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Mar 31 2011

Toronto activists take back the slut

SlutWalkers say it loud and proud on April 3

Canadian blamers have just hipped me to SlutWalk. Thanks, Canadian blamers!  On April 3rd, Toronto anti-rape activists will be protesting the reification by law enforcement of the bogus cultural construct “slut.” The protest march was ignited by this remark, recently uttered by Toronto cop Michael Sanguinetti as he addressed a class of law school students:

“Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

Michael Sanguinetti has apparently been reading those helpful rape-avoidance email forwards that counsel weak, defenseless women on how not to convey the message that we want men to rape us. He knows that men’s behavior is totally our responsibility! In a twisted dude-centric culture that sees nothing amiss in defining women as the receptacles for dudely incontinence, it is unsurprising that the Michael Sanguinettis of the world should also conclude that when men behave accordingly, it is women’s fault.

In addition to calling bullshit on the Toronto police for perpetuating a misogynist myth — they’re literally marching to the police headquarters’ front door — SlutWalk is going to try to do that thing that many an activist group has tried — and failed — to do for a while now, which is to reclaim a debasing epithet.

Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.

They’re not joking around, either. They’ve got SLUT buttons for the SlutWalkers to wear. This is what a slut looks like, etc.

I couldn’t call myself a spinster aunt if I didn’t offer a critical analysis of the SlutWalk concept, so here goes.

The spinster aunt must question, as an objective for any kind of walk, slut- or otherwise, the necessity of “re-appropriating” a sexist slur. My concerns are several, but time is short, so here is a quick summary:

Does changing the context of the word change the word? It might, but only so long as that context persists. Context is how Dave Chapelle could nigger it up on his TV show for laughs, but in the mainstream ‘nigger’ is bleeped out or re-issued as “the N-word,” confirming its status as one of the most offensive words in the English language.

In an attempt to disenvenom the word ‘slut’, SlutWalkers can slut it up for their SlutWalk, wearing, as Toronto Sun columnist Heather Mallick says, “whatever it is that people wear as they go about their lives not asking to be raped,” but once the march is over, ‘Hey, I’m a slut!’ is unlikely to have the desired consciousness-raising effect. The sex class will still exist.

This notion of re-appropriating ‘slut’ suggests that women, possibly in some happier time, had previously a-ppropriated it for our own benefit. But in no wise was there ever a culture in which women’s solidarity compelled us to define ourselves by the number of men we’ve pronged and how closely we conformed to pornographic dress codes when we did it. When you’re standing up against your own oppression as a member of the sex class, it is problematic and of questionable revolutionary efficacy to stamp yourself and your comrades-in-arms with the mark of the oppressor.

In other words, calling yourself a slut, in the middle of a flippin’ patriarchy, can only have the effect, as Germaine Greer noted, of reinforcing men’s sense of their own superiority.* If you’ll permit a personal anecdote:

I confirmed this firsthand when, at the apex of the Riot Grrl “movement,” I, too scrawled ‘slut’ on an undershirt and wore it at gigs with my all-girl punk band. Was our audience a bunch of feminists shouting “you go, girl!”? Ha! If only. Even now the memory burns. Our audience was, in fact, a bunch of straight dudes. Leering, drunk straight dudes who saw a woman on stage with the word ‘slut’ smeared across her chest and did not say to themselves, “Wow, I should really re-think the meaning of the word ‘slut’ and reflect on my male privilege.” What they said to themselves (and, come to think of it, to me) was, “Slut, eh? Shit, I’d hit that.”

It turns out that ‘slut’ isn’t just an adjective. It’s a character. A fictional character, beloved of patriarchal culture, who encrapulates eons of virgin/whore-fueled misogyny, and was invented to absolve violent dudes of rape behavior. Sluts are women deemed by the angry dude-mob to have so ineptly handled the duties of femininity that they must be shamed, mocked, and of course, fucked in perpetuity.

By which I mean, you may say “patayto” and I, “patahto,” but in the end it might be more advantageous to dismantle the slut rather than claim it. “Everyone’s a slut” just doesn’t have the same oomph as “nobody’s a slut.”

None of which is to say that Savage Death Island doesn’t wish SlutWalk the greatest possible success. Here’s hoping the Toronto police department responds with something more potent than the usual lip-service about “sensitivity training.” Nothing would tickle the spinster boob scars more than if The Slut were to disappear altogether from the cultural narrative.

By the way — speaking of rape-prevention email forwards — I can’t resist reprinting this satirical re-gendered version, originally sent in by a blamer in 2009 and gently adapted for Savage Death Island by me.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work

1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.

2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.

4. If you are in a lift and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

7. When you lurk in bushes and doorways with criminal intentions, always wear bright clothing, wave a flashlight, or play “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)” by the Raveonettes on a boombox really loud, so women in the vicinity will know where to aim their flamethrowers.

8. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you when lurking in shadows.

9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to rape a woman, you can hand the whistle to your buddy, so s/he can blow it to call for help.

10. Give your buddy a revolver, so that when indifferent passers-by either ignore the rape whistle, or gather round to enjoy the spectacle, s/he can pistol-whip you.

11. Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be raping her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.

In other words, the best way to prevent rape is to not rape anybody.

_________________
* Greer, Germaine. The Whole Woman (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1999) 198.

164 comments

14 pings

  1. Kelly

    You have hit it out of the park with this one! I also appreciate the sexual assault prevention checklist. I’d seen it here or there but I can never find one when I want it.

  2. Lidon

    “Nobody’s a slut.” Exactly.

  3. TotallyDorkin

    If an oppressed class could reclaim a slur used against them by the oppressor class, the slur wouldn’t be a big enough problem to warrant reclaiming.

  4. Solniger

    I couldn’t agree more. The word ‘bitch’ has more or less been ‘taken back’ but it still makes me uncomfortable and I never use it. I wonder if they should have just marched under the ‘Take Back The Night’ banner instead of Slutwalk.

  5. humanbein

    “Everyone’s a slut” just doesn’t have the same oomph as “nobody’s a slut.”

    That’s the real message that needs to be put out there. Wake up from your deluded fantasies of sluts walking around just dying to be raped into orgasmic bliss by your magical manliness. In reality, there is no such thing as a slut, no matter how convincing an acting job you’ve seen, either in real life, hearsay, or most likely, through constant exposure to our porn-soaked culture, where it has become a truism even on most television comedies.

    Nobody’s a slut. It’s just that simple.

  6. Mary Tracy9

    I think by “re-appropriating” the word, what they mean is: instead of men getting to call us sluts, we are going to call ourselves sluts. Seen like this, it’s kind of obvious how it defeats the purpose.

    It is men who get to say which woman is a “slut”, and in most places of the world nothing imprints the word on a woman more strongly than having been raped by a man. In the west it may mean a woman has done something (dress some way, slept with a man); outside of the west, a woman doesn’t need to do anything other than be a woman at the wrong time in the wrong place.

    In short, the idea is problematic all round. It would have been more effective to go downtown with signs reading “I dare you to call anyone slut” and holding a couple of mock machine guns for extra effect.

  7. Solniger

    I thought about this a little bit more and the problem with ‘SlutWalk’ is the same as the one with sex-positive feminism. Sexism, after all, is in the eye of the beholder and one’s reclaimation has nothing to do with it.

    I still think they called it Slutwalk because that word was specifically used by Sanguinetti. It will be great if people show up in the dowdiest duds they can find. I’m getting an urge to go in a burqa to protest the recent publicised rapes being reported from the middle east.

  8. Solniger

    addendum: protesting the rapes, not that they were publicised.

  9. janna

    @Mary Tracy9: Yes, because if history has shown us nothing else, it’s that implying violence in response to violence always creates peace.

  10. Zoe

    “Yes, because if history has shown us nothing else, it’s that implying violence in response to violence always creates peace.”

    @janna: It certainly does. If women were a physical match for men, there would be no patriarchal oppression. Sad as it is to say, frequently violence is the answer.

  11. Ayla

    Well, janna, some of us are done with being nice. Never got us nowhere anyhow.

  12. janna

    So not threatening to shoot people with machine guns is nice? The bar is sure low among feminists these days.

  13. Ayla

    Until men realize that there are real world consequences to the way they treat us, they will continue to treat us the same way they always have.

    I, personally, am not OK with that.

    Also, if you can’t see the difference between the ACTUAL violence perpetrated on women’s bodies and a sign with a picture of a machine gun and a meany-head saying, there’s probably not much of a discussion to be had here.

  14. FemmeForever

    Word.

    I don’t call people, let alone myself, bitches or fat or n-word or slut because those words are toxic, hateful words that can never be cleansed.

  15. tinfoil hattie

    I disagree that “bitch” has been taken back. It’s still a derogatory word hurled at women.

    Do you know the difference between a slut & a bitch? A slut is a woman who sleeps with anyone. A bitch is a slut who sleeps with anybody but you!

  16. ginger

    “In other words, calling yourself a slut, in the middle of a flippin’ patriarchy, can only have the effect, as Germaine Greer noted, of reinforcing men’s sense of their own superiority.”

    Yup.

    “It turns out that ’slut’ isn’t just an adjective. It’s a character.”

    Definitely. And you can repudiate a stereotype, or you can reclaim the pieces that are undeservedly hated (I’m thinking of ‘sissiness’, here, the attribution of qualities defined as feminine to a person apparently male, so undeservedly and neurotically loathed by gender essentialists), but you can’t reclaim a stereotype, because its essence is a falsehood.

  17. Nora

    Thank you so much for this. All of it.

    I know a couple of people in my city who are trying to get our own “SlutWalk” up and running, and I wish to god they’d call it something else (and, um, knock the “we should all dress as scantily for this protest” bullshit).

    For me, at least, the word “slut” is pretty intimately connected with sexual abuse/rape (and this makes sense logically when you think about how “slut” is pretty much a term invented to rob women of their sexual autonomy). Calling myself a “slut” would almost feel like re-victimization. At any rate, it would be a little icky.

    I want to have some version of Mary Tracy 9′s idea: we could have a big gathering of women in some public spaces with protest signs saying “would you call me a slut?” It’s similar to SlutWalk in that it’s very clearly a statement against dehumanizing women as sluts, but it doesn’t have the same ick-factor.

  18. Alexis

    @Solniger “I couldn’t agree more. The word ‘bitch’ has more or less been ‘taken back’ but it still makes me uncomfortable and I never use it.”

    Australians were recently treated to footage of our (male) conservative opposition leader addressing a crowd of adoring climate change deniers in front of a banner proclaiming our (female) prime minister to be “Bob Brown’s bitch” (where “Bob Brown” = Greens senator). I.e., the most compelling argument for allowing Australia to keep pumpin’ out that carbon dioxide is that our elected leader is a woman. I.e., “bitch” is still very dubious territory.

  19. Ayla

    “Slut” encapsulates what women are in patriarchy.

    It delineates us as the sex class, but further, it imposes on us two simultaneous suppositions: that we enjoy being the sex class, and that we are to be shamed for enjoying it despite it being our natural position.

  20. Sarah

    “If women were a physical match for men, there would be no patriarchal oppression.”

    @Zoe Hear hear. I used to puzzle for hours about how on earth all this oppression ever got started, and the only logical conclusion I could arrive at was the old “might makes right” adage. If we could have defended ourselves back in the cavepeople days with superior upper body strength, we may not have arrived at our present permanent lowly location as a sex class.

    As for appropriation of insults, instead of putting together headline-grabbing SlutWalks, which receive all the more press when participants dress “as scantily as possible,” we just sue the patriarchy? We’d get the same amount of PR outta the deal, and a platform from which to raise awareness of the actual existence of patriarchy without having to call anyone sluts.

  21. Owly

    SlutWalk sounds like a slightly more thoughtful BoobQuake.

    Is that too harsh?

  22. EmilyBites

    It seems as though what the Toronto protesters are doing is saying ‘Fine, if rape victims are sluts, I’M a slut too – so if every woman is a slut then there’s no such thing as a slut!’ Unfortunately in the context of the P, all they are doing is reinforcing the long-held belief that in fact all women ARE sluts.
    There’s no such thing as a slut because any woman can be called one, for anything or nothing. It doesn’t just mean promiscuous, or dressing in few clothes, it is supposed to attack a woman’s worth and credibility and make her an object of disgust and ridicule.
    It is also not true, MaryTracy9, that ‘in the west’ a womanly has to sluttily earn the epithet, as opposed to, er, ‘elsewhere’, where it’s hurled at women for no good reason. There’s no good reason, ever, only a clusterfuck of misogynist crap that needs an indulgent sibilant hiss followed by a satisying plosive to express itself.

  23. minervaK

    Whew. I saw the photo and first paragraph and was all, like, “Oh, no, Twisty’s gone to the dark side.” I am SO GLAD I was wrong. How could I have doubted?

  24. minervaK

    There is a world of difference between “slut” and other ‘reclaimed’ words like “nigger” and “queer” and “fat.” “Nigger,” “queer” and “fat” actually refer to quantifiable realities (i.e., yes, that person is of African origin and yes, that person is attracted to members of his or her own gender and yes, that person’s body contains more fat tissue than average), where “slut” is a tautological constuct that points back at itself — it has no objective meaning; it doesn’t describe anything measurable about the person at whom it is aimed. It’s purely a behavioral accusation, and “reclaiming” it means that we affirm the existence of the behavior it describes. You see the absurdity, yes?

  25. Lurker Lyn

    My partner’s mother once referred to our male housemate as a “terrible slut” which made my eyebrows jump until I twigged she meant the old-fashioned meaning “slovenly”.

    /unrelated anecdote

  26. Adrienne in CA

    Agree Slutwalk is doomed. They might be trying to replicate activist take-back of the word queer. “We’re here, we’re queer…”

    However, many of those queers were also dudes, so it worked for them.

    And nothing much rhymes with slut. IBTP for that, too.

  27. speedbudget

    When my mom was teaching, she told me this story, and it has stuck with me all these years because this girl had something going on:

    There was a heated discussion at one of the group tables in her room during group work. She thought it was about the project and didn’t pay much mind until one of the girls at the table stood up and announced very loudly: “I am NOT a whore. I am a slut. I do it because I like it, not because somebody pays me.”

    I always admired that girl.

  28. buttercup

    @femmeforever, “fat” is no more toxic or hateful than “tall.” It’s a descriptor. I’m fat. I own the word. It is not a slur, it’s what I am, and what my body is. If it has negative connotations for you, that’s a shame. A word that fairly and accurately describes my body is not equivalent to bitch or slut or any other ad-hominem insult.

    Also, “Slut” means “the end” or “finished” in I think Swedish. Maybe one of our international Blamers can clarify?

    Also also, very nicely done, Jill. The road to patriarchal hell is paved with good intentions, etc.

  29. cin17 (formerly iGuest)

    Zoe said “@janna: It certainly does. If women were a physical match for men, there would be no patriarchal oppression. Sad as it is to say, frequently violence is the answer.”

    I completely disagree. Physical strength has nothing to do with it. Our brains are what make humans an apex predator, not our size or strength. Both men and women have the cunning to kill a larger, physically stronger animal, or adversary. According to your logic, the world should be run by very large, strong, young men and not a bunch of fat, weak, old men.

    The myth that patriarchy exists because “men are stronger” is, IMO, on of the most pervasively destructive false narratives in patriarchy’s arsenal. Patriarchy exists because men are the weaker sex, not the stronger.

  30. Mod

    “Reclaiming” the word slut? How about “Hey, man! You’re the slut! There’s only one whore, and that is you. Only a man can be a whore.” Now that would be reclaiming (and recycling).

  31. Jill

    “The myth that patriarchy exists because ‘men are stronger’ is one of the most pervasively destructive false narratives in patriarchy’s arsenal.”

    Yup. There are weak dudes and strong women. The strongest dudes might be stronger than the strongest women, but they are outliers and therefore irrelevant. The muscle strength continuum is populated in the middle by women and dudes. In any case, it doesn’t matter, because, as has been pointed out, brainiacity is what H. sapiens is known for throughout the galaxy. When you want something shoved or pulled, call the elephants or oxen. Or those ants that can carry 4875 times their body weight. My smallest horse Pearl can kick your Nigel’s ass.

  32. ew_nc

    cin17 said, “The myth that patriarchy exists because “men are stronger” is, IMO, on of the most pervasively destructive false narratives in patriarchy’s arsenal. Patriarchy exists because men are the weaker sex, not the stronger.”

    I’m going to be annoying by using this phrase, but reading this was an “ah-ha” moment for me. I sort of knew this already but the patriarchal programming that I haven’t yet shed kept me from fully realizing it. Under the programming lay the knowledge that I always knew; that women are superior to men.

  33. Jill

    “women are superior to men”

    This is an exceedingly problematic idea for a revolution that bases its entire ideology on the overthrow of the paradigm of dominance and submission.

    By which I mean, it is antithetical to the Savage Death Island doxa.

  34. Solniger

    When I said Bitch had been reclaimed I was thinking of that SNL sketch where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler said they were bitches and so was Hilary Clinton because, “Bitches get stuff done!” woohoo!
    I guess like SlutWalk, their good intentions were also doomed.

  35. Solniger

    oh and also there is Bitch magazine, no? But I can see that the word stays in the anti-woman arsenal.

  36. Bushfire

    I agree that “taking back” the word slut is not going to work. However, that is not the only mandate of the march. Rejecting the victim-blaming culture is just as important. I was at the poster-making day for Slutwalk and the banners we made were mostly to address victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and the like. Some examples are “I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans, is it still my fault?” and “When drinking in public, remember not to rape anyone.” The march is run in large part by young women, many in university. It is open to anyone. So it’s not a refined, advanced, spinster-auntly sort of march, but I do think it’s causing a lot of people to think about the word slut, and the problem of victim-blaming.

    I’m being inconsistent in my commenting, since I mocked the Miss Representation doc for being not advanced enough blaming and now I’m defending Slutwalk, even though it also is not advanced blaming. Sorry about the hypocrisy. I realize now that there is an important place for Feminism 101 and an important place for advanced blaming. There are plenty of people who have no idea what slut-shaming is, and even if 3 people figure it out because of this march, I’ll be happy I did it. However, reading Twisty’s superb analysis was good for me too, as an intermediate-level blamer.

  37. Fictional Queen

    I really hate the idea that women became oppressed because men are stronger,I guess it’s true,but doesn’t it mean that it was inevitable and natural? And how is it gonna change? Women aren’t gonna become stronger magically.This is what we are.
    It’s also part of the reason I love the idea of misotheism so much ( I don’t believe in god,let alone hating “him” but) who’s fault is it? It’s sure not our fault for being what we are.It’s men’s fault for being barbaric,hateful creatures always looking to be superior to someone and finding out they could subjugate women,so of course they did and they don’t mind us being inferior.They love it,they enjoy it,it makes them feel superior.The hell are we supposed to do? I also like the idea of seperatism.I bet the women’s country would progress so much and men’s part would be hell.

  38. Fictional Queen

    Also,not all men are stronger than all women…..Still,I think nothing is ever gonna get better and my solution is to stay away from people as much as possible,but is this shit ever gonna end?

  39. Fictional Queen

    Jill! How come it became patriarchal then? I don’t understand…why oh why are we the ones who are fucked? Why are men so hateful and pathetic?

  40. Kea

    Re the men are stronger garbage: I live in a multi-cultural city (Wellington) where a large fraction of the women (Polynesian) are much larger and stronger than many of the men (Eurasians). Given that such mixed human populations have always existed, it is absurd to think that any given group of men is significantly stronger than all groups of women. Of course, we have myths of giants fighting ancient battles bearing clubs, but that stereotype always seems to include a mandatory low level of intelligence. The moral being, as people have said, that when it counts (ie. in a fight) you want the smart people to lead, not the strong ones.

  41. JDM

    The patriarchy dominates because of mindset, not because of the strength or intelligence of any particular sex. It’s a mindset that says that world must be a zero sum game and that there must be winners and losers. If one group makes a gain in autonomy (read: power), says the monster, others must lose.

    The question is why men have traditionally been infected with this bullshit far more than women. Where did it come from?

  42. Treefinger

    @FemmeForever, does “fat” really count? Surely “fatty” or something else inherently derogatory does, but “fat” is just an adjective that has been turned by the patriarchy into something everyone is afraid of. Also because fat is an adjective and not a noun, it can avoid boiling the person using it down to a single aspect of themselves or characterizing them as a mythical character created by the patriarchy (the same way that saying “i get around” does not have the same cultural weight as “i’m a slut”)?

    Great post as always.

  43. Treefinger

    Oops, I see what I brought up has already been addressed. Should really refresh my darn tabs once in a while.

  44. Val

    Veering off on a tangent – this triggered an early, grim memory of mine:
    As a dewy-faced 15-yr old, I was participating in a school-sponsored hike… Some dirty old man came up to complain to MY MOTHER that I was ‘asking to get raped’ bcz of the shortness/tightness of my gym shorts.
    I flushed scarlet w/shame – IBTP

  45. Greenconsciousness

    Thank You for this post. The reclaiming BS has been around for a long time – the list of words used to degrade and insult is long and naming them all would just throw this comment into moderation. It teaches nothing -does nothing to elevate the consciousness of anyone. In fact, it gives the oppressor permission and corrupts the masses.

    Worse, it reinforces the self hatred and gender hatred of those who use the word. I am what you say i am–not who I define myself to be. Self definition is the root of feminism.

  46. Greenconsciousness

    The best form of rape prevention is to stop child abuse by men AND women and to understand the cycle of violence applies to both genders. And as to how this all got started, read the novel, “Ariadne”: by June Rachuy Brindel

  47. TotallyDorkin

    @minervaK
    Your comment is pretty naive in it’s interpretation of other slurs. These words are not just negatively connotated labels for certain real phenomena. Nobody checks the ancestry of the person they are about to call the N-word, nobody gets proof of homosexual conduct before calling someone a queer, and no one checks the average weight scale before calling someone fat. These words are used in the same way as “slut” to oppress those whose behavior in some way falls outside of a dominant norm, and this behavior is NOT directly related to the “meaning” of whatever slur they are targeted with. It is used to spread fear and oppression against the subordinated class.

    April 1, 2011 at 12:28 am

    There is a world of difference between “slut” and other ‘reclaimed’ words like “nigger” and “queer” and “fat.” “Nigger,” “queer” and “fat” actually refer to quantifiable realities (i.e., yes, that person is of African origin and yes, that person is attracted to members of his or her own gender and yes, that person’s body contains more fat tissue than average), where “slut” is a tautological constuct that points back at itself — it has no objective meaning; it doesn’t describe anything measurable about the person at whom it is aimed. It’s purely a behavioral accusation, and “reclaiming” it means that we affirm the existence of the behavior it describes. You see the absurdity, yes?

  48. Lovepug

    I’m actually slightly intrigued by this idea, with full respect to some of the wise objections already expressed.

    Part of the problem in taking back such a word is that we have to be clear on what we’re going to turn the word into. Once we take it back, how will we use it? Will it be a greeting, “Hey Slut! How’s it hangin?” Will it still be an epithet but with less venom? Will it have an entirely different meaning? Will it be used merely ironically? I don’t think that’s clear which is part of why this endeavor won’t be wildly successful.

    Bitch seems to have some clear alternate meanings. It can convey a temporary sense of pissed-off-ed-ness. Then you have the variation of BeYotch. There’s Betch. Bitch is still used as an epithet, but seems to move seamlessly between both good and bad meaning. If someone one was remarking about something I’d done with kind of a sly, “Oh, you were a real bitch just now, weren’t you?” I’d take it in the context it was meant. If some douchebag yelled at me on the street and called me a bitch, that would offend.

    For some reason I tend to use the word bitchslap. I have no idea why.

    Okay, funny story. My niece was visiting once and we went to my local grocery store. We had talked about buying some peaches before we went. We walked into the store and there was a lovely display of peaches. So I said, “Hey! Peaches!” but she thought I had just walked into the store and shouted, “Hey! Bitches!”

    Cause that’s how I roll with my homegirls at the grocery store.

    I would say something about the use of the word nigger, but as a white person I feel like I have no say in that discussion. I have observed that when black people use that word in its ironic and appropriated sense, they only use it when referring to men.

    So, in a rambly kind of way, this taking back of the word slut is real frontier stuff that could potentially backfire at any minute.

  49. cin17

    Fictional Queen, I’m not Jill and clearly can’t answer for her but I believe that one of the major “reasons” (in scare quotes because patriarchy is not even remotely logical) patriarchy developed was as male compensation for their inherent reproductive disadvantage, IOW, due to a biological weakness, not a strength. Just one of many “reasons,” but IMO one of the most foundational.

    I also believe that patriarchy is one of the most unnatural and destructive cultural systems humans could have come up with, which is why it is killing us and will, literally, be the death of us if we don’t escape its violent and narrative grasp.

    For the record, I’m a graphic artist, not an “evo psych.” Any terminology that resembles “evo psych” is purely coincidental.

  50. orlando

    Women became the subjugated portion of the population because we have babies. We produce the one vital resource for the survival of a community, but the physical demands of pregnancy and caring for infants makes us vulnerable, in that the portion of the population who doesn’t have to do these things will have the advantage in attempts to exercise control over this most precious resource.

  51. TwissB

    Jill- Superb statement about the folly of thinking that hate speech can be anything but what it says. The pathetic bravado of embracing the B-word and other female-typed insults as ultra-hip feminism that distances the speaker from those those outdated Second Wave biddies who didn’t understand Sex or properly nuanced feminism simply demonstrates the continuing appeal of backlash conditioning to each new batch of young women. What else but ignorance and intimidation could make it seem cool to speak coyly of feminism as “the F-word”?

    Why is the n-word unspeakable? Because it is seen correctly as an unredeemable insult applying to men – a principle that explains why anti-sex-discrimination law works for men but not for “broads” which, you will note, is yet another way of ridiculing a physical feature that – o joy – men can use to mark women as different and laughable – designed to bear the babies that men require.

    Finally – for now – I can’t understand the self-defeating urge to find a reason to claim that women are in any way “superior” to men. I once heard Black political call-in show host Derek McGinty fill a quiet moment by remarking that “You can always get a good discussion going by talking about differences between men and women.” Yup -selective difference mongering is such fun for men.

  52. mayya

    I’ve never been comfortable with the “nigger” word. If it’s so bad that some people are not allowed to say it, if it’s so bad that lawsuits have been issued over it, then it’s NOT okay to use it yourself or allow your children to accept it as normal. It hasn’t been “taken back” at all, it’s simply reinforcing the original concept. I love Chappelle, but one time I was furious with him is when he spoke on behalf of the deceased Richard Pryor and said something like “If Richard were still alive he would reverse his opinion about the word ‘Nigger.’” Bullshit. It means the same ugly thing it’s always meant, and “slut” means the same ugly thing it’s always meant.

  53. Amelia

    How about we reclaim the word, strong? Until we own the positive descriptors like strong and intelligent all we can do with negatives such as bitch and slut is reaffirm our status as the sex class.

    Val, your story reminded me a similar experience in joining a new gym. I started a circuit class with about 2-3 guys and 8 women. The guys were used to out performing the women. Then I came along to out-sprint, push-up, chin-up, bench-press and out-lift them. You can just imagine how deflated they’re egos must have been. I didn’t think much of it, because I was used to competing with guys. The women laughed and complimented me. Anyway, after a few weeks, I could see one of the guys really trying to beat me. Then after one class, which we’d finished off with a few stretches, he came up to me and said, all friendly and concerned, “when you bend over like that I can see your vagina (yes he fails anatomy) , all of it, just thought you should know”. I was mortified. I wore bike shorts and t-shirts, like the rest of the women. I felt like I’d been ” slut-shamed” and I didn’t go back.

    It’s so obvious in that example that he wanted to shame me because of my strength. The easiest way to for him to do that was to highlight my sex, me, a member of the not-strong sex. That’s why I think Twisty’s idea of sex-neutrality the only way we’ll get out of this mess. Any debate about where we sit in virgin/whore divide feminists is just going to put us back in our box as the sex class.

    We need to shift the debate. Even quasi-feminists and “equality minded” people these days accept that women are capable and intelligent although there still needs to be a lot of work done to break down the “maths brain” stereotype, but I think even more work needs to be done on the idea that women are strong, stronger than we ourselves often think.And that’s the message we need to get to the would be rapist, we’re strong and we’re going to put up a fight.

    And I’m not victim-blaming, been there, done that to myself. When I was sexually assaulted by my yoga teacher, I lay there and thought, “you stupid bitch” (don’t we do such a great job internalizing misogyny?), “yes he was being a creep when he stood over you like that in other classes and no you didn’t just have a dirty mind”. Later I thought, I could have whipped that scrawny guys arse, I was 19 and had done ten years of various martial arts and had floored bigger guys than him. But I was embarrassed, I was too polite, I didn’t want to make a fuss. Maud, I even thanked him and
    paid for the class. Because I was a good girl, I went to the doctor, then to the cops and of course, the copper just laughed – ” a yoga teacher!” haw haw

    And that’s where femininity does the work for the patriarch/rapist. Even if you are stronger, you’ve been trained not to use that strength.

    Orlando was right, it’s carrying babies, in utero and in our arms, that made us vulnerable to patriarchal dominance. Women aren’t inherently weaker, and what little difference there is could have been overcome by use of our intelligence and by strategic alliance – ha wouldn’t that be grand!

    So I’d like to see some placards like, “strength in numbers!” “Women are strong!” But they’re pretty boring. Not as sexy as “slut”. As Twisty said, a made up thing. Not just an adjective, a character , and I would add, a function. Which begs the question, are lies sexier than truths in patriarchy? We need to repeat the truths not the lies.

  54. minervaK

    totallydorkin — I am not trying to argue that the words in question actually describe the people they are used against; my point is that the words themselves, regardless of how they are used, refer back to some measurable human characteristic, which “slut” does not.

  55. tinfoil hattie

    “Bitch-slap” is a hideous term. There’s nothing redeeming about it.

    Bitch-slap. Wow. Slap that bitch. Slap someone in a special way, a special way meant just for bitches.

  56. AoT

    orlando is dead on about the origin of the oppression of women. Women may currently not be as strong in general as men but the real question around that is how much of that is due to the fact that women are constantly told they are weak and shouldn’t bother trying to be as strong as a man.

    I’d also note that the term ‘queer’ has been successfully reclaimed in my cultural milieu, although that really has no bearing on whether ‘slut’ can be reclaimed as well.

    And yes, I had to look up the spelling of milieu, I’m not ashamed.

  57. Kea

    I don’t think the subjugation of women began because of child bearing. I believe it began with the invention of war. The earliest cities in South America are devoid of any signs of war, so civilization was developed before (mass) war existed, which makes sense given that war requires technology. At the end of the last ice age, when the population dwindled to next to nothing, child rearing must have been greatly respected, and I think women probably chose to confine themselves to homes in order to breed. After all, a home was a luxury.

    But now the situation is very different. Overpopulation, not underpopulation, is the problem. Women (at least in wealthy countries) control contraception. So perhaps it follows that our revolution stands a chance purely on the new dynamics of reproduction! Now, only men that behave and are aware of the P will be permitted to reproduce.

  58. Amelia

    Arrgh, sorry for the long ramble and my poor writing. I should have said have said “their egos”. Please excuse my poor punctuation and grammar too. Haven’t had much formal ejumacation and I do my reading and typing one handed while breastfeeding, which doesn’t help. But I love to read and think. I’ve been reading here for a few years and have just recently read my way through the archives. I feel rude wading in to such erudite discussions but I don’t know any feminists in real life and the temptation to talk to people who share my world view is too great. Thanks everybody. Love your blaming. Sorry to interrupt.

    Amelia

  59. Amelia

    Oops! The comment above refers to a long ramble apparently stuck in moderation, I was assuming all my posts were being moderated because I’m new. Maybe it’s just my poor writing. Sorry people!

    Amelia

  60. damequixote

    “Take back the slut” seems to imply that someone absconded with it. If only.

    As for the male/female strength topic, I mentioned in another post that I powerlift/bodybuild, so this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Come with me on a visit to a new gym (with fresh, new dudes):

    The ignoring begins the minute I walk in to the weight room. Brusk teenaged boys (aka gym rats) stomp past carrying wuss weight they believe weighs a ton. They let me know that as a woman I am in their way; an obstacle at the bench press on which they might like to lean. I’m in their way at the heavy dumbell rack, too. Dressed in sweats I’m not an erotic object nor am I admiring them, so I’m the preverbial ‘waste of space’. The disdain, esp. from the younger dudes, is palpable. I’ve said ‘hello’ to young guys only to have them literally snort back. At first.

    So begins the routine. By the 3rd or 4th set there is a buzz. The dudes are now clumping up and talking. When walking past they now step back and call me “ma’am”. Soon, I’ve exceeded their max lifts and even doubled or tripled some. The camera phones appear and they start taking video of the lifts. They no longer look ‘over’ me but look into my eyes and defer. The woman is now visible. MANifest.

    Ninety nine percent of the time the only men who are stronger in the gyms are the ones on performance enhancing drugs who are serious competitors. The middle-aged and older dudes HAVE to come over and say that they once lifted more than I just did but they tore a (insert muscle or joint here) and they just can’t “go heavy” anymore. They HAVE to say it to me. Their testosterone-soaked brains MAKE them. It must win even when the body can’t. And even when it’s a lie. Therein lies the dark underbelly of the patriarchy.

    It issues forth from the mouths of many a sweaty Nigel, too.

    The ignorant questions have stopped now that I am older. They don’t dare. But when I was younger common ones included, “are you on MALE hormones”? (A woman can only be strong if it is on loan from something ‘male’) and my favorite, “Have you been raped?” (An explanation that still satisfies the man brain; strength as a response to male contact).

    When sitting up from the bench and hearing the silence or the whispered “Damn, dude. Did you see that sh*t?!” from the peanut gallery I think of all women. My Mom, sister, friends, gfriends,…bloggers! It’s for all women so teh dudes see a female outdo them in something they have been told belongs only to them; Strength.

    Maybe it helps. Maybe one or two rethink the “all women are weak and all men are strong” binary. Or maybe it’s just tilting at gasbag windmills with barbells.

    But it happens 5 days a week. And IBTP.

    Dame Quixote
    (Apologies for the plethora of “I’s”, but it’s hard to play first person written tour guide without them.)

  61. Not a Chair

    Honestly I don’t think “All women are sluts” is the dominant patriarchal mindset.

    It’s certainly out there, but I think the dominant mindset is that women don’t want or enjoy sex and that sluts are defective and degraded women who do want or enjoy sex.

    So for the purposes of reclaiming the word, showing that ordinary women, who don’t fit into the stereotype, want and enjoy sex.

    Which would be a good thing, at least in my opinion, because I think that the idea that women never want sex for themselves basically robs them of the ability to consent to sex. If they do they’re just doing it in exchange for something, and if they don’t then they’re just being stingy and withholding obligations.

    Now for whether the slutwalk would actually work, well, with the people marching dressed normally, carrying smart signs then I think it would do a net good. If all the protesters dressed up to be “sexy” for the protest then I think it would be a net negative. But it’s not like I have hard data on the subject.

  62. Treefinger

    I don’t really think there needs to be a specific cause for patriarchy, like “war” or “reproductive differences”. Patriarchy exists because a group of people realized they would benefit from dominating another group of people/beings. They then used a variety of biological differences (physical strength, reproductive systems that don’t leave them vulnerable for a while) and nonsense “differences” (“hurr durr men are aggressive and dominant by nature! Women are weak and need to be protected! Also their emotuonal ladybrains make them unfit to rule”) as methods and excuses for doing this. It might well have become a matriarchy if women had gotten there first (though, not necessarily, as humans do have the ability to not be inherently oppressive if we so choose).

    If that group had thought some more about the sacrifices they would have to make in order to have the benefits of dominating others (or, you know, had some fucking compassion for those they were subjugating), they would have further realized the better option for everyone is equality, but they did not.

  63. allhellsloose

    A patriarchial society exists because women let it, enable it and support it. Woman has gained a little equality and fairness, such as the vote, certain economic rights, but the walls of oppression will exist as long as we continue to bolster up chad for the scant reward of HIS idea of romantic love.

    Religion plays a strong part too in continuing the patriarchial dominence and I include the ‘religion’ of athiesm in that – where dawkins is god and the religion of ‘science’ where all those who are valued as godlike are men.

  64. allhellsloose

    Sorry posted too soon.

    ‘HIS idea of romantic love and femininity”

    Dominance

    I’m not blaming women. Nor was my post a ‘It’s all the woman’s fault”

    The Sexual Assault Prevention Tips is a prime example of how women should approach patriarchy. Another is this.

    Men are fertile 24/7 for practically all of their lives post puberty. Women are fertile a few days of the month for only about 40 years of her life. Who takes responsibility for contraception in the main? Women. For why? To stop babies but also to enable sexual liberation. How much good sex women are having can never be quantified but if real sexual liberation were to happen then dudes should be the ones to get themselves fixed regarding contraception. So the strapline regarding contraception should be:

    For effective contraception to work:

    Bank your sperm and get a vascectomy
    Wear a condom at all times

  65. Aunti Disestablishmentarian

    Game changing approach, allhellisloose, which is totally what we need to be discussing.

    For effective contraception to work:

    Bank your sperm and get a vascectomy
    Wear a condom at all times

  66. Mod

    Elephants, yeah!

    Besides, it’s not like our leaders, kings, presidents etc. have always been the biggest and strongest guys in the tribe. Often they are just some normal sized guys.

    Compared to elephants and tigers, we really are a weak and vulnerable species. We get by with our brain power and most importantly, team work.

  67. Fictional Queen

    Maybe women weren’t weaker than men (if they are now) since the beginning.Other than the constant telling to girls that they are weak,girls on the whole are not fed as well as boys,specially back then.(anecdote sorry,but) my mom for example told me she witnessed first hand how families fed the sons first and gave the left over to daughters who weren’t important.Also,girls weren’t allowed to be as athletic as boys,were they?

  68. Kea

    … and then there is the question of selective breeding for petite women.

  69. Kea

    Then again, some paleolithic facts: http://racehist.blogspot.com/2009/05/upper-paleolithic-europeans-not-fat-not.html

  70. Asai

    With regards to the Slutwalk, the entire idea of “reclaiming” the word slut is inherently flawed, as Twisty and many blamers have noted. I do hope, however, that the walk helps unite a bunch a Toronto women. If it stops those women from slut-shaming each other, it’s a huge step forward. It doesn’t address the problems inherent in the word, but it’s much harder for misogyny to take hold when it’s inflicted from without instead of normalized within a group.

    Addressing another point brought up in the discussion, Treefinger has hit the nail on the head, as far as I am concerned. No human being is fit to have power over another, and having that power leads to them becoming even less fit to wield it. Every time humanity reaches the point where we gather in groups large enough to merit rules that require enforcement, this problem comes into play.

  71. Melanie

    My theory is that the roots of patriarchy are found in the beginnings of private property. It goes like this: in order for males to ensure that their property is passed on to their own spawn and not someone else’s, reproduction must be controlled, and therefore women must be controlled.

    While I agree that how patriarchy began is not the most pressing of issues, I do believe that it is an important matter to consider, if only because we need to know the enemy in order to know how to best fight it. If, for instance, the root of patriarchy is indeed private property, then it follows that feminist revolution requires more than just the acceptance of women as human beings; it also requires a radical re-imagining of our entire system of ownership and production.

  72. Pantsuit Sally

    It seems that a Women are Human Walk would be a more effective way to spread the word that women are, in fact, humans who don’t deserve to be raped.

  73. FemmeForever

    I don’t call people, let alone myself, bitches or fat or n-word or slut because those words are toxic, hateful words that can never be cleansed.

    Repeated for emphasis, since I tried twice to elaborate and those comments for some unknown reason are being deleted.

  74. Kea

    … then it follows that feminist revolution requires more than just the acceptance of women as human beings; it also requires a radical re-imagining of our entire system of ownership and production.

    I believe most of us think this anyway, since this is one of the lessons of modern feminism.

  75. Zoe

    “The myth that patriarchy exists because ‘men are stronger’ is one of the most pervasively destructive false narratives in patriarchy’s arsenal.”

    My claim that men’s greater physical strength is the cause of patriarchy is akin to the claim that disease X is caused by Y. I am not saying that patriarchy is OK or somehow less awful because one can identify the reason for it. No one would do that, except for the “might makes right” people, but they are ridiculous.

    Yup. There are weak dudes and strong women. The strongest dudes might be stronger than the strongest women, but they are outliers and therefore irrelevant. The muscle strength continuum is populated in the middle by women and dudes.

    True, but the mean for men is much higher than for women. Suppose I randomly select one woman from the population of women and randomly select one man from the population of men. I’d say there is an 80% chance the man would win a physical conflict (fighting) with the woman. This fact has tremendous social implications.

    In any case, it doesn’t matter, because, as has been pointed out, brainiacity is what H. sapiens is known for throughout the galaxy. When you want something shoved or pulled, call the elephants or oxen. Or those ants that can carry 4875 times their body weight. My smallest horse Pearl can kick your Nigel’s ass.

    I completely agree. However, it is not the case that men as a group are at an intellectual disadvantage with respect to women as a group. If men were the same size in relation to us as they are now, but they had an average IQ of 80, etc., then I doubt there would be a patriarchy. Imagine two armies fighting–if both have equally intelligent leadership, the once with more “muscle”–bombs, etc.–wins. Men are as smart as us and they are stronger. As I’ve said, the answer is transhumanism.

    Finally, whoever said that by my logic we would have young strapping men running things, instead of old, fat, decrepit men like Alan Greenspan, they made an excellent point and I’ve been reflecting on it. This is my conclusion: old fat men, although not able to maintain a credible threat of violence, nevertheless do not have the stigma of being a woman (that is, a member of the class of people less able to dish out violence). An old man does belong to the category of the elderly (another class less able to dish out violence), but that category has some advantages over the young men, namely, wisdom and experience. Furthermore, the young men know they will end up old one day. As Stalin said, the only real power flows out of the barrel of a gun (or your bicep, back in the day). However, for the above reasons, the young men decide they will listen to the old man and let him decide things and be the leader. Hence, the old fat man can be “the most powerful person in the world” because the young men, who can exact physical violence, allow it.

  76. Fictional Queen

    Women never had property of their own? How come private property is automatically for men to own and control?

  77. Tigs

    “Women never had property of their own? How come private property is automatically for men to own and control?”

    Private property only exists within a political structure which guarantees property rights. Those structures have always been patriarchal.

  78. Fictional Queen

    Well,that was supposed to be the root of the patriarchy!
    I don’t think it can be ever determined exactly why it’s a patriarchy….Ugh,fuck patriarchy,I didn’t know my country is number 123 in global gender report! I’m glad this blog exists….

  79. Tigs

    I think the desire to control property–thus the creation of a system of private property is really central to the institutionalization of patriarchy, if nothing else.

  80. A Ginva

    Thanks Jill for this amazing post, I feel hope every time I read them.
    The postmodern-reappropriationist, individualist, “agency”, transgressive, liberal and sexy view of feminism is very useful to maintain patriarchy and make feminists feel guilty about criticising it: it’s probably the best tool invented by patriarchy after second-wave feminism to create division between feminists and make women embrace the good old patriarchal practices rebranded as “empowerment”.

    The word slut, the existence of such a word and what it represents, whom it benefits and at whose expense, is a violence in itself. it was created by patriarchy and thus must be destroyed, as the rest. Reappropriating oppression in the aim fighting oppression is an illusion. Even with good intentions, reappropriating sexist insults doesn’t change in the slightest the fact that men benefit from the “sluthood” imposed on women, nor does it do anything to decrease the harm it does to the women who suffer from “slut-bashing”.

  81. crickets

    This reminds me of an exchange I had with a student the other day. I am a TA in a secondary school, and have at times a soul-crushing number of encounters with the ignorance and arrogance of young men and the low self esteem of young women – the teenage girls pile up the hair and pile on the makeup to attract the lads attention, and the lads respond by choosing who to call a slag and bragging about their sexual prowess.

    One particular lad was looking up rude words in a fellow student’s Polish dictionary until I prevented him, and he decided it would be cunning to call me a slut in Polish. His jaw dropped when I told him i knew exactly what he had said, until i reminded him that i had been in fact sitting next to him while he was using the dictionary, had ears, and wasn’t stupid! His response to my anger: “It’s only a word.” All I could think of in return was – “If it was only a word you wouldn’t use it the way you do.” It’s very frustrating to come up again and again aginst this wall with the students – that it’s hilarious to say the most offensive things about women, but at the same time that it doesn’t really mean anything, despite the fact that these words are used precisely for their effect. To be honest, I think most attempts to reclaim misogynist language ends in funfeminism – the linguistic equivalent of reclaiming pole dancing I suppose.

  82. Solveig

    Intensely great post, Jill. I totally agree. I hate the word slut and would never adopt it for all the reasons you list–it’s the nasty moniker of nasty little minds. Love your funny but serious directions at the end.

  83. Soporificat

    @damequixote

    Thank you for your story, as it made me very happy. I was laughing out loud by the end of it.

  84. Bushfire

    I know a lot of you aren’t cheering for the reappropriation of the word “Slut” but the march had an excellent turnout today and a lot of spirit. If you search “Toronto Slutwalk” on Youtube you’ll be able to see the crowd and hear the chants and the speeches. Although, in comparison to the Spinster Aunt viewpoint, this march did have a bit of “funfeminist” feeling, it brought together hundreds of people to speak out against victim blaming. There are Slutwalks happening now in many other cities, and I’m kind of proud to have been in the first one. Young feminists have to start somewhere, and this has given impetus to a lot of conversation about the dangers of victim blaming. I’m sure many of these people will go on to advanced patriarchy blaming with time.

  85. anne

    ginger: “you can reclaim the pieces that are undeservedly hated (I’m thinking of ’sissiness’, here, the attribution of qualities defined as feminine to a person apparently male, so undeservedly and neurotically loathed by gender essentialists)

    If you squint and tilt your head just so, that argument can be applied to the reappropriation of “bitch” as a woman not inclined to put up with anyone’s bullshit.
    But then there’s the other meaning of “bitch” as some dude’s meatsock which puts quite the wrench in the reappropriation works.

  86. nails

    They tend to not let people get vasectomies if they are banking their sperm. Sometimes the sperm cannot survive unfreezing (or enough of them cannot), or all of it is used before a fertility issue is recognized in a partner, or something can happen to the sperm bank and all the sperm is destroyed. Reversals do not always work. Not having surgery also spares the patient any possible infections or complications. So it is possible to have it done, but I don’t know if the urologist willing to do it is ethical.

    I am experiencing deja vu, have I said this before on IBTP?

  87. Shelby

    I tend to think it’ll do more good than harm. Get folks thinking about the word “slut” and what it means today. Not so long ago I believe the word meant that you were a woman who kept a dirty house. Words hold such power but their meaning is ever changing. Let’s reclaim the word. Reclaim every dirty, stinking, filthy, horrible word that has been invented or bastardised to insult women and use it as/with relish. Take away the power of those cunts.

  88. allhellsloose

    Nails. They let men who face testicular cancer surgery the chance of banking their sperm. It tends to work for them. Also infections regarding vascectomies are rare, especially with new techniques that don’t require a scalpel. It’s a safe procedure, much less invasive than say a caesarian or tube tying or hysterectomy. Just because it isn’t practised now doesn’t mean it can’t be implemented in the future.

    Regardless, there are many good studies that demonstrate the link between condom use and vasectomies. These studies show the more men use condoms and take an active role in contraception, the more likely they are to have a vasectomy.

  89. Val

    Amelia, so sorry to hear about your prolapse ;-)

    & Dame Quixote, I may have to take up weight training more seriously myself… Got grim news from my podiatrist that my flat feet are self-destructing, so I’ll have to give up “slogging” (the slow jogging I’ve practiced off & on for years). I already cause the occasional lifted eyebrow w/my weight stacks on the leg press & lat pull (my favorite machines); just need to work harder on conventional gym-rat exercises like bench press & free weights.

  90. yttik

    I really don’t understand the anti-vasectomy comments. Honestly people, it’s a simple procedure involving a small round band aid, with snoopy on it if you would like. Infections, complications, and concerns that it may be unethical for a urologist to perform it??! WTF?

  91. allhellsloose

    Amelia
    We need to repeat the truths not the lies.

    Absolutely.

  92. cin17

    damequixote said: “When sitting up from the bench and hearing the silence or the whispered “Damn, dude. Did you see that sh*t?!” from the peanut gallery I think of all women. My Mom, sister, friends, gfriends,…bloggers! It’s for all women so teh dudes see a female outdo them in something they have been told belongs only to them; Strength.”

    My deepest thanks. As one of those selectively bred “petite” women, I am always mortified by how closely I fit the girly girl stereotype. Can’t gain muscle mass to save my life… but I can run fast. Seriously, I applaud and celebrate you and will smile quietly to myself as I struggle with my 10 lb. weights and think of your story.

  93. cin17

    Gawd, I hate the s-word. It should be banished along with the rest of patriarchy’s rape culture lexicon. Jill, superb post. Thanks for speaking so rationally, and perceptively, about a subject that sends me into incoherent fits.

  94. someofparts

    Yep. I don’t recall ever seeing blacks march to reclaim the “N” word.

  95. Drew

    In the discourse going on about the origins of patriarchy I don’t think anyone has touched on the HUGE role white supremacy and colonization has played in the rise of patriarchy world over (sorry if I missed it). Talking as if all at once, at all different parts of the globe, a homogeneous group called “men” decided to institute a violent hierarchy with themselves on top and the homogeneous group “women” on the bottom, is dishonest and historically inaccurate. We should be trying to figure out why one particular group of people from europe decided that they were white men (and there was something supreme about this), and then set about violently subjugating everyone determined to not be white men – which includes imposing their definitions of gender on all other cultures and fostering “male” allegiance to patriarchy as a further means of controlling and subjugating those people. Beyond that, and intimately related to dismantling white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, it’s important for white feminists to read or otherwise learn about pre-colonialist gendered thought in non-european cultures (“The Invention of Women” by Oyeronke Oyewumi) and the role imperialism has played in creating or strengthening violent patriarchies.

    (spoken by a white trans man)

  96. Jezebella

    Any reason you felt obligated to tell us you’re a dude?

  97. Notorious Ph.D.

    “I think the dominant mindset is that women don’t want or enjoy sex and that sluts are defective and degraded women who do want or enjoy sex.”

    I think of “slut” or “whore” as one of those analytical categories that allows patriarchy to function in a world where some women seek out/have/enjoy sex more than is acceptable, according to patriarchal standards. The existence of a class of women like this deeply disturbs the patriarchal category of “woman.” But if you remove “sluts” from the category, then the idea that woman = nonsexual (or only sexual at doodly behest) can continue undisturbed. “Slut” thus serves the convenient function of keeping women (and their sexuality) in line.

  98. Drew

    @Jezebella, my experiences and socialization inform my understanding of oppression and so I think that information is relevant. Especially when I speak on race, because as a member of the oppressor class I feel obligated to make that known. Anyway though, is there something else behind your question? I sense hostility or something else I can’t put my finger on but maybe I am just paranoid.

  99. Tigs

    Ahh yes, the old, “ladies– stop worrying about the patriarchy and worry about what *I* think you should be worrying about.”

    While fundamentally, I don’t think paradigmatic oppression really can be separated into neat constituent parts, I do think there is important theoretical work in exploring how these mechanisms on their own. Looking at patriarchy does not mean that we are denying the importance of capitalist white supremacy.

  100. cin17

    Drew, Gerda Lerner posits that patriarchy began in the Ancient Near East. Just bought her book “The Creation of Patriarchy” and I’m going to try to wade my way through. Apparently it’s a rather dry scholarly work but I’ll do my best. Don’t know the link tags here, but you can google her if you’re interested.

  101. Drew

    Analyzing Patriarchy in a historically (herstorically) accurate way that takes into consideration the intimate connection to colonization is so important if we want to end it! (and crush the paradigm of oppression and exploitation that encompasses all the violence we are against) I never once suggested anyone “stop worrying about the patriarchy”, I pointed out something that was missing from the dialogue about how and why and by who patriarchy has been implemented to the most disastrous effects. No, looking at patriarchy does not mean denying the importance of capitalist white supremacy – but ignoring the obvious connections to it does.

    On top of that, I am hurt by your response and what I perceived in Jezebella’s response (though I already admitted I may be paranoid) implying that my attempt to expand this discussion to be some kind of male power play or I’m not even sure what. As someone who has suffered violence at the hands of men for years, who is usually read as female, and who identifies as a trans man for specific reasons – all related to ending oppression – all of which you do not know because we don’t know each other – I don’t appreciate being dismissed from a discussion about patriarchy. Or your implication that I might address everyone else here (who I’ve been referring to as “we”) as condescendingly as “ladies”. But I am responding out of sadness and hurt and so not willing myself to stick to the guidelines of discussion, I’m sorry. What is important to say about this is that it’s not appropriate to dismiss someone’s critique because they are a trans man, it is NOT the same thing as being a cis man, and it is also not appropriate to make assumptions about what is behind someone’s identification.

  102. Drew

    @cin17 Thank you, I admit to being a little hazy on the true origin of patriarchy, and I will check that out. I didn’t mean to imply that white men singlehandedly created it but there were many egalitarian and matriarchal cultures that were destroyed through colonization and I believe that existing patriarchies were strengthened and made more violent as a result as well. Even without having all the facts down that’s something important to be considering.

  103. Tigs

    I am genuinely sorry to have caused hurt. I could concede that I read more arrogance in the voice of your comment than was intended.

    I guess what I am tired of, is being told to do things one way, without a suggestion of what that might look like. In an attempt to be more clear, I rejected the mandate that “We should be trying to figure out [...]” without some suggestion of what that figuring is. If it’s so important that we figure it out, why are you telling us to figure it out instead of helping to figure it out–particularly with the coda to go read a book.

    I am sympathetic to your point, but I do/have read a great deal of post-colonial theory, black feminist theory, African socialist theory, and well, theory. I haven’t read the Invention of Women, but I know enough about it to know that it is critiquing the centrality of biological determinism in Western feminist critique (which is part of the conversation that we’re having here, as per Jill’s statement about the doxa of SDI).

    Perhaps my hackles (and probably Jez’s, too) would have been less raised if instead of saying something that looked an awful lot like, “feminism, ur doing it wrong,” you offered a summary of Oyewumi’s critique as a constructive alternative view of this discussion–which I think would be an awesome addition.

    But again, I’m sorry to have contributed to your sadness and hurt, that’s not really what I’m going for.

  104. Kali

    Drew, the Indian sacred texts were declaring “Dhol, gawar, sudra, pashu, nari sakal tadan ke adhikari”
    (drums, illiterate, of lower caste, animals, and females deserve a beating) several centuries before Christ was born or any white culture ever dreamed of colonization.

  105. Drew

    Thanks Kali, I will look more into that and other older histories of oppression and see how that relates to what I’ve been told about the role white imperialism has played in the global oppression scene – I won’t comment again on this post because I’ve already said a lot, I just wanted to accept your critique.

  106. Hedgepig

    cin17, Lerner’s “The Creation of Patriarchy” is NOT a dry scholarly work!! It’s a marvellous, rollicking tale and it explains so much!

    Another academic work that is accessible and enlightening is an essay in a collection called “Women’s Work, Men’s Property: The origins of gender and class.”

    The chapter I’m re-reading now (inspired by this discussion) is “Property Forms, Political Power, and Female Labour in the Origins of Class and State Societies,” by Stephanie Coontz and Peta Henderson.

    It maintains that different marriage residence rules in different neolithic societies allowed for the rise of male subordination of females in some groups, and that in turn allowed some groups to increase political power and material wealth at the expense of others.
    The patrilocal model (in which a new husband and wife go to live with the husband’s community)allowed related males to accumulate women (breeders and workers) and concentrate material wealth and power for themselves.
    The spouse who leaves their birth community on marriage loses a lifetime of networks and kin bonds and enters at the bottom of the ladder in their new community. There used to be a mixture of matrilocal and patrilocal societies, but gradually patrilocality became the dominant model, for lots of fascinating reasons.
    Really a work worth ferreting out if you can find it.

  107. cin17

    Thanks for the tip, Hedgepig. I looked “Women’s Work…” up and immediately bought it. Looks to be a great addition to my burgeoning Feminism library.

  108. AlienNumber

    The words “slut” and “whore” are not only imprecise and ugly words, but they serve the very useful purpose of distracting from the real problem: that of the rapist, of the john (is this redundant? Since all johns are rapists).

    The people who are suing Yale because of Title IX violations are on the right track to reclaiming the word “slut.” That’s how we reclaim it: by suing the hell out of the sexual harassers who deploy it against us.

  109. Friend of Snakes

    May I just drop a “Please Don’t Feed the Troll” into the mix? Thank you.

  110. redpeachmoon

    I’m offended by the word ‘slut’,but I’m more often offended by the very popular ‘douche-bag’. Is this not verbal misogyny? Great discussion, as usual.
    A recent observation: little boys fussing on the streets and on the tram : indulged. little girls? slapped or otherwise stopped. Rock on DameQ. and welcome Amelia!

  111. minervaK

    If this is too entirely off topic, I hope Twisty will relegate it to the appropriate circular file, but the several posts of blamers who also lift weights makes me want to advise of my Women’s Weight Training group over on the Bookface thing. I will need blamers there, I am certain, to help me fight the good fight against the inevitable entrenched patriarchal thinking that will arise. If you wish to join, you can just search for it on the search thingy, or go to my site and email me and I’ll send ya an invite. Love, Minerva

  112. Amelia

    Thanks redpeachmoon, Val and allhellsloose, a privilege to be part of the discussion. Hedgepig, thanks for the recommended reading.

    I’d never heard of douches before I’d started reading blogs and saw the douchebag epithet. I’ve seen the use of this gendered slur defended on the grounds that douches are dumb, so it’s the equivalent of dumb bag or some such. I disagree. It’s misogyny by association. Another failure of the reclamation project. Douches are so dumb I’d rather not hear about them ever again and I wish that they’d drop off the face of this earth only to be a footnote, emblematic of the patriarchal Idee fixe, “women are dirty”, in the herstory of our post patriarchal paradise.

    Amelia

  113. Friend of Snakes

    To those who might be open to change after being advised that douchebag is a sexist scurrility, it helps to have an alternative on offer, and I provide enemabag. Technically, everyone should be using douche water or enema water, but maybe that’s too fine a point.

  114. Jezebella

    Drew, you must have missed the recent directive from Twisty indicating that the commentariat is now a dude-free zone. Perhaps you were absent that day.

  115. Bushfire

    How about the word “dyke”. Is this re-appropriateable? I call myself a dyke all the time, and this conversation has got me thinking about why.

    Dear goddess I hope I’m not a funfeminist.

  116. IrishUp

    Amelia, FWIW, the douche is an invention of The Patriarchy, that when used as intended induces many noxious side effects. Mild ones include irritation, itching and swelling. Serious side effects include infection, sterility, and poor self image and esteem.

    I use douche and its conjugants because it seems to fit the crime.

  117. TotallyDorkin

    @Jezebella
    Twisty’s no-men commenting policy is vague when it comes to the issue of trans men. This is probably because of her cis-privilege and not considering the confusion and vagueness that is caused when the word “dude” is used as a classifier instead of more established words that more people can understand. If she said cis-men cannot comment, Drew would know he could. If she said trans and cis men could not comment, Drew would know he couldn’t. However, the way Twisty has written the policy, Drew, who was born a woman and is still often gendered female by people who he meets, has every right to post here.

    But good going on the snotty trans oppression.

  118. Jezebella

    I just didn’t see why Drew needed to tell us his gender. It looked to me like a typical dude thing: “Speaking as a man…” blah blah blah… as though we’re supposed to pay more attention because a MAN is speaking. So, no it wasn’t “snotty trans oppression”, it was “I’m pretty sure self-identified men (of whatever origin) aren’t welcome to speak here.” If Drew wants to talk, he should talk, but he doesn’t need to come in waving his “I’m a man” flag at us. Dig?

  119. Amelia

    Thanks, Irishup. Ugh, I still can’t get over how gross those things are. Is the douchebag insult wielded by feminists only or is it more widespread than that? Even if it is just feminists using the term. I’m wary of it being something that could easily be co-opted for the opposite effect. The power of the term unfortunately still lies with it’s association with femaleness, patriarchy being the matrix and all.

    Friend of snakes, sometimes I wonder if the French have got it right with bidets (sp?) – not that I’ve ever used one in my life. I like enema just by itself, it’s got such a close relationship with enemy.

    Know thine enema

    Know

  120. Amelia

    Oops, scratch that last know!

  121. minervaK

    Now, see, “dyke” is a good example of an insult word that points back at a concrete reality, and thus has legs to stand on in the ‘reclaiming’ arena. A person reclaiming the word “dyke” is reclaiming an intrinsic personal characteristic that originally had nothing to do with patriarchy; that was not in fact INVENTED by patriarchy, in the way that “slut” was.

  122. Sarah

    @cin17 (formerly iGuest) @Zoe and @janna

    “Our brains are what make humans an apex predator, not our size or strength. Both men and women have the cunning to kill a larger, physically stronger animal, or adversary. According to your logic, the world should be run by very large, strong, young men and not a bunch of fat, weak, old men.

    The myth that patriarchy exists because “men are stronger” is, IMO, on of the most pervasively destructive false narratives in patriarchy’s arsenal. Patriarchy exists because men are the weaker sex, not the stronger.”

    My favorite thing about this place is how frequently, and wonderfully, I find out I am completely wrong about stuff. Also: Most everyone here is smarter than I am, which is a nice change from the office. Ahem! Anyway, yes. The above makes total sense.

  123. Sarah

    Also: @Amelia Patriarchy as The Matrix is an awesome analogy. I think that might actual work in trying to explain it to someone who hasn’t already taken the red pill (or was it the blue pill? I don’t remember, but you get the point).

  124. humanbein

    To Drew: If I were a man who had changed himself to a woman and felt oppressed, I would be glad to have a place where I could post comments without having to explain or make a fuss about my gender.

    I am neither male or female. I am a human being. My anatomy doesn’t dictate my sex; our culture does.

  125. cuntalina

    A lecture on how not to use the word slut from the gentleman farmer who uses the word “cuntalina”?

  126. Amelia

    Hey Sarah, not sure if you’re giving me credit for The Matrix, all credit should go to Jill. I should have made that clear. I came up with a neat little analogy in the middle of the night last night, even if do say so myself (or maybe it’s just sleep deprivation talking).

    Anyway. Imagine, if you will, feminist (a) sauntering through some kind if rural idyll, when lo and behold, big stinky raging bull comes thundering towards her (that’s the slut word). Feminist (a) does a neat little side step, says “nobody is a slut”. Raging bull goes thundering off into the distance and eventually loses steam. Feminist (a) goes on her merry way, sits under a tree with her cucumber sandwich. Feminist (b), however, when faced with bull says, “everyone’s a slut”, grabs the bull by the horns, so to speak. The problem is that even if feminist (b) manages to subdue the bull, she’s still tied to the bull and patriarchy is full of particularly cranky bulls. Feminist (b) expends a whole lot of energy subduing bulls and is unable to enjoy cucumber sandwiches under a nice shady tree like her sister or march up the farmer and demand he fix his fence.
    Has it’s flaws. What do you think?

    And that’s probably enough from me.

  127. janna

    I am neither male or female. I am a human being. My anatomy doesn’t dictate my sex; our culture does.

    Interesting. On the other hand, women who have to deal with sex discrimination on a daily basis don’t have that privilege. That’s why we’re feminists: we’re fighting for full humanity in society. It must be nice to have it handed to you and have your sex not matter.

  128. Asai

    Reading all of this, I am no longer certain that annual Slutwalks are doing less harm than good.

    Also, @TotallyDorkin, Twisty suggested in her comments on posting that people should lurk for a while and read some feminist literature before posting. If one has done both of those things, Twisty’s definition of “dude” becomes evident. I don’t believe it was cis privilege that lead to the confusion. Rather, both cis and trans men may post, but only if they aren’t doing so from “the unique male perspective.”

    In that context, Drew’s need to include his identified gender does muddy the waters. However, if he was born biologically female, he has been oppressed by the patriarchy.

  129. tinfoil hattie

    Do you know that women used to be encouraged to douche with Lysol? The nasty stuff in the glass bottle.

    Yeah. Douche. Not so easily “reclaimed,” methinks. I doubt most dudes who use the term “douchebag” against their buds are using it for feminist empowerfulmentness.

  130. Jezebella

    Asai, *everyone* is oppressed by the patriarchy, even people who don’t acknowledge its existence. Being oppressed by the P does not make someone an advanced blamer, nor does it give men a pass for waving their “I’m a man” flag all around the comments section. It is my understanding – and perhaps I am wrong – that Jill indicated that anyone whose dudeliness was overt was not welcome to comment here. I would argue that avowing one’s dudely identity is about as overt as it gets.

    Drew, I am sorry your feelings are hurt, but you have to understand that I took your post at face value, in which you told us you were a man. Isn’t that what I’m *supposed* to do – respond to you as I’d respond to any other man? Well, guess what? I’m not interested in listening to some dude telling me how I’m doing feminism wrong. I hear that all over the internet, and I’m sick of it.

  131. Josquin

    Jill: I’ve posted a comment similar to this many times, but once again, thank you for this post. Your ideas and many of the commenters’ responses are a cool blast of fresh bracing air.

  132. humanbein

    Janna, I meant to say that this blog is a place where I don’t have to declare a gender. In our culture, it’s forced on me.

  133. pheenobarbidoll

    A good knee capping early on, liberally applied to the gropey assy rapey ancient men wouldn’t have hurt though. Intelligence comes into play when you have the smarts to do said knee capping waaaaay out in the middle on nowhere. If a man is knee capped in the forest, does anyone hear him scream?

  134. Emily H.

    “I think by ‘re-appropriating’ the word, what they mean is: instead of men getting to call us sluts, we are going to call ourselves sluts. Seen like this, it’s kind of obvious how it defeats the purpose.” Comments like this seem to miss the point a bit. Calling someone “slut” isn’t an identical act no matter what, but varies by who’s performing it; it’s a different speech act depending on the speaker.

    When used un-ironically by a second-party “accuser,” it’s usually a warning, a threat, or a call for the accusee to shut up. It’s generally assumed that a woman accused of sluttiness will be horribly ashamed — either because the horrible secret of her promiscuous behavior has been outed, or because she’s been caught transgressing the standards of her socioeconomic class. (Many critiques of “slutty” behavior tacitly build their arguments on the idea that middle class young ladies aren’t acting like young ladies anymore. The poor dears would be so embarrassed if they knew! See e.g. Laura Sessions Stepp’s “Unhooked.”)

    The term cannot function in that way if it’s being self-applied by a person who obviously is *not* shutting up. If some guy calls you a slut, “Why yes, I AM a slut, you got a problem with that?” is not the most intellectual rejoinder, but it is likely to shut *him* up, at least for the moment.

  135. allhellsloose

    jezebella

    NEVER APOLOGISE.

    carry on though because you speak well.

  136. allhellsloose

    As in “Drew, you have to understand…”

  137. TotallyDorkin

    Twisty needs to either just go with the fact that her language and her commenters marginalize trans people, or do something about all the condescending explaining that is allowed to happen to trans folk on this blog. As this blog stands, it is not at all welcoming to tran people, and it is hypocritical to claim that it is, something that Twisty has done in a blog post very recently. I’d like to see more than just lip-service being paid to trans inclusion.

  138. Hedgepig

    Twisty doesn’t HAVE to do ANYTHING, Totally Dorkin, it’s her fucking blog.

  139. DancesWithPumas

    [quote]I’d like to see more than just lip-service being paid to trans inclusion.[/quote]

    I’d like to see more than just lip-service being paid to the inclusion of women (cis-women, just to be clear).

    It would be great if Twisty would just go with the fact that her language and some of her commenters marginalize cis-women, or do something about all the demands that are allowed to be directed at cis-women on this blog.

    Save tyour breath, I already know what you’re gonna say.

  140. Tigs

    totallydworkin– Can I get an example of what you would like her to do? I believe (pretty strongly) that there have been people banned, Twisty has said, repeatedly that anti-trans shit isn’t cool.
    What would you like her to do?
    Also, what the hell is anti-trans* here? I am goddamn confused, which, if I were going to a transactivist blog wouldn’t be okay for me to go and bust up the comments with, but seriously? wtf is going on?

    I get that not all language of all commenters is super-sensitive– I mean, I know I wouldn’t say “a man who had changed himself to a woman,” but Twisty is supposed to what–delete that? It’s not perfect language, but it was in the service of fighting gendering— am I missing something?

  141. Friend of Snakes

    Twisty needs to either just go with the fact that her language and her commenters marginalize[s] trans people, or do something about all the condescending explaining that is allowed to happen to trans folk on this blog.”

    Okay. Those are serious charges. Time for an example or three.

  142. Friend of Snakes

    Also, how weird is it that the first dude to identify himself since the introduction of the dude-free policy, wants to have his cake and eat it too? Then, by god, we get female blamers rushing up to lobby for his right to whine. Stop the madness!

  143. Drew

    I do not identify as a dude and use that term as well for scumbag cis-men PATRIARCH pieces of shit so stop calling me it. While I’m sure some trans men identify with the male experience and just want to be “one of the guys”, that is not me, and it shows a limited understanding of the range of gender experiences that many of the subsequent commenters have projected this idea of “what a trans man is” onto me. For those who are confused, it is transphobic for people to dismiss me from a conversation about patriarchy because I identified myself as a trans man, to make assumptions such as that I have not read feminist literature nor thoroughly read and understood both large portions of this blog and the guidelines for commenters (without actualy referencing my comment at all), and generally acting as if there is no difference between being a trans man and being a DUDE aka cis man. My trans identity is about my own resistance to patriarchy, as well as white supremacy, and allegiance and identification with TRANNIES, not men, and that’s that. It’s not cool to have to feel like t’s something to hide if I want to be part of feminist dialogue. And for the record I think twisty is doing a fine job addressing transphobia in this blog to the extent that running a blog is extremely time consuming and she has put a shit-ton of effort into laying it down against transphobia. But I do agree that this blog is not welcoming to trans folks anyway because of a number of the commenters. Now this is really the last time I will comment on this post, but y’all keep talking about me.

  144. Bushfire

    Twisty needs to either just go with the fact that her language and her commenters marginalize trans people, or do something about all the condescending explaining that is allowed to happen to trans folk on this blog.

    I would like to submit for the record that Twisty has not said anything transphobic, but that many commenters certainly have, and she has always expressed displeasure at the transphobic comments, and has deleted many.

    When used un-ironically by a second-party “accuser,” it[slut]’s usually a warning, a threat, or a call for the accusee to shut up. It’s generally assumed that a woman accused of sluttiness will be horribly ashamed — either because the horrible secret of her promiscuous behavior has been outed, or because she’s been caught transgressing the standards of her socioeconomic class. (Many critiques of “slutty” behavior tacitly build their arguments on the idea that middle class young ladies aren’t acting like young ladies anymore. The poor dears would be so embarrassed if they knew! See e.g. Laura Sessions Stepp’s “Unhooked.”)

    The term cannot function in that way if it’s being self-applied by a person who obviously is *not* shutting up. If some guy calls you a slut, “Why yes, I AM a slut, you got a problem with that?” is not the most intellectual rejoinder, but it is likely to shut *him* up, at least for the moment.

    I’m really glad you said this, because I’ve been really caught between two groups here- experienced spinster aunt feminists who cast a “jaundiced eye” on the re-appropriation of ‘slut’ and the young, hip feminists who SWEAR they are re-appropriating it. Usually I am 100% on the side of the spinster aunt crowd, but this time I actually think I agree with the concept of re-appropriating ‘slut’, for the same reasons stated above by Emily H. I had no idea how to articulate it myself. I’ve already posted two message about these feelings but all anyone’s talking about is what started patriarchy and the trans man who came in announcing his manliness.

    C’mon, people, feedback! (I know, it’s not your job to educate me. I just like it so much when you do!)

  145. Friend of Snakes

    “For those who are confused, it is transphobic for people to dismiss me from a conversation about patriarchy because I identified myself as a trans man….”

    W E L L! Isn’t that convenient. So you just plop yourself down amidst us females and keep telling us why you as a dude are entitled to be here. Nice try.

    No, Drew, I’m not confused. And now I’m going back to not feeding the troll.

  146. Asai

    @Jezebella

    Thank you for your response. I was speaking more in defense of Twisty’s commenting policies than of Drew, but I appreciate the clarification of the reasons behind your protest.

  147. Jezebella

    Just to be clear, I didn’t suggest that Drew might want to shush up in here because he’s a trans man, but rather because he’s a MAN, full stop. Which I only know because he told me he was. Which he did after coming in here and telling us how we were doing feminism wrong. Drew, you may not identify as a dude, but you were acting like one. FYI.

    Now Drew’s saying he’s not actually a man, so the rules don’t apply to him? Which is it?

  148. Asai

    Being clear myself, I think Twisty’s commenting policies are ok, and your irritation with Drew is valid.

  149. Jill

    Oh for crying out loud. I’m marginalizing “cis-women” now, in addition to being transphobic? And some dude named Drew shows up, announces he’s a trans man, and is bummed that the no-dudes policy disenwelcomes him from Savage Death Island? I can’t leave this blog for two minutes!

    I’ve been making an effort to keep the blog dude-free (and if you don’t know what a “dude” is — if that is actually possible — don’t post here), but as I have stated about 647 times, sometimes dudes (and transphobicists) sneak in while I’m not looking, and then the blamers start responding, which creates a moderating nightmare on accounta I can’t always babysit the blog 24/7. This current tangle of Drew-related posts — I’m sorry, but I just don’t have time to sift through them and surgically resect all the dudeliness. I am but a single aunt.

    We will all have to learn to cope with the imperfections inherent in the system.

    Once again: NO DUDES. NO DUDELY PERSPECTIVES. If you have to tell us you’re a dude — that’s right, even if you’re a trans dude — don’t post here. This is not a trans men’s issues blog. This is a women-only Savage Death Island blog, where we talk about tampons, and how terrible high heels are.

  150. Boner Killer

    @redpeachmoon

    Douching are dangerous for women – so I think when we use it, it usually implies something “bad.” Seriously, douching is unhealthy, and I don’t think it’s an inherent “feminine” concept; i really doubt a woman invented it, seems to be more of an expectation women were (and still are) guilt-tripped into taking part in.

  151. AlienNumber

    Would the Blametariat put her giant brains together and help think of a word for a man consumer of prostituted women’s bodies that can eventually have even more bite than the word “slut” or “whore”? There is something so profoundly degraded and vile in a dude paying a woman for sex, but alas, the Patriarchy is not capable of giving us a word to express this, except for the very mild “john” and “trick.”

    Asswipe seems a little mild too, as does godbag.

  152. ginger

    The only reason “john” and “trick” are mild, AlienNumber, is that the act they describe is 100% approved by the P. There is no word that we could claim or coin that’s capable of expressing the bile we’d like, because patriarchy has the power to turn innocuous activities (like existing while female) into loathed ones described by terrible words (slut, slag, cunt) and to trivialize loathesome activities into colorful fun!

  153. Jezebella

    Alas, AlienNumber, the only word I can think of for men who pay to rape prostitutes is “rapist,” but I’m guessing that’s not gonna fly outside radfem circles.

  154. Bushfire

    I think I’ve heard Twisty use the term “pay-for-rape”ist.

    Payforapist?

  155. thebewilderness

    We tried really hard to reclaim bitch back in the seventies. Wore it as a badge of pride and all that.
    You can see by the sting it still carries that it didn’t work out any better than the attempt to reclaim the N word has.

    Bitch is still used on female dogs and women.
    Slut is probably never going back to meaning slovenly.
    And the N word is all about who uses it on whom. That is probably as good as it could get and that is not so good.

    At this point in time slut seems to mean “asking for it” or available, or what we used to call “easy”. All applied to women, of course, because how willing a man is to copulate never seems to be a matter of good or bad character.

    It is a man made language, and as usual they did a piss poor job of it.

  156. veganrampage

    “Creation Of The P” is on the tubes (in part)for free and for your viewing pleasure.

  157. Shelby

    Would the Blametariat put her giant brains together and help think of a word for a man consumer of prostituted women’s bodies that can eventually have even more bite than the word “slut” or “whore”? There is something so profoundly degraded and vile in a dude paying a woman for sex, but alas, the Patriarchy is not capable of giving us a word to express this, except for the very mild “john” and “trick.”

    I imagine most blokes would wear any such word, no matter how barberous, with pride because in their terminally selfish, self absorbed minds it would still equate to them gettin’ some which is of course all that really matters.

    I used to live with a scumfuck arsewipe (and I’m being real polite here) who would have a waaaaaay out of proportion reaction if I or anybody else called him a prick. To him, that was the most insulting thing you could call a man. I’m wondering if anybody else has come across this. Is this at all universal?

  158. felicity

    Hi,

    A bit serendipitous but last night before I read about this I happened to read a study done in the 1990s in the UK by Sociologist Jenny Kitzinger on the notion of the slut and how it is used by women as well as men. The website is: http://www.psy.dmu.ac.uk/brown/dmulib/JKATTR.htm
    I would say to enjoy but it is a depressing read and whilst specific to a time and place, it probably has more than a touch of universality to it.
    I have also been looking into the etymology of the word and it seems to jump through the ages from slovenly and idle to lacking in moral character perhaps connected through the notion that an idle women might be the sort of women who would rely on men to provide for her by offering sexual relations for wealth (in a non formal prostitutional exchange) and resist working for her own keep. This would explain how Madonna (see linked article) would be excluded as she is seen working hard and therefore whilst her work plays on her sexuality, she is just about making a legitimate independent living outside of her sexuality through her dance and singing and acting skills, which if viewed as legitimate skills to sell can be separated from her person.

  159. m Andrea

    Er. Patriarchy requires the presence of a person willing to oppress you. That’s it, nothing else. Every single person has the ability to reach into their handy dandy toolbox for a tool they can use, if their desire is to oppress. If they wanted, they could even spend a great deal of time devising a multitude of tools, each tool designed to accomplish a particular variation of abuse. But first, before anything else, the desire to oppress must be present in order for them to pick up the tool.

    And that’s the point where I have to ask myself why anybody in their right mind would desire to oppress those he claims to love.

  160. Frances

    http://shareorshelve.blogspot.com/2011/05/reclaim-lexis-continued-from-yesterday.html

    I think we should go. I don’t think we need to reclaim this stupid bloody word though.

  161. Ari

    Seconding the recommendation of Gerda Lerner’s “The Creation of Patriarchy” as mentioned by cin17 and @Hedgepig, although it did find it a bit dry too me, but I also had a bloody headache that day and was trying to catch up for a class.

    @Kea, regards to the other comment about overpopulation, is “overpopulation” the “reason” or just the excuse used for controlling women’s reproductive capabilities. Also, do women in wealthy countries really control contraception? Or do their doctors?

    @damequixote, just want to thank you for that story, and I may have to go back to hitting the gym all the time.

    @Not a Chair’s point that “all women are sluts” is probably not the dominant patriarchal mindset, is probably on target. Patriarchy needs two types of women: one that serves the immediate role of sexual gratification, and one that serves the long-term role of reproducing (patriarchy). These are not usually the same women. I do not believe that patriarchy really frames “sluts” as “women who enjoy sex”– I believe patriarchy at it’s core sees sex as a benefit for men, not women, and ignores or denies any direct sexual pleasure that women may experience, as noted by the obsessive need to define and tie women’s emotional needs to childrearing. (Womens don’t REALLY like sex, they just desperately need to be fulfilled by having babies! yes! That’s it!) The reality seems to be that patriarchy sees women as experiencing NO sexual desire, and a “good woman” is one that effectively protects her reproductive capacities for the good of the patriarchial system, while a “bad woman” is one who is effectively, just a really bad gate-keeper. The idea that she actually enjoys sex, and has a right to determine who enters and who does not, is entirely beyond the ability of patriarchy to understand, hence the use of the “slut” to denote women who are literally, “up for grabs” and “cannot be raped (because they don’t get to say “no” anyway.)”
    (Apologies if that was much too long-winded.)

  162. Kristine

    There seems to be a general consensus that although the word slut describes a specific character, as an adjective it has no specific meaning. Even though I am late in joining the discussion, I would like to offer a precise definition.
    A slut is any girl or woman whose body is widely considered to be public property, whereas a ‘good girl’ is any girl or woman who is the private property of a man. All women eventually become sluts, sometimes as a result of their perceived sexual activities, visible pregnancy, or simply daring to leave the house and speak to people.
    This is why the word slut is a threat. Whenever a man calls a woman a slut, he isn’t simply insulting her; he’s reminding her that she belongs to him and all other men, and that they can and will do whatever they want to her.
    I believe that although the word slut deserves a publicly declared examination, it can never be reclaimed. Any word that perpetuates the idea that women are exclusively the property of others needs to be injected with smallpox and allowed to die.
    And now I will cease to talk like a cross between and android and a dictionary.

  163. Kristine

    Just to clarify: I made that definition up, I did not find it in any official source. Its not in any dictionary that I know of, and I would hate to be misleading.

  164. ptittle

    damequixote – what a fantastic post. (reminds me a bit of “The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football” by Mariah Nelson Burton). I have had similar experiences playing basketball – with men from high school age and up. There should be a collection of pieces about this sort of thing. Your analysis is point on:

    “They let me know that as a woman I am in their way…” That’s it exactly. We are IN THEIR WAY. They are entitled. They have the RIGHT OF WAY.

    “Dressed in sweats I’m not an erotic object nor am I admiring them, so I’m the proverbial ‘waste of space’. The disdain, esp. from the younger dudes, is palpable. I’ve said ‘hello’ to young guys only to have them literally snort back.”

    “The middle-aged and older dudes HAVE to come over and say that they once lifted more than I just did but they tore a (insert muscle or joint here) and they just can’t “go heavy” anymore. They HAVE to say it to me. ” Indeed. They HAVE to. Have had similar experiences as a dj. There’s always one who has to come up to me and tell me they used to do that, but they had much bigger speakers.

    ” (A woman can only be strong if it is on loan from something ‘male’)” Yes!! We simply canNOT be strong on our own. We simply canNOT be strong. One of my neighbours, male, was surprised I could move a fallen tree. And he sees me kayak six hours a day. The mental gymnastics they have to go through to deny our strength is truly amazing. Another, when I offered to help him get his car unstuck, said “Do you think you can?” I walked on. Let him stay stuck.

    “But it happens 5 days a week.” Every week. Every year. Forever. Indeed, I too BTP.

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