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Oct 23 2011

Spinster aunt was once adored by Dude Nation

A blamer mentioned yesterday that there’s a new post somewhere arguing that I’m a “bimbo-hating radical who undermines feminism by trying to take women’s sexiness away.”

Just one? I was shocked.

The author as mannequin, c. 1985

I have not read this post, and, with regret, I must deny myself the pleasure of doing so. When I tell you that my reading list currently measures about 6.79 times as long as one of those articles in The New Yorker that nobody has ever finished, and that at the bottom of it is Genji, and that at the middle is Dorothy Parker’s Sunset Gun, and that at the top is this weeks’ People magazine, you will understand. Legion are the Internet feminists who misconstrue my worldview because it is inconsistent with what they wish to believe about their status re: life’s rich pageant, and every one of them has written a gripping blog post about it. Fascinating reading, without a doubt, but there are not enough hours in the day.

Fortunately, I have already read so many of these posts that I can, in my mind’s jaundiced eye, reproduce the one in question verbatim. They appear frequently, as spores after a soft rain — that is, whenever I publish an essay condemning as antifeminist one or another of the beloved rites of femininity. Blow jobs. Beauty. Pencil skirts. Burlesque. “Sex work” as a “choice.” Recently I jotted down a couple of lines on a study commissioned by a cosmetics company. This study purported to show that cosmetics benefit women. My response to this study was, in sum, a Bronx cheer (may I mention that on the planet Obstreperon, we don’t use our mouths for this? No, I didn’t think so.).

No doubt my dim view of makeup, and by extension, of the quest for pure sexiness, ruffled a few marabou bustiers. Long, long ago, argue the bustiers, when Andrea Dworkin roamed the earth, femininity may well have been a tool of the man. But, they claim, no more. Today’s feminist, empowered by all those articles on vibrators in Bust magazine, chooses choices of her own free will. These choices mirror her own unique sartorial, sexual, and philosophical personality. That these unique choices happen to align precisely with standard male porn fantasies, and that they are therefore rewarded with positive attention, is purely coincidental.

Such a viewpoint is a luxury of youth. It is the great tragedy of the women’s liberation movement that fully-realized feminist consciousness is too rarely achieved by women who are still young and fit enough to take on Dude Nation in a knife fight. Too often, it’s only when a woman ages out of pornosity, and is too old to do anything but take pictures of cows, that she discovers what the world really thinks of her.

Lest I be misconstrued as a prudey old sourpuss: nobody understands the reluctance to grok the fullness of patriarchal oppression better than I. I will illustrate this point with, not just an autobiographical anecdote, but with photographs.

The author as Spitzie West, tough slut in bondage-wear, in the early 90s

Born a mousey intellectual, in my twenties I discovered all the perks of Porn2K-Compliance. I amassed drawers full of Chanel makeup. I had boxes of wigs. I combed the thrift stores incessantly. I had so many clothes I had to turn a spare bedroom into a closet. I spent hours every day assembling outfits, dying my hair, and styling my edgy hipster look. I never wore the same thing twice.

It was expensive and time-consuming, but my resulting reputation as a glamorous wisecracking ballbuster sexpot dominatrix made me famous and adored. Everybody wanted to know me, photograph me, take me to dinner, put me in their fashion show. I had fans. I had protégées. I told men to fuck off and I wrote songs about vibrators, so I thought I was a feminist. I was too dumb, when I was young and adored, to grasp that all I had done was to succeed at femininity, and that femininity is no pinnacle of human achievement.

It would be many years before I would understand that femininity, the practice of femininity, and the fetishization of femininity degrades all women. That femininity is not a “choice” when the alternative is derision, ridicule, workplace sanctions, or ostracization. That femininity is a set of degrading behaviors that communicates one’s level of commitment to male authority and women’s oppression. That femininity is coerced appeasement, regardless of how successfully it is now marketed to young women as feminism.

I turned out OK, so I’m not too worried about these sex-poz young ladies who think I want to deprive them of sexiness. They really can’t be blamed, either for thinking I’m a buzzkill, or for being deceived by Dude Nation and mistaking sex-attention for love; Dude Nation puts considerable effort into selling its message. Certainly by the time women age out of the system, although one hopes well before then, it will have dawned on them that femininity isn’t just a matter of personal choice, but is in fact a major element on the continuum of global misogyny that begins with “choosing” to wear lipstick for fun and ends with violence and murder.

In the meantime, at least they’re having a fucking good time.

399 comments

6 pings

  1. josquin

    Posts like this one is why I will always keep coming back to this site. Thank you as always, Jill.

  2. MinorGroove

    Thanks for this post. This is one of the hardest concepts for young feminists to grapple with, that being so in control of your sexuality does not actually liberate you until you start to realize how defined that sexuality is by the dominant culture.

    Alas, I was once that person as well, so I do understand both the charm of being that person, and the difficulty of figuring it out for yourself.

    “I was too dumb, when I was young and adored, to grasp that all I had succeeded at was femininity, and that femininity is no pinnacle of human achievement.”

    Well said.

  3. tinfoil hattie

    Golly-dang, I will just never stop living you, Jill. You always know exactly the right thing to say.

  4. tinfoil hattie

    living you OR loving you, for that matter.

  5. Unree

    There was a wrinkle on the post in question. The writer wasn’t quite down with “I choose my choice” so mixed in a little “It’s not feminist to judge women who happen to be sexxay. You might think they’re performing femininity, but they may not be. Just because they look hott to you doesn’t mean they’ve done anything, let alone done anything wrong.” Yeah, I didn’t follow either. She drew mostly approval but also polite criticism in her comments.

  6. TotallyDorkin

    As soon as I saw that article on Feministe I knew you’d be in the comments with great insight and wit. Thanks tinfoil hattie!

  7. haupstimme

    20-year-old reader here. I found your blog a year ago and have been checking it every day since. I remember the day my then-Nigel wanted to hear about my “feminist epiphanies,” thinking feminism had nothing to do with him and could be invalidated by his own life experiences (little girls on the playground calling him fat).

    I still cling to a few practices of femininity/sexbotism but it’s posts like these that keep me questioning and reducing them. Thank you Jill – if it weren’t for this blog I may still be stuck in the depths of Exceptional Woman Syndrome and leg-shaving.

  8. Ciara

    I’m a young feminist recently realising (thanks in large part to this and other radfem blogs) that femininity and all it’s accoutrements are not something I choose. BUT my question is, how do we live day to day? I know you’re not obliged to answer me and it is something I’m trying to figure out for myself but I honestly wonder what is the alternative, am I supposed to eschew all the things I think I like (like dresses and other traditionally feminine things) to make a statement?

  9. V.F

    “femininity is not a “choice” when the alternative is derision, ridicule, workplace sanctions, or ostracization”

    Fuck YES Jill! You alway say so eloquently that which I would struggle to put into words.

  10. AlienLover

    Brilliant post.

  11. AlienNumber

    Jill: how in the world did you have time in your vain youth not just to spend hours mastering the arts of looking hott and getting adoration, but to also read all those books so that you can become my internet public intellectual of choice?

    This is not a rhetorical question.
    The answer may have to do with the fact that you are a genius and that you can use 24 of your hours to stretch to what regular humans do in 72, but if you have any practical tips, please let us know. [This is not because I want to invest more time in looking hott and getting adoration, but because I want to read more books.]

  12. Kaia

    This is a great post, too many young feminists get tricked into ‘Fun’ Feminism under the guise of freedom and rebellion. When in sad actuality its the biggest conformist movement ever.
    As Twisty pointed out, by the time a lot of us have realised that we have been shammed we are too old to do a lot about it, it is a very depressing circle of self loathing and misogyny and on the note of misogyny I found this great article I think might be of interest.

    http://radicalhub.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/men-love-%E2%80%9Csexism%E2%80%9D/

  13. AlienNumber

    *and before you blow a lobe, “hott” is used ironically. I do apologize for offending any sensibilities.

  14. pheenobarbidoll

    Ciara- Not to speak for Jill, but it’s been spoken of enough and it’s true- In the P, sometimes you gotta survive. Because of the P, many women must wear pencil skirts and make up simply to keep a job. This doesn’t mean you’re un-feminist. It simply means you were born female in the P’s world.

    The difference between women who must do this and women who claim they choose to do this is awareness.

    Simply put- how do you, as a woman, live day to day? Any way you can. Question everything, but don’t stop living your life.

  15. geogeek

    Ciara: I don’t know if I have a good answer to that, but as a scientist, I suggest eschewing one thing you’re suspicious of at a time, for, say, a couple of weeks, and see how it feels. Do others react to you differently? If so, how? Do you feel like you’re making a point, enjoying yourself, or just weirdly uncomfortable?

  16. Kea

    Young women, whether funfems or not, always forget that we’ve been there and done that. I had a long stint as an IT-boom king dude’s personal sexaay woman, when I would obligingly wear the shiny purple one piece ski suits and the leather minis. Fortunately, the whole make up thing is kind of unecessary when you’re floating down a 1000m 50 degree couloir in the Dolomites, leaving the Lesser Dudes gawping.

  17. Bushfire

    Ciara,

    You don’t have to eschew everything at once, and if you stop, for example, wearing lipstick, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever start again. I would say that we conform at certain times when we feel we have to, and unconform at other times. For example, this summer I worked the night shift in a retail store for a while, and then at a summer camp for a while. When I worked the night shift I didn’t care about my appearance at all, and when I worked at a camp I shaved my legs and wore a bit of concealer. So don’t think of it as either/or, just give up aspects of femininity that seem unecessary in your life and see where you can go from there. We all have to survive.

  18. tinfoil hattie

    Yhx, TotallyDorkin! I’m blushing.

    @Clara, when I first came to IBTP (’06? ), I didn’t wanna believe the things Twisty was saying. To my utter dismay, I realized she was right. I went into a pretty big funk over it.

    How I live day-to-to day in the P is, I figure out ewhich parts I have to comply with and which ones I don’t. Then I figure out which patriarchal norms I don’t have to do, but which will make life easier if I do.

    Meanwhile, I read and watch and listen critically. I accept that I will often be outside looking in. I come here for the blaming, and stay for the cameraderie.

    Meanwhile, I cultivate a narrow and supportive cadre of friends & family. I have a husband and 2 sons, and I relentlessly school them in the evil ways of patriarchy. (The other day, the 11-yr old asked me, while waiting for me to clothes-shop: “What kind of a sexist-assed thing is a ‘Spanx’?” So sometimes I have a little triumph,)

    I jettison toxic friends and family (incl. 75% of my sibs). I spend time reading, going outsude, singing, doing whatever I like. I meditate. I go out and do things by myself, very often. I have a good cry now and then. I remind myself that I am just fine, and it’s the system that’s messed up. I let go of aking things personally.

    I also overeat, and spend entirely too much time on the internet.

    I am breaking the “I”rule here, but want to be clear that these are the things that work for me, and maybe you’ll find something helpful in my ramblings. Cheers, and sorry for any typos.

  19. Anne

    @Unree – When I was a thin teenage white girl with sizable breasts, it didn’t take a whole lot of effort to get an excess of “attention” for my sex-appeal. With that of course came the projected assumption that I was actively seeking that attention, even if all I’d done to doll myself up that day was hop in a shower and run a comb through my hair.
    I don’t even know where this blog post is, but that commenter may have an inadvertent point even if all she’s really doing is defending her right to wear a push-up bra. Crap gets so muddled.

  20. Ugsome

    @Tinfoil, your patched-together set of half-measures to get through your day intact sounds much like mine. To get away from males I dance hula. The halau is overwhelmingly female–all teachers (hence all authority), and all students except for one wholly-unobtrusive male.

    My Nigel (what’s Nigel in French?) often finds himself perturbed by the radfem in his midst. He wants to get it, but that would involve letting go of attitudes (both male and Gallic) that have served him well up to now, so he’s stuck. He is what he is; his shortcomings are common, but his responsibility. He is at least a mature person with an open mind, not a douchebag and not a Polite Liberal Sexist (Oh how I HATE them.)

  21. MPMR

    Ciara, I don’t have a universal or good answer to your question, but I can tell you what I did. I quit the things I can get away with without messing up my life. So I don’t dye my hair, I don’t straighten my hair, I don’t shave my legs, I don’t pluck my eyebrows, I don’t wear heels. But, since part of my job is that I have to look “professional”, and “professional” always means “conforming to men’s standards for how a woman should be groomed and dressed”, I don’t reveal my hairy legs at work (so I always wear pants). I also wear clothing that has been manufactured for women to wear, and I smile politely when men at work compliment my wardrobe, instead of telling them to f*ck off. For many women, even radical feminists, it’s difficult to keep a roof over one’s head and food on the table without making concessions. IBTP. But I don’t fool myself into thinking that these aren’t concessions. They are. But instead of thinking that it’s “fun”, or dog forbid, that it’s *feminist* to do so, it’s just a daily reminder to me and those around me that I know I’m a member of the sex class.

    So, if you’re interested to try it out, pick something to quit. Preferably something you dislike doing anyway, or costs you time and money, and then see how you feel. And don’t be too hard on yourself. The patriarchy WANTS you to hate yourself, because it hates you.

  22. Ginjoint

    That femininity is not a “choice” when the alternative is derision, ridicule, workplace sanctions, or ostracization.

    I wanna roll around in that sentence like a puppy in sunshine on a lawn. Thank you. In the past, you’ve made me think again about exactly why (why??!!) I went through the pain and ongoing discomfort of breast reconstruction after mastectomy. You are not afraid to bring up hard truths, and it seems some folks read your stuff but fail to note that you are not dissing those who still participate in these rituals. I’ve been guilty of that myself. Then I kept reading.

    Tinfoil Hattie, thanks for taking on that which I don’t have the chops for.

    a Bronx cheer (may I mention that on the planet Obstreperon, we don’t use our mouths for this?

    How I would love, love, love to have this skill! Anytime a dudebro said something dudebroly, I would unleash this. After murmuring, “This is what I think about your comment/beliefs/existence,” and with unblinking, direct eye contact. They’d hear it, and quickly notice that while my mouth was unmoving, the sound was not exactly that of a fart either. Puzzlement, then acknowledgement, then fear would set in. I’d keep it up, unceasingly, as they started to slowly back, then run, away. It would be lovely.

  23. Jill

    @Anne You got a point, and I agree that young women who happen, through no fault of their own, to possess physical attributes that align with current beauty standards may find themselves lumped into the funfeminist category by tired old radfems who haven’t given it a lot of thought. However, I’d like to make it clear that it has never been my position that naturally “hot” women — or any women, for that matter — should be vilified on accounta their looks, their hopes, their dreams, or their whatevers. What I’m suggesting is that the pursuit of dude-approved sexiness, or its eventual attainment, is hardly a victory for Truth. Obviously it would be great if more women would blow that active appeasement shit off so they can get on board with revolution.

    On the other hand, as has often been repeated on this blog, you gotta do what you gotta do.

    I believe the Internetian mot juste is “le sigh.”

  24. Greenconsciousness

    Jill

    Best post ever sister!

  25. Notorious Ph.D.

    I wonder what Jill and the blametariat think of that epiphany that comes with aging out of the sex class. A few weeks shy of my 40th birthday, I was struck momentarily by despair: I was “old”, and therefore had passed the point where I could hope to attract most dudes with my physical appearance. This momentarily made me sad.

    And then I realized something: since it was no longer an achievable goal, I no longer had to give a damn. I could do what I wanted, look how I wanted, choose to remove hair or leave it where it grew, talk loudly in a deep voice, swear, take up physical space, and not make myself small so as not to step on a dudely ego. I could surround myself with people who liked this version of me, and regard those who wanted me to be more ladylike as people not worth my time.

    The only remaining sadness is that I didn’t figure this out twenty years ago. Then again, in a patriarchy, I’m not sure I could have.

  26. yttik

    The thing is, there is no right way to be a woman at all. “Sexy” and “femininity” are both outside perceptions imposed on you from the culture at large. You can be on stage performing femininity or you can be out in the garden in a pair of old jeans. Either way you’re still a sexual commodity. Children are raped, old women are raped, homeless women are raped. A friend of mine used to sarcastically say, “you can dress down if you want, but you’ll just attract a lower class of rapist.”

  27. Aunt Snow

    Awesome, thought provoking, and a well-needed bucket full of cold water on my insecurities.

    Returning to you after having lost my bookmark during a computer changeover. I thank Mrs. G. for bringing me back to you.

    How could I have forgotten you?

  28. Carpenter

    Historical question,
    I know what smart sarcastic young proto-feminists did in the 90s. That is why God invented L7 and Bikini Kill and smoking and Daria. What the fuck did people do in the 80s? That seems like an entirely lost decade, full of Reaganauts and rah-rah USA crap and super-corpro pop stars. It seems like there might have been about 10 dirty anarchists in a room listening to CRASS somewhere but not too much else. I sort of get the idea that the mid 70s killed counter culture pretty good with its self absorption where EST bullshit went mainstream and everyone was stuck looking at their own navel for 15 years.

  29. Kea

    Re passing 40, I have to say that those dipping hormone levels probably assist epiphanies, even if they don’t make up for a lost youth. Oh, what we used to do for dudes we digged.

  30. Kea

    Carpenter, we were pretty ignorant in the 80s. Our parents were from a pre-hippy, even pre-WWII generation, and protected us from the two or three naughty books in the local library.

  31. Anna

    My only quibble is with the last sentence, “at least they’re having a fucking good time.” I can’t think of anyone in my circle of funfeminist young women who is having fun with femininity. “Fun” maybe, but dressing up together is more of a ritual that separates the boring, un-sexxxaaay college time from party time.

    Since guys don’t seem to need this, I guess it’s always party time in Dudeland.

  32. Saurs

    I agree that young women who happen, through no fault of their own, to possess physical attributes that align with current beauty standards may find themselves lumped into the funfeminist category by tired old radfems who haven’t given it a lot of thought.

    This. The niggling doubt in the back of a lot of groovy, good-looking funfemmes’ minds that they’re being judged not only by other women and men but by other feminists, who are supposed to be their allies, must be seven kinds of fucking hell. It hurts me physically contemplating the little dance of appeasement a lot of women daily perform, especially feminist women, who must make concession after concession to dudes and beauty standards and femininity while still fighting the good fight. Why should they have to worry about their appearance when they’re amongst their brethren? It seems so unfair and unjust to me, and it’s also a page straight outta the anti-feminist handbook for boys: feminists are ugly lesbos; docile women are beautiful and desirable; therefore any woman looking the right kind of sexy is not a feminist, hates feminism, likes making sammiches, etc.

    I try my damnedest not to resent self-professed sex-positive folk for muddying the philosophical waters, introducing a schism in ye old FeministLand, a diverse country, anyway, by disparaging feminists-not-of-their-sort as sex-hating prudes, because of this. Yes, there are a lot of self-styled feminists who want dudes’ approval, want to make sure dudes skeptical of this whole women’s lib thang don’t feel too alienated, and hence cultivate a branch of feminism that is so dude-pleasin’ and sexifying it becomes hostile and unsafe for most women. But that leaves a bunch of women — the majority of women and especially young women of the so-called third wave — out in the cold or forced to make some kind of weird statement through their appearance as to which camp they pledge their allegiance, a little hanky scheme where the right shade of lipstick means “I support sex work” and sporting a heel size above 3″ means one thinks “porn is feminist!”.

    So I do my part every chance I get, especially at work, which is a veritable he-man woman-hater’s club, and proud of it. I notice lots of more women every year doing the hard labor in construction and landscape, and I always seek out the outwardly feminine ones as acquaintances, because generally they’re the ones getting picked on by other women and harassed and belittled by all the dudes, scared that they might lose the esteem of their fellow shitheads if they aren’t constantly trying to rape you or talk down to you.

    There was a pretty decent, quasi-feminist article somewhere on the internets a couple years back about cultivating relationships “in the office” with the “pretty girls,” actively disproving stereotypes against catty bitches, hating other women ‘cos they’re beautiful, banding together as a united front, butch and femme alike, to oust the douches rather than getting sucked into dudes’ office politics. It was a really lovely sentiment, simple but essential. And I know it’s gauche to say, but: barring egregious shit like certain kinds of violence, bigotry, or radically anti-feminist behavior and speech that supports harming other women, I try to live my life like most women don’t do much wrong, and I’m on their side unless proven otherwise. It’s a philosophy full of holes and doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, but I’m happier believing I can trust most women and they can trust me not to fuck ‘em over like dudes do.

  33. Carpenter

    Re femininity, its total abolition doesn’t exactly make sense. All of the trappings of it are as arbitrary as any human social convention has always been-think about all the ways people dress themselves and all the manners they have cultivated throughout history. Sparkly nail-polish out of social context doesn’t mean anything. My problems with femininity are that 1) It is assigned to women only and wrongly argued to be innate and 2) The trappings of femininity are associated with dependence/weakness/frivolity/being an object. Of course 2) is because of 1).

    I would be perfectly happy to see a bunch of femininity stay as long as it were not assigned at birth-if everyone was free to be genderqueer and as long as noone made assumptions about someone’s worth as a human because of their participation in it. This position doesn’t really diverge all that much from the sexpos position.

    I am guessing Jill would argue the conditions I laid out above would only hold after a complete feminist revolution.

  34. Noanodyne

    In the 80s, radical feminists were throwing red paint on porn in convenience stores and getting arrested for it, arguing loudly that lesbian BDSM was just as women-hating as any other form of it, and fighting the “Me Generation” tooth and nail in various other ways. That the victors of those fights got to write history is evident in your comment, Carpenter. It wasn’t a lost decade, but the backlash has done a fabulous job of erasing the work of all those radicals. There were zines, there were women-only performance troupes, there were actions, and yes, there were musicians. And now you have to go to some aging radical feminist’s basement to see that this is so.

  35. Ellie

    “That femininity is a set of degrading behaviors that communicates one’s level of commitment to male authority and women’s oppression. That femininity is coerced appeasement, regardless of how successfully it is now marketed to young women as feminism.”

    I LOVE how you can put so much in so few words. These two sentences are powerful!

  36. keira

    heya @Ciara.

    I’m a youngish feminist myself, and was pondering the same fairly recently.

    Like others here, I went with getting rid of one or two things at a time, starting with things I felt I could “get away with” (and there’s a hint of what its all about right there), slowly moving on to bigger, more public things one epiphany at a time.

    One thing that helped me feel more comfortable with my changed behaviours (when confronted by the self hatred or comments from others) was to try to focus on the things I liked about them – it sounds odd, but I dig feeling the wind in my leg hair now, even though I was disgusted at the thought of growing it out not that long ago.

  37. Saurs

    (Oof, my memory is terrible. The article mentioned in a currently-moderated kinda crap comment above wasn’t from several years ago, but earlier this year, isn’t nearly as good as I remember it, and is sprinkled with stills from Mad Men, fer fuck’s sake. I need to take a shower now, to spiffy up my memory cells and wash away images of all-white casts and smug, be-suitted dudes holding highballs.)

  38. Helen

    Just a question, Twisty, and a bit of a derail – as a person who had attained a good skill level in your younger days on guitar, you don’t mention here whether you still play. I have visions of a nice steel-string acoustic on the verandah or deck / whatever of El Rancho Deluxe in the long summer evenings. Am I right?

  39. Jezebella

    Dear Carpenter:

    In the 80s we had mohawks and combat boots, wore about the same amount of makeup and hair product as the boys we hung out with, and listened to the Dead Kennedies. In college we staged protests because our colleges didn’t want to approve LGBT groups (we used to call this “gay rights”). We petitioned our colleges to have women’s studies programs. We waited in line all day to see Gloria Steinem speak. Yes, we were liberal feminists, but we weren’t all shopping for izod shirts and penny loafers and hairspray.

    We were NOT all ignorant (Kea, speak for yourself!), and there WAS a counter-culture – these were the Reagan years and the early years of the AIDS epidemic, so there was plenty to be pissed off about. Despite what you may have seen on television, we were not all big-haired bowheads.

    Dog knows I was not the radical feminist then that I am now, but I was a teenager with no access to radical feminist thought.

  40. Boner Killer

    Just read the original article you were responding to, seriously boiled my blood to read.

  41. Jezebella

    It kind of breaks my heart that a whole generation of younger folk have forgotten or never even heard of movements like ACT UP (Silence = Death), or even associate the 80s with the AIDS epidemic or the hell that Reagan-era spending cuts unleashed on so many people in need. The myth of the 80s – all shiny clothes and big hair and bubble-gum pop – it’s a myth. Never forget that.

  42. Carpenter

    Jezebella, Shit, penny loafers, yes – I kind of remember that sort of happening. Part of the reason think of the 90s as being a countercultural explosion because of the internet making making me aware of a bunch of kinds of people I would never have heard of. But I also gotta say compared to the 80s the 90s seemed to pay a lot more lip service to more anti-establishment ideas. Daria is a good example, that was countercultural sarcasm co-opted by a giant media machine and sold back to us as revolution. However, it was kind of impressive that those attitudes were popular enough MTV had to do that in the first place.
    In comparison the both the 80s and the 00s seem much more vacuous. On the other hand, stuff was going on in the early 2000s as well, but you would never guess from watching TV.

  43. Carpenter

    What I remember about AIDS in the 80s was mostly the more disgusting remarks made by Reagan. What I also remember was the lingering fear of the Russians. I should say, I was merely a tween when the 80s finished.

  44. Kea

    Jezebella, I was speaking about an average. Me, I was busying showing the dudes who was the smartest physics undergrad geek. Did my part, I reckon.

  45. Carpenter

    Kea, just hit you up on SPIRES. Nice to see another theorist on the internet.

  46. Satchel

    Carpenter thus: I sort of get the idea that the mid 70s killed counter culture pretty good with its self absorption where EST bullshit went mainstream and everyone was stuck looking at their own navel for 15 years.

    Let us not gloss over second-wave feminism. I personally remember the introduction of Title IX and the long fight for the Equal Rights Amendment. The mid-70s also saw Roe v. Wade and the steady entry of women into many jobs previously held only by men.

    To loop this back to the original post, my 70s funfeminist fashion statements (such as they were) consisted primarily of variations on the theme of Backpacker Chic. Which had the advantage of tending towards sensible footwear and no shaving or makeup.

  47. Kea

    Heh cool, Carpenter! But I am now past my use-by date (aka The Leaky Pipeline) and hence unwillingly unemployed. You know, it wasn’t easy doing Physics when pretty well everyone said that women could not do science. Many feminists in the 80s were just busy studying, things that they had not been allowed to do before.

  48. Doctress Julia

    THIS post is SO. Goooood. Thank you.

    I am 36 and I have mostly stopped giving a shit about d00dz and their bullshit. It’s only recently I stopped… so there are things I have to work out. I’m reeling, reeling, I tell you…

    I’m afraid to read the post referenced… :/

  49. ARB

    @keira

    I’m also a youngish feminist who stopped shaving my legs and I really love the feel of the breeze through my hair. I used to say that I shaved my legs because my pj pants felt so nice on the bare legs. I was doing it for me. Then I decided that I wanted to know what my legs naturally looked like, because I started shaving before I really even had hair. I few weeks ago I decided to shave the legs again, to see how I would feel about it. It was so strange. I used to think that shaving was this very grown-up thing to do. However, after growing the hair out and then shaving it off, I felt like I was being childish – because I was trying to make my legs look like a child’s. Then I found it creepy that what’s “sexy” is what’s pre-pubescent.

  50. thebewilderness

    In the eighties we wore suits to work with wide shoulders as a warning to the asshats that we were serious people and not to be messed with. Then came the Backlash which Faludi documented in the book by that name.

  51. tinfoil hattie

    Jill, what vintage is that guitar? (Les Paul, I think?) It’s a beaut.

    In a totally empowered way, of course.

  52. Jill

    The guitar is a Les Paul Standard. It was new when I bought it, I wanna say it’s a ’91. It sits three feet away from me as I write this, but it hasn’t been out of its case in several years. I hate to think how warped the neck is. I have a bunch of other, fancier axes, but the good old 90′s Standard was always my fave.

  53. Nell

    Who the mother-fuck is this whiny twit Clarisse Thorn? (“I work so hard at empowerful pole-dancing fun-feminism and nobody listens to meeeeee!!!”)

    Great Mother Goddess of the Abyss — spare me!

  54. Bushfire

    Noanodyne, I would LOVE to go to that radical feminist basement you speak of.

  55. Kea

    I really am sorry, but I simply MUST ask Carpenter a very, very important question: are you the LM of hep-ph/1107.2123 like-sign dileptons? Very pleased to meet you. My one non-QGP related LHC prediction is for non standard B_d mixing as seen at D0.

    Who said IBTPs don’t love science?

  56. Miriam

    Hey! I’m pretty sure I have that exact same guitar! It is a solid-bodied Rickenbacker?

  57. Carpenter

    Kea ,Why yes indeed that is me, love to make your aquaitence as well. In fact, science is the whole reason I entered the feminist blogosphere. It was during the tumult over Larry Summers crazy women in science remarks that I found both solace and frustration on the webs.

  58. veganrampage

    It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway that performing femininity is obligato for many women. Hades to pay there is for tippy tap toeing out of line at work, at social occasions and I hear tell at religious functions.
    I cannot walk into a holy house as I burst into flames from worshiping at the altar of all mighty Satan every midnight as all radical feminists do. Fox Faux News reported this fact, so it must be true.
    It follows that the price paid for non-white women is higher, as it is for non-heterosexual women. Transwomen can be considered “lucky” to make it through the day alive.
    For example, just as wealthy persons when a bit “off” are considered eccentric whereas the poors are looked upon as bonkers, privilege raises his nasty, brutish head in our often self-imposing, self-policing hierarchical hell.
    Yet that price comes from multiple and seemingly endless fountainheads as well, and women pay in every conceivable way. The less power, prestige, and funds they have are a virtual Venn Diagram, the more pressure on the woman and the higher the price. A non-conforming woman cam pay three thousand ways from Sunday, she can literally pay with her life and will be blamed for asking for it.

  59. minervaK

    Hubba hubba to those photos, but ya know, your brain is just as gorgeous.

  60. Le Chat Noire

    Having recently had an argument with an older friend who thinks that burlesque is empowering, I can attest to the fact that is not only young women who think performing femininity is empowerful. She defended the Pontani Sisters saying that they have on fake smiles and are laughing (not literally) at the audience who comes to view them and that this is empowering because they are making money while doing so. I pointed out that burlesque is just throwback bullshit and that the dudes in the audience gawking at the T&A display couldn’t care less about the “fake smiles”. They are just getting their typical dose of scantily-clad feminized women. That this burlesque bullshit is so popular (at least in NYC) just boggles my mind. It’s goddamn everywhere.

  61. Kea

    I’m sorry I identified you now, Carpenter. Association with me would be career suicide for you, since I have the most unwomanly ambition of taking down String Theory.

  62. Guest

    I am a commenter over at Feministe. This is my first comment here. I just wanted to say that I think it’s kind of fucked up that a virtual discussion that started with the Hot Chicks thing ended up turning into another referendum on Jill. I don’t consider myself a radical feminist but if there’s anything that makes the radical feminist perspective relevant it’s incidents like the Hot Chicks of OWS example, as well as the follow-up behaviors by lots of guys after it was pointed out that it might be problematic.

  63. Peggy

    Carpenter – in addition to what a few others have mentioned, in the 70s and 80s we also had countless Take Back the Night rallies, empowerment and consciousness raising groups, we worked for the passage of the ERA. We were constantly ACTIVE – we worked for change in the real world (I love the computer and blogging as much as the next person, but back then we discussed things in groups, then went out into the community to try to effect change – pass laws, protest, participate in marches, etc. The discussions amongst ourselves weren’t the end in itself as it often seems nowadays).

    This is not meant personally, but I’m so sad that young feminists don’t know about the first and second waves and all our work. IMO, the third wave has set us back. I feel women have lost so much ground, so many rights. And women’s organizations of today? Pffftt! (On the magazine cover, Obama is “what a feminist looks like” – Obama who never did anything for women in his life (other than self-serving rhetoric) over Hillary who worked and effected change for women and minorities since she was a kid? Heaven help me!).

    And in those days we learned to become woman-identified. It seems to me that so many younger women now coming up have gone right back to being male-identified, glorifying and delighting in their own sex-object status.

    So I’m really glad that there are young women like you who are interested in feminism.

  64. Ugsome

    @Notorious Ph.D. Speaking of profiting from life after 40, here’s a thought I read recently on that font of all wisdom, Facebook:

    “Ladies we’ve got one thing going for us. Since middle aged women are invisible, especially the grey haired ones. Now is the time to rob a bank, who’s with me gangstas ?”

  65. Kaitlin

    Twisty, I love your brain!

    (Long time reader, first time commenter, etc. etc.)

    More physicist blamers! I’m all a flutter.

    I’m fairly young (well, I haven’t quite finished undergrad yet), but I recognise the work done by women in science over the last decades. Oh, the stories my supervisor can tell. Incidentally, my supervisor is the only woman (not counting myself) in the entire nuclear physics department. Depressing, much?

  66. FCM

    yes, theres no such thing as a lost decade, or a lost generation or a lost century (or a week or a day) where female-identified-women and radical feminists did NOTHING to advance the status of women as a sexual class, around the world. women are always doing this. and men are forever erasing and rewriting history to suit themselves, including getting out the “big guns” of sex-positivism when radfems are making progress on the sexual politics front, aka. calling attention to dom/sub and the female specific harms of the penis (PIV sex). sheila jeffreys “the spinster and her enemies” brings this home well.

  67. Ciara

    Thank you so much everyone for your responses. It helps so much to know that I’m not alone. I joined a feminist group in my city recently only to be dismayed by their fun feminist agenda and I’ve been feeling a bit out of place lately. I want to thank you all for your advice, it’s been helpful and more importantly it’s made me hopeful. :)

  68. laxsoppa

    WTF is up with all the people on Feministe getting sexiness and performance of femininity (things that are ultimately defined by other people, especially Dude Nation) mixed up with being sexual?

  69. Ugsome

    @laxsoppa: My guess is that to young women raised on Internet porn, Sex and the City, Photoshopped supermodels and ordinary women botoxed, boob-jobbed and liposuctioned to within an inch of their lives, people who aren’t performing are by definition asexual. Is there a clue to the contrary in today’s environment? Hell, even Playboy models of the 1970s were natural (they had *hair* for instance) that’s unimaginable now.

  70. laxsoppa

    @Ugsome–Yeah, I suppose for that part that was pretty much a rhetorical question. It just kills me to see self-proclaimed feminists go up in arms to defend their “right” to perform femininity and/or sexiness to the letter, thinking it actually has anything to do with their sexual liberation.

    Growing up in a country with sauna culture in which you get to see people of all ages and genders naked does help to build a buffer against the airbrushed hyperreality of the megatheocorporatocracy, but it rubs off on everyone eventually.

    I’m a member of the young generation but (personal anecdote time!) it didn’t take much bed-hopping to realize that the less time and energy I spent on performing heteronormative feminity, the better the sex itself got. It’s but a droplet of an ocean of radfem consciousness I have yet to tap, but it was a profound truth for me: the realization that sexiness and femininity are not about sex, having sex, enjoying sex, or (dog forbid!) exploring sex. They are a performance, and a potentionally energy-draining, soul-destroying kind at that.

  71. Comrade Svilova

    My conformist phase was started by a couple of men (including one boss!) explicitly telling me I needed to dress sexier. I did on and off for a couple of years, and then realized how awful it felt. So I guess I was lucky that social pressure was made particularly visible to me in my early twenties by these men, so that now at 24, I’m already on my way to ridding myself of various patriarchal baggage. Hairy legs and more.

  72. Dilly

    great great great great great

  73. speedbudget

    I don’t think any one woman should bear the brunt of eschewing Dude Nation’s proscriptions on femininity. I think those of us who are in a position to be able to do without femininity are the ones who should make the first step. For example, in my job, which is in the legal field, I am the freelance professional on whose expertise the lawyers depend totally and completely. So I am in a position of relative power. They also know I make as much or more as them, since they pay my invoices, so there is no question of where the cards lay. Every time I show up for work without makeup on and with my curly hair wild and frizzy, I feel like I am doing A Good Thing for those of us who can’t do so without backlash. The more often women are seen in public being competent without the feminine trappings, the more normal and expected it becomes.

  74. Jill

    “The more often women are seen in public being competent without the feminine trappings, the more normal and expected it becomes.”

    In theory anyway; we have yet to see more than six or seven women actually do this! Ha ha!

  75. lizor

    @laxsoppa
    ” it didn’t take much bed-hopping to realize that the less time and energy I spent on performing heteronormative feminity, the better the sex itself got. It’s but a droplet of an ocean of radfem consciousness I have yet to tap, but it was a profound truth for me: the realization that sexiness and femininity are not about sex, having sex, enjoying sex, or (dog forbid!) exploring sex. They are a performance, and a potentionally energy-draining, soul-destroying kind at that.”

    Oh yes – sooo true. Heels, lipstick and a fake cheery smile (part of the outfit) is a great way to secure a completely UNsatisfying sexual encounter with a dude who figures sex starts and ends with his wang.

  76. hayduke

    Beautiful post Jill, as always. And brilliantly stated point, laxsoppa. It is precisely what I wanted to articulate when I first saw the post in question, but I wasn’t quite sure how. What that type of post looks like to me is an attempt to paint radfems as seeking to deny everybody their sexuality. Since this would indeed be pretty fucked up, it’s a good thing nobody is suggesting any such thing. The point is that the performance of sexuality under the P is a piss-poor excuse for “sexuality.”

    Some years back I read an excellent post on Fugitivus wherein the author was musing on “do I actually like this thing because I like it? Or do I ‘like’ it for some deeply questionable and gross reason?” And perhaps most importantly, “damn, it’s some bullshit that the system won’t even let me trust that I can legitimately like anything.” I get the sentiment from the fun-feminist crowd that it is that final piece they’d rather not deal with. You better find a way to be “comfortable” with your “sexuality,” lady! Don’t you know it’s all on you? Even though you didn’t create this charming little system where there is no option but to a)wear blinders or b)ask some deeply upsetting and ultimately unsatisfying questions?

    But shit. Pointing that out is hardly tsking at anybody for having a damned orgasm.

  77. quixote

    The thing that’s always mystified me about the female hetero sexpos crowd is the fundamental disconnect. In their case, they’re presumably interested in men, so reveling in sex ought to be all about the men. How they look, what they do, etc., etc. Instead, it’s all about women looking and doing in ways defined by somebody else.

    Makes no sense.

  78. Barbara P

    Reading this post left me not enough time to shave my legs this morning. No joke!

  79. Anon y muss

    Good job, Jill! You strawmanned a post you hadn’t read and completely missed the point. But it’s always fun to spend hundreds of words assuring people how hot your used to be, isn’t it?

  80. lizor

    @Anne

    It’s also muddying to confuse the acknowledgement of the privilege afforded females who are grow up to resemble Pamela Anderson without the makeup and surgical interventions with an accusation of playing to the patriarch. If you look the “right” way as you indicate you do, you’ll probably get the job, the seat in the restaurant, the better deal on getting your car fixed, more positive reinforcement on a daily bases then someone who looks less like the P’s Ideal.

    The less favoured have to work hard to live within a hierarchy of male imposed value where they are not favoured and even the best of us may feel a bit resentful on a bad day. Please be patient and understand the privilege you hold, whether you play to it or not.

  81. Kathleen

    Your blog wouldn’t scare anybody if it weren’t so damn funny. How can the corpsey effigy of the humorless radfem be kept up and gibbering if there is some warm funny body writing as one at the same time?

  82. yttik

    “Please be patient and understand the privilege you hold, whether you play to it or not.”

    It’s really not a privilege to be sitting in a meat market with USDA choice stamped on you.

  83. humanbein

    I remember seeing you, dressed in incredible, amazing, creative outfit after outfit as I walked into the place you bartended back then. In my relatively casual and fractional view of you, I saw mostly exuberance and art performance, and never remember seeing anything decidedly sexy, unless dressing in various ways exactly like a man could be considered sexy. I always saw it as subversive and challenging, myself.

    You were always a conventionally attractive woman, of course. You just had a little more control over whether that was the point you were making with your costume or not, and I don’t know anyone who knew you who didn’t understand this on some level. You seemed far more rocker than girly to me, even in a skirt. And above all, out for laughs and fun.

    Nobody can define you as a humorless, sexless, sour old feminist blaming young women for their desires for fun and sex. There’s a hateful desire to stereotype a person in sexual terms behind this definition that really bothers me whenever I hear some variation of it.

  84. lizor

    @yttik

    The P is a meat market. Some are privileged over others. Colour, class, all of the trappings that place us in a hierarchy of value you have acknowledged in other threads. USDA choice has more privilege than suet and that is not the fault of those of us who are cast as having no more value than suet.

  85. RK

    Nice photos. Still have a CD somewhere.

  86. AlienNumber

    w-t-f lizor. These effing intersectionality “arguments” (or rather, mental vomit) are so goddamn stupid. Stop the stupidity, please.
    Does it make you feel better to compare yourself with other women? To think that other women are above you? And more importantly, that other women are below you? Does it make you feel better that some women are slime, because that doesn’t make you slime?
    Women have to cling so very tightly to not being the lowest of the low, being low anyway. But really all this clinging is, is woman-hatred. Stop it. Please.

  87. Shabnam

    Carpenter and Kea – I’d also like to come out as a theoretical physicist/mathematician. Great that there are at least 3 of us on IBTP!

    Kea – Have you always been anti-String Theory?

  88. Shabnam

    @Jill

    ““The more often women are seen in public being competent without the feminine trappings, the more normal and expected it becomes.”

    In theory anyway; we have yet to see more than six or seven women actually do this! Ha ha!

    I’m trying to do this. Alas, haven’t reached anything resembling prominence yet. I’m still fairly young at 32 and probably one of a handful women in the West who has not shaved her legs since the age of 21. Not using razors won’t and shouldn’t get me any prizes, but I am dismayed that something so mundane is so rare. Life is surreal – we essentially live in a world where it is easier for a woman to accidentally shave.

    Apologies for going on about my personal grooming habits.

  89. Cade

    Excellent post!

  90. Embee

    @Ciara,
    I humbly recommend that you begin by getting in touch with your body and its good and bad sensations.

    My first step was eschewing waxing. I can think of no reason to voluntarily torture myself thusly. Because I am all abot my comfort, when it’s muggy and hot I will trim. It’s cooler.

    Next: high heels. I have had a bad back since I was 20 (am 36) and it was healed within a month of ditching heels.

    Makeup: It feels disgusting to me, and so I don’t wear it. Period. I have slightly oily skin so I end up with painful pimples if I wear foundation, my eyes itch with shadow or mascara, and there is nothing that makes me gag more than lipstick. Even porn-adled males agree it’s disgusting tasting/feeling.

    Clothing: I am busty, and I need support, not to “push-up” and so I wear a servceable bra. Skinny jeans? No thanks, I’d rather be able to digest that enchilada and margarita I had for lunch.

    Start thinking of yourself as someone who deserves to feel good as opposed to look good and that’s where you’ll stop appeasing the P.

  91. minervaK

    WTF is up with all the people on Feministe getting sexiness and performance of femininity (things that are ultimately defined by other people, especially Dude Nation) mixed up with being sexual?

    I don’t look at the site in question, but this comment made me realize that the main issue I have with “sex-positive” crap is exactly this: it isn’t about actual sexuality it’s about performance. That is, it’s about talking and acting a certain way in the public arena, whereas actual sexuality is something that happens in private, sometimes even within an individual person’s mind. When I go online and I see a bunch of women blathering on about their dude-pleasing “bisexuality” (i.e., their willingness to get it on with another woman so that some dude can watch), or being empowerfulized “sex workers,” or defending their “right” to be led around on a dog collar — all of these things are about manipulating how people perceive the person blathering. The person may *mean* something like “I’m sexually attracted to other women,” but as soon as that’s turned that into a performance, it’s no longer private and thus no longer part of the person’s true sexuality. In fact, it may not even be possible for actual sexuality (as opposed to the above-described ‘performed sexuality’) to be public, but I need to think about that some more.

    It occurs to me that sex appearing at all in public discourse is a functional part of the patriarchal pornulation of modern culture. I mean, at what point, in the fight for a truly egalatarian society, does sex even need to come into the equation? I’m not talking about hiding who one is, i.e., having to lie about orientation, etc. — I mean beyond that, this “public performance” of one’s sexual preferences. It feels very male, to me, an extension of that “free love” shit that dudes made up in the 60s so that they could still get laid even though women were starting to bitch about the conditions under which that seemed to always happen.

    For me, it boils down to public/private. Want to have sex with a donkey? Fine, go do it! But WTF is up with trying to make me watch? Your sexuality has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. When it starts having something to do with me, it becomes just another “sex act,” i.e., porn.

    This is a mess, but I’m gonna submit it anyway in hopes it’ll start another fascinating IBTP convofest.

  92. minervaK

    The thing that’s always mystified me about the female hetero sexpos crowd is the fundamental disconnect. In their case, they’re presumably interested in men, so reveling in sex ought to be all about the men. How they look, what they do, etc., etc. Instead, it’s all about women looking and doing in ways defined by somebody else.

    Damn it, I have work to do, but this is so RIGHT ON I gotta comment… I’ve been reading up on and cogitating about “female gaze” as opposed to “male gaze,” and this is an excellent example of the difference. If “sex-positive” women were ACTUALLY sex-positive, wouldn’t there be more porn out there featuring and focusing on (straight) men? The “porn for women” that’s available still maintains the male gaze, in that the woman’s body is always center stage. I’m a het female, what do I want to see naked women for? And I certainly want to see more of an attractive man than his wang. Sexpos, as currently practiced, is just another way to objectify the female body. The gaze is still male.

  93. Comrade PhysioProf

    [W]hat’s Nigel in French?

    Le Nigle, bien sûr!

  94. Doctress Ju'ulia

    Oops, I tried to join ‘the discussion’ at That One Funfem Blog. I posted about a ‘click’ moment when I was very little (Kindergarten), and noticed the system of rewards and punishments for performing femininity. I had words put in my mouth and was patronized- by someone most likely at least 10 years my junior. I never get fucked with like that in radfem spaces. Wow. Glad I shared a story and my thoughts and feelings, just to be treated rudely. Not. I’m positive now that we’re not on the same side. Jeeezuz…

  95. FCM

    for anyone participating in occupy [wherever] theres an anti-femininity/anti-capitalist brochure up at the HUB.

    Radfem OWS Brochure #2

    “Femininity is pro-capitalist. Fuckability is pro-capitalist.” MS Word is here; PDF is here.

  96. tinfoil hattie

    Good goddess. All done with feministe. All finished. Why do I even read it, you ask? Well, that’s a damn good question. I have “unpacked” my reasons for reading it, and they amount to: because I am still treating myself like crap. Now I will stop.

    BTW, you may not want me here anymore, either. I am officially a homophobe because a commenter on IBTP in 2007 said anal sex is disgusting. And because I said I don’t have any interest in having a penis inserted into my rectum.

    Also, I’m a bad feminist.

  97. tinfoil hattie

    Doctress Julia, YOUR EXPERIENCE IS NOT UNIVERSAL! SO HOW DARE YOU SHARE IT?

    BTW, it’s coincidentally very similar to my experience. Bad feminists! BAD!

  98. tinfoil hattie

    @Physio, Pas mon Nigle!

  99. tinfoil hattie

    *Ne pas mon Nigle?)

  100. Kathleen

    comments are closed over there, with a misspelling of ya’ll. took the folksy southernism right out of it.

  101. laxsoppa

    Now this has been nagging at me.

    Peggy said:

    in addition to what a few others have mentioned, in the 70s and 80s we also had countless Take Back the Night rallies, empowerment and consciousness raising groups, we worked for the passage of the ERA. We were constantly ACTIVE – we worked for change in the real world (I love the computer and blogging as much as the next person, but back then we discussed things in groups, then went out into the community to try to effect change – pass laws, protest, participate in marches, etc. The discussions amongst ourselves weren’t the end in itself as it often seems nowadays).

    I agree that conversations on the Internet are more often than not had just because, not to actively raise awareness outside of the in-group, but as a younger-generation feminist (born mid-eighties) I see this as “discussing things in groups”, which in my mind is a crucial element of any further organization. Of course, I wasn’t there so I may just have missed something that is essentially different in today’s feminism compared to the days of yore.

    Just connecting with other feminists can be sanity-saving and empowerfulizing to those of us who do not have access to RL think tanks and discussion groups, either through lack of privilege and resources (yes, they matter) or just lack of other feminists to do it with in a hundred-klick radius. That IS effecting change.

    But on a larger scale, who says feminists are not doing those things today? Trying to pass laws, protesting, participating in marches, etc.? In my country the feminist movement seems to have been ridiculed to death by the MRA backlash and idolization of porn-mongers (among other things), but just knowing that there are others is a huge relief that helps me get through the day and maintain a sense of humour about it all. That IS important.

    A functional feminist with some connections, even if they’re only online, will do much more good to the cause of smashing the P (see tinfoil hattie’s regimen for survival, for instance) than a barely functional one who feels alone and at odds with everybody else—which is exactly where the P would want us, and exactly where we do NOT need to be in order to be active feminists.

    Anyway, a question to you older generations—do you really think feminism has become less visible/influential and that there would need to be a stronger movement? Or could it be because it’s taking on new forms and channels of operation?

  102. smash

    Thank you, Twisty. This post seriously rocked. I’m glad to have grown out of my porn2k compliance phase.

  103. tinfoil hattie

    Hmmm, laxsoppa. I don’t have a good answer to that. I do think that so-called “sex-positive” feminism gets more attention. Jessica Valenti, who co-wrote Yes Means Yes! and used to blog at feministing, said it very well to Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe,” re: Slutwalk. He asked something like, “Why don’t you call them “Empowerment Walks” or something like that? She said, “Do you think I’d be sitting here if they were called ‘Empowerment Walks’?”

    Excellent point, Jessica.

    I think we have a long way to go, and there’s a lot more pretext these days about how far we’ve come. I also don’t think feminism can be boiled down to whether or not women are having sex, and how much and with whom. I think that simplifies things, and is redundant besides. Hello? Why do we even have access to birth control and abortion? I wonder what will happen as this continues to diminish.

    I will read feminist blogs, articles, etc. with your question in mind. Thanks for the thought-provoker.

  104. Kea

    laxoppa, feminism is definitely less visible now, at least where I am.

    Consider a military analogy. We have been beseiging the citadel for some time, on a battlefield far from home, and the current Backlash Decades are like having our supply lines cut off and a high death rate in combat. It can go two ways. Our forces could be wiped out, or we can push on with the seige and eventually take out Troy with wile. At present, the Trojans are strengthening their defences, which includes rewriting history and promoting sexbot culture. What we need to do is (1) take out a Hector or two and (2) gift wooden horses.

  105. Anne

    @lizor – I never claimed that compliance doesn’t have its advantages, nor did I claim to look like Pamela Anderson. It’s been a long time since I was a skinny teenager. I’d be very surprised, however, if it was breaking news around here that girls who get ogled are held almost wholly responsible for the ogling.
    I finally found the post you all are talking about though and they are conflating a lot of things that have nothing to do with each other. Being sneered at by onlookers because some lech is being “extra nice” to you in hopes for something in return has obviously zip to do with stilettos.

  106. 1ceuponathyme

    When I go online and I see a bunch of women blathering on about their dude-pleasing “bisexuality” (i.e., their willingness to get it on with another woman so that some dude can watch)

    Are you referring to bisexuality as a sexual orientation or to a specific performance of bisexuality wherein two women engage in sexual behavior while a man watches? This seems to be a little dismissive of lived bisexual experience, whether it’s two women (at least one of whom is also sexually attracted to men) alone or two women making out in front of some dudes. Furthermore, I’m a little wary of the idea that sex should remain “private.” After all, we couldn’t have radical feminist critiques of sex without actually talking about sex.

    I just wanted to add that the conversation over at Feministe and this conversation have helped remind me of why I identify as a radical feminist. Thank you, Jill and everyone else.

  107. quixote

    @laxsoppa: What may have us oldies discouraged, or at least this one, is the realization how much things have moved backward. And they have. It’s acceptable, progressive even, to see women as nothing but sex.

    It didn’t used to be. It wasn’t something mentioned in polite society. And that matters. It means that as a kid, I could grow up without knowing what sewers sloshed around in other people’s minds. By the time I did know, I had enough experience to put it in the right context: concrete and pipe-shaped.

    I have no proof, but I’m convinced the interdreck is a big part of the reason we have deluded sex-pozzies running around. So, yes, there is a problem.

    But. But, but, but this is the bit I think we tend to forget. Progress (or degeneration for that matter) is never linear. If the easy access to internet porn hadn’t set us back, something else would have. So long as the current low is higher than the previous one, we’re still making progress. That can be hard to see when you’re discouraged. That’s why it’s usually young people who move the conversation forward. They don’t spend so much time going, “Bah! Humbug!”

    Keep at it, laxsoppa!

  108. Satchel

    laxsoppa thus: … do you really think feminism has become less visible/influential and that there would need to be a stronger movement?

    I would have to say yes to that. The sheer volume of hideously sexist and misogynist crap that I see on a daily basis argues strongly for continual deterioration. Also, I note that both First Lady Betty Ford and President Gerald Ford publicly supported the Equal Rights Amendment while it was under consideration in the US in the 70s. Try to imagine a Republican — or even a Democratic! — president and first lady doing that today.

    Or could it be because it’s taking on new forms and channels of operation?

    I can only hope that this is true.

  109. Phonaesthetica

    Posts like this are why I check the site every day.

  110. AMM

    A few weeks shy of my 40th birthday, I was struck momentarily by despair: I was “old”, and therefore had passed the point where I could hope to attract most dudes with my physical appearance….

    And then I realized something: since it was no longer an achievable goal, I no longer had to give a damn. … I could surround myself with people who liked this version of me, and regard those who wanted me to be more ladylike as people not worth my time.

    I’ve had a similar epiphany, though, being male, it didn’t have so much to do with personal appearance. But I did reach a point where I asked myself, who am I trying to impress by trying so hard to be what I’m not? I realized that I wanted people around me who would appreciate me for who I was, and the ones who didn’t weren’t contributing to my quality of life, anyway. Now that I’m a lot closer to the grave than to the cradle, I realize I want to be remembered for who I am (whether good, bad, or just plain forgettable), rather than for the character I tried to play.

    FWIW, despite what Patriarchy tries to convince us of, not all “dudes” are attracted by letter-perfect physical appearance, or by letter-perfect performances (of femininity.) Some in fact prefer looking at a woman who doesn’t have all that literal and metaphorical make-up on. Some of us prefer the red pill to the blue pill.

  111. humanbein

    I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that internet porn has set back feminist progress a great deal. The pornification of world culture has really just begun, and the easy money to be made pornifying anything guarantees its continuance.

  112. sjaustin

    AMM, your “epiphany” is not similar. A woman’s value is based almost exclusively on her fuckability, and a woman deciding to stop prettifying and feminizing herself is not at all the same as some dude deciding that he can like totally be himself. Dudes can always be themselves; that’s part of what male privilege is. But women who eschew the fuckability mandate are actually giving something up and taking a risk.

    And thanks, I just love it when progressive dudes say that it’s ok for women not to wear makeup because they actually prefer the way women look without it. Here’s the thing – we don’t give a fuck what you prefer to look at.

  113. Jill

    I can’t tell you, AMM, how awesome it is to know how much makeup should be worn by the women you like to look at. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: if only more men would ignore the Guidelines for Commenters, allude to “The Matrix,” inform the Blametariat of their personal preferences regarding women’s appearance, and delight us all with their Unique Male Experience of Patriarchy!

  114. Someone Else

    just for the record, I do not think Lizor was suggesting that females with features that happen to dovetail with patriarchal standards have groovy, enviable lives — what I understood her to say was that women who led the opposite experience (women who are “ugly”, due to disability, or some sad confluence of features, women who cannot comply) have a DIFFERENT experience w/patriarchy, and need/want to voice that.

    I don’t consider this intersectionality at all, or “who suffers more”, — it’s a unique experience I don’t think we (even us humorless internet feminists) talk about much.

    Maybe we should talk about why the concept of “ugly” is so scary that even smart radfems struggle with it? (hint : IBTP)

  115. Peggy

    Oh gosh. For what it’s worth, I think you guys are being too hard on AMM. If he had tried to say he totally understands what women go through, he would have been so jumped on, because he isn’t a woman. I think he was trying to relate the only way he could – and I think his point about coming to the realization that he wants to be who he is, and not who he is expected to be, captured the point women are making, to the extent he can as a male.

    And I don’t agree that “dudes can always be themselves”. I sure wouldn’t want to have to wear a suit and tie to work everyday (yes, they could take a lumberjack job, but so could women take jobs that require less of appearance – dishwasher, maybe!). Of course it’s true that men don’t have to be dressed provocatively to be accepted – but again, I think he was trying to relate the best he could.

    Maybe you guys know something about this poster that I don’t. But I do know that we’ll never get equality without a good number of men signing on. It doesn’t seem productive to be unwelcoming to those who are trying to understand. Just my .02.

    (and this is from a lesbian)

  116. Shelby

    Oh babe you sure were hot though. This is the stinkin’ problem isn’t it? This is why youth is wasted on the young. As youth we strive to draw attention to ourselves whilst carefully keeping within the strict lines of P as sex class compliant mass produced individuals. Even during our youth we’ve curled our lip and thought hey, there’s something not quite right here. Better have another glass of wine. It’s not until you get to the other side. After alot of name calling from your peers – slut, whore, town bike, frigid dyke, cock teaser, bitch, harrassment at work from colleagues, harrassment on the street from strangers, harrassment at home, a few beatings from people who love you, a few rapes from people who love you, a few cops who tell you there’s nothing they can do – they suggest you leave town – that the full reality of the situation comes to light. I don’t know if this can ever change. I watch my 16 year old daughter walk the turd highway every day.

  117. Nolabelfits

    Dishwasher? Tell me you’re kidding.

  118. Kea

    Nolabelfits, trust me, a real hotel dishwasher can look like dogshit and no one cares.

  119. Jezebella

    Peggy, the Guidelines for Commenters specifically indicate that comments such as AMM’s are unwelcome here. For one thing, he identifies himself as a dude.

  120. Linda

    Oh there it is. You’re sitting here enjoying a beer and a read, a great rollicking read of radfem thought, and suddenly there it is – dude voice – and oh shit there it is again – dude voice – sounding oh so convinced of it’s exceptionality and uniqueness. It really actually believes that we have never heard it before.

    Peggy, hard on him? The rush to reassure us that it’s ok, there are wonderful men who will tolerate a non patriarchy-compliant woman, is both condescending and drastically missing the point. It tells us that he believes feminists only criticise femininity performance because we can’t do it ourselves, because we can’t nab a man ourselves. Hopefully I don’t have to explain why that assumption is problematic.

  121. Nolabelfits

    Kea, for the record, I have done my stint as a hotel dishwasher. It paid crap and noone gave a crap who the hell I was or what I looked like. Coincidence? Don’t think so. If I were willing to tart it up a bit I may have made Front Desk.

  122. penumbral guest

    @ Jezzebella:
    If it’s any consolation, some of us do, though in my case it was second hand. I was only a kid, but my father took me to see the AIDS quilt in 1996, and when I was a bit older, told me about some of the rallies, and the friends he’d lost. It was my earliest exposure to a government putting its crap beliefs ahead of saving the lives of its people because they weren’t white straight and male enough to deserve it.

    Also, thank you Twisty, for the idea that a choice with penalties is coercion by a different name. It clarified quite a few things.

  123. Alissa/assilA

    I love you, Ms. Twisty!

  124. speedbudget

    Peggy, this is a radical feminist blog. We are all caught up on our feminist theory. We are all caught up on feminist history. We don’t need anything explained to us. As this is a radical feminist blog, that should go without saying, but it DOESN’T go without saying. There are comment guidelines, one of which is no dudes allowed.

    And if we have to explain why no dudes are allowed, then maybe you should go visit some less advanced blogs and do some reading before coming back here to comment.

  125. Jill

    Peggy, it’s great to have you, but I urge you to read the Ancient Texts to better acquaint yourself with the blog policy regarding both dude commenters and the “what about the men!?” concept.

  126. sjaustin

    Of course it’s true that men don’t have to be dressed provocatively to be accepted

    This is not a minor point – having to wear a suit and tie isn’t at all comparable to having to walk the thin line between “feminine/attractive” and “too sexy.” http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2010/06/05/hugs-twisty-womans-sex-appeal-is-unbearable-to-knob-coworkers/

    But I do know that we’ll never get equality without a good number of men signing on. It doesn’t seem productive to be unwelcoming to those who are trying to understand.

    If dudes like it, it’s not real feminism. And he’s not trying to understand. If he were putting even a modicum of effort into understanding, he’d have read the guidelines for commenters, and he wouldn’t have shown up on a radfem blog saying that it’s ok for women not wear makeup because he prefers to look at women who aren’t wearing makeup. One of the main tenets of radical feminism is that our purpose as women under the current system is to be eye candy and fucktoys for men, and that it should not be that way.

  127. willa

    Peggy, while it may seem true that if women don’t want to conform to the patriarchy’s standards, that we can just take other jobs where it matters less. You used the example of a lumberjack job for men and a dishwasher job for women. This is pretty fitting, as any job a man might take where they wouldn’t be required to wear a suit and tie would pay a whole lot more than anything a woman might do where “professional” (i.e., dressed up) attire isn’t required. Men can indeed be lumberjacks, plumbers, electricians, contractors, etc., but any woman trying to do these jobs (they pay much more than something like a dishwasher, maid, janitor, etc.) would be heckled, sexually harrassed and called a “dyke” if they didn’t kowtow to men coming on to the them all day. They would also be accused of being (gasp!) unfeminine and hence not worth much, if anything, in this society. My aunt worked on a road crew for a long time because it paid well and she had to put up with all kinds of disgusting crap from the men she worked with, even though she did her job just as well or better than they did. Being in a job where you aren’t at least pressured to gussy up and smile for the menfolk as a woman is a hard thing to accomplish. Breaking out of appearance related standards is always much easier for men because they set those standards and can break them anytime they want.

  128. niki

    The craziest thing is that so many women try so hard for what is essentially a completely empty and arbitrary reward – men’s boners.

    Men will get a boner with a strong breeze and will fuck soft fruits in times of desperation. They certainly don’t need all the things that the media purports they need to get off, even if they think they do.

    If the ultimate goal of straight women is to be prong-worthy, they could save a lot of money by realizing this fact.

  129. niki

    Also not saying this is a particularly lofty goal. In fact…it seems rather hilarious.

  130. Jill

    This remark:

    But I do know that we’ll never get equality without a good number of men signing on. It doesn’t seem productive to be unwelcoming to those who are trying to understanding

    always prompts me to make this remark: individual women’s level of niceness to members of the oppressing class should have no bearing on whether women’s liberation from patriarchal oppression is a morally legitimate goal. Women’s oppression is either a humanitarian crisis or it isn’t. It’s a pretty flimsy truth that depends on whether I politely nod when some dude tells me he likes his women with no makeup.

  131. Satchel

    Peggy has a certain … how you say … odeur de sockpuppet.

  132. ElizaN

    Cookies should not be given as a reward for attempting basic human decency, especially when the attempt fails so terribly. The appropriate reward for being a decent human being is a clear conscience.

  133. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    “Simply put- how do you, as a woman, live day to day? Any way you can.”

    Thank you, pheeno, that was lovely.

  134. buttercup

    There’s a couple of interesting posts on this over at Alas A Blog.

  135. MPMR

    Peggy: This blog is for *advanced* blamers. If he were just “trying to understand”, he would be reading, and listening, not talking. Instead, he was telling us all about his unique male perspective, and how we can still be prong-worthy without makeup, and ignoring the commenting policy! If you’re wondering how the most recent version of this policy came about, check out the “Spinster Aunt Mutters in Yiddish” post.

    Also, he could have avoided getting “jumped on” as you put it, by doing this:

    “New dudes can bypass the sex restriction by going incognito. I got no problem with that as long as they complete the prerequisites, never use the personal pronoun “I,” and knock it off already with the fucking tiresome-ass male viewpoint and supercilious tone. Good luck with that, though, because you know as well as I do that sooner or later they always start mansplaining or yakking about dudesex. If we can tell they’re dudes, they’re out.”

  136. AlienNumber

    “odeur de sockpuppet” was hilarious. And how true.

    However, maybe Peggy is a lesbian. One of those deluded ones who thinks that the Brotherhood is important and all that, because only the bros know what it really feels like to objectify females and how hard the life of the objectifier-of-females is in the world.
    My own personal lesbianism is more of the “chicks before dicks” variety, if only comparing human females to chicken weren’t so problematic. So, really, it’s more of the “hos before bros” variety. Is there anything more disgusting to a radfem ear than the word “bro”? But I digress.

    Which reminds me, what does the Blametariat think of calling men ugly? I do it all the time and get into many arguments with women about this pernicious habit. But, I just can’t stop! I just have to express, while walking down the street, or while indoors, how I feel about males’ own personal appearances! I also see it as my duty, as the Bearer of Truth.
    (speaking as a lesbian).

  137. tinfoil hattie

    Is there anything more disgusting to a radfem ear than the word “bro”?

    Maybe “ho.”

  138. AlienNumber

    tinfoil hattie, they are very close, but I found that “bro” wins over the h-word by a very small margin.

    Underneath all that silliness, the larger point was about what terrible an idea it is to use “lesbianism” as carte blanche for saying all kinds of anti-woman, pro-what-about-the-men crap.

  139. humanbein

    Masculinity is a patriarchal construction that will not survive the revolution. The male viewpoint can’t be anything other than patronizing at best, and contemptuous to murderous at worst. Human beings with male genitalia must realize that everything we believe about masculinity is either stuff women do as easily as men or else stuff that makes men into intolerable protectors of their own inestimable privilege, or, simply assholes.

    Reading John Stoltenberg’s essay “Refusing to be a man” is just the starting point for understanding the innately evil idea of masculinity. We are all sovereign human beings when we are at our best, and when we are at our worst, we are the unwitting tools of the culture of patriarchal oppression, meat puppets doing the masculine/feminine dance.

    Luckily, this best we can be is one of peace, harmony, sex without urgency, butterflies and mutual nurturing. I could go on. Savage Death Island!

    Don’t be confused, as the novice might be, into thinking that a human being must be either masculine, or else feminine, and that there is NO OTHER WAY. The way of being a human being is actually the easiest way, the largest of the three categories, and has nothing to do with androgyny other than indifference to sex roles.

  140. hayduke

    AlienNumber, I’d skip it as a general rule. I love it as a word to describe behavior, i.e. “That was some ugly shit you just said.” But there aren’t too many contexts where you can critique physical appearance without joining forces with a whole bunch of baggage-ridden cultural assumptions. I don’t want to make fun of somebody for being “fat,” or having bad skin, or what-the-fuck-ever, because it’s still privileging “more desirable” aesthetic qualities even if you are applying it to a group not traditionally subjected to it day-in and day-out. Taking apart the master’s house with the master’s tools and all that.

    Besides, there’s no need to go after this low-hanging fruit and risk complicity in the toxic social structue. Because they’re going to take some action that you can call ugly, aren’t they? Of course they are. You shouldn’t have to wait more than a few seconds, either!

  141. minervaK

    1ceuponathyme: I was referring specifically to the apparently recent pandemic of women who have decided that they are bisexual because dudes seem to like it. I’m still working out my opinion on this whole thing (mostly on my own blaugh, in accordance with Twisty’s expressed wishes), so I’m not entirely sure what I mean yet, except that there’s something deeply disturbing about women objectifying other women because it gains them male approval. I mean, maybe it’s always been that way, but now it’s become a part of the public sexual landscape in a way that it wasn’t before.

    On the issue of sexual privacy, here’s what I know. Beyond acknowledging that I’m married to a man, I don’t talk to other people about my sex life. Whatever they want to assume about what me and The Spouse do in bed is their own bidness; I simply don’t care to broadcast anything but the broadest generalizations about my own sexuality. I don’t understand the apparent need of some folks to discuss the details of their personal sex lives in public, and I think (I think) that in a way it panders to Patriarchal Pornification Standards to do so. I’m not saying that women who talk about their sex lives in public are *aiming* at porn2K compliance, but that’s a side effect that can’t (I think) be ignored.

    On the other hand, group acceptance of all parts of one’s being, including sexuality, is a natural human urge, and maybe some people feel like they are repressing a fundamental part of themselves if they don’t talk publicly about their sexual practices. I dunno. I can only speak for myself.

  142. Milly

    Twisty. Twisty. I love you so. “They appear frequently, as spores after a soft rain”. Stunning. Truth ‘n beauty and all that. You’ve got it.

    Tinfoil Hattie, I was almost tempted to bookmark Feministe just to read your comments. Oh well, IBTP is much better for my sanity. The blinders sexpos wear are so, blinding.

    MinervaK, I think that’s quite an interesting idea you’ve got there about sexuality being private and sex acts public. I don’t think that prevents us from critiquing sexual practice either. Lots to contemplate.

  143. Rainbow Riot

    And a geetar, to boot! I used to look like a chubby version of the young spinster aunt. Boots, fishnets, lipstick, etc. Never got me any attention, but I gave it all up when I realized that femininity was keepin’ me down. Naturally, I blame the patriarchy for selling me the lie of empowerment-by-sexiness.

  144. veganrampage

    Don’t want to get into it, but porn is not just porn anymore, there’s a new vast torture porn industry that is apparently oh so popular. Terrifying.

  145. Jezebella

    Is it wrong that I still envy those badass motorcycle boots? Because, dayum, I want those.

  146. Rain

    Just got back from reading comments over at Feministe, as well as the series penned by quoted blogger. It read like a Japanese parliament broadcast. Ouch. TH and others, ya’ll did good. I don’t have the patience or bandwidth to deal with all that.

  147. random_anomaly

    Kaia, that article is extremely offensive to trans people. It directly states that “Chaz Bono is a woman” and refers to him as “her” and “she” throughout the paragraph referring to him.
    Just wanted to point that out.

  148. lizor

    @AN

    “These effing intersectionality “arguments” (or rather, mental vomit) are so goddamn stupid. Stop the stupidity, please.”

    If you would take a moment to read my post you may save yourself a lot of pointless shit-flinging time. In other words, stop projecting the stupidity, FFS.

    If you have a point make it and base it something that was actually said. I did not say I was better or worse than anyone or that I like the fucking meat market we are all continuously reminded we are a part of in this world. If anyone is hating in this exchange it’s you.

    I was merely pointing out that “better” looking people get paid more, have more job options, etc. It’s no secret.

    I was not blaming anyone for being ogled and Anne you have confused a factual point about the privilege of looking a certain way with victim-blaming. No where in my post did I blame compliant women for their own harassment. I did not mention compliance at all.

    I was making the point that we are all subject to this yard stick whether we are choosing compliance or not and some will have an easier time of it than others. I only used P. Anderson as an “ideal” on the scale of female fuckability value and was not indicating that you resemble her or that you said you did.

    A woman who happens to be born with facial features and a body that resembles the fascistic ideal is going to have an easier time keeping body and soul together than a woman whose looks do not, especially when it comes to salary. It doesn’t take a fucking rocket surgeon or someone writing a dissertation on intersectionality to see the fact of that.

  149. speedbudget

    @lizor:

    A woman who happens to be born with facial features and a body that resembles the fascistic ideal is going to have an easier time keeping body and soul together than a woman whose looks do not, especially when it comes to salary.

    Just a quibble with this portion of your post. I don’t agree that women who are Beauty2K compliant necessarily have it easier, though I do agree mightily that they do when it comes to salary.

    In other respects, they have it just as bad as other women do. They are constantly sexualized and assumed to be available for come-ons. I have large breasts, and everything I wear looks vaguely slutty because of it, and growing up I remember being shamed mightily by adults for being too sexy. Women who are B2K compliant have to navigate the hell of entitled men constantly hitting on them and then getting angry when they are turned down, no matter how politely. I wouldn’t say it’s worse than what less B2K-compliant women face, but it’s certainly no cake walk.

  150. An

    We’re burying the lede here. The most important facet of the discussion is that Twisty was apparently into Steam Punk about 24 years before it was cool, and over a decade before it existed.

    Please let us know precisely what style you’re currently sporting so I can buy into it when it’s cheap.

  151. tinfoil hattie

    @random_anomaly and @kaia, that’s why I don’t read the radfem hub site. According to many of the writers there, the greatest threat to women is trans- men and women. Not patriarchy. It’s to barf.

    My only objection to Chaz Bono is that he has, indeed, “inhaled” some of the worst beliefs of the male persuasion; i.e., dismissing women as fluffy, annoying things who talk too much.

  152. tinfoil hattie

    I’m so freaking old and unhip I don’t even know what steam punk is. Le sigh.

  153. quixote

    tinfoil hattie: on steampunk, which is big in science fiction circles, the BBC did a beautiful set of pictures. Also, a fun intro article.

  154. An

    @tinfoil hattie
    Take Victorian clothing, modify to fit current standards of attractiveness, throw in some faux-clockwork gewgaws, add goggles (you MUST have goggles), shake vigorously and vomit all over geek culture: Steampunk.

  155. AlienNumber

    lizor, two points: a) no woman walks around looking like a Photoshopped model, which is to say, no woman who is over the age of 18 (14?) looks like That without plenty of time and money investment (see Twisty’s point about the spare bedroom in the essay above, for example). The whole point of the Beauty Ideal, which changes about every 3 months, is that it’s unattainable. This is how the Beauty Industrial Complex makes its money: by selling something that can only – maybe – be achieved through lots of time and money, pretending they can turn back or stop time, and then switching it up, so they can sell new products.

    and b) I, like, speedbudget, find your implication that beautiful women have it easy (or even “easier than”), stupid. Well, speedbudget wouldn’t probably use the word stupid, but I do.
    Because really, we don’t know what’s worse, as a woman living in the P: being invisible or being visible. If you’re invisible, you starve. If you’re visible, you get sexually harassed, then you go boinkers because of the harassment, and then you starve.
    Finally, even bringing this evo-psych-ish point about beauty forth, on a feminist forum, is anti-feminist because it puts “ugly” women against “beautiful” women and then what have we accomplished? Nothing! Except for a fight, which is what your point was meant to do in the first place.

    Now, please for the love of all good things, don’t bring up that whole “even babies stare longer at symmetrical faces” study.

    (random_anomaly, would it have pleased you more maybe if they had referred to Chaz Bono as female, in that article?)

  156. yttik

    “A woman who happens to be born with facial features and a body that resembles the fascistic ideal is going to have an easier time keeping body and soul together…”

    The thing is, she won’t have it easier. That’s one reason we’re trying to point out the dangers of trying to comply with that ideal. It crushes your soul, it’s the rape of your mind, body, and spirit. A woman who naturally meets the standard is simply going to be relentlessly confronted with her fuckability and constantly reminded of her status as a sexual commodity. That might appear desirable on the surface, but it takes it’s toll on you. Many attractive women are left with drug and alcohol problems, depression, self abuse. Look at all our Hollywood starlets and their self loathing, jail, rehab, eating disorders, suicide.

    Seriously, one of the perks of getting a bit older and of not trying to conform to the beauty standard, is that I can now walk down the street with no cat calls. Nobody stares at my breasts when they’re talking to me. I don’t feel exposed and half naked anymore, like I’m on an auction block. This is freedom, this is privilege, and I wouldn’t want to go back 20 years for anything. That was hell.

  157. Fictional Queen

    “But I do know that we’ll never get equality without a good number of men signing on.”
    I completely disagree.We are half of the human population.I couldn’t care less about no penised jerkoff bullshit idiot finding it in his superior heart to bless us with equality.The truth is actually we only need a good number of women to wake up.If enough women wake up,equality will be achieved.But who wants equality anyway? Women would have to degrade horribly to become equal with such things as men! I prefer full humanity and freedom from men’s hideous philosophies and plans for life and society.We are half of the society and men are miserable and helpless without us.Just imagine all housewives in a country simultanouesly going on a strike.Many problems would arise!Anyway,I don’t want to babble,but really,all we need is enough women waking up.

  158. Fictional Queen

    My comment is in moderation! I wanted to say that “But I do know that we’ll never get equality without a good number of men signing on” is not true and that all we need is enough women to wake up.

  159. speedbudget

    This all goes back to double consciousness, and the perception of yourself first as Other and then as human. We are all hyperaware of what makes us Other and how that doesn’t conform to the standard, so we all spend oodles of time policing ourselves to be more like the norm we are allowed to fit, which is constantly changing in order for the Patriarchy to retain control of us.

    You don’t have to end up drug addicted or depressed to end up having had a shitty life. The constant questioning of yourself and what should be considered rational reactions to situations you find yourself in is what breaks us. Many women think they are doing fine, but their grasp on “fine” is fragile, as at any moment they could have that break with what they consider reality and start questioning why their reaction is so roundly criticized by those around them. Why aren’t we allowed to ask men to stop taking pictures of us to post for wank material? Why should we even have to ask men to not hit on us late at night and/or in elevators? Shouldn’t these things be common decency? And the reaction to these perfection rational responses tells women THEY are wrong, THEIR perceptions are faulty. It’s easier to just go along for a lot of women. The cognitive dissonance is a lot to deal with.

  160. buttercup

    It’s only easier for B2K compliant women until they get old, or fat, or disabled, or otherwise non-compliant. Then the shit shower catches up, and fast.

  161. Ugsome

    @An, regarding trendy radfem antifashion: I surmise from Twisty’s self-portrait taken in the can of a truck stop in Texas that she is Another Satisfied Customer of REI.

  162. Sylvie

    What the heckers like does sexy mean? Is it the non-science way of saying arousing/aroused? Shouldn’t have scanned the Feministe comments.

  163. Mildred

    As a women who works in an all make environment for the first time, as opposed to other menial but ‘glam’ jobs I’ve had before; retail, waitress, stripper — its not as grim as you think. The fear of being heckled and called names is probably what keeps women out. Sure, some co-workers made some disgusting jokes to my face but once I told them plainly that I wouldn’t stand for it, it stopped. They might say all kinds of foul shit behind my back but I could care less, my work environment is pretty comfortable now that the dudes know to not talk about their porn collections until I leave the room. And you’d be surprised how easy these supposedly male jobs actually are.

  164. Jill

    re: steampunk: yeah I forgot to put it in my CV that I invented steampunk.

  165. Stella

    It’s “y’all.”

    You + all. Y’all.

    Thank you.

  166. Kathleen

    Nope. The conventional Southern punctuation of “ya’ll” is “ya’ll”. It is ungrammatical, yes. But the people what invented it are the ones who get to make the rules about how it is spelled — that’s how language works.

    (sorry — this is a total derail. but it’s amazing how in pretty much every context in which “ya’ll” is invoked as a condescending faux-folkism it is spelled, “grammatically”, as “y’all”; that’s how it struck me in the Feministe thread — as a classic, phoney-chummy “now shut up”).

  167. AlienNumber

    Y’all, Natalie Dee invented steampunk. http://www.nataliedee.com/032309/steampunk.jpg

    Oh and Mildred, how nice of those male co-workers to stop the sexist crap once you plainly tell them. Gold+poop medals for all!

  168. Discombobulated

    “Nope. The conventional Southern punctuation of “ya’ll” is “ya’ll”. It is ungrammatical, yes. But the people what invented it are the ones who get to make the rules about how it is spelled — that’s how language works.”

    Since when is that how language works?

    Ya’ll doesn’t make any sense either phonetically or grammatically or in any way, shape, or form.

  169. Discombobulated

    Shoot, sorry for the almost-combative tone, Kathleen, I was so, well, discombobulated by your comment that I almost started an internet argument. I hate internet arguments.

    So I found this online while rummaging around for points on the ya’ll vs y’all debate:

    http://www.yall.com –Which is pretty neat! But also still a work in progress, it looks like.

    And then I found this: http://anotherhistoryblog.blogspot.com/2006/12/more-than-yall-wanted-to-now-about-yall.html

    And quoting:

    “Linguist Michael Montgomery claims that “y’all” goes back to the Scots-Irish phrase “ye aw,” and he offers as evidence a letter written in 1737 by an Irish immigrant in New York to a friend back home: “Now I beg of ye aw to come over here.” As I understand Montgomery’s hypothesis, “ye aw” was Americanized into “y’all,” which is indeed a contraction of “you all” but would not have come into being without the influence of the Scots-Irish phrase.”

    And then I mentally smacked/smote my own forehead, because I am Scots-Irish in descent or whatnot, but we (my family) don’t use the term “Scots-Irish,” we use the term

    SCOTCH-IRISH

    …Which really bugs a lot of people who incorrectly say “Scotch-Irish” is incorrect!

    So my hypocrisy has now chastened me.

    ****

    Really I think it’s y’all because no American, Southern or otherwise, has ever pronounced “you” as “YAW”, like “Yaw have to try this tasty pastry!”–

    While every American I have ever met pronounces “all” as “AWL”–

    And the pronunciation of “yall” is YAWL, which makes me conclude that the vowel being lopped off is the a in “ya” and not the a in “all.”

    Discourse embiggened? I sure hope so.

  170. Discombobulated

    Kathleen, I have a comment addressing my previous comment stuck in the horrendous purgatory of the Moderation Queue, so until it ever emerges, I’m sorry for any thems-fightin-words throwing-down-the-gauntlet shenanigans in my post up there concerning ya’ll and y’all.

  171. Maria

    Twisty, you should move Genji up to the top of your reading list. Truly. Thank you for all the blaming.

  172. minervaK

    Thank the Lard I dropped in to straighten y’all out on this y’all/ya’ll thing.

    I have heard geezers explain that the term comes from drawling “you all,” in the Lone Star mother tongue, which comes out sounding like “ya’ all.” The space between words was ERASED by the Yankeearchy, creating “ya’all,” which Texans then knuckled under to using.

    As a radical grammarian, I cannot countenance this. Why should other words continue to enjoy the privilege of grammatically correct spacing while that one space is lost to history? It is an offense against all spaces, everywhere, I tell you. NO SPACE IS FREE WHEN OTHER SPACES ARE OPPRESSED. Fight the power! Insist on “ya’ all” or nothing!

    Or, use the contraction “y’all,” which, while not completely true to the phrase’s origins, at least does not continue to OPPRESS THE SPACE.

  173. minervaK

    Actually, I just realized: “y’all” actually IS true to the phrase’s origins, being a contraction of “ya’ all.” So I’M EVEN RIGHTER.

  174. Jezebella

    I am Southern born and bred and live in the Dumbfuckiest part of Mississippi, and I tell you whut, ladies: it’s Y’ALL. Not ya’ll. Criminy.

  175. Laurie

    Arguing over the placement of an apostrophe.

    I LOVE this place!

  176. pheenobarbidoll

    Yup.

    Y’all. Though we reserve the right to spell it any which way we want. Especially if it’ll annoy the yankees.

  177. Kea

    Mildred, no, just no. I have worked in a wide range of male dominated professions, from theoretical physicist to labourer to mountain jobs. When I was 18, maybe I would have said what you just said, but then I was blind. Blind, I tell you, but now I see. And once you see, you simply cannot tolerate the status of subhuman from men who are far, far less capable than you are, because too much is at stake, and the system only perpetuates itself. Your sentiment is close to what Nails and the other Word Gurus would label Gender Traitor, which is to say it sounds like, “heh, I’m OK with the dudes, so there must be something wrong with you other ladies …”

  178. Kathleen

    Laurie — :)

    I might just have to take my sweet tea and go home. My roots are in genteel Atlanta, and the idiosyncratic punctuation of “ya’ll” is considered the secret handshake of true Southerners. As is fambly oddity, so perhaps they intersect in this case.

    (though minerva K — your evidence depends on which “a” gets dropped)

    stopping now.

  179. Kathleen

    Discombobulated — no worries.

    Faulkner’s on my side, though. ;)

  180. sjaustin

    Mildred, I’m glad things worked out for you, but telling dudes to shut the fuck up has a pretty low success rate, and I don’t think women’s fears are unfounded, as you seem to be implying they are. Your implication that telling the dudes to STFU is a generally successful strategy also implies that women who are sexually harassed just didn’t say no forcefully enough. I hope I don’t need to explain why that’s a problem.

  181. Hattie

    Well put, Twisty. All that male attention (or rather penis attention) can seem empowering, but it’s just a phase for all but the most foolish of women.

  182. Kali

    A woman who happens to be born with facial features and a body that resembles the fascistic ideal is going to have an easier time keeping body and soul together than a woman whose looks do not, especially when it comes to salary.

    That’s what the malestream media wants you to believe. I remember reading some feminist literature which showed that plain-looking women (the average lookers) fared best in terms of career success. Women on either end (beautiful or ugly) fared worse. Of course, this is only in terms of career success. In terms of sexual harassment, beautiful women get the worst treatment.

  183. sjaustin

    In terms of sexual harassment, beautiful women get the worst treatment.

    References?

  184. Kea

    Off topic, but this new BBC report on the UN discussion of a 7 billion population is one of the creepiest things I have read in a long time. The only mention of women is that they need better Family Planning education.

  185. Shopstewardess

    Mildred is right that there are “male” jobs which are easier than “female” jobs: they are also usually better paid. She is also right that it is not necessary, or is less necessary, for a woman to perform femininity in those “male” jobs. She is right that it is sometimes possible to get the most overtly offensive male conversations stopped (men are often reasonably willing to talk about sport instead of sex, if the situation requires it). She is right that this is a surface change only, and that the underlying discriminatory behaviour continues, but that it is nevertheless easier to live with this surface change than the alternative.

    Kea is right that it is hard to tolerate this situation. sjaustin is right that womens’ fears are well-founded and that women often are not in a position to get even limited, surface changes made. I am glad that Mildred did have that position.

    As my nom de post suggests, I have invested a considerable amount of effort and personal working capital in attempting to achieve improvements on behalf of myself and others in the workplace. Successes can be small and hard-won. Absent the revolution, I think that even small steps improving the lives of individual women should be celebrated, and that we should work to put ourselves and others in a position to make those steps.

  186. Milly

    I don’t think beautiful women necessarily have it any easier, but I do think that femininity compliant women do and it may be that beautiful women, or even simply plain women, find it easier to perform femininity than “ugly” women do but that’s not always the case. All these hierarchies are bullshit of course but I do wonder if some of the funfems’ reluctance to give up femininity is because they’re bloody good at it and a part of me can’t help admiring that, that shit’s some hard work.

    Being beautiful is not gonna save you and the punishment metered out for beautiful women is just different. It might even seem worse as they’re the ones in the spotlight. After all, everyone’s watching to see them fall.

  187. phio gistic

    Feminine, non-feminine, beautiful, average, ugly, we all get treated like crap. Why quibble about who’s got the biggest piece of shit-pie when we’ve all got shit on our plates.

  188. sjaustin

    Feminine, non-feminine, beautiful, average, ugly, we all get treated like crap. Why quibble about who’s got the biggest piece of shit-pie when we’ve all got shit on our plates.

    Agreed. I’ve been pretty, I’ve been ugly, I’ve been average. I do get treated somewhat differently depending on my level of patriarchy-approved attractiveness, but it’s always just a slightly different flavor of shit.

  189. laxsoppa

    Kea said:

    Off topic, but this new BBC report on the UN discussion of a 7 billion population is one of the creepiest things I have read in a long time. The only mention of women is that they need better Family Planning education.

    Of course, men do not need that kind of education.

  190. random_anomaly

    AlienNumber: They did refer to Chaz Bono as female in the article, which is why I found it offensive.

  191. speedbudget

    Not to stir a hornet’s nest, but as a person whose job depends on getting the grammar right, “ya’ll” can’t be correct because you would never put an apostrophe in the middle of a word, and putting the apostrophe there is right smack in the middle of “all.”

  192. Stella

    I just feel the need to confirm here that I am in fact a 6th generation Texan. Before that, my ancestors lived in Robertson County, Tennessee, and various parts of Alabama; and, before that, in North Carolina and Virginia. I am from East Texas. I am definitely a Southerner, and it’s definitely spelled “y’all.” Sorry.

  193. 1ceuponathyme

    In terms of sexual harassment, beautiful women get the worst treatment.

    Isn’t this kinda like saying that ‘pretty’ women get raped more often than ‘other’ women? This idea suggests that rape or sexual harassment are about sexual urges, and they aren’t. Rape and sexual harassment are about power and control, and all women are subject to that.

  194. Jill

    Quoth Stella:

    “I just feel the need to confirm here that I am in fact a 6th generation Texan. Before that, my ancestors lived in Robertson County, Tennessee, and various parts of Alabama; and, before that, in North Carolina and Virginia. I am from East Texas. I am definitely a Southerner and it’s definitely spelled ‘y’all’. Sorry.”

    Nice try, but I quibble with the attempt to confer authority upon yourself in this argument by quoting your pedigree. Spelling proficiency, like so many other things (femininity, for example), is not an inherited trait.

    Which is not to say that you are wrong in toto. I was born (through no fault of my own) to a pair of Yankees in the North, yet I can attest that it is indeed spelled either “y’all” or “ya’ all” or avoided altogether with the “you all” (pronounced “yew-all”) the the genteel older ladies sometimes use.

  195. Keri

    We could also take the fun-femme thing so over the top that dude nation has to wonder, “Is that a Drag Queen?”

    I’m all for shit that gets them to leave us alone and maybe if they wonder if we have junk under the dress, they will.

  196. Jill

    If you’re pretty and people don’t take you seriously because of it, poor you. Guess what. If you’re not pretty people don’t take you seriously, either. I think we can agree that, regardless of whether their looks seemingly convey hotness or notness, the dominant culture hates all women.

  197. lizor

    @ Someone Else. Yes, that.Thanks.

    @ MinervaK “I don’t look at the site in question, but this comment made me realize that the main issue I have with “sex-positive” crap is exactly this: it isn’t about actual sexuality it’s about performance. ”
    YES! Exactly! It’s heart breaking that we are so removed from our own (OWN – adjective and VERB!) sensation and pleasure that so many of us are caught in this insane soul-eroding double projection shit.

    I’m with hayduke on defining “ugly” and “beautiful” and my idea of the descriptives is very far from the P or even the presumed meaning of “beautiful” used in by some posters in this thread. That’s why I put it in quotes: the ideal to my eyes/mind/heart has nothing to do with beauty.

    And AN: I remembered you insisting to Pheenobarbiedoll that white privilege does not exist a few weeks back, so no wonder you are projecting all sorts of heinous shit onto my post. The idea that I embrace evo-psyche is unworthy of a response.

    Speedbuget, yes, I am talking economics. Having money means you have a better chance at eating and staying warm. Not having money means you don’t. In the Capitalist P, the pretty people get more money. No theory, just fact. I did not say that women who naturally look like the dictates have it easy, but they probably have it easier than those of us with the “wrong” bodies and faces who are invisible and erased by media/patriarchy. The P turns us all into meat and we all suffer thusly but not in the same way.

    Thanks for this fantastic post and all of the thoughtful comments in this thread.
    Over and out.

  198. Kali

    Feminine, non-feminine, beautiful, average, ugly, we all get treated like crap. Why quibble about who’s got the biggest piece of shit-pie when we’ve all got shit on our plates.

    Agreed. The patriarchy benefits from the belief that beautiful women have it easier because that belief encourages women to become invested in making themselves more beautiful rather than focusing on achievements in life that are not related to appearance.

    Isn’t this kinda like saying that ‘pretty’ women get raped more often than ‘other’ women? This idea suggests that rape or sexual harassment are about sexual urges, and they aren’t. Rape and sexual harassment are about power and control, and all women are subject to that.

    I suffered the worst and most sexual harrassment when I was younger and prettier. As I age, the sexual harrassment has reduced to negligible. Also, rape victimization is strongly correlated with age. Yes, 70 year old women do get raped but with much less likelihood than 20 year old women. Yes, rape is about power and control but it is also about the sexual objectification that often accompanies sexual urges. It’s not an either/or situation.

  199. yttik

    Y’all, there ain’t no proper way to write bad gramma, but if you wanna see something funny, watch us Northwesters try to communicate with Southerners. Up here, we don’t mess around with contractions or even bother with syllables at all, requires too much energy. The word is “Yall,” as in, “yall, djeet?” Our children have to be taught over and over again that there are no words like dunno, wanna, coulda, wenna.

  200. Kali

    I don’t think beautiful women necessarily have it any easier, but I do think that femininity compliant women do.

    I think you’re confusing male sexual approval with having it easier. We can invest in developing qualities and skills that are not related to appearance and then we can make our lives easier without seeking male sexual approval. In any case, male sexual approval ends up being more of a liability than any advantage in the big picture scheme of things.

  201. Fannie Farmer (Mrs.)

    On the topic of “when a woman ages out of pornosity” – Doris Lessing’s novel The Summer Before the Dark is in some ways eye-opening.

  202. Keri

    I thought about this a little more while I was readying myself to go to my place of toil. When not working, I take pride in looking shitty. Backpacking has taught me that I really don’t even need to shower that much. I usually go around wearing whatever sport o the day clothing I feel like. What I have found is that no matter what, we are constantly being looked up and down and assessed. Constantly.

    I am about to turn 45. I want them to leave me alone. I broke up with the last one 3 years and he has been stalking me ever since. It’s no fun being an obsession to one of them and waking up thinking, “Great, I have an 80% chance of being assaulted by that a-hole today”.

    My biggest fear is that they will still be bothering us in the nursing home trying to sneak in and diddle our stuff. I agree, it’s one big plate of shit for us all.

  203. Milly

    You’re right of course! I was so sure I had a point this morning, but know that I think about it, the women who do get the hair, make-up, clothing thing right are then shot down with, “you women are so trivial, so vain all you care about is clothes & makeup etc. etc” . As phio gistic said, “we’ve all got shit on our plates”.

    And not that it matters but I wasn’t actually thinking about male sexual approval, but about general social approval. My thinking’s not really clear on this, so bear with me but I do think that fuckability scales and femininity compliance do not always correlate, but they sometimes overlap. Maybe a venn diagram would help? This comes out of my own experience of rating high for fuckability as a teen and thus being popular with males but being clueless about the proper performance of femininity, clothes, makeup etc so I guess I wasn’t able to capitalize?? on my ” good fortune” in broader terms. Fell into the slut hole. Anyway, all that distracting attention got me flunked out of school with depression and an eating disorder. Yay patriarchy.

  204. Milly

    Whoops! That should be “now” that I think about it. And IBTP

  205. AlienNumber

    We could also take the fun-femme thing so over the top that dude nation has to wonder, “Is that a Drag Queen?”

    I’m all for shit that gets them to leave us alone and maybe if they wonder if we have junk under the dress, they will.

    HA! Brilliant. Slightly impractical, but brilliant.

    lizor, nice misrepresentation of the argument a few weeks ago. Also, nice logical sequence there. Really though, your argument was not only lacking finesse, it was also wrong; and it stinks of evo-psyche so bad, I’m starting to feel nauseated. Stop hating on/being envious of/spreading negative propaganda about (pretty) women! kthx.

    Woman-hatred is woman-hatred is self-hatred and it smells like shit.

    [random_anamaly, and it is inaccurate to refer to Chaz Bono as female because?]

  206. 1ceuponathyme

    Yes, 70 year old women do get raped but with much less likelihood than 20 year old women. Yes, rape is about power and control but it is also about the sexual objectification that often accompanies sexual urges. It’s not an either/or situation.

    Rape victimization is strongly correlated with age, but that isn’t because younger women are more ‘attractive’ (whatever that means anyway). That just sounds a little too close to suggesting that women who dress or appear a certain way are more vulnerable to sexual assault. Young women are at risk of sexual assault because, for various reasons, they are vulnerable and that vulnerability has nothing to do with their perceived physical attractiveness. Populations who aren’t considered conventionally attractive (and I’m defining conventionally attractive as white, able-bodied, thin, etc.) such as people with disabilities and women of color are raped at far higher rates than the general population. How do you explain that?

    How do you explain the fact that most male victims are sexually assaulted by other men and that most men who rape other men identify as heterosexual? How is a heterosexual, male rapist targeting ‘hot’ men? He isn’t. He’s targeting a man in whom he perceives some vulnerability which he can use to exert dominance and harm.

    Suggesting that rape is about sexual urges and sexual attraction also removes responsibility from the rapist–he can claim that he couldn’t help himself, that the woman was just too attractive, that he couldn’t resist his ‘biological urges’, instead of admitting what we do know which is that rapists look for a vulnerability and exploit that in order to have power and control over someone.

    I’m sorry to hear about your experiences with sexual harassment, but a personal anecdotal story isn’t going to convince me that sexual harassment (or rape) correlates with one’s physical attractiveness. But, then again, I also don’t believe that people get less attractive as they age:)

  207. ecorad

    According to a multi-million dollar make-up company: “Pretty is what you are. Beauty is what you do with it.” So apparently, any woman can be both pretty and beautiful, but true beauty means being a firefighter while still being P compliant (by wearing their particular brand of makeup). The point of this is not that women need to wear makeup so that they maintain their fuckability, because let’s face it, as “women” they exist as the objects of male sexual fulfillment. Rather, the point is that even as women enter traditionally male jobs, like firefighting, they still need to be reminded of their true status as fuck toilets.

    “Pretty is what you are. Beauty is what you do with it.”

    Translation renders this: “Fuckable is what you are. Femininity is what you do with it.”

  208. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    There is no working woman (ha! redundancy!) alive who has not suffered sexual harassment. Yes, I got harassed more when I was younger, but I don’t know if that’s because I was a) “prettier”, or b) because I am not so afraid to say “Get your cotton-pickin’ hand off my leg” as when I was a sweet young thang.

  209. hayduke

    AlienNumber: I’m no celebrity expert, so this is a very short explanation (and if I simplify to the point of mis-statement, someone please correct me). random_anomoly may have a better answer.

    Chaz Bono was born with a biologically “female” body. However, Bono identified as “male,” and has now transitioned to such (here, my lack of specific information: I couldn’t tell you a damned thing regarding the specific surgery/hormones). Thus, Bono should be referred to as “he;” to refer to him as “she” is a snarky little dig at the legitimacy of his gender identity.

    Yes, yes, perhaps in some far-off Utopia no one will give a damn about gender. That’s another discussion. At present, though, it is a major societal concept, and Bono gets to navigate it as best he can.

  210. Fictional Queen

    If it had anything to do with attractiveness women in Saudi Arabia would never get raped,right? How can you tell who’s attractive and who’s not when they’re covered head to toe?

  211. AlienNumber

    Populations who aren’t considered conventionally attractive (and I’m defining conventionally attractive as white, able-bodied, thin, etc.) such as people with disabilities and women of color are raped at far higher rates than the general population. How do you explain that?

    Sources for this (pile of racist crap)?
    Data actually shows that women of color and white women are raped at proportional rates by men of their respective races (that much for the myth of the Black rapist, raping white OR Black women). Studies (see Diane Rosenfeld) on domestic violence show the same proportional patterns (i.e. it may seem that poor women are battered more, but actually women in all socio-economic strata are battered at similar rates). Which leads me – and other Actual experts on DV and rape (DV is usually accompanied by rape btw) – to conclude that more than a “power” problem, the one constant in rape is that MEN RAPE WOMEN.
    What Kali said about age is true though – younger women are more vulnerable to being raped (hello, college campuses!).

    I have more fun facts, but time to shut the ole pie hole (for a bit). In the meantime, you can take your pomo, non-radical-feminist “rape is only about power” crap somewhere else. As long as 95%+ of rapists are men and 89%+ of the raped are women, rape is a SEX INEQUALITY problem.

  212. 1ceuponathyme

    Roughly 1 in 6 American women face attempted or completed sexual assault. RAINN does a fairly good job of breaking down victim statistics, which show that women of color face a higher threat of sexual violence. http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims

    These numbers are significantly higher for Native American women, 1 in 3 of whom will face sexual assault, and most of these will be by non-native men. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/10/26/native-american-women-expose-brutal-life-of-prostitution.html

    I didn’t say shit about black men raping white women. Of course, that’s a crock of shit and another pernicious rape myth.

    My speculation is that women of color face a higher risk of sexual assault because of economic and racial inequality and a lack of power. I fail to see how recognizing structural inequalities and how they can foster violence is racist.

    Of course, rape is a sexual inequality problem. My point was that it isn’t about sexual attractiveness. WTF?

    And you aren’t the only person in the sexual violence field. I don’t get the defensiveness, seriously.

  213. Kali

    Suggesting that rape is about sexual urges and sexual attraction also removes responsibility from the rapist–he can claim that he couldn’t help himself, that the woman was just too attractive, that he couldn’t resist his ‘biological urges’, instead of admitting what we do know which is that rapists look for a vulnerability and exploit that in order to have power and control over someone.

    Like I said, it’s not an either/or situation. Nor does acknowledging that rape often has a component of sexual urges mean that the rapist is not responsible for controlling his urges, or that the object of the urge is responsible for controlling the rapist’s urges. Pedophiles sexually prey on children because they are sexually attracted to children. This doesn’t mean that the child’s vulnerability is not a factor at all, or that the pedophile is not responsible for his predation, or that the child is responsible for the pedophile’s predation. I don’t understand why having sexual urges as a component of motivation behind rape makes it any less a crime, any less the responsibility of the rapist, any more the responsibility of the victim, or any less heinous.

    Men rape men, men rape the elderly, men rape children, men rape animals. Vulnerability is a big factor in how and why men choose their victims. But that’s not the only factor.

  214. 1ceuponathyme

    That second link is the wrong one. I meant to post this one: http://www.now.org/nnt/spring-2001/nativeamerican.html

  215. eb

    “I never really understood women before, to be honest, but I had a tolerance for women that I don’t have now. No, really. I’ve noticed that Jen [Chaz’s longtime partner] can talk endlessly. I just kind of zone out. … I just don’t care!” ~ Chaz Bono

    My only objection to Chaz Bono is he’s a fucking arrogant, bad dancer, whiner asshole who wants the world to respect his transition to ‘he’ while he trashes half the human race. Chaz Bono is a colossal prick.

    “I never really understood trans-men before, to be honest, but I had a tolerance for trans-men that I don’t have now. No, really. I’ve noticed that Chaz Bono can talk endlessly about HIS transition and HIS life and HIS cutting off his boobs and HIS entire existence. I just kind of zone out. … I just don’t care!” ~ e to the b

  216. Kali

    Here is some data from the US criminal victimization survey (Rate per 1,000 persons in each age group; rape/sexual assault, female):

    12-15 1.6
    16-19 4.5
    20-24 3.7
    25-34 1.3
    35-49 1.1
    50-64 0.2
    65 or older 0.4

    We would not expect this pattern if vulnerability and the exploitation of that in order to have power and control over someone was the only factor behind rape.

  217. pheeno

    “I was born (through no fault of my own) to a pair of Yankees in the North”

    My world view has just been upended! Though you were brought here, so at some point they had the sense to skeedaddle out of Yankee land.

  218. Kali

    And not that it matters but I wasn’t actually thinking about male sexual approval, but about general social approval.

    Women wouldn’t care what other women looked like (beyond hygiene and neatness) if men didn’t care. The only reason women care is because (a) they are competing with other women for male sexual approval, or (b) they want to “help” other women get male sexual approval.

    In any case, as you and I agree, male sexual approval is a crappy deal with vastly more negatives than positives.

  219. Milly

    Agree with you there too Kali, just my poor wording. Should have added, “general, patriarchal, social approval” And femininity is approved because it wastes our time, sucks the marrow from our bones and feeds the capitalist (manmade) machine. Also a handy way for patriarchs to keep changing the game and guarantee women’s failure. This summer’s virgin is next spring’s whore is next week’s prude and tomorrow’s crone/witch.

  220. Anya

    Brilliant post. I am making all of my FunFeminist 20-something friends read this. Jill, you’re awesome.

  221. Insurgence

    Backpacking has taught me that I really don’t even need to shower that much.

    I’m glad this was mentioned. Most of hygiene as we know it is just a holdover from Judeo-Christian body guilt. Many will deny this and insist that we must shower, but really. Are you going to get sick if you go a few weeks without bathing? Consider the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness”.

    Out with performing femininity and out with hygiene, I say!

  222. Treefinger

    “In terms of sexual harassment, beautiful women get the worst treatment.”

    This runs directly counter to my personal experience, for what it’s worth. When I was a fat teenager who never wore skirts or makeup, I got the worst harassment, in the street and at school. When I lost weight and became more P-compliant, suddenly the world was silent. When I went outside in this form without any makeup, a few jeers returned, but nothing on the scale of before.

    At least the way I’ve experienced it, the level of harassment is inversely proportional to how much time you put into assuring the world you’re harmless.

  223. Kea

    Actually, I think the discovery of germs in the late 19th century, combined with 20th century white middle class imperialism, is the main reason we are so obsessed with hygiene. Sure, we have that Judeo-Christian baggage, but that didn’t stop people being smelly pre the germ era.

  224. Kea

    And while one can go for weeks in the mountains without a shower, one’s chance of catching a nasty bug are far, far greater in urban areas.

  225. Keri

    I really enjoy fostering a nice backpacking under arm funk…my own special feminine brand.

  226. Milly

    Don’t know if any of you were following the recent discussion in Australia about having women in combat roles in the military, but one of the arguments against that I encountered ( on progressive blogs) was that women smell more, so the enemy will be more likely to detect us. WTF? I know our lady bits are supposed to be funky but I had no idea that we supposedly smell so much more overall than some big sweaty bloke. I thought the stereotype ran the other way. I’d expect the argument that women are too sensitive to put up with camping out with smelly blokes etc. But the bald misogyny of the argument of “women stink” was shocking. And no one challenged it. Scary stuff. Men hate us.

  227. yttik

    You are making me laugh. Out with hygiene? Wait, what? No!

    Bathing is not a Judeo-Christian tradition invented by the Western world. In fact, just the opposite. Until recently it was the “civilized” westerners who you could smell coming from a mile a way. It was the “barbarians” who actually celebrated cleanliness. The alleged “uncivilized” invested a great deal of time into sweat lodges, saunas, hot springs, purification in all it’s various forms. Judeo-Christian tradition didn’t like bathing much, it required nakedness.

    But I completely agree, women should free themselves of this idea that they are somehow dirty. If you enjoy back packing without a shower, go for it.

  228. pheeno

    *high fives yttik*

  229. TotallyDorkin

    The Jewish tradition originally had a large amount of ritual purification in the form of full body immersion in water (mikvah) and ritual washing of hands before meals (netilat yada’im). So actually, there’s a lot of hygiene in the judeo tradition. I don’t know about the christian part.

  230. Jaffa

    Enough with the “Judeo-Christian” – the “Judeo” part anyway has always been huge into bathing. It’s been suggested that one of the reasons that suspicions fell on Jews during plague times is because Jews died at lower rates during plagues, the reason being the religious requirement to wash your hands when you wake up, before eating, after the bathroom, etc, not to mention various ritual baths, all of which were weird foreign customs to the local Christians.

  231. Debbie Notkin

    If you’re interested (which you may not be, of course), I continued the conversation here.

  232. Fannie Farmer (Mrs.)

    Speaking of the struggle for empowerfulization through occupy [whatever], as FCM was supra, a number of people are remarking that Rachel Maddow was the first to tell them of the Bonus Army of 1932. This ignorance is not accidental – the history taught in school intentionally omits events of this nature – they contradict two big lies taught by schooling, and mass media – that the U.S. government always acts for benevolent purposes in the world, and that in America there are no classes, no class interests, no class struggle. The patriarchy depends on ignorance of history and class, as well as suppression of gender issues.

  233. speedbudget

    Milly, that makes me laugh. During my 28 days in the wilderness, we all built up quite a funk. But since we all did, we couldn’t smell our smell. If someone can “smell you coming” it’s cause they’ve stupidly been washing with soap the whole time they are out camping, and they are probably too busy dealing with all the bug bites. See, once you get up a good funk, the bugs leave you the heck alone. You’re no longer interesting.

    I remember one day hiking closer to civilization during this trip and all of us commenting on what that wonderful, glorious smell was. What flower could be putting out that much odor? It was heavenly. Then two dogs came running down the trail. The smell was their shampoo.

  234. Cherie

    “A woman who happens to be born with facial features and a body that resembles the fascistic ideal is going to have an easier time keeping body and soul together than a woman whose looks do not, especially when it comes to salary. It doesn’t take a fucking rocket surgeon or someone writing a dissertation on intersectionality to see the fact of that.”

    Lizor- I agree with you up to a point. Yes, indeed white men will usually choose the “pretty” woman to work for them. But said woman will then be harassed for her looks, mercilessly, while she is at work.

    I am considered “pretty” now (by patriarchal standards, of course).

    When I was younger, I was considered the “ugly duckling”…and I was ignored by men. This was fine by me.

    Now I have apparently “blossomed” – I am constantly stalked and harassed by exes, if I choose to leave them.

    BEAUTY TO MEN = OWNERSHIP.

    I am in a situation at the moment where an ex. is allowing his friends to openly harass and humiliate me because I walked away from him.

    I am not saying either, that “pretty” women have it harder!!

    I am just saying that “plain” or “pretty” in a patriarchy both have issues of control and ownership.

  235. cin17

    @ lizor,

    It’s a myth that women need to resemble a certain celebrity stereotype in order to get male attention. I look nothing like Pamela Anderson and have received unwanted male attention since I was 11-years old. The first time a stranger offered me money to pose nude, I was 13. I didn’t even start to wear make-up until I was in my twenties, and the bulk of my femininity performance has been to gain acceptance among women because they have always seemed to take an instant dislike to me. That’s the hands-down best perk of growing older: Women don’t seem to hate me as much now.

    The reason for this myth (and the resultant trappings of femininity performance), and why the P perpetuates it, is to repress female sexuality, not liberate it. Women are innately attractive. And for that they will be punished.

  236. buttercup

    Mang, y’all have a right to do whatever you want but I can’t stand to stink or to be around people who stink. A little pit funk is one thing but going a month without bathing or showering? No thanks.

  237. speedbudget

    buttercup, a month in the woods means you don’t want to bathe with all those soaps and perfumes. We did bathe. We just used the sand on the river bottoms as an exfoliator/cleanser. We kept a small bit of Ivory soap for poison ivy, but otherwise we didn’t use it. If you did use soap, you would literally get eaten alive by the bugs at night. As soon as the perfumes wore off of us, we didn’t have to use nearly as much bug spray. The people who did use deodorant or sneak a quick rubdown with soap would inevitably show up at breakfast the next morning with a face chock full of bug bites complaining of no sleep.

    That’s not to say I don’t enjoy bathing. I do immensely, but in that circumstance, I was better off without.

    I was just commenting to say that when everyone is not bathing, the excuse that “women will stink more” is just asinine. Everyone will and should stink equally. That way you don’t smell it. Honestly. We didn’t notice our stink. It was when we came across others and their reactions that we realized we were kind of smelly.

  238. xtimu

    This jumped out at me today “Each one who cedes to this pressure and wears [a culturally mandated artifact] increases the pressure on others. In other words, they are victim-coperpetrators — a central concept for understanding other forms of injustice…

    I don’t condemn victim-coperpetrators, since they are primarily victims and only secondarily perpetrators.”

    A dude wrote it about ties, but to me it seems to relate to the whole patriarchy compliant/not discussion that pops up here occasionally.

    Quote from here: http://stallman.org/rms-lifestyle.html

  239. Zoe

    I have noticed that most feminists take issue with evolutionary psychology. It basically states that their offensive tendencies/behaviors are intrinisic to them, due to evolution rather than cultural conditioning. I agree with evolutionary psych, and do not take it as giving men a pass for their poor behavior (although that may be how some authors feel). Rather, to me it means that they are unacceptable and must be eliminated via selective abortion, or we should live apart from them, until (and if) such time arrives that we can genetically fix them. I am not joking here. Does no other feminist agree with me? BTW, baboons rape on a regular basis. Don’t tell me that is “about power, not sex.” In the minds of many men, the two are interlinked. They simply must be eliminated/quarantined unless they can be repaired.

  240. Lidon

    Women are innately attractive. And for that they will be punished.

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. Isn’t attraction subjective? This statement also implies that men are not innately attractive, which I’m sure many could disagree with.

  241. Lidon

    Oh, and I don’t know what you look like, but you can still be considered by lots of people to be conventionally attractive without looking like Pam Anderson.

  242. yttik

    Some of the pro-sex, fun fems are really just trying to assert some control over a rape culture they really have no control over. Convincing yourself that this is your choice is a way of coping.

    Also, women who conform are not necessarily seeking dude approval. Sometimes they’re trying to distance themselves, trying and project this idea that they are out of most dude’s league. Big hair, long nails, high heels, can also be interpreted as a message to back off. Don’t touch my hair, don’t smear my make up, don’t come too close, it took me hours to look this way.

    I reject these ideas about victim-coperpetrators. Whether a woman is hiding behind a ton of make up or wearing 3 baggy coats or telling herself BDSM is fun and edgy, she’s engaging in self defense. These are behaviors and responses we put ourselves through in an attempt to assert some control, to defend ourselves against the rape culture.

  243. Shopstewardess

    As someone who has spent some time in a cold climate with inadequate access to heating and hot water, I suspect that cultural norms regarding body odour arise largely out of matters of practicality. It is hard work keeping to hoity-toity consumerist-perfumed standards in those circumstances. For some people, it is impossible.

    I give no credit at all to any theocratic tradition which regards women as ritually unclean on the basis of their bodily functions.

  244. Laurie

    Can’t we get back to the REAL issue around here, people? A presidential candidate just weighed in on the Great Yall War of ’12!

    From this morning’s Huffington Post: “I am in Alabama because Alabama matters,” Cain said at the state’s party headquarters. “Ya’ll are my neighbors.”

  245. Laurie

    Well, it’s still 2011, I know, but I anticipate this burning issue to remain on the headlines for some time to come.

  246. ElizaN

    On comparing the 80′s to now- can anyone imagine “Sisters are Doing it For Themselves” getting to #9 on UK charts at #18 in the US today? I certainly can’t.

  247. buttercup

    Speedbudget, I can see that, you’re washing and you’re clean, you’re just not using soap.

  248. hayduke

    Well, that’s settled: if Herman Cain says it’s “ya’ll,” then I say it’s “y’all.”

  249. Saurs

    ElizaN, it’d probably be the subject of a bunch of tersely-worded editorials by professional MRAs, lamenting popular misandry and the obsolescence of men (‘cos a teensy bit of financial independence in a zero-sum world means dudes are being victimized, again). “When will men get their liberation, *wank wank wank*?!!1″ Or some clever dick will try to explain, using science as an apology, that because women are biologically wired to be cold, avaricious gold-diggers, in this brave new world of massive middle-class white person unemployment and subsequent affronted sadnesses, dudes’ natural social conscience and lack of ambition prevents them from competing on an even playing-field with women who now represent the greediest, most money-hungry, most capitalist demographic (the occupy movement as a means of establishing dudes’ political creds, wherein they argue that being unemployed was a conscious, anti-establishment decision as opposed to something thrust upon them from on high). Hence the need for more white dude affirmative action and more caps on women’s freedom, eg personhood bills to make sure sluts are kept barefoot and outta the depleted workforce. Actually, this isn’t so much a projected and fantastical future as it is a summary of the here and now.

  250. Saurs

    Actually, we’ve got our millennial “Sisters” song. It’s that one tune by Beyonce Knowles where she infers that women rule the world on accounta our whole vulva deal, therefore we don’t need any more liberation, thank you. We were always in charge. Cue the feminist-equivalent of spotting the statue of liberty in the sandy beach-y outskirts of some man-hating apocalyptic battleground, dude skulls littering the ground, falling on our knees to howl at an unresponsive moon, “we were liberated all along, sob sob,” handing over our battle-axes and getting back in the kitchen. Cue the fucking tampon commercial blaming women for attractively lit battles and skirmishes and human misery throughout history. Empowerful, embiggening stuff, what phony baloney bullshit passes as woman-friendly these days.

  251. Jezebella

    Saurs, that is about exactly the desired result of this personhood bullshit that is going down here in Mississippi. Keep ‘em pregnant and poor, and they won’t get uppity. Let’s also make sure there’s no sex ed or affordable contraception, so they start having babies in high school and the best they can hope for is a factory or retail job with no benefits.

    I don’t know what the polls are looking like, but the Personhood amendment just might pass here in Dumbfuckistan. It’ll go to court, it’ll probably get thrown out, but in the meantime any zealous right-wing fetus-worshiping DA will be able to victimize women who have miscarriages with intrusive “murder” investigations. I guaran-damn-tee you these women will most likely be poor and under-age, and they will lose their children and end up in a for-profit juvenile prison. Waiting for the courts to throw that shit out is not an option, y’all. Women’s lives are at stake here in Mississippi. The Personhood people are coming after us one state at a time. Gilead: it’s on the horizon and I for one am a little freaked out about it.

    PS: Did Herman Cain actually spell out “ya’ll” or did the HuffPo? I kinda doubt he gives a shit how it’s spelled.

  252. Laurie

    Jezebella, It’s not just miscarriages: “personhood” legislation is so vague that it could be interpreted to include a ban on birth control pills. That’s no mistake, either, as these fundies are determined to get rid of BC as well as abortion.

    And no, Cain’s “y’all” (or “ya’all) was a verbal statement, so it was HuffPo’s transcription. I just laughed immoderately when I saw it, so I posted it.

  253. Scrappy

    We’ve had various attempts to institute a personhood amendment here in CO, too — it’s gone down in flame every time. But I keep thinking that if it passes, there’s going to be some stuff for lawyers to sink our teeth into. As in, women can sue unwelcome zygotes for trespass, assault, negligent infliction of emotional distress, etc. etc.

    The notion of a zygote/fetus as a person throw the whole issue into relief: there is NOWHERE in the law where anyone has an obligation to another person of the type that anti-abortion folks would like women to have to the zygotes in their uteri. When we think about zygotes as people instead of as baybeez, then we are bound to think about women as people instead of as wombs. So part of me thinks, bring it. Then we’ll see what’s what.

  254. random_anomaly

    hayduke summed up very well why it is inaccurate to refer to a transperson as their original biological sex.

    I’m not disagreeing that Chaz Bono has made some sexist comments. It seems as though he is trying to prove that he is male by disrespecting women.
    Now I’m dropping this topic (unless anyone else jumps in), because it is not particularly relevent to the rest of the thread.

  255. j

    random_anomaly, if you do not believe in “gender” (which radical feminists wants to do away with) then it’s accurate to refer someone as their biological sex. It will appear impolite, but it’s not inaccurate.

  256. Cootie Twoshoes

    random_anomaly, if you do not believe in “gender” (which radical feminists wants to do away with) then it’s accurate to refer someone as their biological sex. It will appear impolite, but it’s not inaccurate.

    Like hayduke already said, gender is a major societal concern at this point in history, no matter how radfems envision an ideal future. So, to refer to someone by the sex they were born as, versus their gender identification is more than impolite. It’s heteronormative and reinforces social compartmentalization.

  257. Tigs

    Come on now folks. This again? Twisty’s positions are clear. Read and remember the FAQ and don’t be a douche.

  258. cin17

    Lidon, the P is a misogynist, heteronormative state in which men are defenseless against (hence, not responsible for) the lustful desire that women induce, i.e., women are inherently attractive. And, for that, they will be punished.

    FWIW, I am not even remotely “conventionally attractive.” I’m pretty much the opposite of it. Most people seem to describe my unconventional, ethnically ambiguous looks as “exotic.” And, no, I don’t have large breasts either. And I’m not tall and thin. (More on the short and scrawny side.) But, and it’s a very important but, I do have a vagina.

  259. Bushfire

    random_anomaly, if you do not believe in “gender” (which radical feminists wants to do away with) then it’s accurate to refer someone as their biological sex. It will appear impolite, but it’s not inaccurate.

    J, what you propose here is transphobic, and Twisty does not welcome transphobia here. Please put a cork in it.

  260. Keri

    This discussion reminded me of an incident I had in the bathroom at a Reel Big Fish concert. I walked in to find two gals with their shirts up comparing their new ginormous implants. I think I uttered an involuntary “Wow”.

    One of the implanted said I should get some because they are wonderful. I told her I am just gonna roll the way I am thanks. She told me that after a course on female jurisprudence she decided, “Why should I deny myself tits?”

    As a young feminist she was not only not going to let her sexiness be taken away, she was gonna full on barbie-fy that shit. Isn’t freedom just wonderful?

  261. Fictional Queen

    @Saurs: I disagree a tiny bit.Although Beyonce does use the “we’re so attractive” as women’s power,and it’s very ironic to hear “we run this world” and see a bunch of women in porny clothes,she doesn’t say we should get back to the kitchen and not fight anymore! Quite the opposite,she seems to be challenging men to battle! There’s a little bit of redeeming quality to it.
    Anyway,this popular idea that women have power because men are attracted to us is grossly ironic when all men’s attraction gets us is more,more,more limitations!People tell feminists we’re not connected with reality but people believe such paradoxical things like that.

  262. AlienNumber

    So, to refer to someone by the sex they were born as, versus their gender identification is more than impolite. It’s heteronormative and reinforces social compartmentalization.

    (this above is the) WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, the 2011 edition.

    In other words, I guess we’ll just have to continue to disagree.

    p.s. but telling women to “put a cork in it,” _is_ kind of heteronormative, don’t you think.

  263. TwissB

    Speaking of performance, Chaz Bono’s “I never really understood women before, to be honest, but I had a tolerance for women that I don’t have now” remark is wonderfully consistent with remarks made over the years by people who have spoken publicly about the magical effects of their choice to present themselves as the sex that they are not. The changes in themselves that they report invariably reveal a desire to conform to a stereotypical version of the sex with which they newly claim affiliation.

  264. Saurs

    If you want a vision of the future, AlienNumber, imagine a group of very patient people on the interweb calmly asking you to stop saying purposely bigoted things… forever. Orwell sure became a bit of a counter-reactionary prick, didn’t he?

    Anyway, you’re right, Fictional Queen. Knowles isn’t advocating that women don aprons and wield vacuum cleaners in the name of social justice, but I just don’t care for her implication that women, as a whole, possess literal or figurative power over the way the world operates. The world exists in its current state precisely because women, amongst other classes, are deliberately oppressed. No amount of “girl power” lyrics removes oppression, and I reckon such fiction actually serves, even if unintentionally, to disguise that oppression as neutral “differences” between, say, men and women, or, shudder, the net result of women’s “choices.” Totally agree with you about women’s sexual “power.” It is to barf.

  265. Jezebella

    Yes, Laurie, thank you for that explanation. I’ve been phone banking for three weeks now and definitely needed someone to tell me all about the consequences of personhood for fertilized eggs.

    Sigh.

    Seriously, I’m in Mississippi and I’m all over the interwebs advocating against this Personhood crap, and you think I *DON’T* know what the ramifications of it are? Yes, it is no accident that these things will be criminalized under “Personhood”: hormonal birth control, IUDs, emergency contraception, all abortions without exceptions, IVF fertility treatments, and probably drinking, smoking, and eating sushi if one is of child-bearing age. (Okay, it might take them a while to get around to that one).

  266. Linda

    Radfem Hub has excellent analysis and commentary on current radical feminist issues. Not only that but the site fosters a real community with a focus on solutions and activism. Regardless of your position on trans it is a valuable resource for radical feminists.

  267. Saurs

    Positive vibes and fingers crossed and all other sort of useless, frustrated, but genuinely well-meaning support sent to you through the shiny interweb waves, Jezebella. Thank you for fighting.

  268. speedbudget

    Jezebella, I totally support your undertaking. I just became a yearly donor to the Center for Reproductive Rights, due partly to you :)

  269. Tigs

    @Jez – Y’all have sushi in Dumbf#ckistan?

  270. AlienNumber

    yes, Saurs, indeed I showed A Great Level of Bigotry when pointing out that acting like a dick still won’t make one grow one (a dick that is).

    But putting lotsa make-up on will make one look like a Drag Queen. Which reminds me: Happy Halloween!

  271. hayduke

    random_anomoly succintly stated “It seems as though he is trying to prove that he is male by disrespecting women.”

    This seems the pertinent observation to me. And I have a suggestion as to where the blame lies! Pointing this out, and calling Bono a lousy jerk on these grounds, is not bigoted; deliberately refusing to acknowlege the gender identity of trans people is. If it were impossible to critique the P without calling this identity into question, perhaps we might have a genuine issue here.

    This not being the case, refusing to accord trans people this basic courtesy – again, for no practical purpose, even! – damned well is A Great Level of Bigotry. The Cause will not be crippled by pronouns.

  272. Laurie

    Jezebella, I mentioned the fact that “personhood” also extends birth control not to annoy you personally, but because there are other readers here who might not have known.

    Thanks for your good work. I hope this evil amendment bites the dust.

  273. Laurie

    That is, “extends TO birth control.” Sheesh.

  274. Jezebella

    Thanks, Laurie, it just hit me the wrong way. I’m a little irritable on the topic right now, as you might imagine.

    YES, Tigs, we have sushi in Dumbfuckistan. We even have sushi in the wee town of Buttcrack, believe it or not. You know what’s awesome? Walking into the sushi joint to find a table full of construction workers chowing down on raw fish – with chopsticks – seriously, it’s almost like it’s the 20th century here.

    Speedbudget, thanks.

  275. AlienNumber

    What the Cause is crippled by is not by pronouns and a few white lies here and there, but by people believing and insisting that gender exists. Sex exists: Gender doesn’t exist. Sex is the reality: Gender is the delusion.

    It’s really quite simple.

    But one does understand that, in the words of Twisty: [gender expression] “is not a “choice” when the alternative is derision, ridicule, workplace sanctions, or ostracization.”
    However, one also understands that [gender expression] “is a set of degrading behaviors that communicates one’s level of commitment to male authority and women’s oppression. That [gender expression] is coerced appeasement, regardless of how successfully it is now marketed to young women as feminism,” or, I’d add, Miracles of Technology That One Chooses to Choose Because it Empowerfulizes.

    That’s the Feminist Analysis, not that silencing, bs-ee “you’re a bigot” crap.

    Anyway.
    “Just remember, Jerry, it’s not a lie if you believe it” -George Costanza.
    Yay, white lies! They make the world go round, them fluffy little things.

  276. Rididill

    Not wanting to restart ye olde trans wars, but I have to say there is really more to this than ‘you’re bigoted/transphobic’. The notion of trans rests on the idea that gender is more innate/immutable than sex, which is a farce and really anti the feminist position.

    The entire notion of trans is gender/heteronormative; refusing to call a transperson by their new sex/gender is not gender/heteronormative. Calling them ‘trans’ which is what they are, in fact goes against the gender binary. Asking that they be accepted to be in the category ‘woman’ or ‘man’ is heteronormative. The fact that they feel the need to surgically change AT ALL reinforces the gender binary – the notion that the identity they feel cannot POSSIBLY be attached to that body, is gender/hetero-normative.

    Why is it we decry it when a woman surgically alters her body to fit in with some idea of what her ‘gender’ is supposed to be, taking perfectly functioning organs and turning them into a plastic travesty that exists only for show? If someone said this was an innate gendered desire to have big boobies, everyone on this site would call BS.

    But yet, when someone does this to have a sex change op and turns perfectly functioning genitals into a surgically altered imitation, this is a symbol of what is progressive, feminist and right? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    Gender does not exist outside society. It does not exist in everyone’s heads before social conditioning happens. Gender IS society. It looks like Chaz hated women and hated being a woman, so s/he became a transman and starting hating on women even more. Given the kinds of attitudes s/he has, does it not seem more plausible that the strictures of gender binary heteronormative patriarchy are behind ‘gender dysphoria’ and the desire to ‘change’ one’s sex (not that you really can…)

  277. TwissB

    It’s good to see attention finally being paid to the indifference of the egg-harvesting industry to the consequences of its exploitive treatment of the girls and women euphemized under the bland term “egg donors.” The impetus to look into the matter does not come from feminist demands to cease this latest form of reproductive organ sex discrimination. (When did official feminists ever call these “complex” issues by their rightful name?) No, prestigious stem cell scientists got to wondering why they were having trouble finding enouugh raw material to meet demand.

    So it doesn’t really matter whether the issue du jour is egg procurement, embryonic personhood, abortion access, or prostitution, it’s all the same misogynist thing – targeting women’s reproductive organs for sex discrimination for which there is no legal remedy because women themselves are not persons under the 14th Amendment. The system is relentlessly circular – invasion and subordination leading to dehumanized and objectified status leading to denial of personhood and right to equal protection of the law against discrimination on the basis of female sex. I blame the patriarchy, but I also fault its handmaidens like the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL, NOW etc. who tell women they have rights that the Constitution does not acknowledge, and then reduce what should be a comprehensive demand for recognition of the full range of human and civil rights to pleading for a few “complex” splinters. That is humiliating.

  278. Friend of Snakes

    @no one in particular:

    When did “heteronormative” become the new “heterosexist”? Or am I just not understanding the proper meaning of one or both terms?

    I get in the same shoulder shrugging mode when I hear the current scoffing at Penis-in-Vagina (PIF) sex.

    Hetero is the norm. And I reckon that 99% of all the humans who’ve ever made their appearance on this planet were the result of PIV sex. Come on. We’re a sexually-reproducing species. Just because some of us aren’t going that route and despise most men, oops, I mean despise the patriarchy – I just don’t get all the implied scorn for our hetero sisters with our usage of these relatively recently coined terms (add hyphens where you think appropriate).

  279. speedbudget

    No, prestigious stem cell scientists got to wondering why they were having trouble finding enouugh raw material to meet demand.

    I can tell you why. They don’t pay enough for all the shit you have to go through to donate. I looked into it. $8,000 for a bunch of shots and then the painful harvest procedure? No way. Not enough money. $15,000, I might have thought seriously about it. But I guess even in these cases, where our eggs are absolutely essential, women get the shaft in payment again.

  280. Jezebella

    One thing that kills me is that one of the Yes-on-26 taglines (it’s even on some signs) is: “Stop Abortion, Stop Cloning.” Wha? There’s no cloning of humans in the US, much less in Mississippi, and they’re acting like *cloning* is a problem? It’s such a non sequitur, and I’m kind of wondering if it’s a dog whistle for some right-wing/evangelical nutbar thing I haven’t run across.

    Once upon a time, it was illegal to get paid to be an egg donor; sperm, naturally, of course you can get paid for THAT – but an invasive, painful, long-term process involving shots and ‘harvesting’ – oh hell no, it would be *unethical* to pay women for *that*. By the way, the number one requirement for egg “donors,” based on surveys of potential egg buyers, is that they not be FAT. Seriously – before IQ, health, race, anything: people don’t want fat children.

  281. Hermionemone

    AlienNumber has in the past demonstrated her inability to reconsider her axiomatic belief that womanity is conferred at conception.

    Those of the Blametariat possessing a more inclusive worldview find it troublesome to comply with our Blogmistress’s injunction against inflaming that particular topic to no likely effect, silently standing by allowing Ms. Number’s goading provocations to go unchallenged and unrefuted.

    Would it be too much to ask of the Editor to enpoopulate posts containing egregiously inflammatory digs at transpeople? Making them disappear (the posts, I mean) is an option too. A.N. has much to contribute; it’s unfortunate that the appreciation of her commentary is tainted by the steamy flatulent miasma of bigotry in this one area.

    I know this is calling for mutually accepted self-silencing on this one topic, a topic which actually is an excellent fault-line slicing through embodiment, sex, gender, humanity, essentialism and performance, not unrelated to the original post. But we’ve already seen what happens, and most would prefer not to see it again quite so soon.

  282. Kea

    I looked into the donor thing once too. They refused me, because I had never had any children. Yup, we need to populate the world with baby making machines, not the offspring of those evil, childless feminists.

  283. AlienNumber

    “AlienNumber has in the past demonstrated her inability to reconsider her axiomatic belief that womanity is conferred at conception.”

    First, that is EXACTLY my belief. This is why I advocate for high-heels for baby female humans!
    Second, I really wish I could get some brain surgery so I can also finally see the light – i.e. that womanity is actually conferred when one purchases a neovagina.

    Thanks for asking for my removal from IBTP though! Much appreciated.

  284. Saurs

    You’re not a victim of the thought police, AlienNumber, and you’re not being held captive here, either. If you don’t like Twisty’s rules for discourse below the post, piss off back to the millions of other places you can make mockery of “drag queens.”

  285. goblinbee

    Rididell: “Calling them ‘trans’ which is what they are, in fact goes against the gender binary.”

    Which is what they are? How would we know what “they” are? (I don’t like the “they/them” language; I’m just quoting.)

    TwissB: “…people who have spoken publicly about the magical effects of their choice to present themselves as the sex that they are not.”

    As the sex that they are not? How can we be so sure of other people’s experiences? I have a dear friend who was raised female but who presents himself as male. He does NOT consider himself trans. Who am I to name his experience?

  286. Hermionemone

    Hello again AlienNumber. I’m not calling for your removal, just for (your or anyone’s) trans incitatory posts.

    If we hadn’t already seen where this leads, I’d welcome a discussion of sex, gender, socialization, conformity and rebellion, reification and performance, the whole 9 metres. I experience myself and my life as genuine, and try to extend that courtesy to others.

    That Twisty admits going through a phase of intensified gender expression herself should be seen as an inspiration. Femininity being something one puts on, it can be cast off also, like slag from a gleaming ingot of pure metal.

  287. Jezebella

    Saying “gender doesn’t exist” is as futile and wrong as saying “race doesn’t exist.” Scientifically, no, these don’t exist in our DNA, but in society, these things exist. (The physical attributes of “race” and “gender” are in our DNA, of course.) Those behaviors that we call gender: those are real. Those categories that people get placed into based on physical attributes: those are real. The expectations and discrimination based on our physical attributes: also real. Deny “gender” all you want, but we’re all stuck in a world full of it.

  288. sjaustin

    Thank you, Jezebella. If nothing else, gender exists as a societal construct, and I can’t blame people for doing the best that they can within the existing system.

  289. TotallyDorkin

    AlienNumber, you really think that the place to start a campaign against gender is by oppressing and disrespecting trans people? You think that people who go through a transition and who fundamentally understand the affect that society has on you based on your gender performance are the people you should alienate?

    Because that’s pretty fucking dumb.

  290. tinfoil hattie

    Please stop. This subject has been closed by Jill several times now.

  291. Le Chat Noir

    Someone explain to me why Chaz Bono should be accorded respect as trans or as any gender? Sorry, but if s/he can get away with saying crap like this, particularly the not having tolerance for women, tell me why I should give a flying fuck if s/he feels disrespected?: “I never really understood women before, to be honest, but I had a tolerance for women that I don’t have now”.

    No, you don’t get respect when you don’t give respect.

  292. TotallyDorkin

    It’s not really about respecting Chaz though is it? It’s about respecting the trans identity and the trans community. For example, you don’t get to be racist towards someone because they were sexist. This is because being racist is always wrong. How is this not obvious?

  293. Le Chat Noir

    I’m not going to respect a community that doesn’t respect women. I don’t know if Chaz is representative of the F to M trans identity – I hope not! – but if women transitioning to a male identity (whatever that means) means they become sexist assholes in the process (is that identifying with male identity?), I definitely see no reason to respect their right to be called he/she or whatever they want to be called AT ALL.

  294. Le Chat Noir

    Likewise, I feel no allegiance to women who are anti-feminists, who are not trans, but are also male-identified.

  295. sjaustin

    I don’t know if Chaz is representative of the F to M trans identity – I hope not!…

    Of course not. There is no single trans identity or experience. Do you think that one woman’s identity and experience can be held up as representative of all women? Or that that’s the case for any other group? That you can look at one person from the group and say “that’s how they are”?

  296. XtinaS

    Le Chat Noir:

    I’m not going to respect a community that doesn’t respect women.

    Chaz Bono: the sole representative of the trans* community since 2008.

    I definitely see no reason to respect their right to be called he/she or whatever they want to be called AT ALL.

    Being a sexist douche: a perfect excuse for being a transphobic douche since bloody kindergarten.  “They started it!” and all.  “I don’t have to be non-racist if he’s being sexist!”  “Why should I have to respect their beliefs if they don’t respect my gender?”  Enlightened and totally pro-revolution, I tell you what!

    Must be awkward to respect any community at all, given that there are, by sheer statistics, at least a few assholes in every group.

  297. quixote

    Well, for all the good it will do, I’ll second to hayduke’s and TotallyDorkin’s points.

    1) Yes, it’s obnoxious to have to treat people with more fairness than they treat you. But it’s essential, unless you want to become as useless as they are. Result: you have to treat Chaz according to what’s right, not according to getting back at him for his bigotry.

    2) The reason we’re all down on the P is that it tries to put us in a box, tell us who we are, and that we can’t be anyone else. We say, “No, I decide who I am.” Unless you want to treat Chaz the way the P treats you, you have to accept his right to determine who he is.

    None of that is based on chromosomes or anatomy or culture. It’s simple fairness.

    That’s why, as hayduke said, it’s not bigotry to call out Chaz for being a jerk. It is bigotry to put him in a box, like he does to others.

  298. yttik

    One problem is the way women police each other, demanding perfection in all things. Some woman makes an off the cuff remark about Chaz being an asshole and she is promptly called out for not making sure her comment also takes into consideration the needs and feelings of every other oppressed group and known social issue.

    You know how this message is received by women over and over again? You are not worthy of having an opinion and you may only deal with women’s issues after you have addressed the concerns of all others.

    Have you ever heard a man call someone an asshole and then post a disclaimer, like “I meant that in a completely non transphobic, non racist, politically correct, vegan, environmentally friendly way, that places the feelings and needs of all other groups above my own?”

  299. XtinaS

    yttik:

    Some woman makes an off the cuff remark about Chaz being an asshole and she is promptly called out for not making sure her comment also takes into consideration the needs and feelings of every other oppressed group and known social issue.

    No, AlienNumber was called out for being transphobic while calling Chaz an asshole.  I didn’t realise it was so hard for women to not use bigoted language!  Our poor ladybrains can only handle one issue at a time, it would seem.

    Have you ever heard a man call someone an asshole and then post a disclaimer, like “I meant that in a completely non transphobic, non racist, politically correct, vegan, environmentally friendly way, that places the feelings and needs of all other groups above my own?”

    (a) In the feminist blogs I tend to read, men call people assholes all the time, and do not have to disclaim about a thing.  When men are misogynistic while calling someone an asshole, they’re called out for it — not for being imperfect omgz, not for failing to disclaim about every possible social justice issue there is, but for being misogynistic.

    (b) You’re overstating the issue.  It’s not required that people be perfect at all times, even regardless of the topic at hand.  It is, however, considered a sign of decency to learn from one’s mistakes.  Even if it takes a few tries.  Although some places have different tolerance levels than others, naturellement).

    Or at least people can try not to be a bigot out loud, for heaven’s sake.

    I mean, my partner has asked that I not sing along to music when we’re out at a restaurant, which is a really bad habit of mine.  When I slip, she reminds me, and I say “augh, sorry, I will try to do better”.  I do not, however, say “How very dare you expect me to be perfect at all things!!”.

    (c) Using the preferred pronouns of a person: absolutely like diverting all resources from feminism to another social justice issue.  Next up, how “changing my language is hard, can’t you just get over people using horridly misogynistic language?” should be the new feminist stance.

  300. An

    Agreed. How hard is it to say “he is an asshole?” Just hit one fewer key.

  301. Saurs

    Have you ever heard a man call someone an asshole and then post a disclaimer, like “I meant that in a completely non transphobic, non racist, politically correct, vegan, environmentally friendly way, that places the feelings and needs of all other groups above my own?”

    But why should adamant anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-transphobia, anti-classism be considered at odds with feminism and women’s liberation, as opposed to an intrinsic part of both based on the common theme of humanism? Are cis and transwomen not also the subject of these bigotries? When a self-professed interweb feminist disclaims racism, it’s only ever the folk who conveniently feign ignorance about intersectionality (or are simply openly hostile towards it) that then ask her to prove her feminist bona fides, that suggest her allegiance to womenkind is compromised by her solidarity with her “own” “race” or that of another.

    Walking and chewing gum; we can be good feminists and still recognize that oppression doesn’t begin and end with gender. We are not doing feminism harm by being wary of bigotry, so, no, I totally reject this business about “putting the needs of others first.” Transgendered folk, in this example, are not “others.” They are part of this community.

  302. AlienNumber

    No, AlienNumber was called out for being transphobic while calling Chaz an asshole. I didn’t realise it was so hard for women to not use bigoted language!

    It is indeed hard for my ladybrain to grasp that the word “she” when used re: people-humans with female sex/reproductive organs is like-oh-my-gosh-such-bigoted-transphobic language.

    But since I’m a female, therefore trained since birth in the pleasing arts, I will only refer to Chaz from now on as a female chauvinist pig who now prefers male pronouns: “he’s a female chauvinist pig,” or like An says “he’s an asshole.”

    Speaking of people dressed in drag, and performance: language change everybody. All on board!
    http://www.nataliedee.com/022304/queenofengland.jpg

  303. AlienNumber

    Jezebella, with all due respect, your little snippet up there about gender and race makes no sense.
    Gender is Racism. So, I’m not at all advocating for gender-blindness. I am actually advocating for the Eradication of Gender and its annoying siamese twin, Gender Performance.

    I am also advocating for sex-awareness and sex equality. Without sex awareness, it’s really dangerous out there for female humans, as we have seen, because the males in charge will just treat us in turn either like imperfect males or as little incubators for the males who are needed to replace them.

    Since you seem to understand race analogies: I am against Blackface/Native Appropriations etc (Gender Performance), against Color Blindness (pretending that we are not, in fact, a sexually dichotomous species that reproduce sexually) and for Reparations (Feminist Revolt and Sex Equality). How’s that?

  304. Rididill

    @goblinbee

    Isn’t ‘they’ the standard word for referring to a group of people that does not include yourself? What else am I supposed to say?

    Well, you can just refer to him/her as your friend that was born female and presents him/herself as male.

    But, more broadly, the weird thing about the trans issue is how this doesn’t apply to any other kind of oppressed group at all.

    Can you imagine if a straight person went around presenting themselves as gay? Or a white person presenting themselves as black? Or an able-bodied person presenting as disabled?

    I don’t know about you, but when I try to imagine that it seems completely insane and very insulting to all of those groups. Even a rich person presenting as poor? That’s at least slightly believable but I still think it would be in totally bad taste.

    Why is it different with women?

    Why should be people suddenly be able to make up what they are? That’s not how language works, a different person decides it means one thing and someone else decides it means something different. So why should trans decide that they get to be called women/men?

    By the way, trans-ableism does exist. Google it.

  305. Jezebella

    AlienNumber, I was responding to your assertion that “gender doesn’t exist.” With all due respect, of course.

  306. Someone Else

    Please stop. This subject has been closed by Jill several times now.

    Tinfoil — alas, and le sigh. I was going to post a very amusing DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER post a day or so ago, but we were already past that being funny.

    One hopes Jill will just escape to nice, empty spaces which may or may not include large critters.

  307. tinfoil hattie

    Right now, Someone Else, I have a strong craving for heartwarming nature crap.

    Folks who refuse to abide by Jill’s Guidelines for Commenters: Can’t you at least take this somewhere else? There’s the whole rest of the internet, for example.

  308. goblinbee

    Rididill, I see most people on a continuum, rather than as half of a dichotomy: gay vs. straight; able-bodied vs. disabled; female vs. male; black vs. white. I see all of us as part of all of these groups! There is not a clear definition of most of these terms anyway, not even woman or man. Some people–just as an example–have breasts, a uterus, and undescended testicles, all at the same time.

    That people get TREATED as if they were one half of a dichotomy I do not argue with, but the dichotomies themselves are an illusion.

  309. goblinbee

    P.S. Rididill, I did not say my friend was born female, I said he was raised female.

  310. Deepika

    Goblinbee: “That people get TREATED as if they were one half of a dichotomy I do not argue with, but the dichotomies themselves are an illusion.”

    Again, not an advanced blamer here but I do know that intersex conditions are relatively rare compared to “female-sex” and “male-sex” conditions.

    I am female-sexed. This is not an illusion. Outliers do not disprove the general concept, or ‘rule’, so to speak.

    Isn’t patriarchy itself built on this dualism? Is the P, too, an illusion?

    Or am I, again, way off the mark?

  311. Rididill

    @goblinbee

    yeah, but intersex and trans are actually two different things.

    Sorry, my mistake re: your friend.

    My point is that someone asking to be put into the category ‘man’ or ‘woman’ is reinforcing the binary view, not the continuum view.

    And, a lot of the time there ARE very stark obvious differences between white/black abled/disabled straight/gay. If they were so impossible to define, you would have neither repression nor activism around those identities. So I don’t think you can just avoid the question by citing continuum.

    But I’ll stop now, since no one seems interested in dealing with the actual contradictions and flaws in the trans argument and just wants to call people bigoted and transphobic.

    I mean really. If someone came to you pretending to be disabled and you found out they really weren’t, would you think that was a legitimate identity? What if they had disabled themselves and then started demanding healthcare resources and public allowances made for them? Then they started doing activism with disability-rights activists?

  312. hayduke

    I saw about a dozen points above that sent me into spluttering angry response mode, and then realized Someone Else and tinfoil hattie had the most appealing arguments.

    Bring on the heart warming nature crap, indeed.

  313. laxsoppa

    Rididill said

    And, a lot of the time there ARE very stark obvious differences between white/black abled/disabled straight/gay. If they were so impossible to define, you would have neither repression nor activism around those identities. So I don’t think you can just avoid the question by citing continuum.

    It is my experience (got no statistics to back this up in other words) that the dichotomies with the flimsiest basis on reality are the ones most fiercely drawn and defined by people who benefit from the existence of said dichotomies. That’s one of the reasons why e.g. evolutionary psychology is such a dumping ground for misogynist beliefs and dudebros who are desperately grabbing for anything to “prove” them when the gender binary and traditional gender roles in society are challenged more often or even being dismantled.

    There would be no repression or counter-activism if nobody believed in those dichotomies, because when it comes down to it, what is “true” is much less important and powerful than what people believe.

    Skin colour is innate, but as has been said on this blog already, whiteness or blackness as identities are constructs that require some performance from those who identify, either by choice or because that identity has been passed on to them by others (parents, teachers, classmates…). Arguing for continuum is NOT avoiding the question; it is actually asking the question.

    Re: the trans debate, just piss off already. You do not get to assign gender identities for anybody except yourself.

  314. speedbudget

    I saw a squirrel today. He was very cute.

  315. Rididill

    Yeah.
    There are totally NO differences between someone pretending to be confined to a wheelchair and someone who is actually paralysed. There are totally NO differences between someone who has suffered racism and someone with white skin (and white privilege) who decides to call themselves black.

    There are questions of biology and also of history, the shared experience of oppression.

    The continuum does not ask the question as to why someone should want to surgically transform their bodies to conform to a binary view of what gender identity should fit with what body, as well as asking to be referred to as the opposite biological sex.

  316. Rididill

    And now I am officially pissing off already.

  317. speedbudget

    Jezebella, you know you’re fighting the good fight when even Nutbar Extraordinaire Haley Barbour thinks your law is going too far.

    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2011/11/02/359104/gov-barbour-may-vote-against-mississippis-personhood-abortion-ban-it-concerns-me-i-have-to-just-say-it/

  318. AlienNumber

    Saurs says, unironically:

    [blah blah blah, how dare you not show your allegiance to] the common theme of humanism

    Humanism: a Special Flavor of what-about-the-men (men-are-the-human-standard after all!), courtesy of the Industrial Complex for Gender Role- and Male Supremacy- Preservation.
    – from the Dictionary of Feminism Unmodified.

  319. Le Chat Noir

    No, I do not identify myself as a “cis” woman and it is insulting to me to be called by such an idiotic term. Cis, my ass. I don’t have a “gender” that I chose, that aligns with who I am. No, I don’t “feel” female. This gender “woman” was IMPOSED upon me. Do I have to get a sex change to be treated as a human being instead of as a woman ie. second-class citizen?

    To me, woman/man and he/she means that biological sex is what determines if they are male and female – nothing to do with gender. I don’t care how women act/dress/identify, if they want to be one of the “guys”, fine go for it, however the reality is that unless the person is intersexed s/he is still a woman. I really don’t care if you want to be a man “performing” femaleness/womaness, whatever you want to call it, have at it – again unless you are intersexed – you are still a man.

    This has implications on a number of different levels, including regarding medical issues and female-specific biology. As to gender, fuck it, I believe in androgyny. I don’t want to be treated as a woman, I just want to be treated as “human”.

  320. Jezebella

    Right, speedbudget? I have had some long conversations while phone banking with seriously pro-life people who are still undecided. This means our voter education is working and we are getting momentum. Finally, FINALLY, a spokesman for Yes-on-26 admitted for the record that Personhood would disallow hormonal birth control. Until now, their party line has been “it won’t affect contraception, those liberals are lying to you.” Which was sneaky, since these particular wingnuts don’t consider hormone-based BC and Plan B to be “contraception” – they call them “abortifacients.” Word games, but they’ve fooled a lot of people.

    It’s hard to talk to these pro-life people and pretend like they’re being reasonable to want to ban *some* abortions, but this law just “goes too far.” That is the tactic I’m taking with some folks, and it’s kind of killing me to have to shut my mouth and not tell them what I really think about their “I’m against abortion” bullshit. Thankfully the election is next Tuesday.

  321. laxsoppa

    Wow, Rididill, that was some misdirected bullshit right there. The “pretending to be disabled” argument that you won’t let go of has nothing to do with transgender people. A reminder: they’re people, and they deserve to be treated as such. There’s no pretense in that.

  322. tinfoil hattie

    I was sad yesterday when I saw a dead fox lying on the side of the road. Sad because the woods around me are being decimated for new expensive toll lanes on our highway, and wildlife have nowhere to go.

  323. speedbudget

    See, the problem with legislation that is made to save the fee-fees of the pro-life crowd is that those laws can be used to disallow other needed services. Case in point: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/bill-mcclellan/article_35b5796c-7cc2-52e3-88c6-cc0050751f1d.html

    Yeah, the same law that allows religious insurance groups to not provide abortion services apparently also allows them to disallow any needed services.

  324. Bushfire

    I have a strong craving for heartwarming nature crap.

    Bring on the heart warming nature crap, indeed.

    My partner and I adopted a budgie recently. We found him on Kijiji and his family didn’t want him anymore. We bought him a better cage and have been interacting with him a lot and he’s gone from just sitting silently to flapping around, singing and trying new foods. His name is Blueberry.

    Transphobia sucks.

  325. tinfoil hattie

    Angry Black Bitch blogged about the Christian Brothers story. It pisses me off so much that religion is even IN the health care debate. It’s wrong on so many levels.

    @Bushfire – any budgie fotos we can see?

  326. Q Grrl

    @ Rididill:

    “My point is that someone asking to be put into the category ‘man’ or ‘woman’ is reinforcing the binary view, not the continuum view. ”

    And? Even if this is the “logical” sequence of gender expression, why is it that you think, of all the humans on the earth, that the small percentage who are trans* are going to be the ones who, all by their little individual lonesome selves, break the binary view? Who are you kidding? Even we croney old radfems can’t figure out how to break that particular paradigm, let alone by our individual personal identifiers.

    And besides, if gender is a continuum, you’re still going to get single points along the continuum that are specifically “male” and “female”. It’s not the point that matters, but the existential weight we place on that point. Which, if I’m thinking correctly, makes *you* the one that is upholding the binary.

  327. AlienNumber

    Male and female = not gender, but sex. Sex exists.

    Acknowledging the basic biological facts of life doesn’t uphold anything. It’s like saying that because Jezebella is fighting for reproductive rights for females, she’s upholding the gender binary. It’s GIBBERISH.

    Gender roles suck. Stop the insanity!

  328. Q Grrl

    Gender exists too, just as a different entity. And I’m pretty sure that “male and female” = sex is something a dude came up with years ago to make life easier. I mean, I don’t know what sex I am. I only know what sex other people have told me I am.

  329. AlienNumber

    But what gender you are, you know from listening to your own personal inside voice, that knows everything! (and is in no way shape or form influenced by the Beauty Industrial Complex and The Plastic Surgeons Association of Amerika).

    Well, then, that settles it.

    I’m going to go look for some cute squirrels now.

  330. niki

    There is no universal experience, of course, and yet when I read ‘The Testosterone Files’ by Max Wolf Valerio to further my own knowledge about FTMs and my own gender ambiguity, I found a lot of the same thing Chaz expresses. Namely, that women are soft and fuzzy-headed, and with testosterone the thinking process is so much clearer! No more thinking only of shoes and lipgloss, how freeing! It made me want to stay a woman just to flip all this crap the proverbial bird.

    Not representative of everyone, but still obviously a trend in the community. I’d really like to read other accounts not rife with inherent sexism. Any literature anyone can recommend?

  331. nails

    Gross, Alien Number. Read some medical literature on what trans people go through (individually and as a population). You are crapping on a group of vulnerable people because of an ideological disagreement. That is vile. I don’t care how much you think that they are wrong, trans people suffer the exact same fate as we do, at much higher rates than we do, no one deserves it. They are raped, prostituted, and beaten at rates far higher than we are. Discrimination against them is completely legal (as in on-paper legal) in the vast majority of places. Maybe you think it is fun to devote a bunch of time to denigrating people in such a situation, but I sure as hell don’t. You’re picking on people who have only a handful of radical feminist websites with a pro-trans stance. You have ruined the space that was supposed to be shared with them. That is vile. You have the whole rest of the internet and the majority of radical feminist websites to say this kind of stuff, but you chose to say it here, way after being told to stop it by the blog owner and commentariat.

    You called someone bringing attention to the higher rate of rape of women of color “racist”, and didn’t retract such a statement after someone linked you to evidence. This is also really gross and alienates women of color on IBTP.

    Do you have an excuse or a reason to act this way towards others? Or do you just not care about the feelings of other people who want IBTP to be a safe space for WOC and trans people?

  332. nails

    niki- I’ve heard a lot of that stuff too, but never from people who were on a double-blind study. It was always from people who willingly took the hormones for a desired effect. In fact, I haven’t heard these sentiments from women who take steroids for things unrelated to gender identity (such as bodybuilding), and who would presumably have the same reactions to the chemicals as FTM people. The perception of what testosterone does to a person will create a placebo effect that can only be circumvented with the use of a double-blind study. There are extra difficulties in conducting one because the appearance/disappearance of hair, changes in musculature and body fat distribution, etc are impossible to ignore. People being pumped full of placebos will know they weren’t given the real thing. Measuring something as ambiguous as mental clarity from self-reporting is a dangerous thing to draw actual conclusions from.

  333. AlienNumber

    nails, according to my very scientific studies, every time this trans thing comes up around here, the communal IQ drops about 78%.
    Now go tell Twisty to kick me out. Quick before I impolitely refer to Q Grrl as “he.”

    minor point: it’s dishonest of you to even pretend that you know who WOC are or aren’t here, because you can’t see us. But that is not to say that WOC haven’t been alienated on this blog. Way before I got here. Remember Delphine? She was cool. Where is she now? I think she was sent running by a bunch of unquestioning fetishistic consumerists of gender such as yourself.

    Repeat after me: Gender is the Ideology of Evil; and not “my” “ideology” of Questioning Gender.
    btw, Twisty’s ideas are very consistent with the “Ideology” of Questioning Gender. Read the essay above and maybe 90% of her posts before it?

    Just say no to gender!

  334. Rididill

    OH MY GOD THIS IS SO STUPID. Are people really incapable of even considering the question WHY is this considered a worthy and valuable identity that we should support as normal when WE WOULD NEVER DO THE SAME FOR ANY OTHER KIND OF OPPRESSED GROUP. I am sick of people slamming me without dealing with this argument.

    @Laxsoppa.

    Really? Really? It has NOTHING to do with it? Why don’t you have a look at this and see how much it sounds like transgender arguments. Apparently, wanting to be disabled is itself a disability.

    http://transabled.org/

    http://transabled.org/thoughts/a-comparison-between-transsexuality-and-transableism.htm

    @Q Grrrl

    My point is not that I expect trans to be the magical ones who break the binary, it’s that every time you make ANY criticism everyone calls you heteronormative and reinforcing the gender binary etc. I’m saying, the whole notion of trans is far more reinforcing of that binary than questioning the notion that someone who feels a certain way must have a certain body. Frankly, I don’t expect them to. But that doesn’t mean I accept it when trans activists (and others) go on and on about how subversive they are for breaking the binary when actually that’s really not what they are doing.

    I don’t understand the rest of your comment.

  335. goblinbee

    Rididell: “My point is that someone asking to be put into the category ‘man’ or ‘woman’ is reinforcing the binary view, not the continuum view.”

    Agreed, but I’m not going to dictate to my friend. Besides which, his experience has been much more complex than the few sentences I’ve written here have alluded to (or that I can even know). Going on looks alone, people assume he’s male. His preference for a pronoun would be the singular “they” or “them.” (I would love to see “s/he” morph into “they,” just as “thee” and “thou” morphed into the singular “you” over time.)

  336. Rididill

    Well, my comment got stuck in moderation. Laxsoppa, I suggest you check out transabled .org and tell me what you think after that.

    There is one transsexual who is specifically attempting to draw parallels between transsexuality and transableism to give it legitimacy – they call it ‘body integrity identity disorder’

    The author of the post wants to be deaf.

    One commenter says:

    ‘I am a M 2 F pre op transexual who in addition to always wanting to be a female I have always wanted to be disabled physically ie; a usless or amputated leg I find the fascination of being a good looking disabled woman to be so strong I get frustrated some times when I realise what would be entailed in achieving this. I have purchased and wear a leg brace to help my feelings but I want more’

    Another commenter wants to have his leg amputated. There is one commenter who expressly says he goes around in a wheelchair even though he is not disabled.

    A large proportion of commenters are transsexual/transgender also. You really think there is no relation?

  337. Rididill

    It should also be noted that some transsexuals commenting on the site strongly reject the comparison and the attempt of the transabled to build this alliance

  338. Rididill

    Also, since when did I ever say they didn’t deserve to be treated as people? I’m just saying, it’s worth asking a few questions.

  339. Liz

    I agree with everything you’ve said, and no one hates the faux pro-sex movement and burlesque more than me. However, I’ve been dealing with these issues as a musician, and I’m having a hard time deciding how to put on a performance that isn’t also to some extent sexy. The male and female musicians I’ve loved have always been sexual and I don’t feel an emotional connnection to music unless it moves me on some base, primal level. It kills me that male musicians have the freedom to strut on stage topless in skin tight pants, and if I were to do so as a woman, it would be used against me as someone relying on her looks to get attention. And yet, if I were to stand on stage in baggy pants and a tshirt and no makeup, I’d be completely ignored and no one would care. Sure, there are virtuosos like Marni Stern and Kaki King who transcend these issues, but for an average woman in a merely good punk band, you’re scrutinized no matter what you do.

    So do I choose to do what I want, which is to put on a performance like the ones I love to watch, or do I subvert my sexuality because that’s what I feel like I should do as a feminist who recognizes women don’t have anywhere near the same amount of control over their sexuality that men do?

  340. niki

    Oh hell, that transabled sight hurt my brain hella hard. Fo reals? How extremely upsetting these people must be to people who were born with or developed disabilities. A psychological fetish for suffering, or ‘pretending’ to suffer. Crikey.

    I’m guessing this only happens in so-called ’1st world’ countries, as the rest of the world is trying to avoid suffering at all costs. Yet another sick symptom of excess and the megatheocorporatocracy, for sure.

  341. niki

    Also, how would the use of a double-blind study validate sexist comments about women from transmen? I think of it more as a ‘Now YOU’RE the other!’ psychological separation. Perhaps it helps to adjust to the culture of men, whatever that means. Or are you suggesting that we might find that mental clarity might indeed come from testosterone levels if only the testing procedure was carried out a certain way?

  342. tinfoil hattie

    Remember Delphine? She was cool. Where is she now? I think she was sent running by a bunch of unquestioning fetishistic consumerists of gender such as yourself.

    Naaah, she left after she and one or two other commenters advocated that women carrying male fetuses abort them, and that women kill their newborn males, because we all knew we were bringing rapists into the world.

  343. Bushfire

    Thanks nails. I just don’t have the energy for this anymore. I wish Twisty would come along with the delete button.

  344. Treefinger

    Why do ALL discussions end up coming back to the trans issue? It’s like some commenters can’t accept the fact that this blog is relatively trans-friendly (despite the fact that all Twisty has said is “gender wouldn’t exist without patriarchy, but since patriarchy does exist, we can’t exactly demonize people for doing what they need to not kill themselves”… hardly controversial), and must constantly question it.

    By the way, it’s entirely possible to be critical of the gender binary and participate in it, since we can’t force our emotional needs to conform to our intellectual conclusions. Cognitive dissonance is practically a requirement for a dissenter that nontheless is forced to live their life inside the system. “Unquestioning gender fetishist” is inaccurate mainly for the first part. Maybe we are “gender fetishists” (along with the many men and women who aren’t trans and still present a gender), but most trans people I know spend a long time questioning the binary and flagellating themselves for identifying with it before they give up and decide to transition. I’m plenty critical of my feelings on my gender, and constantly deconstruct the possible social reasons for why I feel this way, but if I didn’t go ahead and fulfill them I would simply die.

    As long as someone (read: everyone, since pretty much every action begets patriarchy) is honest with themselves about their fact that their self-presentation is determined by D/s social systems, I’m pretty okay with that presentation.

    On the BIID issue… despite the unfortunate implications of “desiring” disability, people who report it do sometimes commit suicide/prefer to die than live with an able body. When it gets to that point I’d like to think a reasonable person would let them cut off whatever body part in order to not be clinically depressed. We all have SOME fucked up issues that need to be dealt with in a way that technically reflects patriarchy in order for us to simply have peace of mind (whether this involves transitioning to a binary gender, practicing femininity, etc), why should this be any different?

  345. TwissB

    Re the personhood legislation discussion above, I’ve wondered why feminist advocates opposing this type of woman-hating legislation waste their time discussing it within the proponents’ terms and getting enmeshed in pointless legal and medical technicalities.

    Why not instead of go on a serious attack, raising questions that allow the public – especially women – to see anti-abortion politics in a glaring light that exposes men’s failure to enact strong measures to regulate male fertility and to enact humane provisions for the education and welfare of children?

    Why not criticize men’s demonstrated hostility as policy-makers for women and children? And why not condemn their cynical manipulation of principles of privacy and freedom of speech in order to protect prostitution and pornography which promote sexual exploitation of women, normalize violence against women, and enforce the social status of women as subordinate to that of men.

    Mightn’t it helpful to women to hear fetal-personhood legislators asked to explain why they want to confer personhood on a fetus while withholding personhood from its mother as the 14th Amendment does? And if the fetus is female, would its personhood status be withdrawn at birth?

    Wouldn’t women like to hear a pro-fetus-personhood legislator challenged to sponsor his bill to regulate male fertility, since uncontrolled male fertility is the predominant cause for abortions?

    Why do advocates for women use a self-defeating approach that simply perpetuates legislative misogyny? The answer seems to be the need to understand that political wrongs can’t be overturned from within but must be attacked from the outside without concern for keeping “friendly” politicians electable. Politicians as a whole respond to public demand, so advocates’ responsibility is to change the political climate to guarantee that attacks on women’s reproductive organs, however piously stated, are recognized and rejected. No one said that this would be easy, but it is the only way to be effectual.

  346. nails

    niki- your posts are nothing but strawmen. Go back and try to find where your assumptions came from and compare them to the actual text. I try to be careful about saying only what I mean, rather than using inuendo or alluding to other subjects. If I have been unclear I am sorry, but all I was addressing was the idea that testosterone affects behavior in ways that are stereotypically gendered, nothing more.

    Alien Number- I have no interest in telling twisty to do anything, I was confronting you about your behavior here and the effect it has on other people. I did so directly by stating the disrespect that you have repeatedly displayed in posting about this topic here. All you have offered in return is a bunch of insults and hinting that the blog owner approves of your comments when she has repeatedly and explicitly asked that posters stop it with the anti-trans talk. I am not engaging your trans argument at all, I am talking about the result of your insistence on having that argument at IBTP. From what I can see you don’t have a good reason to behave the way that you have, you can’t see past your own self righteousness to see that you are behaving in a needlessly cruel manner to other people. You have the entire rest of the internet to say what you are saying. Why here, why do this again? I am genuinely curious as to why you continue to engage in this after being asked to stop so many times. After being told so many times and in so many ways it becomes an issue of you crossing a boundary. Why do you think your behavior should be acceptable to everyone else here?

  347. Jezebella

    TwissB, it’s called practical politics and direct voter contact here in the reddest red state in the union. If I want a Baptist pro-lifer to vote against 26, I have to meet her where she is. I don’t have time for a feminist consciousness-raising session with every voter in Mississippi. I have been talking to these people three nights a week for a month now, and right now, my immediate goal, is defeating a piece of legislation.

    There is also no money for this. Until six weeks ago, there was exactly ONE full-time advocate for reproductive health and rights in the state. We have several on loan for the duration of the campaign, but then they’re gone.

    Furthermore, Mississippi is the testing ground for every fucking TRAP regulation the antis can dream up. There are a dozen laws introduced every year to try to make abortion effectively unavailable here. It’s hard to go on the offensive when there’s only enough money for one lobbyist to keep playing defense.

    Now, if you personally would like to endow a lobbyist position (or several) so we can have full-time activists in the state, please do. Until you can come down here and do it yourself, or find us the money to pay for it, how about you stop telling us we’re doing it wrong??

  348. TwissB

    Jezebella. I don’t blame you for finding it annoying to have someone criticize a strategy on which you and others are working hard. I don’t wish to imply that Mississippi activists are enjoying this chronic crisis as their opponents certainly are, but the problems you describe and the fact that it’s not the first or last time that this scenario has been acted out should suggest reconsideration of the effectiveness of a reactive response that consumes activist energies ad infinitum and encourages misogynists to come back and do it again. There is time for fundamental review before the next legislative session.

  349. Q Grrl

    Oh, AlienNumber, you’re pat-on-the-head cute when you get a full steam going.

    You can call me “he”, plenty of people have made that mistake over the span of 40 years. But yeah, I “qualify” in your book: one cooch that bleeds monthly (every 21 days to be exact, yay me!), I got two damn breasts that swell with that monthly bleeding because I’m middle aged and close to “the change”. I have a legal girl name. Most people can visually identify me as female now that I’m fat and middle aged. Is there anything else? Probably.

    Thing is, because I’m human, and a social creature, I still don’t know what my sex is outside of someone else telling me. Left to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t give it a whole hell of a lot of thought other than bitching about God giving me a damn 21 day cycle (which is like clock-work — not skipped one yet, for a grand lifetime total of 556 periods. Oh. wait. I’m still qualifying myself to you!) Gender might be a bigger social construct than sex, but sex is still a social construct. Biological sex means what it does because it became a convenient shorthand to describe certain norms of development and behavior. Outside of that, it doesn’t really have much weight or substance other than what we socially assign to it.

    I guess what I’m driving at is that in my younger, more impassioned rad fem days, I too had a big ol’ beef about the “trans” invasion. *gasp* But nowadays? that reaction I had? That need to define or reclaim “woman” so that it fit my reality?

    Nowadays I have to wonder why it is so important for women to do so — and wouldn’t the answer to that question be much more interesting than fighting about who gets to call themselves a woman!

  350. wingwoman

    Tinfoil hattie–

    “Naaah, she left after she and one or two other commenters advocated that women carrying male fetuses abort them, and that women kill their newborn males, because we all knew we were bringing rapists into the world.”

    *shudder* Yes, this is exactly how I remember it too.

    I actually stopped reading feminist blogs for a time after that whole brew-ha. Made me wonder how many of the feminists I was communicating with out there had such extreme and hateful views.

  351. speedbudget

    TwissB, I think you are forgetting that most people are low-information voters. I was reading an interesting article on Alas, A Blog wherein the author was phone-banking for gay marriage, and in their practice session, he threw out some learned arguments for gay marriage, such as what you are discussing here. What he heard from people on the phone for the most part was “the Bible says it’s bad.” People don’t care about or understand nuance, nor do they understand the realistic consequences of these kinds of laws, such as the article I linked to above, wherein anti-abortion law is used as an excuse to deny any needed service the insurance company doesn’t want to pay for.

    The best arguments are the simple ones that meet people where they are.

  352. Friend of Snakes

    As someone who rarely comments, I get even more disinclined to do so, when my posts end up in moderation for no good reason. Since one has been sitting there for over three days, I thought I’d take a stab at changing the offending word (I’m guessing it’s the word that means schlong, but who knows, maybe it’s the vag word, too.) and reposting it.
    ====================

    @no one in particular:

    When did “heteronormative” become the new “heterosexist”? Or am I just not understanding the proper meaning of one or both terms?

    I get in the same shoulder shrugging mode when I hear the current scoffing at Schlong-in-Vag (PIV) sex.

    Hetero is the norm. And I reckon that 99% of all the humans who’ve ever made their appearance on this planet were the result of PIV sex. Come on. We’re a sexually-reproducing species. Just because some of us aren’t going that route and despise most men, oops, I mean despise the patriarchy – I just don’t get all the implied scorn for our hetero sisters with our usage of these relatively recently coined terms (add hyphens where you think appropriate).

  353. Cyberwulf

    Interesting how the anti-trans crowd jump up and down yelling “Male and female! Male and female! Fixed at birth and that is how it shall stay!” before turning around and decrying the gender binary and gender as a social construct. Do they think the whole idea of gender emerged from thin air? Might it not be based on, oh, the physical and biological characteristics which they insist are what should define the correct pronoun use for any given person?

  354. tinfoil hattie

    Jezebella, there’s a video circulating – I’m sorry; I can’t remember where I saw it – that explains how this legislation hurts anti-abortion, pregnant women, too. Conferring personhood on a fetus can result in pregnant women being forced to undergo c-sections against their will, for example. It is a horrific video that is not news to any of us who have been paying attenton. I wondered if you have seen it, and if so, whether you think it might influence anti-abortion people to vote against the legislation? I noted with inteterest (and annoyance) that it is narrated by a man, and I thought that was probably deliberate, based on the intended audience.

    Thank you for your hard work.

  355. Gayle

    “TwissB, it’s called practical politics and direct voter contact here in the reddest red state in the union”

    Yep. I’m amazed by how many self described pro-life women don’t understand the implications of their votes. They don’t understand their “allies” want to ban the pill and the IUD. They don’t know they are risking the very lives of women with high risk or non viable pregnancies by banning all abortions. They don’t understand the very legislators they support would literally kill women by disallowing abortions for eptopic pregnancies.

    Scary stuff, and it’s great you are out there informing them. Maude knows their so-called friends won’t.

  356. Jezebella

    Hattie, I have not seen that video. I’ll see if I can track it down.

    TwissB, one of our problems is they are getting a message every single Sunday in church year in and year out, practically from birth. It’s hard to compete with the power of the Southern Baptist church. Actually, they go twice a week, so they’re getting patriarchal indoctrination on Sundays AND Wednesdays.

    I agree that if we had downtime between attacks, we could formulate a more aggressive strategy, but again, we need money and staff to become more aggressive. The one lobbyist I mentioned is, during most of the year, also an outreach person. She does sex education lectures, runs the volunteer program, raises money, and deals with legislative issues. We need money and staff to fight this fight year-round and on the offensive. I’m not a professional in this battle, just a soldier who volunteers. I don’t think the misogynists *need* encouragement to come back. They will always be here, and they like to test their new strategies in Mississippi. If it doesn’t work here, they usually go on to something else. The Personhood movement isn’t even homegrown – it started in Colorado. We’re constantly being targeted by the antis. I can assure you that our organizers are thinking and consulting on a national level to figure out how to deal with the constant attacks, but you never know where the next one will come from.

    Tonight we had 23 people in our phone bank – most in ours yet- and we got a lot of good responses. I think we’re gaining momentum. I did have one woman ask me if I was even calling from Mississippi. She’d heard we were a bunch of outside agitators, and I’m not sure she believed I was really in-state.

  357. tinfoil hattie

    Here is the website, Jez: http://advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/

  358. TwissB

    Jezebella, et al. – I appreciate your taking time to explain the view from the trenches. I do want to point out that it has been years of “practical politics” that threw the women’s movement into reverse. It was practical, i.e. self-serving, politicians who dissuaded activists from including barriers to abortion with other forms of pregnancy discrimination as sex discrimination against women in the fight for a constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law against sex discrimination (ERA). Women know that pregnancy harassment is sex discrimination against women but they needed leaders to stand up and say so and to move the issue through the fire of public discussion. The more that suffragists claimed women’s right to vote, the more non-activist women felt empowered to claim it. Today, however, women leaders are reduced to fighting feebly against exclusion of abortion from the the new health care act by arguing that the Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal funding for Medicaid abortions!! Sop now we’re embracing what we once bitterly opposed. That’s where practical politics has gotten us and I’m agin’ it.

  359. Kea

    TwissB, sometimes, when trapped in a corner on an alien planet, practical politics is the only action available, other than locking oneself away in an asylum and admitting defeat. Maybe it ends up being no more than time wasting, but at least doing something stops a few good women from going insane.

  360. Jezebella

    thanks for the link, Tinfoil Hattie. Posted and shared on Facebook et al.

    TwissB, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I do. But I can’t stand aside and do nothing because the strategy isn’t the ideal one. We have to think long-term AND short-term, and in the short term, women’s actual lives are at stake in my community.

  361. Someone Else

    We bought him a better cage and have been interacting with him a lot and he’s gone from just sitting silently to flapping around, singing and trying new foods. His name is Blueberry.

    This post was embiggening, and made me very happy. Go Blueberry, go!

  362. speedbudget

    Well, one thing everyone can agree on is throwing women under the bus.

    I think the only real way to get to these people is show them that really what they are is pro-choice. Lots of people are pro-choice who think they are pro-life. However, getting people to articulate their views and when an abortion is “okay” and when it’s not in order to point out that what they are expressing is the pro-choice view takes a lot of time.

    The problem is the other side has managed to flip the script while at the same time owning the national discourse on this and many other social issues. They’ve managed to muddy the waters and bring up strawwomen and do all sorts of nefarious stuff and they never get called on it because they’re religious, and in our society, if you’re Christian, you’re immediately one of the good ones, and nobody questions you or your actions. In fact, if you do start questioning the Christianists, you get bleated out as being a bigot and anti-religion.

  363. Gayle

    Activists on the ground are fighting a desperate battle in large part because men are in control of politics. That’s the reason why women have lost so much ground in the past decade.

    Men are clueless about abortions– the very idea of them squints them out and thus they are easily swayed by the Catholic Church and other male led religious groups.

    Female activists are not framing this issue- clueless men are. This is yet another reason to remind women that voting for WOMEN leaders matters.

  364. Ginjoint

    Wow, this Mississippi legislation would even outlaw removal of an ectopic pregnancy?! Is this true?

    Jezebella, you are doing great work. I kind of gathered that you’re working for Center for Reproductive Justice? Is that right? I’d like to make a donation to wherever you’re working – can you let me know for sure?

  365. Gayle

    I don’t know it wouldn’t. That’s what’s happened in Nicaragua since Daniel Ortega (lefty dude) made his bloody alliance with the Catholic Church.

  366. quixote

    Jezebella” “… there was [and after the referendum, will be] exactly ONE full-time advocate for reproductive health and rights in the state.”

    Even when I think I know what’s going on, I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t tell you how much I admire your courage and persistence to fight against huge odds.

    As for practical politics, right here, right now, you’re doing the only thing that can be done. Which you don’t need me to tell you, obviously. I’ve lived in a border community of Dumbf$ckistan, and anyone who tried any real consciousness-raising, as opposed to persuasion, would get stared at like you had two heads. You’d have a much easier time convincing them that a secret NASA program brings in all the blue cheese from the Moon.

  367. Jezebella

    Ginjoint, thank you. I am volunteering with an umbrella organization called Mississippians for Healthy Families. You can donate at VoteNoOn26.org

    We could definitely use donations to buy more TV and radio time. We’ve been outgunned financially from the start, and we’ve only had about 6 weeks to run this campaign, since the MS Supreme Court waited until the last minute to decide whether to let it go to the ballot or not.

    And, yes, removal of an ectopic pregnancy would be considered the murder of a “person,” given the wording of the law.

  368. Ginjoint

    Done.

    Motherfuckers. Everywhere.

  369. Daisy Deadhead

    If yall are having 352 posts on one thread, you can share the feminist indignation!

    Twisty! Just your kind of megatheocorporatocracy story: rape apologist/misogynist pig preacher has just been appointed to the board of Bob Jones University… this is AFTER a court case and expose on ABC’s 20/20. DO YOU BELIEVE? Even the conservative alumni are freaking out, especially the women.

    How about a sign: Abandon hope, all ye women who enter here.

    Also, Fred Phelps came from BJU, one of those facts they tried to cover up, as well as the fact that Bob Jones the first was a klansman.

    http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2011/11/fred-phelps-attended-bob-jones.html

    I’d love to say that this uproar might destroy the place, but I know better than that. We can at least chip away at their local political influence, but as long as Lindsey Graham feels like he has to accept their “honorary degree”–the place will have political influence in South Carolina.

    How much do I hate them? Let me count the ways.

  370. Kea

    Abandon hope, all ye women who enter here.

    We don’t really need the sign to recognise the inferno, especially those of us who have been living in it our entire lives. I must say, I do feel sorry for you Americans. At least I don’t have to face that particular brand of insanity.

  371. Daisy Deadhead

    Kea, I wish I knew how the insanity ended up here. I mean you’ve undoubtedly heard the okey-doke that the USA was settled by people fleeing religious tyranny, blah blah blah.

    And here we have religious tyranny! Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    (sigh)

  372. Insurgence

    Men are clueless about abortions– the very idea of them squints them out and thus they are easily swayed by the Catholic Church and other male led religious groups.

    I wish it were just the religious folks. I frequent some forums which are strongly atheist (and also strongly misogynist as evidenced by the quote below) where d00ds see this as some moral/ethical issue:

    I would argue that the killing the most fragile human is more immoral. Killing / terminating:
    a) a baby is more immoral than killing an adult, and
    b) kiiling a fetus is more immoral than killing a baby.

    These fruit loops consider themselves rational folk, though they differ in no way from the religious fundamentalists. No practical solutions to lower the number of abortions, just talk about how it’s evil and immoral. Yuck! Thank Maude for IBTP. Y’all are my heros and saviors.

  373. Kea

    … more immoral than killing an adult

    One fundamentalist moral supremicist is much like another. Of course the Dawkins fanboy doesn’t know the rate of actual abortions, super scientist that he is, or he might realise he is advocating murder for a large fraction of the female population, all morally, naturally. He can live happily with the delusion that only evil women, who go get themselves raped or whatever, should be sentenced to death. I know plenty of these Dawkins fanboy wannabe geeks. You can scream facts at them all you like, but if they don’t like them, they will refuse to check them. Scientists my ass.

  374. tinfoil hattie

    The local abortion clinic is suffering under the Catholic Church’s “harass women even harder for 40 days” campaign. A quite elderly dude was carrying a sign that said, “Men mourn lost fatherhood,” or some such crap. My son was in the car when I screamed, “THEN STOP FUCKING WOMEN!”

    At least Elderly Dude was honest. Regulating women’s bodies is all about the men.

  375. speedbudget

    I had a little tiny funeral for the little tiny clump of cells that I killed when I popped a zit last night. It was a beautiful ceremony.

  376. Jezebella

    That clump of cells could have grown up to be President! What were you thinking??

  377. ElizaN

    That zit was even more fragile than a fetus.

  378. Owly

    On no, speedbudget, did you even think about the poor bacteria that were living in there too? Who knows how many cells could have been saved!

  379. Fictional Queen

    God said not to murder zits!

  380. Fictional Queen

    I’m telling.

  381. speedbudget

    Well, it was making it uncomfortable to sit. It just had to go. Sorry, I’m a selfish bitch.

    But I do feel a teensy bit bad for the wholesale genocide I committed on the bacteria. I will just pray the guilt away.

  382. speedbudget

    Oh, dangit. Comment in moderation. Shoulda known better. Here goes again, and sorry for the double post when it comes out:

    Well, it was making me uncomfortable to sit. It just had to go. Sorry, I’m selfish.

    But I do feel a teensy bit bad for the wholesale genocide I committed on the bacteria. I will just pray the guilt away.

  383. hayduke

    Please stop giving Mississippi ideas, people – today the Pill, tomorrow Clearasil.

  384. TwissB

    Backing upthread a little. Men are not at all clueless about abortions. That’s why they cobbled up Roe v. Wade that lets them off the hook when a pregnancy is inconvenient or embarrassing for them, while still allowing them to beat up on pregnant women right up to but not qui-i-i-te over the line of making abortion illegal. They’ve got it it fixed up real nice, and all the ping-pong chitchat about those fetal abstractions is just so much icing on the patriarchal cake.

  385. Hane

    Back to the original topic: I just had a flash back to the days when I was a wee little blamer in junior high, in 1965, and didn’t even know feminism existed. (Other than the fact that I got my hackles up when people told girls not to act “too smart” around boys, or voiced the “well-known fact” that women were ditzy spendthrifts [the opposite of my mom and all the real live women I knew]). A pre-pubescent late bloomer with less than no interest in the penised ones who walked among us, I was appalled by a certain song by the Supremes. Whenever I heard it on the radio, I mentally edited its refrain to, “Now he’s back in my arms again/Right by my side/Now he’s back in my arms again/So status-fied.” I saw the Having of a Boyfriend as a status symbol, not as a genuine relationship or partnership.

    Then high school came, and hormones kicked in, and so did my lamentable heterosexuality–hell on earth to a kid who was socially awkward and not-quite-thin-and-pretty-enough. And that penised status symbol turned into something I really wanted.

    Fast-forward to my fifties, with 22 years of marriage to some jamoke or other behind me. I’m living on my own for the first time in my life, and genuinely think that having a dude around would clutter up the joint and leave unsightly residue in my ladybits. And I still see my single contemporaries expending effort towards attracting the smaller and smaller pool of marginally acceptable dickowners. And I say to myself, fuck the dieting and girlifying myself–it’s all cool now–and I know damn well straight that the world in general sees it as sour grapes: “How sad; she’s fat and gray and single and can’t attract a guy, so she’s telling herself she’s happy.” And I try my goddamndest not to care.

  386. Kea

    Gee, TwissB, you’re right! If it WAS illegal, we would start refusing the dudes more often, heh. Duh.

  387. Daisy Deadhead

    This one is for Twisty, I couldn’t wait to show you. :)

    And whoever else woke up soaking wet last night!

    If Men Had Hot Flashes: http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2011/11/if-men-had-hot-flashes.html

  388. rubysecret

    I’m glad the thread has turned back in a constructive direction, but I want to point out a recently published book of photojournalism that portrays people in the trans community and lets them speak in their own words. It’s a beautiful and important work.

    http://www.amazon.com/Transfigurations-Jana-Marcus/dp/0983343403

    Now please please please return to your previously scheduled (positive) blaming.

  389. Linda

    Friend of Snakes, we don’t “scoff” at PIV and I really take offense at that term as it denies women’s hard work and reduces women’s wisdom, knowledge and analyses to a mere tantrum.

    What we do it take a critical approach to PIV as an obligation for women, it’s centrality to women’s oppression and the fact that PIV=sex in a patriarchy.

    We also raise legitimate concerns about the vast range of risks to women’s health and wellbeing that are caused specifically by PIV.

    “And I reckon that 99% of all the humans who’ve ever made their appearance on this planet were the result of PIV sex.”

    Kind of our point.

    As for advocating strategies for reducing the number of men on the planet, I don’t see the problem. Women in New Guinea have used these strategies as a way of ending wars – it makes perfect sense. Men are the problem so let’s reduce their numbers.

  390. Daisy Deadhead

    Anybody wanna see my latest brawl with Dude Nation? I made one of them have apoplexy and declare me (dramatic pause) the WORST FEMINIST EVAH! EVAH! EVAAAAAAH!!!!!!

    I guess you all are pretty jealous now, huh?

    Warning: misogyny on display. The hoopla is near the end, when Ozy has to jump in and send us to our respective corners.

    http://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/open-thread-8/

    See, this is what happens when you have no day job.

    PS: I admit: they are posting about me at MRA blogs and this is my petty way of getting even. ;)

  391. Saurs

    Serious question, Daisy, ‘cos try as I might I can never last more than one page scroll at that blawg, the place is simply a haven for very sensitive, very wounded nice guys and thinly disguised anti-feminists, right? Or is just very diverse and there is, in fact, some good reading mixed in with all the whinging?

  392. Daisy Deadhead

    Ozy is gifted and intelligent, and Noah Brand is a hoot. I can’t for the life of me figure out why they are hosting these assholes and spending their time on them. One person, Black Humor (nice name), has defended me.

    Otherwise, Saurs, yeah, you are right.

    Feminist Critics has just declared me “not right in the head”–again, you should all be JEALOUS of my wonderfulness! (LOL–actually dunno whether to laugh or cry.)

  393. Saurs

    Thanks for your insight, Daisy. I may give it another go sometime.

    And you should definitely be proud. Good job!

  394. Linda

    Feminist critics are hilarious. Check out the female privilege check list or their serious concerns about sexual assault laws “turning” all men into rapists. I’ve had posts dedicated to me there as well because I was “cruel” for not publishing their shit at my place.

  395. Cathy

    ElizaN

    “The appropriate reward for being a decent human being is a clear conscience.”

    The problem is that so many indecent human beings have a clear conscience, because they have fooled themselves into thinking they ARE decent. Look at all the godbags who are so certain they’re going to heaven.

    So many misogynists have no guilt whatsoever about the evil they do, just because they can get away with it.

  396. mearl

    Said Germaine Greer in 1999 (in “The Whole Woman”):

    “Sexuality might be the most subversive thing, but female sexual display, even the most grotesque, is pure conformism…What the ‘early feminist’ learnt from the pointless surrender of her own privacy is that the female genital display is a weapon that can only inflict injury on the displayer. Though male genital exposure frightens women, female genital exposure, whether intended to be hostile or alluring, reinforces men’s sense of their own superiority. As long as men think of women’s bodies as commodities offered for their consumption, there is no liberation to be had either in taking clothes off or in keeping bodies covered.”

    Said Twisty on IBTP in 2011:

    “Femininity is not a “choice” when the alternative is derision, ridicule, workplace sanctions, or ostracization.”

    Apparently not a whole lot has changed in thirteen years. Or thirty, for that matter.

    If the defenders of the sex-positive line want to test out the much-reviled and COMPLETELY off-the-mark radfem theory – which states that the sexuality being championed is the sexuality of the ruling class (i.e. males) – then all the sex-pozzies have to do is spend a lifetime REFUSING to conform to said sexuality, whether in dress, action, appearance.

    I won’t hold my breath waiting to see the results listing how much fun, sex, approval, financial gain, or advancement in personal status it gets them.

  397. mearl

    Sorry – when I wrote “test out,” I actually meant to write “disprove.”

  398. Rididill

    re: practical vs radical politics

    I think we need both. While in the short term it’s so, so important to ensure as many people as possible are persuaded, and that may mean arguing in undesirable terms (i.e. in the framework of the oppressor) I do think we need more radical politics and less practical politics in general.

    While radical movements may not achieve their direct aims, they shift the whole scope of the debate, its boundaries. If you look at US politics in the last 50 years or so, the ‘centre’ has gone a whole lot further to the right, same as UK politics, but I think even more so in US. Then consider the tea party and OWS – neither movement has any chance in achieving its most radical goals, but they have shifted the centre. They have shifted what it is acceptable to talk about by those who consider themselves practical and reasonable. So the death of visible radical activism for women’s rights really shows the public (and politicians) that the furthest anyone cares about is for small changes on the margins which don’t question the main premises. If someone always loses some ground in the process of practical politics, it makes sense to start that position from further away. It’s what republicans do all the time. It’s only the lefties and feminists that are duped into thinking reasonable compromise is a virtue when their opponents think nothing of the sort.

    You need the radical politics to shift the debate, and you need practical politics to translate that into better gains.

    Anyone seen the film Iron Jawed Angels? I don’t know if it’s an accurate representation of the women’s suffrage movement, but it was the radicals who forced the question of the vote to the table. It was the moderates who eventually made the deal, who were against radical action initially as they saw it as undermining the movement – but the vote would not have been won without pressure from the radical activists.

  399. Jezebella

    That’s a fantastic movie, Iron Jawed Angels. In fact, I think it may be time for my annual viewing. Blamers: check it out if you haven’t already.

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