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Don’t Feed the Parrots? Or, On Spinning and Spiraling, Part 2. Or, On Cargo Cults, Part 2. Trigger Warning: Monty Python October 16, 2012

Posted by FCM in feminisms, logic, meta, thats mean, thats random.
Tags: ,

in light of recent discussions, it occurs to me to talk about merit-based systems (among other things).  many of us are not used to a merit-based system, because that is fundamentally not how patriarchal systems work.  many women get up every day and do their best impersonation of a worthy, competent human being — meaning they try to impersonate “good women” or men the best they can — and go to work, or out in the world generally and try to get things done, but most of us have realized by now that at the end of the day, life aint fair if you were born female under patriarchy.

its not about what you do, or even about who you know, or even about “who” you are, but what you are that will determine whether you win or lose (if you are female, you lose.  end of.  read more about women impersonating men and male rituals in the context of cargo-cultism and the post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc logical fallacy here — really, its fascinating.)

in short, male success and male reality are not based on either the merits of their work or the objective truth of their beliefs.  generally speaking, men can shuffle papers around all day, looking busy but not doing much, and look at porn on their work computers in their spare time — porn, the perfect illustration of male truth-telling about men while lying about women — and somehow they manage to get paid, promoted, elected and respected anyway.  somehow, (somehow!) they end up being put in charge of things including monitoring and judging others behavior, or charged with keeping us all safe…

its a boys club out there.  a non-merit non-truth based system, or overlapping systems.  we know this.  this model does not generally work for women, but we keep trying vainly to make it work anyway…

enter…the girls club?  or something?  (srsly, what the hell is this?  read the comments)  completely without regard for the merits of anyones work, the objective truth of their statements, or the radicalness of their alleged radicalism, anyone spouting daly quotes or claiming to be a woman or a radical feminist gets in the door, no questions asked allowed?  really?  we are creating a non-merit non-truth based system, why again?  because it works so well for women generally?  because we dont know what else to do?  or…what?

the thing about radical feminism — unlike anything men try to do — is that it actually makes sense mkay.  this sense-making operates on 2 levels — one is the mathematical level, in that our “proofs” actually work, and are logical and “true” in the mathematical sense.  we do not “argue” we demonstrate.  we do not “debate” as much as we debunk.  this is how and why we are able to draw logical proofs and flow charts and are generally able to show our work.  its because we are right, and obviously so.  its a matter of naming the agent, and wiping away the patriarchal cobwebs, mindbindings, doublethink and reversals to reveal whats been there all along.

radical feminist sense-making also operates on an intuitive level, or something like it…our words resonate with women because of our shared experience as women.  we believe that there is such a thing, and beyond that, we are right — there is.  and because of this shared experience, on an intuitive level or partially intuitive level (read: the learned survival mechanisms all slaves have, and perhaps with something genetic thrown in, in case evolution itself has been affected by millenia of patriarchy or by our being subjected to the brutal realities of animal mating behaviors even longer) our words generally do not go “clunk” as they hit the dirt.  far from it — our words cause sparking and spiraling inside other women.  we know this is true.  so believe it.  believe your eyes.

now, i will grant you that the second (intuitive) “test” of radical feminist material might be more fallible than the first — by contrast, mathematical proofs are notoriously reliable, which is the entire point, and if your proof is debunked you must concede that you were wrong because its made obvious through another proof — but which one has probably saved more womens lives and asses across time and place?  its not the math.  when something sounds “off”, or doesnt resonate or whatever, it is evidence of something.  evidence, not proof.  and we are entitled, as thinking persons, to make reasoned conclusions based on credible evidence.  like….that the person spewing it isnt really a radical feminist.

and beyond that, spewing male-centrism — including liberal feminism under any guise — is boring mkay.  it just is.  i might even go further and say its RUDE.  its RUDE for writers to put their audiences to sleep like that…please dont do it…

anyway, we all know better than to feed trolls by now — but might i also suggest that we refrain from feeding parrots as well?  in this context, a “parrot” is a person who has nothing original or interesting to say at all, and who simply offers decontextualized or misplaced quotes from classic radfem texts (or parrots blogs, or parrots other peoples comments from blogs) to show any number of things (or to cause thought-termination) and where such quotes are notably *not* offered as a teaching tool or jumping-off place from which we are all invited to spark and spiral.  you know the type.  do not feed these people with your attention — ignore them.

for what its worth, mary daly didnt appreciate parrots either, and upon learning that women were merely parroting her work, she cited it as evidence that unfortunately, then, those women didnt understand a damn thing she had said, or radical feminism at all for that matter.  im paraphrasing from here.  parrots can very easily be men, too.  because all you have to do to be a parrot is buy a book.  you dont even have to read or understand it — and men do neither.

instead, might i suggest that we adopt a merit- and truth-based approach in general: the proof of anyones radicalism is in the pudding.  show, dont tell.  write something radical, and lets talk about it.  dont name drop, dont vouch for other womens radicalism — say something radical, and you will be seen to be a radical feminist.  where (oh where?) have we gotten this bizarre notion that the merits of anyones work are irrelevant and the truth doesnt matter?  (or alternatively, how has this become so reversed, where the merits are mistakenly believed to matter in some instances, and are also mistakenly believed *not* to matter in others?)  why is it ok to have muddy thinking and reversals pollute or comprise our movement?  this movement specifically i mean — radical feminism.  this playing loosey-goosey with the rules ideology doesnt happen everywhere.  thats important.

TL;DR version: i like my feminism how i like my coffee — merit based.  our safety and our movement depend on it.  thank you.

PS.  monty python clip to illustrate just HOW boring male-centrism and liberal feminism are.  also, words have meaning.  enjoy!



1. FCM - October 16, 2012

let me clarify that i propose that we treat parrots like we treat trolls generally — EITHER we ignore them *or* if we feel up to it and want to provide a “teachable moment” we can debunk them. engaging them on their turf, contacting them, or making yourself vulnerable or responsive *to them* in any way is right out.

2. bugbrennan - October 16, 2012

Agreed. It’s not complicated. Also, Lion Tamer!

3. FCM - October 16, 2012

cathy! haaaiiiiiiiii! 🙂 cathy is female.

4. DavinaSquirrel - October 16, 2012

Gosh, that thread at CBL’s certainly took on a life of its own – I turned up to read it, and found comments closed already!

I skimmed the Root Tip posts (all two of them). I found the work to be all over the map, so the claim of 25 years of reading radfem work, well, impossible to read that much radfem work and still be all over map.

CBL does point out the recent problem (over the last 2-5 years I guess) with everybody and her/his dog claiming to be “a radical feminist”, yet not producing the goods, and frequently being not only anti-radfem, but also anti-woman.

We saw this very same thing happen with ‘regular feminism’ about 20-odd years ago, the rise of the ‘3rd wave’, where feminists beliefs could mean everything and anything, until it all became totally meaningless, and frequently anti-woman. So patriarchy and its handmaidens successfully derailed ‘regular feminism’, their sights are now set upon radical feminism, with a view to doing the same thing. And this is where ‘we’ need to be gatekeepers to radical feminism, to not allow it to be infiltrated or misrepresented or diluted, polluted or anything else. We already saw what happened to ‘regular feminism’, and we cannot allow the same crap to happen to radical feminism.

Sure, newbies get miffed/offended at criticism. But also, we don’t expect newbies to get all of it right, all of the time. A lot depends on age and life experiences. The thing of it is, even with mistakes that a novice radfem may make in a FEW areas, the rest of it will be solid and consistant – that is how we tell who is and who isn’t a radfem. But none of this all over the map crap, nor egalitarianism pretending to be radical feminism, nor humanism pretending to be radical feminism.

This isn’t a fucking social club – it’s a political movement.

And no, it isn’t about being nicey nice to all those saying they are radfems when they clearly are not. Two fucking mediocre posts on that blog, and some are defending ‘root tip’ as if it is the Second Coming. FFS. No real track record of being a radfem other than the author’s say-so.

And yes, I am more than willing to mentor newbies, give them a chance, give them guidance – as I have done so in the past. I don’t expect the young ones to get it all right from the start, they have a lot of patriarchy de-programming to work through, even if they get a lot of radical feminism. We all went through the same learning curve. I also spot the ones that have ‘it’, as well as the ones that will take another ten years at least – and I have not been wrong so far.

Eeek at the comment length, it just got out of hand.

FCM - October 17, 2012

yes indeed dave, 2 entire posts on a spanking-new blog by an unknown user. one post was taken almost word-for word from a month-old comment left on a different blog — same person? we dont know do we? compare:


oh sorry, did i say almost word for word? upon re-reading, it appears to actually be WORD FOR WORD. and yet the “post” was assumed — by smash — to be a new post “written two days ago” by our new friend, and it was made to seem as if that “fact” was highly relevant to the issue of our new friends identity and credibility. and the new friend didnt correct the mistake. thats not very friendly now is it?


FCM - October 17, 2012

and heres where it gets really interesting IMO. someone claiming to know me in real life — which is either a lie, a mistake, or a breach of confidence, as i said. and yet this lie/mistake/breach of confidence is being offered to bolster the credibility of an unknown user. fail! are people suspicious yet? they should be.


FCM - October 17, 2012

on a related note: predditors! “successful” men who are also stalkers and sexual harassers of women. this one seemed particularly on point — he has “helped create policies and procedures” — oh my — and wants more decisionmaking power, which he will surely receive.


5. DavinaSquirrel - October 17, 2012

The “new post” that was exactly the same as the comment on CB’s blog were written about a month apart, which I find odd. Because if one has made a really kickass comment somewhere and decides to make it into a post, the turnaround is fairly quick, within a day. But this took a month, no amendments/alterations?

When there are too many little things that don’t add up, it is usually because someone is not who they say they are.

Those posts, seem on the surface to be OK (-ish), but there is ‘something’ missing, whether it is passion, or logical flowing analysis, or any combination of things, plus a couple of really bizarre things (like mothers being worse than fathers). Overall, it is a 2+2=57 situation.

One more thing, most RFs are known for quite a while commenting on other RF blogs before starting their own (or at least start commenting on other RF blogs when they make a blog). This didn’t happen either.

Stuff just don’t add up.

6. MarySunshine - October 17, 2012

Dave :: Total brilliance, every word. Than you.

And FCM:: Again, Amazing, total brilliance

Phenomenal catch, the duplication of the comment to the post.

And yeah, for me a huge bzzzzztttt !! was the commenter claiming to know you IRL ??!!! Let’s just say: hahahahhahahahah !!!


7. MarySunshine - October 17, 2012

Ooops … “than” = “thanks” above, where obvious.

8. cherryblossomlife - October 17, 2012

Yes, everyone and his dog is a radical feminist these days, but then again, why are we surprised, when practically everyone’s a *woman* these days too… (as opposed to the roughly 50/50 ratio of man-woman that it used to be… )

And actually that brings me to the second of Root-tip’s two posts, where the first paragraph reads:

“Sonia Johnson once said that the most radical thing we can do is to LOVE ALL WOMEN. We don’t have to like each other, or let anyone hurt us, but if we want to live in a better world, a place to start is to learn to LOVE ALL WOMEN. ”

Now if most men are women these days, then loving ALL women becomes a bit of a problem doesn’t it….

I really liked Davina’s point about how this has been done to feminism before, but radfems managed to fly under the radar and retain the integrity of the word “radical”. No more. Soon the term radical feminist will be meaningless, if it isn’t already UNLESS we nip this in the bud and start gatekeeping. As FCM points out, men gatekeep and it seems to work very well for them.

9. cherryblossomlife - October 17, 2012

Or not “most” men, but a “LOT OF” men.

A *lot* *of* men are women these days, aren’t they.

10. SheilaG - October 17, 2012

Radfems have always been under horrific attack, and unfortunately, we haven’t been able to fly under radar… I wish we had that ability.

11. SheilaG - October 17, 2012

Mary Daly was constantly harassed, fired, denied pay increases, Andrea Dworkin suffered huge abuse, but I would say the patriarchy has really upped the ante with the rise of the trans cult, and the greatest horrors of men in dresses is invading lesbian space and marches.

These pretendbians try to steal radfem language and culture, and destroy real radical feminist work. I find the greatest threats coming from these guys, and don’t have much contact politically with liberal het feminists.

And most of the time, when I hear a critique of a radical feminist, the first words out of my mouth are: “Have you ever read any of her books, or did you just read the trans attacks on her books?” That usually shuts them up, and calls them out on using radfem stuff for their own gain. We’re pretty on to them here.

Online, well, over time, you figure it out.

12. cherryblossomlife - October 18, 2012

No, I didn’t mean radical feminists hadn’t been attacked. I know they have been, relentlessly.

I meant that the term “radical feminism” has, until now, managed to retain its integrity. And in fact the constant attacks on radfems by MRAs and transwomen is in fact a sign that the word still means something.

But for how much longer? In 2 years time what is “radical feminism” going to mean? Right now we have men who attack women (Allyson) calling themselves radfems.

FCM - October 18, 2012

seriously. reading comprehension, sheila! thank you!

13. SheilaG - October 18, 2012

Radical feminism has integrity for those of us who have been radical feminists for decades. The degredation of it comes from the uninformed, and the large general public of women who are simply afraid of who the bulk of radical feminists are … lesbians. We have always been cast on the margins of feminism from the get go, but we still do our work. So this is nothing new, that’s the point I’m making. It’s just a whole new generation that thinks lesbians are still marginal, when we did the bulk of the radical work from the very beginning.

Radical lesbian feminism has always maintained its integrity, and our early visionaries were talking about the trans invasion ages ago. Mainstream feminists (largely hetero equality type feminists) never liked the radical element from the get go.

Sure you have people using “internet” terms, or even degrading the phrase radical feminism itself–radfem being its latest incarnation. Those of us who have committed to this philosophy for life will help maintain its integrity.

I don’t think most women let alone men really get what it’s about anyway.
So when you talk herstorically about the attacks on radical feminists, really what that means is attacks on lesbians. And the bulk of the misappropriation of true radical feminist messages and philosophy is really just more attacks on lesbians — which is what the trans invasion is doing now. Nothing new under the sun, just plain old homophobia.

And the usual trajectory of dulling down all radicalism with liberalism.

14. DavinaSquirrel - October 18, 2012

Well, RTF’s “posts” came across to me as “talking the talk” or doing an impersonation of what they think radical feminism is. It missed the boat on a few points, no continuous thoughts or whatever. Just something amiss somehow.

Basically, it actually is very hard to fake being a radfem, for any length of time anyway, and most pretendahs are found out relatively quickly. That doesn’t mean we don’t give the newbies a chance, and certainly more “allowances” are made the younger they are, but anyone over or nearing 40, should have all their shit together by then. No fucking excuse to drop so many damn balls.

Radical feminism is as much about the thinking processes, probably more than ‘having read the prescribed texts’. And if the thinking processes aren’t there, doesn’t matter how many frickin books you read, you won’t get it. It is a fairly intricate system of inter-related understanding.

Also, when I first came online, I only really ‘identified’ as an anti-pornstitution feminist – it was the radfems that called me a radfem. So it is a system of radfems recognising other radfems, rather than someone just calling themselves that because it ‘sounds cool/trendy’. And with so many pretendahs around, this recognition system needs to remain in place. It is gate-keeping, but tuff shit. We have standards, and we are not going to let them slip just so a bunch of non-RFs can feel good about themselves.

FCM - October 18, 2012

im glad this happened in a way, bc it sorely needed to be discussed. consider the gates KEPT. and yes, as dave says, tough shit to anyone who cant accept that we have standards, and that words have meaning, and that women trust their instincts around these parts. get used to it, or get out of the way.

15. DavinaSquirrel - October 18, 2012

True. Rather like going to a Socialist meeting, declaring “I’m a socialist; rampant capitalism goooood”. I have the feeling the socialists would chuck you out of the meeting. Same deal here.

16. karmarad - October 18, 2012

Gatekeeping means drawing and keeping boundaries. Doesn’t have to be done with anger, but it has to be done.

It is the hard line.

It is difficult to define what a liberal feminist or a transgender activist is, but it is not hard to identify who radfems are. People depend on our boundaries for many reasons. When someone says something in public, saying they are speaking as a radfem, it means something specific. Radical feminism is pursuing a long and careful group discussion as to the roots of patriarchy, its manifestations, and its downfall. When someone identifying themselves as radfem says something non-radfem, it may cause derailment or confusion or other harm, so we may need to question the self-identifier. The events of the past year confirm the necessity for these kinds of verifications.

It’s not to keep like-minded women out, that’s for sure. We welcome them just like always.

17. aSpinninSister - October 19, 2012

Thanks to SheilaG for standing up and speaking out for Radical Lesbian Feminists!

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