Jun 29 2011

Spinster aunt becomes proficient in typing words “open thread”

Spinster HQ is all blumped up again today. I don’t, for example, have time to tell you that bleeding heart liberal Tom Petty is cheesed off at Michele Bachmann for using his song “American Girl” as exit music at her rallies. So I invited my sidekick Stingray to guest-post on the Republican excrescence/presidential candidate who avers that “not all cultures are equal,” that the Founding Fathers strove tirelessly throughout their lives to end slavery, and that hundreds of Nobel Prize-winning scientists “believe” in intelligent design. La Stinga, who apparently has a pretty full dance card, hasn’t coughed up this essay yet, so I throw the subject into your capable hands.

No need to limit yourself to Bachmann, though. Go wild. Be delightful. Eschew ellipses. I’ll catch you on the flip-flop.


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  1. Zrusilla

    Bachmann’s waaay out there, all right, but no more so than Alan Keyes or Rick Santorum, and frankly it’s tiresome that she’s the lightning rod when the whole GOP slate is deeply unhinged. I look forward to a masterful, sexism-free critique of Bachmann here at Blamer HQ.

  2. Sarah

    Zrusilla, thank you. The parallels between the Bachmann and Palin campaigns are uncanny – they’re both lightning rods for liberal mockery when they aren’t even the frontrunners. All political conversation around the 2008 conservative presidential candidacy was laser-focused on Palin, which is unheard of for a vice presidential candidate. No one cares about veeps, until they’re ladies – then they’re suitable for minute, unending scrutiny for P2K compliance (or not). All my favorite bloggers/tweeters/what-have-you-ers won’t stop going on and on about Bachmann, with nary a peep on Keyes, who’s been nutjobbing it up on the conservative circuit since before I was old enough to vote. Grump grump grump!

  3. yttik

    Right off the top of my head I can think of a dozen horrid male candidates far worse than Bachmann. Kind of sad that everybody always jumps on the Girl Cooties bandwagon.

    I can tell you one thing, Bachmann never emailed young constituents photos of her penis, she never slashed up her girlfriend’s face with a broken beer bottle, she never manipulated her interns into giving her oral sex in the office, and she never went toe tapping in the men’s room for male prostitutes. As far as I know she’s never been convicted of selling a congressional seat or of supporting a mistress with campaign funds, and she hasn’t ran off with her secretary while her wife was in the hospital having chemo.

    Other than that, I’m sure she’s a real bitch. Double standard, what double standard?

  4. Zrusilla

    I’m busy “discussing” with nice, respectable, deeply concerned liberals on my Facebook page the following completely insane article, written by a self-abnegating P-compliant lady:

    “Bachmann for president? I’ll take the glass ceiling.”


    Here’s what I responded to one of my nice, respectable critics, who was saying that the author just wants to keep a mean crazy bitch out of the Oval Office and what’s wrong with that? “Alan Keyes, a definite contender for the far-right WTF trophy, once ran for President. If a black man had written an article saying, “Bring back Jim Crow, anyone but Alan Keyes,” everyone would look at him, and rightfully so, like he were absolutely stone crazy. And before you say no comparison, ask yourself: are Bachmann’s chances of carrying the general election really, really so great, and do you have better evidence of that than Matt Taibbi Said So? I do *not* appreciate the author’s trivialization of women’s legitimate political aspirations in order to rightfully criticize a far right candidate. It only reinforces the notion that the glass ceiling is good and legitimate and somehow less important than other barriers.”

  5. Jezebella

    Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. A thought just occurred to me: Are we going to see a resurgence of feminist Bachmann defenders like we did with Palin? I hope not. I’m not sure I can take it again.

  6. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Bachmann claims to be a Christian feminist. Which (meaning no offense to anyone) is the same as claiming to be a Jewish nazi.

  7. Zrusilla

    Jezebella, condemning the collective rape fantasy that envelopped Palin is not the same as defending her political views. In 2008 this was entirely lost on my liberal interlocuters, probably because they were unable to perceive the former. Palin and Bachmann have as much the right to cause thinking people anguish by running for President as Alan Keyes. If that’s “defending Palin” then count me among that number.

  8. gostephaniego

    Antoinette, ouch. Although belief in Judaism is a choice, identifying and being identified as an ethnically Jewish person is not.

  9. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Being born female isn’t a choice either, gostephaniego.

  10. Suzan

    Actually, I spend more time trashing Gov. Good-hair Perry, who is reputed to be a closet case hiding behind homophobia and macho asshattery.

    I also remind myself how I supported Hillary and wish she were President instead of the pretty much a Republican, Obama.

  11. Bushfire

    Ok, blamers: open thread topic #1: Does “vanilla privilege” exist, or is it fun-feminist bull?


  12. Jezebella

    I can’t get past the fact that I find being called “vanilla” fucking offensive as hell. It’s like being called “mundane” by the SCA crowd. I’m not wading into a discourse that begins by insulting me.

  13. speedbudget

    I’ve been called vanilla before, and it was said with such condescending sympathy that even though I wasn’t sure what it meant, I was sure it was an insult.

  14. minervaK

    Mang, that vanilla page is, like, a clusterfuck of funfem terminology. I can barely understand the thing. What the hell happened to just saying what you mean in the simplest way possible?

  15. Bushfire

    That’s kinda what I thought.

  16. Saurs

    Yeah, donning a “Sarah Palin is a cunt” t-shirt, groping the cardboard tits of a standee depicting your boss’s opponent while shoving a beer in “her” face, celebrating your victory over a lil’ lady by blasting “99 Problems (But A Bitch Ain’t One of Them)”, and gleefully anticipating “Bachmann-inspired porn films” are legitimate political statements that in no way reflect progressive dudes’ (and women’s) inability to treat women as something other than silly fucktoys who are distracting voters from Serious Candidates and Serious Man Issues. Dude politicians are constantly being undermined in this precisely this way, amirite?

  17. Eleutheria

    Hey there – third delurking or so. I’m the Eleutheria who commented on that “vanilla privilege” thread – who tried, with the best of intentions (I don’t know why I bother), to test those murky waters. As usual, it didn’t work, because they just won’t listen. What I got from it is a mental breakdown and a panic attack, resulting from triggers (thanks, PTSD!), that were expressed in four posts on my blog that used to be public, but that, since then, I made private, not having the courage to show them publicly anymore. As usual.

    In my view, this so-called “Vanilla Privilege” (TM) is really just disguised ableism. The whole “you’re so vanilla, damn, you really can’t take it (physically or psychologically), you’re so dull and unadventurous, why don’t you push your boundaries a bit?” is very fucking disregarding of people who have trauma, issues with trust, so-called erotophobia and very good reasons for not pushing their boundaries. Oh, and rape culture obviously. *sighs*

    And on that same subject, I’ve got another topic – it’s not like I can rec this on Shakesville, so here we go: The Belief in Freedom, Equality, Democracy and Social Justice Pro-SM Blogs Have Shown Me – that’s my re-cap of everything I’ve found on the subject since I started my blog.

  18. tinfoil hattie

    What’s “SCA”?

    I don’t know what “vanilla” even means, or why it’s privileged. Is it “sex without humiliation” or something? Gee, I guess that’s a privilege.

    Echoing minervak & Bushfire. Huh?

  19. Kara

    I think it is saying that people who have kinky sex are oppressed, and everyone else has “vanilla-privilege”. I don’t know exactly what “kinky” and “vanilla” mean though. Does my friend who likes to dress up in a bear suit count as “kinky”?

  20. nails

    I had a huge argument with the BDSM people about privilege over at rage against the manchine, and I essentially have the same view that I did to start with. There is all this stuff about losing your job/children over kink, when I wonder why the hell you are exposing your sexuality to your kids or to people at work. People get fired over exposing their “vanilla” sexuality to others, so its about puritanical society not a society that accepts only unkinky sex. There are those creepy 24/7 slave relationship people out there, too, they qualify as kink and articles like the privilege list defend the right of those people to bring children into a literal slave relationship. What the hell is wrong with these people that they cannot keep their sexuality between participants?

  21. Bushfire

    Yeah, nails, I also wondered why they were supposedly sharing their sex life with other people who are not in any way involved in their sex life.

  22. A Ginva

    Vanilla privilege is a funfem insult to those radfems who “dare tell women what kind of sexuality they should have”, as in, denounce abusive sexual relationships and the eroticisation of dominance and submission

    The expression ‘Vanilla sex’ comes from the BDSM world and refers to all sex that’s not BDSM (ie not abusive or trauma inducing or resulting from some kind of trauma). Basically it’s a way of defending patriarchal sexual practices while accusing radfems of exerting privilege or discriminating BDSM people.

  23. ivyleaves

    “SCA” = Society for Creative Anachronism

    In the context of that link it looks to me like “vanilla” = preference and practice of heterosexual, missionary position, PIV sex. Or something. And since, as far as I know, I never ran into it, I think it is true that the expression was coined to denigrate persons who are “vanilla” as was pointed out by a commenter.

  24. Sarah C

    I hate the term ‘vanilla’ (and what’s wrong with vanilla anyway? A good quality ice-cream with flecks of real vanilla in it can be as good as triple chocolate) in this context, it’s meant as an insult. BDSM-ers go on about being in a ‘culture of consent’ as if anyone who isn’t in a BDSM relationship is being raped all the time but they’re just too dumb and boring and vanilla to even notice.

    I’d be more inclined to believe in that ‘culture of consent’ stuff if the ‘community’ (if there even is such a thing) didn’t close ranks faster than the Catholic Church whenever anything went wrong, but every account I’ve ever seen of a woman being abused in a BDSM relationship, some guy always says, ‘she was into it, then she felt guilty’, exactly the same victim blaming you get in the ‘mainstream’.

  25. nails

    Over at rage against the manchine there is a discussion going on about starting a website for ex-BDSM people for support. There isn’t a ton of interest at this point but I figure some IBTP posters will have some info or can offer assistance with the making of the website. It could work like the yournotcrazy page (but easy to navigate) and maybe have a forum. There isn’t anywhere online for people who have been abused inside the kink community to get real support for it, outside of a handful of radfem sites, and our sites aren’t geared towards specific kinds of victim support systems that may be needed. Our sites are kind of public for discussions of sexual abuse, as well. This is something I really believe in as an idea to improve the world. I do not have direct experience escaping it though, so I do not feel I am the correct person to pursue action.


    If anyone does end up making the site and wants help (like the wee bit of traffic I can send your way or moderation assistance on a forum) please email me. Its skeptifemblog at gmail.

  26. Treefinger

    @the “vanilla” debate:

    It is hard to get laid if you are not vanilla (I have to admit it is pretty painful having to turn down people you like and basically only date through the internet because of what you like to do in bed, wouldn’t call it a systemic oppression though), and sometimes people laugh at your fetish. That’s the only “oppression” at work. And that’s only for male subs and female doms. I have zero sympathy for female subs and male doms because their sexuality is basically just the norm, but with a little added paraphernalia.

    Another thing that some BDSM progressives (Maymay @Male Submission Art and Bitchy Jones for instance) harp on about is that you can’t find porn that properly represents your sexuality. But while I don’t argue with that, there is no porn anywhere that properly represents ANYBODY’S sexuality. That’s the nature of porn. I find it sad that these people are going to continue trying to make or find porn that satisfies them instead of giving up on it, because they will never succeed. And that’s just what’s wrong about porn from the consumer’s point of view, the rest is well-documented here and elsewhere.

    Basically as someone who is not vanilla, and even angsts about it sometimes, no, it is not a privilege to be vanilla.

    I a bit sad that y’all don’t like being called vanilla though. Vanilla is my favourite flavour of ice cream! It’s a classic that almost everyone (who likes ice cream/sex) loves, even though many people prefer a less common flavour. Seems like a good analogy to me (besides there has to be some way to convey “normal”, since vanilla basically just encompasses sex that is expected and enshrined in the larger culture). If you don’t feel you are vanilla or kinky, you could always make up some other term for yourself or just boycott describing yourself in such terms (this is the same way I feel about the word “cis”).

  27. buttercup

    Oh, the Kinkier-Than-Thou set. How I loathe them.

  28. Treefinger

    “The expression ‘Vanilla sex’ comes from the BDSM world and refers to all sex that’s not BDSM (ie not abusive or trauma inducing or resulting from some kind of trauma).”

    While I don’t really quibble with your overall sentiment, this is slightly wrong. BDSM covers bondage, practices that eroticize dominance and submission, and sadomasochism.

    You can be kinky for as little as liking to play with men’s butts (if you’re female) or getting turned on by feet. So those things aren’t considered vanilla either. But it doesn’t have to be PIV (or hetero) to be vanilla. Blowjobs, cunnilingus, mutual masturbation, etc. are vanilla activities. It refers to practices that are within the range of “normal” or “expected” when you meet a random person and initiate sexual contact without particularly discussing it beforehand (my previous post that went into moderation said it’s harder for a kinky person to get laid, and this is why).

    I also genuinely don’t think “vanilla” is used in a derogatory manner these days, even if that’s how it originated. But I agree with the sentiment here that the kink community has a persecution complex and takes intellectual truths about how BDSM and fetish is no more feminist than any other fucked up sexual practice too personally. As a trans person with fetishes who agrees with everything Twisty says (possibly the only one), I can totally say this without getting called on my privileges by the community too. So nyah, sex-positive lurkers.

  29. Jezebella

    Perhaps people who call me “vanilla” don’t mean to be derogatory, but their intent is irrelevant. Just like people who don’t *mean* to be derogatory when they call all women b*tches still offend me.

    It really just gets under my skin, and I’m glad to see I’m not the only person irritated by it.

  30. Comrade PhysioProf

    These fucken jeezus freak motherfuckers consider it a moral good to lie if they perceive themselves as lying in support of their sicke-fucke jeezus-freak ends. This is why they have no problem lying about shitte like “abortion causes breast cancer” or “birth-control pills induce abortion” or whatthefuckeever, because “if it saves just one embryo”.

  31. Cycles

    But doesn’t that mean that anyone whose tastes are not “normal” is going to experience some type of lack of privilege, simply by virtue of not being normal?

    Pardon the hamfisted metaphor, but if the only type of coffee I enjoy is made from freshly ground Amaro Gayo beans, then, yeah, when I go to 7-Eleven for a caffeine jolt, I’ll experience less privilege than someone who likes whatever slurm they have in the pots there. 7-Eleven is not oppressing me, but it’s extending privilege to someone other than me. Is the difference between privilege and oppression, then, what’s bothersome about the whole vanilla thing?

  32. A Ginva

    “You can be kinky for as little as liking to play with men’s butts (if you’re female) or getting turned on by feet.”

    I include that in BDSM, as it derives from the eroticisation of dominance and sublission.

  33. Treefinger

    I suppose so, but what would you rather be referred to as? If you don’t want the intimates of your sex life to be boiled down to a word or known, it’d be best to boycott the word and assume when used it doesn’t apply to you (since the way i’ve always seen it used, it was descriptive rather than prescriptive- kinky people would say “vanilla people” in a general manner, and others would state “I’m vanilla”). Anyone who point-blank says “you are vanilla” is an asshole assuming things they don’t know about people. I’ve never heard anyone use it that way, but I’m sure it has been.

    Like I said the word is meant to convey what’s enshrined as normal sex (in that respect it is sort of like the “normie” or “mundane” in comparison to “freak” or “pervert”) without othering kinky people. Like “cis” is meant to convey Not Being Trans without using a problematic construction like “non-trans” that implies being trans is a special status. “Vanilla” does have derogatory connotations that “cis” doesn’t, so I wouldn’t mind using an alternative.

    By the way, I really do get why some of you hate the words cis and vanilla apart from that (the feeling that neither side of the dichotomy resonates with your experience). But I think the concept the words describe is useful to have for discussions, and that people who fit the descriptions exist even if they are not you. A cursory explanation of why you choose not to use either word should suffice if someone insists you are one or the other.

  34. Treefinger

    “But doesn’t that mean that anyone whose tastes are not “normal” is going to experience some type of lack of privilege, simply by virtue of not being normal?”

    My first post got moderated, but IMO, being rare or “abnormal” does not make you oppressed by default. I do not consider being vanilla a privilege. Kinkiness can make life annoying but to suggest it even approaches an oppression is arrogant and overblown at best.

    “You can be kinky for as little as liking to play with men’s butts (if you’re female) or getting turned on by feet.”

    I include that in BDSM, as it derives from the eroticisation of dominance and sublission.”

    I see your point, but how about BDSM’s eroticization of dominance and submission being conscious/deliberate? Just to be a pedant. There is pretty much no sexual practice that doesn’t somehow arise from or relate to dominance and submission. Or any facet of social life that isn’t related to it. IBTP. So that’s really the only way to distinguish (for clarity’s sake) between BDSM and other sexual practices.

  35. A Ginva

    *submission – sorry for misspelling.
    My reply was a bit dry though, maybe I should develop a bit: foot fetish derives from a patriarchal obsession with disabling women by torturing their feet, from which men gain sexual pleasure : footbinding in china, high heels or ballet in the west. The pain and suffering is eroticised, since constructed as “feminine”.

    In porn and just as in any patriarchal media, women’s feet/high heels are a major component of the dominance and submission narrative. Being at someone’s foot, being kicked, licking someone’s boots – all this = master & slave narrative.

    For BDSM, high heels are central –
    to mark the submissive person as feminine;
    as a means to inflict pain on the feminised person wearing them (high heels that are so high that they cause pain to the feet or can’t be walked with);
    as a means to humiliate by forcing the dominated one (often men in this case) to lick the heel, suck it, or by penetrating or crushing him with the heel – since inflicting “femininity” on someone is the most debasing thing, so much that putting a women’s panty on a man’s head = abu Ghraib torture technique – cf Jill’s post in 2010.

  36. Lidon

    Eschew ellipses.


    I also genuinely don’t think “vanilla” is used in a derogatory manner these days, even if that’s how it originated.

    I’ve never heard it not used in a derogatory way, especially considering that the people who created the term do NOT identify as “vanilla.”

    A good quality ice-cream with flecks of real vanilla in it can be as good as triple chocolate

    Ever tried ice cream minus the vanilla? It’s pretty damn good. That’s where I am at this point; I’m not even a vanilla person anymore.

  37. A Ginva

    Ah sorry, just read your replies, treefinger.

    “There is pretty much no sexual practice that doesn’t somehow arise from or relate to dominance and submission. Or any facet of social life that isn’t related to it. IBTP.”

    I’ve never had an equal and fully mutual-respectful sexual relationship, so can’t say. But I do believe it possible, even in patriarchy! That would be part of the mini-revolution. Right, I’ll stop commenting now, I’ve already posted too much.

  38. Lidon

    “There is pretty much no sexual practice that doesn’t somehow arise from or relate to dominance and submission. Or any facet of social life that isn’t related to it. IBTP.”

    Now we’re overgeneralizing to explain something rather specific. If you want to argue that “vanilla” is inherently demeaning or subjugating, that’s another topic but the basis of BDSM is deliberately founded on dominance and submission (hence the name).

    I see your point, but how about BDSM’s eroticization of dominance and submission being conscious/deliberate?

    Sure it’s deliberate, but the point is that we’re not born in a vacuum; we’re bringing social influences with us into the bedroom in this case.

    Anyway, I didn’t even have much of an opinion on BDSM until I started reading this blog (and was thus encouraged to think critically more often). But I don’t think you can justify it by saying it’s just like everything else when it specifically defines itself as separate.

    A Ginva, you were making some interesting points. Comment away!

  39. Treefinger


    Not trying to justify BDSM and fetish (well it depends how you interpret the word “justify”, I think people should go ahead and participate in it if they feel they must, but I in no way endorse a view that it isn’t a part of the patriarchy), sorry if I wasn’t clear. I’m aware that the preferences of myself and others are determined by power relations.

    “I don’t think you can justify it by saying it’s just like everything else when it specifically defines itself as separate.”

    In my view the main differences are that BDSM practitioners realize their sexual preference has to do with D&S and exaggerate that using various props and roleplay. The BDSM community likes to think of itself as progressively self-aware and trying to act out such fantasies in a safe environment. I don’t think this compensates for the extremely blatant celebration of hierarchy or the bizarre fact that many think their preferences are innate and not problematic. “Vanilla” sex either includes less explicitly stated fetishization of dominance and submission (see: what is depicted in porn and romance movies, inc. for vanilla queer people), or a genuine effort to remove those dynamics from sex that nontheless is thwarted by the pervasive nature of patriarchy.

    Personally the middle category is the most odious in my opinion (all the disadvantages of BDSM with not even the paltry attempts to be self-aware or create a safer community), but your mileage may vary, especially if you have been the victim of abuse in a BDSM context.

    I’ll shut the old piehole now. I just wanted to give some thoughts as someone who supports the notion of anti-BDSM but who continues to have experience in the community.

  40. Azundris

    People want vocab. Remember “mothers and blorts”? Or take treefinger’s “trans and cis”: “kinky and vanilla.”
    I’ve been told, “you don’t understand, you’re cis.” I’ve probably, bless, used “It’s a lesbian thing, you wouldn’t understand” more than once. And if kinksters see themselves as beleaguered and oppressed, there’s probably also, “What do you know, you’re vanilla.”, but then it seems primarily the context that might count as somewhere between honest/perceptive and mildly condescending. I’m not sure vanilla as such has bad connotations, partly because a goodly number of kinksters also seem to engage in vanilla.


  41. Lidon

    @ Treefinger: That’s cool, I see what you’re saying. My point was just that not all sex is inherently or deliberately subjugating so if someone likes to be forced onto one’s knees or whatever and says, “Hey it’s all subjugating anyway no matter what you do”, in essence speaking for everyone, I’d have to disagree. That’s all.

  42. Bushfire

    To everyone who is posting “too much”: I don’t know about Twisty, but when I see the words “open thread” I think multiple posting is okay. I mean, there’s no real topic to derail, because the topic is open.

  43. Jill

    Oh for crying out loud. BDSM? Really?

    OK, once again. It’s not “kinky,” it’s not “transgressive,” it’s not “cutting edge.” It’s not an awesome expression of your liberated sexuality. It’s merely an (incomprehensible) obeisance to a stale and cheezey patriarchal paradigm, with trite outfits, hackneyed fetishes, and cornball rituals.

    In other words, it’s ultra-conformity to Porn Nation. Otherwise known as Dude Nation. Otherwise known as the status quo. If there were no patriarchy, (no patriarchy is the goal of feminism), there would be no fetishization of dominance and submission. The cessation of BDSM discussions on my blog is, for me, reason enough to foment revolution.

    Also, “vanilla” is most definitely a slur, like “square” or “prude,” used by those hepcat sex rebel losers to disparage anyone for whom getting off on domination isn’t a fucking lifestyle. Disparaging non-losers by calling them names is one way the hepcat sex rebel losers distract themselves from the obvious truth that getting off on domination is really stupid.

    These discussions are always dreadful, so please, for the luva tacos, end it now.

  44. Lady K

    Derailing from BDSM, a question, IBTPers:

    on Facebook, two girls I went to high school with have created an event called “Make a Man a Sandwich Day.” They did the same crap last year, and at the time I protested with what I thought was a carefully conceived reply. I detailed why it wasn’t funny, why they were shooting themselves in the foot, all with the utmost sensitivity. I received one reply, from the knob brother of one of the event creators. Quote, “Satire is dead.”

    Surely there is something that can be done about this. A great deal of people I thought were my friends with common values have decided to “attend” this make-believe shitfest (among over 550 other attendees), and it’s greatly upsetting. In lieu of replying to each and every one, what should I do? Nothing? Exile myself on an island and drink virgin pina coladas all day?

    To see the event, one can visit Facebook slash event.php?eid=183098201710203

  45. Bonnie

    Hey! So someone or t’other asserted in the Buddhism post that there are western Zen Buddhism sects that are feminist.

    I admit skepticism.

    Names, please, of said sects? Their texts?

    Simply for curiosity’s sake.

  46. Melanie

    To facilitate the switching of topics, here’s a little something to blow your lobe:

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley is claiming that her colleague “put his hands around [her] neck in anger in a chokehold” after he refused to leave her office. She has witnesses who back her up, too. Her colleague, Justice David Prosser, has in the past admitted to referring to another female Justice as “a total bitch,” which he claims is justifiable on the grounds that the female Justices “are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements,” or, in plainer terms, “Manipulative bitches get what they deserve.”

    Here’s a link: http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/6414-focus-bradley-bluntly-accuses-prosser-of-assaulting-her

  47. A Ginva

    @ Jill: totally unrelated, but would you accept an offer to translate some of your articles in French?

  48. minervaK

    Jill: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I was *this close* to throwing up.

  49. allhellsloose

    All right wingers peddle crap about abortion, contraception, evolution and climate change. However a right wing woman ends her rally with a song that she shouldn’t have used and it becomes a global story. The vitriol directed towards her is evidence of woman hatred and, of course, double standards.

    Right wing women uphold the patriarchy because they are primed from an early age to do so, they are no better nor no worse than fun fems.

    I’m listening to the BBC Radio 4 ‘This Morning’ programme and the current piece (@ 8.25am uk time), is the ye olde younge Royale Couple’s visit to California and the BIG question is ‘what dress will she be wearing?’ and only a woman can comment on this. Yikes! She has just mentioned Jackie Kennedy. Ha, ha, ha. Now we are told “Kate Middleton looks American, hair, teeth, SLIM” – perhaps she should adopt the anthem ‘American Girl’.

  50. Laurie

    “Right wing women uphold the patriarchy because they are primed from an early age to do so, they are no better nor no worse than fun fems.”

    This may be right in theory, but not in practice that I’ve seen. I know quite a few “fun feminist” young women who are also tireless activists for women’s health and abortion rights — the very rights that right-wing women are merrily dismantling throughout a bunch of states. And now Bachmann wants a federal ban on gay marriage? NOT fun.

    The women I know are working-class women and women of color, most from patriarchal and anti-abortion religious and cultural backgrounds, who had no exposure to feminism before being hired at the small-town feminist women’s health clinics where they work. Though some of their personal choices make this old-school feminist cringe, their courage in flouting their communities and their commitment to helping women in need every day is inspiring.

    I know that performing femininity perpetuates the patriarchal poison — but most of us must do that every day in degrees to survive. The fact that some young women may delude themselves into thinking high heels and head tilts are “cute” doesn’t negate any of their other real-world actions to help women — nor does it equate them with right-wing women, who are determined to drag us back to the dark ages.

    I’m the last one to be an apologist for the profoundly misogynistic “fun” feminism prevalent today — but the fundie feminists scare me a lot more right now.

  51. allhellsloose

    Wearing high heels with head tilts does drag women back to the dark ages – think foot binding in China, corsets in Victorian ages. It is that simple.

    You miss my point entirely. BOTH fun fems and right wing women are primmed by the patriarchy from an early age. Fun fems align themselves with lefty dudes – Weiner et al, right wing women align themselves with right wing dudes – safer place to be ultimately for them.

    This isn’t an issue about abortion, creationism, contraceptives, climate change (which has more of an impact on women than it does men). I believe in abortion on demand for the first trimester without the need for a woman to go to the doctor. I believe that contraceptives should be aimed primarily at boys/men with the women taking up the slack. Creationism is silly but I can’t shake the instinct/feeling that it’s also creepy and dangerous. Climate change you know.

    I’m financially comfortable and thankfully as non patriarchial compliant as I can get away with. There is no need to adorn oneself in patriarchial compliance to ‘survive’. I’ve worked ‘tirelessly’ too to promote equality for women.

  52. allhellsloose

    One more thing that needs discussing. The issue that really differentiates Right Wing Women from Fun Fems is sex. That is sex as defined by the patriarchy which is basically continues, life long penis in vagina sex that has more harmful consequences for the woman than it does the man.

    Fun Fem’s view sex as empowering, liberating, anything goes and most importantly they like to think that they are the only ones who enjoy it. But like the career ladder, this is set within a constricting paradigm. It’s an illusion of freedom and the only class within this sex class who really benefits is the dude.

    But we mustn’t forget that Right Wing Women like sex too, it’s just that they like to keep it contained within their own constraints and set of rules, all of which are set within the same constricting paradigm that imprisons Fun Fems.

  53. Jill

    “And now Bachmann wants a federal ban on gay marriage?”

    It’s more than just a ban. She wants a flippin constitutional amendment defining marriage for all time as hetero.

    And for those who wonder why Bachmann is a topic of discussion instead of those wingnut dudes, why shouldn’t we discuss her? She’s getting way more press right now than any of the other fringe assholes. And besides, she really is hilarious.

  54. tinfoil hattie

    She’ll be hilarious until she gets the nomination, which my dark and bitter self believes is highly possible. Also, this nation is deluded enough to elect her.

  55. Treefinger

    I find no issue with what Jill said up there about BDSM (apart from the need for a word to convey people who only have socially expected sex, for discussions and the like). I guess it’s impossible to convey that while at the same time admitting a degree of compliance with what you are trying to critique and engaging in pedantry about its finer points. Though I noticed people get away with doing the same in discussions about femininity, which is much a similar set of practices.

  56. Rididill

    ‘BDSM-ers go on about being in a ‘culture of consent’ as if anyone who isn’t in a BDSM relationship is being raped all the time but they’re just too dumb and boring and vanilla to even notice.’

    Love it! I don’t know why BDSMers talk about this as one of the amazing things about BDSM when actually it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with BDSM at all.

  57. yttik

    Bachmann is “hilarious” and “getting more press” because it is fashionable and fun to mock and ridicule women. Lindsay Lohen is also getting more press, as is Casey Anthony. The message comes through loud and clear, women are scary, evil, dangerous, and we need to keep our eye on them and try to reduce their power by tearing them down as much as possible.

  58. Jezebella

    My peeps in Minnesota have warned me not to underestimate Bachmann. She seems like the worst caricature of a right-wing woman, but she also wins elections somehow.

  59. Bushfire

    @ Jill: totally unrelated, but would you accept an offer to translate some of your articles in French?

    I second that. We already have a two-blamer translation team set up. We really want your permission!

  60. Rachel

    Bachmann wants a constitutional amendment. We already have a federal ban, signed into law by that awesomely liberal d00d, Bill Clinton: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act

    And as horrible as Bachmann undoubtedly is, she’s still reams better than her fundie male counterparts with regard to women’s rights. Which is pretty sad, and frightening.

  61. Cycles

    Conversations about Bachmann and abortion frequently veer into semi-grudging admiration for her adopting a bunch of foster kids. The reasoning goes, she may be espousing a disagreeable position, but she’s one of the few people who actually walks the walk and picks up the slack for the consequences of forced birth.

    I can’t get on board with giving someone credit for not being hypocritical. In fact, it scares me even more. She’s not just giving lip service. She really believes this shit, which means that, should she make it into office, she will work her ass off to make it come to fruition, as opposed to other politicians who may be making empty promises about abortion just to get elected. Both are bad, but the true believers are worse in my book.

  62. Laurie

    “I’m financially comfortable and thankfully as non patriarchial compliant as I can get away with. There is no need to adorn oneself in patriarchial compliance to ’survive’.”


    I’m glad you’re “comfortable.” For the rest of us who don’t share that privilege — the majority of women — life in this economy is getting a tad uncomfortable and is likely to get more so. That kind of “comfort” is not accessible to a poor woman who’ll be fired or not promoted if she shows up at work in non-patriarchy-compliant garb. Something as trivial as no makeup or flats instead of heels can do the trick for folks who depend on that paycheck to make the rent.

    And I don’t think I missed the point; I responded to a statement that claimed fun feminists were “no better no nor worse” than rightwing women, relating my own experience to the contrary.

    Most of the women I’m talking about aren’t necessarily connected to librul men, so I’m not sure that assumption applies universally. And I don’t know any “fun feminists,” medieval though they may be in their personal lives, who are against gay marriage and are gunning to restrict birth control and abortion.

    Theory is fine, but real people cause real tragedies. And Bachmann as president would be a tragedy for women.

    Sorry, I zoned by calling it a “ban” — which, as noted, thanks to the patriarchy, is already in place. An amendment will sure cement Bachmann’s status as a fervent Constitutionalist, right?

    She’s a tool, and a dangerous one. More dangerous than the other right-wing tools right now and not a laughing matter — because she could win.

  63. pheenobarbidoll

    The P won’t allow it. A black man slipped past them and they’re not about to allow a woman to.

    They’ll use her to show how “unsexist” they are, but that’s about it.

  64. angie

    Rachel — not to be too nit-picky, and I’m sure as heck not defending DOMA (which is a completely unconstitutional law, IMO), but DOMA is not *exactly* what you represent it to be. It is a law that waives the requirement for one state to recognize a valid same-sex marriage granted by another state. One of the oldest maxims in law is that a “marriage valid where celebrated is valid everywhere.” There are some exception to that rule (marriage of incest valid where celebrated need not be recognized by another state/country, etc) and, arguably, states could refuse to recognize a valid same-sex of another state by using the “marriage is against public interest” exception to the rule, but that would have to be on a case-by-case basis requiring court battles, etc. DOMA waives that requirement — the state can just automatically invalidate the valid same-sex marriage of another state when that couple moves to the new state. And, of course, if a state wants to recognize the valid same-sex marriage of another state, it does not have to use DOMA.
    Again, I’m not defending DOMA. But to say it is a “federal ban on same sex marriage,” while perhaps an easier catch phrase to describe it, is not exactly accurate. Furthermore, it is merely a law, which can be much more easily overturned than a constitutional amendment by Congress or by a court challenge on its constitutionality.
    OTOH, a constitutional amendment will –by definition “constitutional” and not subject to court challenge. And individual states will not be able to allow same-sex marriages even if they wanted to, much less recognize valid same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. As bad as I believe DOMA is, a constitutional amendment is far, far worse. (Not, btw, that I think a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would pass — one of the genius things the founding fathers did was making it extremely difficult to amend the constitution).

  65. Kali

    A black man slipped past them and they’re not about to allow a woman to.

    They had to let the black man through. The alternative (a woman as president) was unthinkable.

  66. minervaK

    They had to let the black man through. The alternative (a woman as president) was unthinkable.

    Funny, I was thinking the same thing when Barack got the nom over Clinton. IBTP.

  67. pheenobarbidoll


    No matter how much of a front runner she may be, I’m not holding my breath. There is NO WAY the P will allow a woman to be president on the heels of a Black man. They’ve exceeded their minority quotient already.


    If she didn’t win based on merit, fine. But it still pisses me off to know that’s not why she will lose. Even though I can’t stand her politics.

  68. Mrs. G.

    Jill, I’m glad you finally chimed in on the BDSM thread–I had to google BDSM, so I guess that makes me a “vanilla”. Reading through the comments, I started to question my feminist cred* and thinking to myself: I am too old for this shit.

  69. Saurs

    TPTB lurve Bachmann, Palin, and any other token vagina-owner they can get to talk up a wonderful counter-reactionary game, and the more demented the better, that way we’ll all be nice and compliant when some Heroic Dude strolls in to save the day, in the eleventh hour, from the evil crazy harpies. And, like pheno says, some folk will use examples like Bachmann, ’til the day they die, to prove both that Shit Political Party of Your Choice is totes unsexist, you guys, they had a lady almost run one time, and that women make shit and/or bat-shit crazy candidates because: Bachmann is an asshole. When we’ve a culture that doesn’t treat women as a monolith and a grown-up political climate, or whatever, in which nutjob men don’t have so much credibility, then focusing on women like Bachmann makes sense. Right now, she’s being used as a scapegoat and a distraction from dudes currently in power doing actual awful shit rightthissecond, same as Palin and her fuckin’ e-mails.

  70. Bushfire


    I definitely don’t recommend reading this.

  71. angie

    Well, look at this, MSNBC just suspended Mark Halperin indefinitely for saying that Obama was “kind of a dick” at a press conference yesterday.

    I’m not saying the comment by Halperin didn’t deserve a suspension, but I’ve heard plenty worse things said about Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin & Michelle Bachmann on MSNBC. Just food for thought.

    Statement from MSNBC: “Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. We apologize to the President, The White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.”

    Story from Washington Post.

  72. Ayla

    Calling Obama “kind of a dick” is probably the most accurate thing I’ve heard about him in the press sense they said he would would get a dog and then he got a dog.

  73. Ayla



  74. speedbudget

    Oh, Bushfire. Why did I do it? Ugh.

    Why wasn’t the judge made aware of this? Why was nobody informed and the translator pulled?

    Oh. Yeah. Never mind.

  75. Jezebella

    Saurs, what is “TPTB”?

  76. tinfoil hattie

    Jezebella, TPTB = “the powers that be.”

  77. Sierra Nevada

    In other open thread news, Der Women’s World Cup is going on. Just like some feminists revel in patriarchy compliant domination themed itch scratching, I can’t help but enjoy international footy tournaments.

    The WWC has it all – nationalism, colonialism, gladitorial combat, and of course, women striving to fulfill both ends of an impossible double standard. From just about any standpoint, it is a patriarchy-celebrating crap sandwich. But, I just love the football.

  78. Katy

    Bachman is useful insofar as her presence legitimizes the Mormon that the Republican Party is going to foist on the electorate. Thus, all the air time.

    But what I really wanted to say is that I heart, heart, heart the new banner. I even may go so far as to say I less than three it. But then I remember that as an editor, it’s my duty to uphold the languages’ standards, and refrain.

    Canadian or Continental French? And who’d verify the translation?

  79. Someone Else

    Holleeee crapola, what happened to the banner I knew and loved? Fine, fine, I’ll adjust….*

    *spiteful use of ellipses privileges

  80. Z

    So can I steal the old slogan, then? Everything I do gon be funky from now on? (Not really – I associate it with you.)

  81. Triste

    Oh man, I fucking heart the meaty Buddha too!

    Anyway, even though we are all so very fucking tired of talking about BDSM, I am going to say something about it anyway. [… several long paragraphs about BDSM edited out by Jill …] Don’t really give a fuck, therefore.

  82. Triste

    TPTB – The Patriarchy That Bites.

    Not really, but I like the ring of it. Patriarchy really does bite. It bites /ass./

  83. Nolabelfits

    Okay, I need some blamer input. My 22 y/o daughter just got diagonosed with stage 2 and 3 HPV “abnormal cell structure” or some such which will necessitate an invasive procedure involving burning off said cells via an insert into the vagina. Many, nay shall i say most, of her peers have had similiar diagnoses. Whats up with that? Why the proliferation of this type of procedure? I am at a loss about how to proceed. Is the proliferation of this crap more of the status quo in the medical profession? My generation barely paid attention to STD’s, so I am a bit clueless.

  84. Zrusilla

    Sierra Nevada, I once read an exchange with skater Elissa Steamer that went something like this:

    Q. What’s right with skateboarding?
    A. Skateboarding.
    Q. What’s wrong with skateboarding?
    A. Everything else.

    Similarly with the WWC. What’s right about it? The football. What’s wrong with it? Everything else.

    Here in France “Les Bleues” are getting some press. One article highlighted a player asserting “Je me sens tout à fait une femme” (I feel entirely like a woman). GNAAAARGH

    When the women’s handball team won the world championship and that got some genuinely admiring press. Hell, I’ll take whatever crumbs they throw our way.

  85. laxsoppa

    Nolabelfits, HPV causes cervical cancer and is a serious issue. I’m no cancerspert, but abnormal cell structures sound a lot like there is a high risk of developing that unless action is taken. Regarding the procedure itself, you could always read up on HPV and/or consult another doctor. That your generation didn’t pay attention to STDs back in the day is no reason not to pay attention to them now.

    Also barrier-type contraception is of the essence. I’m all for the pill and shit but it doesn’t protect you from STDs, some of which have loads more gruesome long-term consequences than a pregnancy. In my home country it’s been researched that especially young people (under or a just a little over 20) neglect to use a condom or other barrier-type protection because they’re already on the pill or the ring and therefore think they have the protection they need. It just breaks my heart.

  86. Keira


    HPV is very common, and often goes unnoticed by women because it doesn’t often have symptoms. Women where I live usually don’t know about it until they get a papsmear.

    It is very common because it can spread even with condom use, and, of course, too many dipshit dudes don’t/won’t use condoms, or not for the whole sex act. People don’t know they have it, so they pass it on. The vaccine prevents it, but only if you haven’t already got it (i think?).

    I don’t know whether it is more common now, or just more likely to be picked up on due to increased testing.

    There are a few ways to remove them (which I wont go into, because of trigger issues) but all are invasive, so far as I know. I’m sure it would possible to invent one, but you know, Dude Nation likes to fuck with us. IBTP.

  87. speedbudget

    Keira, you are so right. I saw this TED talk just before I had a mammary scare. I have very dense breasts. It’s commented on all the time. I still got the useless mammogram. The gamma technology was not even offered. And I’m not even going to discuss the fact that I think the P gets off on squeezing our shit until it pops.


  88. tinfoil hattie

    nolabenefits, I have had the “freeze a layer of cells from your cervix” procedure done a couple of times. Unfortunately, both times it was done by a GYN whom I later found out had been acquitted of murdering his wife and stuffing her body into the trunk of her car and leaving it at the airport. His kids, however did win the subsequent *civil* suit against him.

    So I don’t know what to say. Read up on it? Make sure you trust the GYN? I agree you don’t want to mess with HPV, as it can develop into cervical cancer.

    As usual, there are no easy answers.


  89. Femdoc

    There is now an immunization against HPV called the Guardasil vaccine, given to girls and women to prevent cervical cancer. It has also been approved for use in boys, since they are the vector. In men, HPV has been linked to squamous cell cancer of the penis, especially In uncircumcised men. The treatment for this is everything from an excision of the lesion to penectomy.

    Since most women with HPV will get rid of it on their own, we have been less aggressive with doing procedures to remove it. However, if someone has progressed to CIN 2 or 3 (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia), there may be a greater likelihood of progressing to cervical cancer, and so destruction or removal of the lesion is warranted. For invasive cervical cancer, hysterectomy would be the next step…luckily, we don’t see this much in the US anymore due primarily to the pap screening programs.

    Finally, if you are over 35 and have had normal paps and a negative HPV screen, you can go to paps every three years instead of yearly…you may have to ask you gyn to order the HPV screen, since it is not typically run automatically for normal paps, and depending on your insurance, you may have to pay for it, too.

  90. JBT


    HPV can cause cervical dysplasias which are usually removed by laser conization. If present, the papillomas (also called genital warts) must be removed this way as well. The procedure does not cure the HPV, but can remove growths and dysplasias that could become cancerous. Many forms of the HPV virus are harmless, but several types are known to cause cervical cancers. Even so, some of the ‘harmless’ varieties produce wart-like growths which can impede the cervix.

    Of course, I am not able to review your daughter’s medical records so I’m just speaking generally. It sounds from your description like a Pap smear revealed cellular changes associated with HPV and also associated with cervical cancer. As the old saying has it, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – but a second opinion is always a good idea, too, especially a review of the smear results.

    I am certainly distrustful of the medical profession, but there are many female OB-GYNs who do these procedures as well, if that is her decision.

  91. Jill

    Nolabelfits, the blamers here on the island are geniuses, but a few paragraphs on a patriarchy-blaming blog are no substitute for actual medical advice. Get thee to a lady gynecologist.

  92. Jill

    “So can I steal the old slogan, then? Everything I do gon be funky from now on? (Not really – I associate it with you.)”

    Ah, but I stole that slogan from Allen Toussaint (see “Banner” link in the header).

  93. tinfoil hattie

    nolabenefits, seconding what Jill said. Hell, I don’t even play a doctor on teevee!

  94. TwissB

    Would A Ginva or whoever it was who offered the neat definition of “Culture” as “the status quo” please repeat it. I can’t find it again and want to quote it for others.

  95. Triste

    Congratulations Twisty! You’ve earn a place alongside Fox News for me! More than happy to prevent me from rambling on, regurgitating the same tired thoughts back and forth with people who are sick of hearing about it already, but no time to indulge me and stroke my pathetic ego! Go ahead! Run me through what-you-hear-when-someone-writes-a-bunch-about-shit-no-one-cares-about-u-later! It just proves me right somehow, magically!

    P.S. Thank you, Jill.

    I enjoy that you posted the part about me hearting the meaty Buddha. It means I win by default.

  96. eb

    So, did ya read about the rant from the Southwest Airlines pilot about how he hates the homos and is pissed off that only fags, grannies and grands work on or between his pilot shifts?

    Talk about a festering, corpulent, bulging puss-filled cyst of an example of dude privilege. There are all kinds of outlets for this prick’s jamba juice to jack – prostitutes, funfems at bars, blow up dolls etc. Yet he’s pissed off and whining like a snare drum ass sphincter that the people he works with are not fuckable because fuckable women should be available to him wherever he is.

    He is, of course, very sorry.

  97. Jill

    @TwissB: a few years ago I wrote a post called Fuck Culture in which I stated that culture is just another word for patriarchy. Could that be the thing to which a AGinva alludes?

  98. A Ginva

    TwissB, do you remember which thread it was on or what the discussion topic was? I’m not it’s me though, but then I don’t remember what I write.

  99. Dyke On Wheels

    FemDoc – smear tests ONLY test for cell changes caused by HPV, nothing else, so why the hell would you have to ask a doc to test for it specially? Also, nobody needs smear tests before sex, or every year. Only the American medical industrial complex insists on that particular form of ordeal yearly, in reward for your contraceptive of choice, for being a good little girl and letting the patriarchy invade you.

    Topic change – the funfems at Feministe have decided that beating their children is something that just happens, that they can’t help it, and that kids deserve it.

    The straights that invade every (once yearly) token post on queer issues, the rich Park Slope types who feel entitled to talk about poverty, are claiming that the discussion should have a PARENTS ONLY sign, because apparently only birthing a child means you know why they need to be controlled using violence and rage. The most execrable of all is the ever disgusting ‘Florence’ who got herself therapy to cope with the stress of ‘having to’ abuse her children, and she’s getting asspats for being ‘so brave’.

    The former abused children who are commenting are basically being told to GTFO.

    IBTP for training mothers to do their work, raising future abusive men and future mothers who believe abusing kids is normal.

  100. Heather

    Found out about a new documentary coming out regarding gender, race and skin color called “Dark Girls” which will premier at the Black Film Festival in Nashville this October. I watched the trailer here and can’t wait to see the film:


    The scene where a little girl is asked to select who is the smart person in the picture is just devestating….devestating.

  101. gradfem

    Hey Blamers,

    I’ve been reading IBTP for a while now (thanks, Jill & Blametariat for sharing so much), but I’m using this open thread opportunity to comment for the first time.

    I’m a young radfem looking for some advice about how to deal with an anti-feminist mother. Lately, it seems as though every argument we have boils down to her belief that my refusal to shave and wear makeup proves that I’ve lost all of my common/good sense. I’ve been called revolting, immature, inconsiderate, selfish, brainwashed, etc., etc. because I stopped doing these things. She also insults my friends (only those who are hairy, awesome radical feminists) and seems to believe that my choices are the result of misguided peer pressure. While I understand at a larger level why women (such as my mother) feel that they have a stake in making sure their daughters remain P-compliant, I can’t get past how much it hurts to be called those things by my mom and hear her describe how she doesn’t respect my choices.

    Any advice on how to maintain relationships with anti-feminist relatives or, if that’s not possible, on coming to terms with not having that support at all?

    Many thanks.

  102. TwissB

    @Jill and A Ginva. Thanks for your efforts to locate the source of the statement that Culture = Status Quo. Jill’s own version comes close, but the words above are really what I read somewhere out in the vast Internet wordstorm. Anyway, however stated, ain’t it the truth!

  103. Laughingrat

    “Also, nobody needs smear tests before sex, or every year.”

    Actually, my mother tested positive for pre-cancerous cell changes this year, and did not test positive for them last year. But of course, what’s the life of few individual human beings in the grand scheme of things, right?

    It is not okay to turn human beings into faceless statistics in order to justify denying basic healthcare such as cancer screenings, because you think that somehow fights the patriarchy. As it turns out, it actually reinforces oppression by turning individual human beings into meaningless statistics. My ma’s not perfect, but that doesn’t mean she deserves to have those pre-cancerous cells turn into actual cancerous cells in the extra year or two the anti-smear folks think she and other women should actually have between testing.

    One of the other things the “American medical industrial complex” is turn human beings into abstractions, thus making it seem okay when they say allow individual human lives to slip through the cracks. Following suit is hardly radical.

  104. ecorad

    You are not alone in your frustration and confusion in trying to deal with an anti-fem mother. Since my transition from a funfem to radfem attitude and approach to the P, my relationship with my mother has become strained. When I visit she begs me to go back to shaving because, as she says, “I used to be such a cute girl.” She argues that I will never find a “nice guy” if I don’t “make an effort.” My internal response is, “Perfect! Can not shaving my pits really keep the dudes away? What a great solution.”
    Similarly, she repeatedly asks if she can take me shopping so I can “improve” my wardrobe, which inevitably means trying to buy me flowery summer dresses at overpriced stores. Recently she got upset with me upon discovering that I had gotten rid of all my high heels that were acquired during my funfem days and which I had convinced myself were comfortable and empowering because they made me feel “good.” In my bar-tending days I realized that I usually got better tips on days that I wore the heels and other trappings of P-compliance. I cringe when I remember those days. The money was pretty good, but I felt like shit; most of the tips were not surprisingly spent on booze to drown my self-loathing and loathing of the dudes who rewarded my compliance with their pathetic tips and leering gaze.

    Advice from other Blamers about how to approach this issue with my mother would be very welcome. As for my strategy so far, it has consisted of ignoring my mother when she does this and occasionally getting a bit angry and trying to explain myself, but she is very stubborn and doesn’t seem to get it.

  105. Daisy Deadhead

    testing! I seem to be invisible.

  106. laxsoppa

    gradfem: There are ways of telling your mother how much her remarks and behaviour hurt and insult you, and if she won’t listen to a calm and reasonable tone explaining basic human courtesy, the best you can do is minimize your contact with her. It’s particularly hurtful when someone you grew up to trust and love is only interested in his or her expectations of you instead of who you really are, but you can’t make anyone understand the fundamental difference of an assigned patriarchal role and a person if the wiring just isn’t there.

    Laughingrat: “It is not okay to turn human beings into faceless statistics in order to justify denying basic healthcare such as cancer screenings, because you think that somehow fights the patriarchy.”

    Exactly. It’s kinda hard to fight the P from one’s deathbed or something unless you want your own or others’ suffering to be some kind of a statement, but don’t we have enough women suffering from sub-par or nonexistent sexual/reproductive health care in this world already?

  107. Ashley

    @Bonnie: The Village Zendo in New York is a good example. Roshi Pat O’Hara is a cool lady: http://villagezendo.org/teachers/roshi-enkyo-ohara/

  108. laxsoppa

    Sorry, “the fundamental difference of an assigned patriarchal role and a person” should read “the fundamental difference BETWEEN”.

    I’d also like to add that lacking motherly support and acceptance can be hell (I’ve been there), but there are other sources and people who will be more than willing to give you that. You’ve found this blog, so that’s a lead.

  109. Metal teapot

    Stuck on a plane where someone had left a copy of the Economist, I learnt that one of Thailand’s leading opposition parties has *shock* a woman as leader. Ms Yingluck is apparently very popular, nothing to do with her leading a large opposition party that has always gained massive support, it is because she is hot.

    “Her seasoned, pragmatic campaign managers have exploited her looks and easy-going nature to the full. She, for her part, has played the perfect candidate by sticking closely to her sound bites and smiling ceaselessly at the camera.

    As to her policies (not that her adoring supporters care)…”

    You see not only are women only good for being hot, but poor people in Thailand are too stupid to care about policies! The full article can be found here

  110. nails


    it seems like the disagreement has to do with something other than feminism. Many of my relatives didn’t understand why I stopped shaving, wearing make up, and shaved my head as a teenager, but they never called me names like that (it isn’t ever okay to call you revolting or disgusting). It also seems like she thinks she has a right to your appearance (how else could you be “selfish” for looking the way you want to?) Has everything been going okay outside of the feminism thing? The reason I ask is because there are certain types of people who never get better, people with personality disorders, and if you try to please them or make amends you will only dig yourself in deeper and give them ammo. This website has a bunch of info about it: http://www.lightshouse.org/

  111. Kea

    ecorad, there is a good chance your mother will never get it. My mother only gave up on the man thing when I turned 40, and she realised that biology had defeated her plans. It will help you a lot to understand that people see whatever they want to see, and that cannot be changed if they don’t want it to.

  112. fuzzyblue

    TwissB, I have no idea where to find Jill’s original quote, but procrastinatrix said this:

    I also recall a long-ago (in Internet years) quote from Jill, “culture is another name for the status quo”. Amen, Sister!

    towards the very end of the Buddhism thread. Could that be what you’re looking for?

  113. Dyke On Wheels

    laughingrat- please point out where I said “laughingrat’s mother should die from cervical cancer”? I cannot find it anywhere.

    Nobody needs a smear EVERY YEAR FROM PUBERTY. That is a uniquely American thing. It destroys more lives than in saves, by ruining the reproductive systems of healthy women and convincing them that they are hopelessly diseased forever, due to a virus spread by cock.

    Try looking up cervical cancer diagnosis and survival rates in countries that do not follow the american regime, and you’ll see that the survival rates are exactly the same. It takes 8+ years on average to get from some cancerous cells, to “OH SHIT!”. Pre-cancerous cells can knock around for years before either converting, or dying off. So no, testing every three years instead of every year would not be anything like killing people.

    Even the wonderful, magical ACOG has now admitted that was never the right thing to do, no doubt in part because of the threats of legal action from pre-sexual victims who were told that their natural, post-pubertal cell changes were OMG!PRECANCER, and not in fact normal cervical maturation, and were forced into cutting and burning away of their cervix, thus destroying their chance to bear children.

    Protip- there’s a reason civilised countries never test yearly, and don’t test prior to the age of 21. I thought this place, at least, would not be full of people defending the assertion that female bodies are inherently diseased, and incapable of existing, never mind healing, without men telling them what to do.

    IBTP for brainwashing so many generations of US women.

  114. Jezebella

    Gradfem, I hate to be a downer, but your mom probably won’t be convinced by argument. Tell her that insults are hurtful, your decisions are yours, and you will, henceforth, walk out of any conversations in which she calls you names. Then do it. It will be hard. She will, if she’s anything like my mother, HATE this conversation. There will be crying, guilt, anger, and manipulation. She will keep trying to bring it up, and the only thing you can do is keep disengaging. I can’t remember if it was The Dance of Intimacy or The Dance of Anger which really helped me to understand that the same argument, over and over, is a habit you can change, and the only way to stop it is to change the rules. Tell her you love her, you want to be in her life, but you will not be insulted and called names by her or anyone else in your life. And then stick to it. It’ll be really hard, but sooner or later she’ll learn to just leave you alone about the life choices you’re making that she doesn’t like. Consider the possibility that the life choices YOU make that are different from hers feel like rejection to her: you are rejecting her values, and she is hurt by that. She will need to grow up and get over that, but it may take time. Since you are young, it is hard for her to see you as an adult who can make her own choices.

  115. laxsoppa

    Dyke On Wheels –

    You’re right about the screening intervals and age limit. In my country the screenings are done to women over 20, every five years, and that seems to work out fine. I ended up getting my second a bit sooner because of having unprotected sex with a partner who only later revealed to me that he’d had condyloma and was therefore a verified carrier of at least one strain of HPV. Being safe rather than sorry also works out fine for me.

    But just so you remember, the reason why we’re talking pap smears at all in this thread is because the over 20-year-old daughter of a blamer has gotten an alarming result. You cannot chalk that up to patriarchy wanting to mess with our bodies, or perfectly normal pubescent development reading as “abnormal”. That’s real life happening to a real person right now.

    Where does any blamer here defend “the assertion that female bodies are inherently diseased, and incapable of existing, never mind healing, without men telling them what to do”? Because I cannot find it.

  116. TwissB

    @fuzzyblue “TwissB, I have no idea where to find Jill’s original quote, but procrastinatrix said this:
    “I also recall a long-ago (in Internet years) quote from Jill, “culture is another name for the status quo”. Amen, Sister!”

    Triple play: jill to procrastinatrix to fuzzyblue, with assists from AGinva and jill and asides from pheenobarbidoll. Thanks to all.

  117. gradfem

    @ecorad, the situation you describe with your mother lamenting what a “cute girl” you used to be sounds eerily familiar. Thanks for sharing– it’s comforting to hear that others have similar experiences.

    @laxsoppa and @jezebella, thanks for your advice, too. I have tried minimizing contact in the past, but then I get blamed for not being a concerned daughter on top of being “unhygienic.” Next time we talk (read: argue), I plan to explicitly state that I won’t be a part of a conversation in which she insults me and stick to it.

    @nails, thanks for the link. To answer your question, my mom and I had very little conflict in our relationship before I began rejecting some P-compliant behaviors about two years ago. Since then, every argument (no matter the impetus) ends with her concluding that feminists have brainwashed me. This has put a strain on our entire relationship, so at this point it’s difficult to say whether everything else is going okay. She calls me selfish most often in the context of my grandmother, who used to get great joy from how “pretty” and “thin” I was. How dare I deny a 90-year old woman the pleasure of seeing her granddaughter mature in a way that will likely attract a “nice boy”? IBTP.

  118. laxsoppa

    gradfem – That “unconcerned daughter” bit just makes me wanna emit a hollow, mirthless laugh. Grown-ups take responsibility for their own well-being – assuming now that your mother isn’t seriously ill or incapacitated in any way apart from lacking empathy and appreciation for who you are – and do not try to guilt their children, adult or otherwise, into playing their caretaker. *That* is selfish.

    Arguing with her or your grandmother how feminism is actually good for you and attracting a P-compliant “nice boy” isn’t a concern for you seems to be useless. If I interpret this correctly, they will never get it, and it’s only going to drain all the fight out of you in the process if you try to make them understand. Distancing yourself from close relatives is hard, but staying close and taking all that abuse for not complying to utterly superficial crap is simply soul-destroying. What makes *you* thrive should be your first concern.

    My mother was emotionally and physically abusive, and my non-compliance with patriarchal roles and especially those defined by her were definitely a factor although her being a complete whackjob and stressed out by trying to support her 4 children was a bigger one. Finally she kicked me out when I was 14, lamenting how she had wished I would grow up to be a balanced, healthy person, and it took YEARS to come to grips with the fact that all the crap she blamed me for being was just *her*, and that she was never able to see me as a person in the first place. Being kicked out of that household was the best thing that happened to me in my early teens, and enabled me to have my distance, heal a little and get to know myself without the constant abuse and pressure getting in the way.

    I don’t know how bad you’re having it with your folks, but no matter what kind of abuse and guilt you’re dealt, your best bet is to get out the firing line.

    That “those unhappy feminists are brainwashing you and making you feel crappy” line’s gotta be my favourite. It’s as if the violence and hatred will just go away if you close your eyes and pretend they’re not there.

  119. vagabondi

    Gradfem- My mother and I had similar problems starting in my teens, when it turned out that I was a lesbian. I’d like to echo Jezebella’s comments: argument only convinces people who are willing to be convinced. Usually those who don’t have a great personal investment in their views. Firmness and boundaries are the way to go, but they can sometimes take a very long time to cut through the maze of denial. In my case, it took a couple of very long separations over the last decade before my mother started to accept that she had to treat me as a person in my own right, almost as though we didn’t previously know each other, before our relationship could start to improve. Now (I am thirty), we haven’t had a fight for (I think) eight or ten months, and in fact not so long ago she called me when she realized that her own parents are likely to die sooner rather than later and we had a real, deep, intimate conversation. People can change, but usually it takes the threat or the reality of unacceptable loss before they are willing to do so.

  120. Comrade Svilova

    I don’t have much to offer beyond solidarity; my mother and I are having conflict over boundaries, which includes both the radfem thing and the queer thing, but goes beyond it into other interpersonal conflicts.

    The body-policing that bothers me isn’t that bad, comparatively, but it’s frustrating. She refuses to understand that beauty norms are social constructs, so she thinks that since I’m somewhat insecure about my hairy legs, that I should shave them. I explain and explain that it’s a political statement, and that over time I’ll get more used to it. But she’s always telling me about the weird women she knows who don’t shave (what’s your point mom?) and telling me that I could try waxing. Damn, how many times do I have to tell her that I spent two years waxing? She even knows that, because when I did start waxing, she was shocked and thought it must be really painful. It’s just drives me up the wall, having this same damn conversation over and over.

    It’s kind of like all the times she tells me that she knew two women in college who were roommates, and she only realized later that they were probably a couple. What’s your point, mom? That lesbianism is okay? That it’s only okay if the women are closeted? Or what?

    I’m not having the conversation about “yes, I’m queer, yes I’m sleeping with women” because every time I try to come out to her she tells me it’s a phase and that bisexuality is “too confusing” to her. Ugh.

    Thanks for reading my rant. It’s good to hear from others that, hard as it is, the only solution is to enforce those boundaries instead of trying to argue about these issues.

    She’s not even anti-feminist, per se.

  121. Betsy

    Hey Comrade Svilova,

    I hear you and have faced some of the same behaviors and comments from my mom. It’s tough for both my mom and me, that we are very different people and probably would have chosen a more “compatible” loved one, if choice were any part of the matter. She certainly didn’t expect this stranger she ended up with.

    It took years but I finally found some equilibrium after a long process.

    Here’s how it went for me: first (after three decades or so) I finally learned not to try argue with or change her mind. Second I learned to see myself in a new light and to establish my identity more firmly in my own ideas of living with integrity – really.

    Thirdly I spent time observing my mom’s attempts — successful or otherwise — to do me kindness, and I cultivated a sense of gratitude for THOSE acts, (independently from the frustration I felt due to her accusations, dislike, and other badnesses). Because in a world of grays and mixes, if you allow the bad stuff to eliminate any and all good stuff, well then, evil wins or something (or, you just eliminate what joy you do receive).

    Fourthly one day, long into my fifth decade, I awoke and realized that it was not my job to make my mom happy or to make her like me. That I have to respect her autonomy enough to let her be unhappy or disequilibrated if she so chooses, whether she does so passively or actively.

    After that realization, somehow, things got easier. It wasn’t magic and it took years between each step and it may not work that way for everyone. But in short, I seem to have been reasonably successful in eliminating my own contributions to the dynamic, and somehow that’s made my mom less attack-prone and less defensive and less controlling — probably my sense of acceptance is making her feel more accepted!

    It helped that when I woke up from major surgery she came into my room and kissed me. We’d fought about where I would recover and we’d fought about whether I really needed a wheelchair. She annoyed me by putting my cup of water too far away from the hospital bed and I annoyed her by asking for a different flavor of Jell-O.

    Still, that kiss gave me to think: One day, I’ll wake up from some future surgery, and she won’t be there to kiss me.

    Anyhow, this is getting pretty sappy, but let me put in a word for one particular mode of “enforcing your boundaries”: *limiting your efforts to* eliminating your own contribution to the dynamic, in whatever form that takes for you (there’s the real inquiry).

    And that’s all you can do without over-stepping your mom’s bounds and her autonomy and her choices. THAT is part of knowing your boundaries.

    Finally — be at least as kind to your mom as you would be to some random fembot of your acquaintance. I mean, have nothing to regret in your treatment of her as a woman to a woman.

    These are some recommendations, nothing more. I hope something here may be of mild use to you.

  122. Comrade Svilova

    I awoke and realized that it was not my job to make my mom happy or to make her like me. That I have to respect her autonomy enough to let her be unhappy or disequilibrated if she so chooses, whether she does so passively or actively.

    So my therapist told me!

    But seriously, thank you for your comments. One of the things I struggle with is that I would like a greater sense of solidarity with my mother. Hopefully someday.

  123. K

    How do you avoid killing yourself with the crippling pain of it weighing you down? I don’t really want to die, but I don’t really want to live – not like this.

    I am in my early 20s and live with my mother because I can’t get a job or anywhere near any sort of housing. While my mother is “somewhat liberal” in general, and does identify as a feminist and is anti-porn, she is incredibly bigoted and I’ve always suspected that she resents me because she never wanted to have me. Whether that’s true or not, she certainly hates me, and living with her is so hard, but I have no choice. What do?

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