thread and exceeding the recommended 2 – 3 comments per post, I am still genuinely curious to hear whether it’s possible to advance The Cause any faster than waiting for several generations of individual single childless women to forego partnerships with men.

    Is there a way to engage lots and lots and lots of women in helping to dismantle patriarchy, even if they are currently and will continue to be partnered with men and/or maintain relationships with their fathers, brothers, sons, and male friends?

    What’s the strategy? How do we do this, practically?

  172. Comrade Svilova

    Men, even men who love me, contribute to my oppression by exercising male privilege. My father and brother both do this, even though they love me.

    And white feminists contribute to the oppression of womanists by exercising white privilege, etc. etc. As someone pointed out up-thread, if anyone who has (or associates with anyone with) any kind of privilege cannot participate in the revolution, it’s going to be a mighty small revolution.

    My personal hope is to destroy the nuclear family in my own little way by having a partnership with my Nigel that causes others to question their gender-normative assumptions. We continually cause people to look at us askance and then have those “aha!” moments when they realize that, actually, no one does have to follow those binary scripts.

    That’s not everything, but it is something.

  173. ginger

    Something I’ve learned recently about revolutions and sacrifice: sometimes, oppressors just as bad as the ones you are trying to cast off will step in and committing precise the crimes your previous oppressor did, in the name of your liberation (e.g. shelling civilian villages.)

    I am pretty sure that a revolutionary strategy that means feminists don’t reproduce is ripe for this sort of subversion.

    Solniger: I am sorry to tell you that in the next book the feisty girl hacker comes into some cash, gets her tits done, and spends a half-dozen paragraphs rationalizing it as correcting a bothersome imperfection. (Then all the other characters notice her new rack, observe that she’s corrected a bothersome imperfection, and take her more seriously as an adult person.) I suspect a fair number of the 21 million people took away the idea that boob job = liberation.

  174. Must Think of a Name

    That’s right, it was you who started it Sunhat. I think it’s possible to even go so far as to include women who are married to non-enlightened-but-with-potential-perhaps-to-an-extent men with children, women who don’t identify as feminist and know nothing about it. There are so many out there who recognise certain truths when put to them, who recognise it all along off their own bat. Men who recognise a small portion of it when pushed. Things get convuluted somewhere between the nexus of language and being. Where do you draw the line on these things – someone with bad politics but a humane glint in the eye, someone who is earnest and trying but lacks spark? Because on reflection, I don’t believe I’ve ever met a feminist man but nevertheless have known limited natural sympathisers (with deficiencies on display – not to be confused with the faux sympathiser). I think a line does exist, mind you.

    I’ve read a couple of excellent male [pro] feminists as well as one strangely unsatisfying one. The article on the Andrea Dworkin website about Ariel Levy’s posthumous introduction to Dworkin’s book is one of the smartest things I’ve ever read. That dude’s an ally.

  175. AlienNumber

    ginger, where did this idea that we won’t reproduce come from? Ever heard of sperm banks?

    On a serious note, Twisty’s was right (again?!): the Revolution is unlikely.

  176. Jezebella

    @Lawbitch, I miss you. Come back to RFT and/or FB, pretty please?

    @FemmeForever, you seem to be under the mistaken assumption that the only two choices for hetero feminists are absolute celibacy or marriage-like partnership with a Nigel. This is by no means the case. For example, all of my most important and long-lasting relationships are with women, but for sex & companionship, which I do in fact want occasionally, I usually have a dude around. Not in my house, though. (Nor with a mouse, not in a box, not with a fox.) There are ways to practice heterosexuality that do not involve becoming a servant in one’s own home. To assume otherwise, to assume non-celibate hetero women (especially mothers and partnered women) are a bunch of feminist frauds and submissives, is unkind and untrue.

  177. Jill

    “I am still genuinely curious to hear whether it’s possible to advance The Cause any faster than waiting for several generations of individual single childless women to forgo partnerships with men. ”

    I recently saw a trailer for a documentary wherein it was claimed that, at our current rate of reform, women will not achieve parity with men for another 500 years. That’s a long fucken time!

    I wish I could remember the name of that documentary.

  178. niki

    It is totally possible to have and enjoy hetero sex without it leading to marriage and babies, just so everyone knows.

    You can even have sex with men and *not* have to listen to or manipulate around their gender politics. Amazing, truly!

    In fact, if you have no blueprints for the marriage/baby layout, you can manipulate said relationships however you like and men either deal or they don’t and it’s no sweat off your proverbial balls either way, because you have your own thing going that doesn’t involve being dependent on them. Ergo it doesn’t matter if they get butt hurt and fuck off because you don’t shave your legs or enjoy going to strip clubs, you have a life! Celibacy is grand if that’s your thing, but it’s not hetero celibacy or capitulation to the patriarchy or DEATH, it really isn’t!

    It’s strange and new for most d00dz to meet women who don’t have these goals in mind, but that only means that you can be the pioneer!

  179. Comrade Svilova

    And what Jezebella and Niki describe is also very effective at undermining the nuclear family.

  180. Ashley

    the Revolution is unlikely.

    What kind of a rallying cry is that?

    The revolution is fucking inevitable.

    No matter how many blowjob wars it may take.

  181. speedbudget

    Yeah, what is it with the assumption that every het partnership leads to marriage? Personally my het partnership is leading to me buying the house in my personal and own name and having him pay me some damn rent. And he is happy with this arrangement. The only way marriage will get into the mix is if I need some health insurance, but I blame the Republicans for that.

    What is wrong with having been married and had kids, yet raising said kids with a feminist mindset? To me that is a great way to bring the P down. tinfoil hattie and the like are doing a great service.

  182. Jill

    “At the risk of […] exceeding the recommended 2 – 3 comments per post […]”

    Great Scott! Somebody finally read the Commenter Guidelines! I think I may cry.

  183. Comrade Svilova

    It’s not enough to say “a woman chose [X] therefore [X] is feminist.” But what about “a feminist is doing [X] in a feminist way”?

  184. pheenobarbidoll

    Maybe it’s just me, but who a woman (feminist or not) chooses to partner with isn’t any of my business. Unless she expects me to allow him over for margs. I can then either say yes, your partner is tolerable in my home or no, your partner is an anti feminist asshat and shall not be given so much as a SIP of my marg.

    I have no say so over anyone’s choice of partner. To even consider they want to hear my say so is pretty arrogant. That’s the realm of godbags and I don’t step a toe into those waters.

  185. Kali

    Interesting conversation. There are a lot of parallels between this conversation and the conversation around the “swadeshi” movement among the Indian freedom fighters during the early part of the 20th century. Some thought that no one has the right to tell others how to live their lives, what they should boycott and what they can enjoy. Others thought this was the only/best way to achieve freedom. I think the patriarchy has a lot more parallels with colonisation than with slavery. Which is probably why Gandhi could use the idea of civil disobedience invented by the suffragists. It’s the same concept here. The swadeshi movement used the economic boycott of British goods to get independence from the British colonizers. Can we boycott the nuclear family to get independence from the patriarchy?

  186. nails

    “What is wrong with having been married and had kids, yet raising said kids with a feminist mindset? To me that is a great way to bring the P down. tinfoil hattie and the like are doing a great service.’

    For real. Those kids go into the world and interact with other kids, and having ONE objector to crap like bullying and discrimination can radically change the behavior of others in the crowd. I wish so badly that I had known something about feminism when I was a young girl. It would have saved me so much trouble. Having that one friend would have made a world of difference.

  187. nails

    Oh yeah, does anyone have thoughts on Andrea Dworkin’s marriage? I have been curious what blametariat think of that business.

  188. orlando

    “I think the patriarchy has a lot more parallels with colonisation than with slavery.”

    Anne Summers wrote Damned Whores and God’s Police (1975) to demonstrate how women are a colonized people, and I think she said pretty much exactly what Hedgepig did upthread, about being the only oppressed people who routinely live in intimacy with their oppressors. Recommended read.

  189. Kali

    What is wrong with having been married and had kids, yet raising said kids with a feminist mindset?

    I wish feminist mothers had that kind of life-long power over their kids’ mindset. I really hope that those kids don’t go out in the world and unlearn all that.

  190. tinfoil hattie

    I wish feminist mothers had that kind of life-long power over their kids’ mindset.

    How many people here are still influenced by what happened in their childhoods? By what their mothers AND fathers and other “authority” figures did to them?

    There’s not some magical thing that happens to “feminist” children; i.e., all the upbringing magically disappears. I have a lot of faith in how I’m raising my sons.

  191. Jill

    “Andrea Dworkin’s marriage? I have been curious what blametariat think of that business.”

    I don’t wish to speak for the blametariat, but Dworkin’s personal domestic arrangements are irrelevant to her feminist work.

    “But Twisty,” you say, “isn’t that what all the rape apologists say about Roman Polanski? That he’s a great director and his personal life is irrelevant to his great directorism?”

    Nay. Dworkin, in marrying a gay dude, wasn’t behaving criminally or assaulting or traumatizing a powerless child of lower status than herself (like Polanski did), so her public oeuvre stands. Platonic domestic partners are not uncommon, and Andrea Dworkin’s having had one one doesn’t invalidate radical feminism, any more than when Simone de Beauvoir ironed Sartre’s shirts, she nullified the philosophic value of The Second Sex.

  192. Hedgepig

    There’s a fascinating book called “No Two Alike” by Judith Rich Harris which contains not only entertaining quotables such as “The man who mistook his wife for a hat had a rare neurological disorder; the man who mistook his wife for a chattel is an anthropological commonplace”, but also the thesis that by adulthood most children have adjusted their values and beliefs to fit with the mainstream culture in which their family of origin exists, regardless of whether their parents have instilled in them values and beliefs that are at odds with mainstream society.
    Not all, but most.

  193. Tigs

    “Can we boycott the nuclear family to get independence from the patriarchy?”
    I don’t think it’ll work. Next method, please.

  194. Hedgepig

    Tigs, why don’t you think it’ll work? Because not enough of us will do it all at once? Or because the nuclear family is not the bedrock of patriarchy? Or something completely different?

  195. ginger

    “ginger, where did this idea that we won’t reproduce come from? Ever heard of sperm banks?”

    Yeeeaaaaahhhh. Although you can reproduce pretty easily with a turkey baster and the fresh stuff, in the US, cryopreservation of anonymously donated semen is pretty much exclusively the territory of the for-profit reproductive technology industry, which, trust me, you really want to avoid if you’re not into patriarchy.

    Also, if bouncy ole peens gross you out, the prospect of putting semen in your ladyparts should pretty much give you the heaves.

  196. AlienNumber

    It does personally give me the heaves and generally offends my lesbian sensibilities, actually! (how did you know??) Luckily, some other women, radfems too, seem to not suffer from the same problem. The Future of the Species is secure. (The Revolution: still unlikely).

    But, in other technology news: the Patriarchy is helpfully helping our radfem cause and working on the perfecting of the “bone marrow sperm” (according to Blamer Emma’s comment on another post). If the perfecting will happen within the next 500 years (or within the next 1 million years when the y is expected to shrink into nothingness), remains to be seen.

  197. nails

    It doesn’t invalidate any of Dworkin’s work, but it kinda puts a big hole in that “you are keeping the revolution from occuring by being married” business. She did a damn lot.

  198. Comrade Svilova

    What Hedgepig said. The nuclear family is a core part of patriarchy. If we can reinforce other family / community models, that are more matriarchal / communal that would seriously shake the patriarchy.

  199. Tigs

    I don’t think it will work *as such* for a few reasons.

    1. I don’t think you can get a critical mass by mere withdrawal–which is what I take to be meant by a boycott.

    2. Boycotts are economic means for a reason, they are meant to withhold and disrupt a capitalist process that requires motion to continue. Boycotts reveal the underlying economic power of the withdrawing bloc. I’m not convinced women have a lot of power that withdrawing is going to be all that effective. Across the USA, 34% of children are being raised in single-parent (predominantly women) households. 57% of black children (includes African American and ethnic identities collapsed under the racial category) are being raised by single parents (mostly mothers).
    Women are not going to stop having children, even if they stop partnering in the long-term with men, but the evidence is pretty clear that has had the primary effect of merely raising the prestige of those white, wealthy, heterosexual unions (which would continue to make up an ever more valued minority—and fuck everybody else). I’m not convinced that changes if more of us simply walk away with our kids (and women are definitely NOT leaving their children behind en mass). Instead we just end up with a bunch more poor, low-status women that the political elite hates.*

    I’m all for transforming the nuclear family by demanding that you be treated like a human being by those with whom you have intimate relations (of all kinds: sexual, parental, fraternal, amicable, etc.), and that limiting intimacy to one person is indeed a violation of that demand (I’m not saying that monogamy is necessarily dehumanizing–though it can be–rather I’m suggesting that intimate relationships need to happen in a variety of ways to develop well as a human being).
    I’m all for opening up the home sphere to a variety of innovations, by as many of us as possible, and as soon and as often as possible, I just don’t see any political legs in what is tantamount to separatism.

    *Note: Intentional communities made up of groups of women and their children engaging in mutual support (economic, social, and otherwise) sounds lovely. And these communities do indeed exist, but they are not the core of the revolution.

  200. Twilljot

    Thanks for a fascinating discussion on this topic! I’ve been lurking here for a few weeks and have seen Twisty and others mention that het marriage is problematic. I didn’t understand the reasoning at the time, but this thread has answered many questions and shown an interesting spread of opinion.

  201. Laurie

    About raising feminist children, I was scared it wouldn’t stick, too. We live in a small right-wing town, and I homeschooled my two girls to give them a head start against the patriarchy, but most homeschoolers here are kids of fundamentalists, so that was dicey.

    When they were small, they were always mortified or bored when I dragged them to demonstrations and other political events for the feminist women’s health clinic we volunteer for, but today my older girl is the manager/outreach-education coordinator there, and the younger is writing gay-friendly feminist YA fiction.

    I’m sure lots of luck was involved, but even in a hostile environment, the feminist worldview learned early CAN obtain in adulthood. It’s an ongoing educational opp, though: I’m still working on what I call their femme drag (makeup etc.). They’re both regular readers here, so I have hope.

  202. Ayla

    Considering the difference that a feminist friend or mentor can make later in life, I don’t think the difference that a feminist mother can make can be overstated.

    It’s not panacea, but it damn sure makes a difference.

  203. Hedgepig

    Oh Tigs, I can’t tell you how good that was to read an argument against separatism that didn’t amount to “But I WANNA have sex with my Nigel and have his babies!”

    And it’s a damn good point about the status of a group not being raised just because the size of the group is large/growing. Leaving children out of the thought experiment, your hypothesis translates to un-partnered women as a group. If large numbers of us stopped partnering men, I suppose large numbers of us would simply be considered, well, sad losers who can’t get a man, nomatter how much we yelled that we’re eschewing the male of the species by choice.

  204. Must Think of a Name

    I remember in early high school (junior high? I’m not American) when we were reading “To Kill a Mockingbird”, the teacher gave a short biography of Harper Lee. I went to an all girl’s school, not at all enlightened in terms of the students, and I swear a detectable frisson of awe went round the class at the idea of this person who wrote one book and then exited the scene to lead an unpartnered life of mystery. So self contained! Just in that moment, it was like everyone had the same thought and that thought was “cool”. I still remember it. I still to this day think she is cool.

    These things are already there lying dormant. Cultural messages have to come along and deliberately attack for the patriarchy to have it’s own way. Large numbers of visibly happy single women can only be good marketing. Remember that brief Mary Tyler Moore/Charlie period that Faludi wrote about before the backlash, when they were de rigeur. At the same time, partnered hetero feminists with children are more than useful when it comes to tackling the man hating charge and relieving the anxieties of newcomers. It’s just that I turned away from a love that was too sexist and I don’t want to have to think for a minute I was wrong. Which I wasn’t because I feel so much better now.

  205. FemmeForever

    Which I wasn’t because I feel so much better now.

    MTN, I had this experience, too. It felt like the Empire State Building was lifted off my shoulders. And it effectively was.

  206. Ameli a

    Tigs- “radical love”. I love it. Tinfoil Hattie, I just loves ya.

    And it goes without saying, so I’ll say it anyway, love you Jill and patriarchy blaming the Twisty way!

  207. wuyong

    Dear Stella, I’m a 45-year-old spinster aunt with many dear friends of all genders including a lovely and very male lover i see on the weekends. It’s a great life. You don’t have to choose between feminism and following your hetero-bliss. Be who you are, whatever you are. Isn’t that the whole point?
    Love, Wuyong

  208. lildozzie

    An infrequent lurker, I’ve been considering all these comments for a few days…and I have to say, you are making this hetero girl seriously consider ending it with the current guy I’m with. (Can I ask, what is a Nigel? Why is it said in place of bf or husband?)

    But I just thought someone should know that you’re words are having an impact! Celibacy isn’t sounding so bad :)

  209. Solniger

    @Jill It looks like a telescope, but actually its a giant honkin’ telephoto camera lens. I use it to take pictures of birds. It may seem like overkill, but I am such a crummy photographer that I can never sneak up on birds and snap’em with anything smaller.

    But you’re right, there are some pretty good stars out here.

    Tres cool. For me its just an i-phone but my pictures aren’t worth blogging with/about.

  210. Kali

    1. I don’t think you can get a critical mass by mere withdrawal–which is what I take to be meant by a boycott.

    Do you mean a critical mass of withdrawal? The above statement doesn’t make sense to me otherwise. A critical mass of what?

    2. Boycotts are economic means for a reason, they are meant to withhold and disrupt a capitalist process that requires motion to continue. Boycotts reveal the underlying economic power of the withdrawing bloc. I’m not convinced women have a lot of power that withdrawing is going to be all that effective.

    The nuclear family is an economic unit. It is an economic unit where the unpaid/low-paid work of women is used to sustain capitalism, i.e. women raise future workers and allow men to work for pay undistracted by childcare responsibilities. The withdrawal of women from doing this work would bring down capitalism as it exists today*. That is a huge power. However, I agree with you that women are unlikely to exercise it in sufficiently large numbers because they are not going to stop having children or taking care of those children.

    I’m all for transforming the nuclear family by demanding that you be treated like a human being by those with whom you have intimate relations (of all kinds: sexual, parental, fraternal, amicable, etc.),

    Do you think women have the power to demand this in their intimate relations? I don’t think we do. Ultimately, it is up to the other person to decide how they want to treat us. They might treat us well, but that is their choice not our demands making it happen.

    *It is not a coincidence that women in the US do approximately two-thirds of the total unpaid work and earn approximately one-third of the total personal income.

  211. iamlegs

    Darragh Murphy said, and this was way upthread, (and the conversation has moved on, and yet):

    According to one study, which I will try to link, women are sexually attracted to anything that is, well, attractive; whether that is a young, fit, half-naked man, lesbians kissing, gay men kissing/embracing, a horse running on a beach, or a fit woman doing yoga. Interestingly, this didn’t hold true for men. The men in the study who identified as gay were only really sexually attracted to handsome men and/or men having sex with each other. The straight men were exclusively attracted to women (straight and lesbian).

    The thing is, we’re bombarded from birth with images of attractive women, and at the same time we are expected to identify with men’s desires. So, it’s not unexpected that women would find attractive, “anything that is, well, attractive.”

    As for the other argument upthread that children inevitably fall into place with the patriarchy, regardless of radfem upbringing, re-reading “Women’s Ways of Knowing” will affirm the notion that maturity is a continuum, identifying with authority of all stripes can and has been overcome by flashes of insight (among other methods), and that we are all in a process of growth–all of us can learn more, hear more, act more, grow more. Patriarchal conformity isn’t inevitable!

    Also: we can teach what we know, from the level at which we know it. In fact, sometimes it’s much easier to learn from someone only a bit more advanced than you than someone who has total mastery. This scenario is played out all the time if you observe children in natural learning environments (i.e. not ‘school’).

    Alice Miller, discussing child abuse, states that abused children who’ve been supported, even one tiny bit, by someone who sees who they are as human beings, are enabled to avoid growing up to be abusers. Proof of this statement, for me, is that not 100% of children are abused. Some people, having experienced the very worst, still choose to grow and mature, and are helped along by others who listen to and support them.

    And we here discussing this on this blog, yes, the wars even, these are all helping each of us at our own levels. Honestly, I think advanced blamerism is not some higher level but is really just a state of listening with a nuanced ear, speaking our multiple truths and not settling for bullshit/straw/flawed arguments and bad facts.

    So anyway, I’m with nails, in saying that, if only I’da heard of this radfem stuff in high school, what time I would have saved!
    Let us go forth, etc.

  212. Tigs

    “Do you mean a critical mass of withdrawal? The above statement doesn’t make sense to me otherwise. A critical mass of what?”

    A critical mass = sufficient women withdrawing from the nuclear family to bring about transformative levels of social change.

    “The nuclear family is an economic unit.” – Obviously this is so, what I’m saying is that I don’t think women hold the economic power in this unit. Their labor is exploited (I say their because my domestic situation is neither nuclear nor exploitive), but since women aren’t leaving their children behind, I don’t think this will have sufficient economic force to be transformative–but you already agree with me, so, that’s that.

    And as for whether we can demand recognition, I think we can. It might not be the best choice for *preserving* the nuclear family, but I’m not terribly invested in that. I do think that in loving relationships (I’m not talking about salvaging abusive relationships, but rather plain old, real, loving relationships that are currently sullied by patriarchal bullshit) there are possibilities for feminist resistance and redefinition.

    Some, even many, of our menfolk (and womenfolk) will leave us, and perhaps even try to abuse us, but others will grow the fuck up and realize that loving is by definition a matter of supporting the self-determination of the ones you love.
    I really, truly believe this. I don’t think it’s easy, and I don’t think it’s not a lifelong process, and I’m not even sure it’s revolutionary in the broader sense, but I think it is a profoundly political act, and a deeply worthwhile venture that has the possibility to reshape many lives and maybe the society around those lives.

  213. Comrade Svilova

    Thank you, Tigs. A great examination of this question.

  214. Kali

    but since women aren’t leaving their children behind, I don’t think this will have sufficient economic force to be transformative–but you already agree with me, so, that’s that.

    I want to clarify the difference between having the power and being unwilling to exercise it. You seem to be saying that we don’t have the power because we are unwilling to exercise it. I find that an interesting, though a bit convoluted way of thinking.

    Also, boycotting the nuclear family doesn’t in any way equate with women leaving their children behind. Women who boycott the nuclear family by not having children will not be leaving any children behind. Also, women who boycott the nuclear family by raising children in non-nuclear family situations will not be leaving any children behind. You’ve chosen the most extreme interpretation of boycotting the nuclear family to make your point against it.

    And as for whether we can demand recognition, I think we can.

    Of course we can demand whatever we want to demand. But we don’t have the power to see to it that our demands are met. Ultimately we’ll have to rely on the decency and kindness of individual others to get what we want, if we choose the route that you are suggesting. It is the least effective way of changing society, a way that women have been following for millenia – urging kindness and decency from a low power position.

  215. FemmeForever

    Welcome lildozzie.

    Nigel is an acronym for Nice Guy Lover and it is used in place of bf or husband because lots of people are unmarried and this word is all inclusive.

    If this tread has caused you to even consider taking care of yourself by implementing celibacy for your life it has been worth it a thousand times over. Whatever decision you make welcome.

  216. Hedgepig

    Kali’s analysis of power within heteosexual relationships is accurate. We don’t have the power to make a male partner abandon sexism or violence, we just have a bit of influence, which may or may not be effective.

    The power we do have, at least in western industrialised democracies, is the legal power to leave a relationship or marriage. Yes I know many women get murdered when they try to leave a relationship, or are threatened with violence if they attempt it and so do not have the power to attempt it, but legally at least we are permitted to leave a relationship.

    Also, arranged and forced marriages are illegal and rare in western democracies.

    So the only time we have some genuine power is in refraining from entering relationships, and in choosing to end them. Once we are inside a het relationship, power becomes mere influence at best.

    This is demonstrated by the fact that on divorce an ex-wife is entitled to access money and property belonging to the ex-husband, but during the marriage, not so. It’s only in the dissolution of a marriage that women can (sometimes) enforce the rights that presumably are supposed to exist during the marriage. During the marriage, the woman must rely, as Kali says, on appealing to the decency and kindness of another person, who is in a higher power position in patriarchal society.

  217. FemmeForever

    It’s only in the dissolution of a marriage that women can (sometimes) enforce the rights that presumably are supposed to exist during the marriage.

    I just heard yesterday about a woman who knew her husband was hiding the assets during the divorce. I think her settlement was $800 thousand. But she didn’t give up. She kept chasing the money trail for the next 15 years and, bingo, she eventually found the mother lode. Her new corrected settlement – $15 million. I LOL’d and did the happy dance when I heard that. Yay, for feminine determination. Brava Margaret!


  218. Jill

    I would just like to pop in and congratulate the Blametariat for making past 200 comments without mentioning Nazis or Hitler. I think it’s some kind of Internet record.

    Of course, now I just blammed it all up. Oh well.

  219. MariaS

    Random personal thoughts on radical feminist heterosexuality acquired over time. Question heterosexuality, question the nuclear family, and destabilise both. Question and reject the romance myth. Examine your straight privilege. Be an ally to lesbian and bi women. Don’t diss separatism, whether you choose it or not – there’s a ton of patriarchal discrediting of women who choose not to centre their lives on men anyway. Be very very careful about making the decision to cohabit with a man. Also, realise that it’s more than likely he won’t change if he doesn’t already take on his fair share of household work or childcare. Realise what an energy-suck he can be if he’s like that. Get to the stage where what you feel about men is that you can take them or leave them. This is also freeing for negating the power of anti-feminist arguments that hinge on the idea that loss of male approval will be devastating for you. Have a doing-without-men phase. Make a conscious choice to put women and girls first (this doesn’t mean that any men and boys in your life will lose out, it’s just rectifying the imbalance whereby you’re socialised to put them first). Oh, and work out and honour whether you’re actually attracted to a particular man, or if you’re going along with socialisation to partner with one and/or to be nice to them generally.

    I think that here in the UK, the cultural shift over the last half of the 20th century with regard to family and relationship patterns cannot be underestimated. Unmarried heterosexual relationships, divorce, single-parenting, having children with different fathers, having several relationships in your lifetime, are all now largely unremarkable. I see these patterns in my family and friends’ lives. They don’t all have it easy, and some social stigmas persist, but the significant thing is, the forces and sanctions that kept women in unhappy marriages in the past have weakened. This is amazing to think of. Of course, there is a lot of male violence manifesting in response to women’s greater personal freedoms.

    With regard to sexual orientation, my woolly hunch is that more people are bi than not – based purely on the idea that since c. 1 in 10 people identify as lesbian and gay, maybe there’s a similar portion that are completely opposite-sex oriented, and then everyone else is somewhere along a spectrum of bisexuality. We just don’t know how sexual identities would pan out in a non-heterocentric culture. What I do know is that right now, sexual orientations develop either in conformity with the approved dominant model of opposite sex attraction, or are oppressed by it’s dominance. The people I’ve been most intensely attracted to so far in my life have all been male, bar a few very latent, fleeting girl-crushes, and I don’t expect that to change really – but neither do I accept that that’s set in stone. Nor do I accept the idea that I am attracted to men – as I said, I see it that the people I am and have been attracted to are all male. I don’t seek the attention and approval of men in general. However, the heteronormative brain-washing has been thorough. Though the attraction I feel for the male people I’m attracted to is real, I’m very aware that there’s a kind of well-entrenched gender-based potential-partner sorting filter in my head: gender person male, factor in possibility of sexual interest, gender person female, factor out sexual interest. And that pretty much nothing in my childhood socialisation ever presented me with the idea that women could be love interests for other women. Part of the comfortable fit of my heterosexuality is the ingrained notion that a female partner just wouldn’t be “right” – I don’t mean that in any religiously moral sense, I mean that I literally can’t envision it to some extent, so invested am I in all the happily-ever-after/tragically-doomed archetypal hetero-pairings that fiction, film and television have elevated to me as pinnacles of life-story plot resolution. Even nowadays when I know those aren’t the be-all and end-all, they are still very culturally centred, and same-sex attraction and pairings are marginal, othered. Also, distinctly masculine and feminine gender presentations are still very predominant – I’ve hardly seen any butch women in tv and film. So, I just think that if we grew up seeing same sex and opposite sex attractions equally depicted or lived around us, and where maleness and femaleness weren’t so strongly foregrounded as defining attributes of partner choice thanks to distinctive and restrictive clothing and bodily styling conventions, it’s possible that all bets would be off as to how we would regard sexual identity and orientation.

  220. Natalia

    Having come back to this discussion, I have to say: FemmeForever’s commentary on men reads a bit like “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” Coming from me – that’s both a compliment and a criticism.

    And I’m saying this as someone who certainly discovered feminism years before I discovered my husband and began gestating our first child (a boy – due this summer).

  221. Stella

    Did anyone read the Jaclyn Geller book yet?

    I really want to discuss it with other radfems, but no one I know except my Nigel will read it. Phooey.

  222. christina

    I wonder if Natalia realizes the irony of shoving the fact that she’s spawning a son down our throats on a thread about feminists centering women before men.

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