Radical feminist blog discussions can take some interesting turns, some of the interestingest of which arise from the wacky circumstance of Savage Death Island’s status as — and we don’t want this to be true, but true it is — a patriarchal subculture. We can’t exist outside or independently of the dominant culture — nothing can — so we’re stuck trying to invent a post-patriarchal world order from within patriarchy’s crapulent boundaries. Even as we’re relegated to the crapulent lunatic fringe, we’re enfoisted with the crapulent language of patriarchy, and its crapulent traditions and conventions, and its crapulent art. Every time we complain about some particularly crapulent aspect of all this crapulence, we get resisted, often by feminists themselves, because crappy though it may be, this is the only culture we’ve got. We’ve gotten kind of used to it. We forget, pretty often, to question its authority.
Take the other day, when the discussion turned to the crapulence of horndog author Vladimir Nabokov and his icky novel Lolita. I said something like “this is some crapulent kiddie porn shit, yo.”
Whereupon a reader, obviously experiencing one of those spontaneous liberal-dude fugue states that overtake us all from time to time, and careful not to “pick a side of the argument,” commented
But there is a greater issue at stake here: that of censorship.
You probably remember, couple of days ago, hearing the unmistakable roar of a lobe revving up to about 7800 SPM.* That was my lobe.
What follows is more or less how I responded to the idea that some tiresome dude-novel should be exempt from feminist critique on accounta censorship-is-bad. I had to add some stuff, of course, to prevent this post from being dangerously shortwinded.
1. There is (I said) no greater issue at stake than the liberation of women from patriarchal oppression.
The liberation of women from patriarchal oppression is more important than a man’s right to 24-hour access to poontang. It’s more important than a woman’s right to the performance of sexy empowering femininity. It’s more important than a scholarly analysis of a canonical work. It’s more important than censorship.
Censorship has meant this and that and the other thing over the years. The government won’t let you burn flags. The authorities herd you and your “Who Would Jesus Bomb?” protest sign into a “free speech” zone when Dubya shows up at a rally. The secret police throw you in prison for writing stuff unflattering stuff about your totalitarian government. Your library uses content-control software. The TV network bleeps out your (or Gordon Ramsay’s) F-bombs. The self-censoring Internet feminist uses the word F-bomb instead of the word fuck for no reason.
In the context of Internet feminist discourse, however, censorship seems to be something only feminist dissidents do, probably because we hate freedom! Censorship means “the practice of feminists voicing dissenting opinions on the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women.”
According to this interpretation, we Nazi feminists, with our intolerable idea that the fetishization of women’s oppression violates all women, are to be harassed, shouted down, and condemned by the liberal dudes found swinging from every rafter of the Internet, in an effort to suppress our dissent. Why? Apparently because saying “Lolita sucks” is tantamount to demanding a book-burning. Of a beloved, transgressive monument to lyric dudeliness.
Ironically, dudely suppression of feminist dissent is itself censorship, the very -ship that these free speech-lovin’ dudes purport to be against. Censorship is apparently bad only when it threatens to undermine DudeNation’s death-grip on its own sceptre of passion.
2. It is not censorship to advance feminist critiques of dudeliocentric art-porn.
In order to perform actual censorship, a censor must first occupy a position of authority over the censoree, and must be able to command minions sufficient for enforcement. The dudes and dudesses of DudeNation, for example, censor radical feminists all the time. Have you ever seen a radical feminist sitcom, fashion spread, toilet cleaner commercial, or New York Times bestseller?
It’s no secret that this very blog gets hit with DDoS attacks all the flippin’ time. Censorship!
Conversely, radical feminists, dangling by gnarled claws from our remote precipice out in Lunatic Fringe, are in no position to censor anything. We’re not in power. We have no authority. We enjoy little privilege. We command no minions. Even if we wanted to, which we don’t, we couldn’t prevent even one celebrated genius from writing child rape fantasies and calling it art.
About all we can do is advance feminist critiques and submit feminist analyses, both here on the Internet, and through the awesome power of those super-effective patriarchy-busting “THIS DEGRADES WOMEN” stickers hastily applied to American Apparel ads in bus stops. We can argue that the publication and artification of Lolita-esque child rape fantasies contributes to the fetishization of women’s oppression and is therefore antifeminist and inimical to all women generally.
We can also suggest remedies. Such as “if you make pornography you’re a misogynist rape apologist douche, so cut it the fuck out, you dumb fuck.” And also, “if you consume pornography you’re a misogynist rape apologist douche, so cut it the fuck out, you dumb fuck.” In fact, pretty much, “whenever you are anything but wildly enthusiastic about the repeal of male privilege, you’re a dumb fuck doing something you should be cutting the fuck out.”
3. The revolution will render all graphic representations of rape obsolete by smashing the domination/submission paradigm.
Once domination/submission bites the dust as the primary model upon which all human relationships are based, 99.9% of the beloved literary canon will start to look dated, corny, and bigoted, because it was all written in support of, from the point of view of, and under the auspices of patriarchal oppression. By bigots.
In other words, since oppression will cease to be fetishized by the enlightened survivors of the revolution, pornography will cease to exist, all on its own. The demand will evaporate. No censorship required! Just add common sense and simple human compassion!
4. The degree to which the idea of a world in which Shakespeare, Joyce and Nabokov are considered quaint relics of a barbaric age makes one uneasy, it is precisely to that degree that one is imbued with, invested in, and brainwashed by patriarchal mores.
Go ahead. Defend The Taming of the Shrew as a feminist bildungsroman all you want. You know you’re just pulling a bunch of English major bullshit outta your status quo-lovin’ ass.
Is Lolita art? Sure, why not? It’s misogynist, barbaric art that degrades the whole species. Awesome.
Should Lolita be banned? Nah. Banning it, or any other pornographic “work,” would be like trying to treat 2,567,438 purulent boils with a single drop of Boil-Away.** Banning stuff never works. It just creates shadowy, subterranean subcultures who get off on the bannedness of their precious banned thing.
In any event, banning Lolita would do nothing to eradicate the underlying humanitarian crisis of which it is a symptom. Instead, I suggest a feminist response to pornography that advocates — persistently, and with salty language, ridicule, satire, and shaming — the eradication of any social order predicated on the existence and oppression of a sex class.
* SPM = Spinspulsations Per Minute
** By Ronco