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In a Word, No. January 3, 2013

Posted by FCM in books!, feminisms, gender roles, pop culture, porn.
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i just finished reading “the second shift” by arlie russell hochschild in which “two-income” married het couples were interviewed extensively regarding who performs the lions share of the household labor in the context of what the author called the “stalled revolution” of the 1980s.  in this book, the author claims that there had been gains made by women and feminists over the years causing womens lives to change drastically, but men were slow to catch up, leaving working married women caught in a stressful, life-sucking bind where they perform the equivalent of an extra month of work every year and their husbands dont.

fascinatingly, according to the author herself, her most important finding was also a very elusive one and the data was difficult to make any sense of at all: that there was no apparent or straighforward economic-based relationship between the wage gap and the leisure gap had apparently confused researchers for a long time.  to summarize the data, women who outearn their husbands end up doing even more around the house — with their economically challenged husbands also being domestically challenged, what great catches ay? — than women who earn less than or the same as their husbands, but this makes no economic sense.  it would make more economic sense, it is said, if a greater income bought a worker leisure time at home, where the lower-earning spouse allowed the higher-earning spouse to relax around the house to recharge their batteries in preparation for having to go to work the next day.  *that* would at least make some kind of sense, it is said.  and this is in fact what happens when the man makes more: outearning men were less likely to share the domestic load (21% of them shared somewhat — gee thanks doods!) than were the men who made the same amount (30% of those shared somewhat) as their wives.  interestingly, both groups of earners shared some.

what made no sense at all, it had been said, was the fact that the only men who dont share in the second shift at all were those men who made less than their wives.  some of the other men interviewed shared the household duties somewhat, but none of the underearning men shared at all.

for her part, this (female) author and researcher realized that there was an “economics of gratitude” at play, which is patriarchal and misogynist at its core: women who outearn their husbands have to properly simper and soothe their husbands castrated egos by doing literally *all* the household chores themselves.  i’m sorry!  she also noted throughout the book that it is the harsh realities of the patriarchal, misogynistic meat market known as “dating” combined with womens economic insecurity due to workplace sexual harassment and discrimination and lower wages which keep women trapped in all marriages, simpering and soothing, no matter how bad the marriages are.  and that married women who desire “equality” in the domestic realm literally start making shit up — creating “family myths” that are not reality-based in order to make any of this palateable to themselves, so they dont leave their husbands, or cause their husbands to leave them by demanding anything from the privileged bastards, or go insane or succumb to the misery and the dreadful, exhausting inequality of the married het partnership.

after all that, she closes with a question: “has the turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s been a temporary phase in preparation for a new kind of marriage in the future? or will [the young people of the 1970s and 1980s] also live in a revolution that is stalled?”

being that its 2013 now, a full 24 years since she first published her question, i think we can probably answer it in a word: and that word would be NO.  NO, the inequality of the het partnership does not appear to have been temporary, or if it was, 24 fucking years is too short a time to see any significant change in the institution and realities of marriage from womens perspective, let alone a “new kind of marriage” of which the very idea seems laughable now; and NO, there is no stalled revolution, because if theres no revolution, then theres nothing to stall.

mkay?  seriously, what revolution?  if anything, she is talking about equality rhetoric, and lets examine — shall we? — what 24 fucking years of equality rhetoric has done for us, or to the quality of womens lives.  this includes the extra month of domestic labor working women have traditionally performed as well as the very cogent reasons women have for staying with their men.  where are we now?  its a fair question to ask, and ima ask it.

for one thing, we now have married men and all men unabashedly using degrading and violent porn, this has only gotten worse over time hasnt it?  and more than ever it seems, the entire world comes to bear on women who dont like mens porn use and demand that men change it.  things have gotten worse in this area, not better, and this apparent worsening of male behavior and values and culture in particular is seriously problematic to any notion of “shared” or equal parenting, considering that its now extremely toxic and pornsick men that we are hoping will help us raise children.  hello!

i mean really.  considering all mens porn use, i think we need to seriously consider whether we want men anywhere near children at all, which means that the entire patriarchal institution of fatherhood — fatherhood as we currently know it — is problematic and needs examining (and discarding, now, IMO — but lets consider and discuss first, sure why not?). where does this leave women and “equality” rhetoric, when all working women used to want is for men to take on half the responsibility of the domestic sphere, including childrearing?  what the hell are we supposed to do now, now that so many fathers are hopelessly pornsick, and literally cannot look at a vagina or an anus without thinking about penetrating that vagina or anus, and where men clearly agree with and positively-value patriarchy’s pornified sexualization of very young girls, and even babies?

what were we thinking then, for that matter, when we thought that men — the penetrators — would be able to change a diaper the same way women would, without thinking about and being reminded of penetration?  we were way, way off.  like way.  i think we made a serious mistake.  and this equality-rhetoric, not only has it failed to achieve what we wanted — womens liberation from male dominance — and its created devastating anti-feminist consequences to boot (the criminalization of female-only organizing for one thing) but 24, 34, 64, 104 years into it, have we even stopped to consider whether its working, or likely to work if we just keep trying (forever), or if “equality” is still what we want?  how far can society be reformed, and on what interval will we be reevaluating our assumptions and examining both our losses and gains?

or are we just expected to activate towards “equality” forever, without reevaluating our goals, achievements and efforts at all, and without ever asking ourselves if its working, or what the backlash has been, or *if* its worked *how* and *in what way* has it worked and is it likely to continue working in the future?  whatever else it mightve done, i think this equality rhetoric and the ensuing battles have served as an enormous distraction from a pretty obvious truth, and that truth is that things are getting worse, not better.  and by THINGS i mean men.  and by “pretty obvious” i mean HELLO.

this policy of equality-activating might need a sunset provision.  that is all.



1. cherryblossomlife - January 3, 2013

haha! Yes, I love this topic. Interesting isn’t it. Full-time stay at home wives don’t have to placate a man’s ego as much, therefore her middle-management husband is willing to chips in more around the home. He can afford to play the “benevolent lord of the manor”

Whereas the blue-collar worker, or unemployed man, has no such freedoms. He has to reassert his dominance in the home to make up for his low status outside the home.

This does NOT mean the middle class higher earner is a “nice guy”. It just means that he is so CERTAIN and so ASSURED of his superiority over his wife/partner that he’s able to concede her a little something, perhaps even patronize her a bit, the way that men lower down on the pecking order can’T afford to.

2. cherryblossomlife - January 3, 2013

Oh and everything you said about equality too, and fatherhood, and men changing diapers 🙂

3. witchwind - January 3, 2013

Wow that’s very interesting and enlightening! I didn’t know it was that marked, that literally all men earning less had to enslave their wife completely. But it makes perfect sense.

“This does NOT mean the middle class higher earner is a “nice guy”. It just means that he is so CERTAIN and so ASSURED of his superiority over his wife/partner that he’s able to concede her a little something”

Yes exactly CBL!

Also, I would assume that the more economic / status power a man has and the nicer he can afford to be, the more likely the woman will feel grateful for perceived small kindnesses = stronger trauma bonding and lesser capacity to identify the power difference and violence.

Actually it is true everywhere that poorer / low status men have to reassert their dominance constantly through more overt forms of violence, in ways that more powerful men do not, because they have more *actual* power over women, children and other men. Men who are very violent in the streets will always be lower-class men. High class men exert their violence in ways that are much more institutionally accepted and legitimised, therefore tend to be less perceived as violence.

4. SheilaG - January 3, 2013

I don’t know why they keep on coming up with this stuff and expecting change, when the institution is the same, and the structure is the same. The social status of men determines whether they “help out” out of noblisse oblige or not. But since women live with men, and men have power in the world, and all the oppression occurs in the home, as well as the blatant theft of women’s labor, we shouldn’t be surprised at this.

And to study closely what happens in homes — that great zone of invisibility of the real structure of heteropatriarchy is useful, but the revolution never began in the first place. Massive numbers of women have never refused point blank to live with men, so there was no revolution in how the home was structured at all.

5. weirdward - January 3, 2013

witchwind – yes I agree about poor men vs middle/upper class men – however – even though middle/upper class men can afford to be nicer to ‘their’ women – as in their wives, daughters etc., they will very often still lead a double life where they access the bodies of poor women and girls in order to practice physical and sexual violence. Usually in the form of prostituted women, of course. I grew up in a poor area and prosperous middle class respectable men who were loving-husband-and-father types frequently used to troll around looking for underage girls to pick up, especially around schools.

6. cherryblossomlife - January 3, 2013

Weirdward, I think visiting prostitutes is one of the “institutionally acceptable” ways that higher class men are violent towards women.

7. witchwind - January 3, 2013

weirdward I agree with you: I see prostitution as part of the “institutionalised violence” – it is an accepted male institution to guarantee all men access to women and not seen as overt violence, it only has to be done behind closed doors to appear “proper”.

However stats show (in my country) that male domestic abusers are more represented in the following social spheres: doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers and students. With incest rape, most happen in middle class families too (but in both case the difference between these spheres and others is marginal).

I don’t know how this makes sense with my former comment actually – however men most assured of their power will know that they are more likely to get away with extreme sadism against their wife and children, and the victims less likely to be believed (“how can a medic be cruel”? would people say).

Also, abusers tend to concentrate in places where they have easy access to vulnerable victims and where they can have a status of authority over them: schools, hospitals, medicine, therapy, leisure clubs, etc.

FCM - January 3, 2013

yes doctors wives have a funny way of dying all the time…


FCM - January 3, 2013

also sheila, you are right that NOTHING has changed perhaps particularly WRT the institution of marriage and the het partnership, and yet so many women and “feminists” (equality liberals really, and radfems who fall into equality traps and reformist politicking which is based in equality rhetoric) expect fundamental change for some reason, or they see short term “gains” devoid of context including the losses and backlash that accompany them, or unintended consequences, or the fact that men are the primary beneficiaries of allegedly gender-neutral laws including laws that penalize sexual harassment and discrimination because gender-neutral = male centric, and the way the P just moves slightly out of the way before snapping back again and swallowing up all our alleged progress. or how things might even be getting worse. all of this comes as a complete shock doesnt it? or are we just pretending to be surprised? i dont know, but the shock and disappointment always seem genuine to me (although the refusal to see it all as deliberate, and refusing to see the truth about men and how likely they are to give up male privilege seems disingenuous at this point).

8. weirdward - January 3, 2013

It’s complex isn’t it, the interaction of class and violence? I think that it is true that in poor communities there is more of an open and overt culture of violence – as in, it is perfectly acceptable for guys to beat up and rape ‘their women’; this is even seen as necessary b/c poor women are considered unruly, disobedient, promiscuous women who want it and so on. And everyone knows about it and does nothing, it can happen in public spaces and no one bats an eyelid, it’s just how things are.

And it serves useful purposes for more powerful men – first of all to frighten rich women who complain – to point to the treatment poor women get and say, well look, at least I don’t beat you in public! and second of all b/c that treatment of poor women at the hands of their own men softens them up for the rich men who of course want to prey on them as well.

Interestingly, the men who used to be most successful at procuring young girls where I lived were not the ones who just went up and offered 20 bucks for a blow job or similar; it was the ones who actually pretended to care and played the stand-in father figure/lover and did a complete mind-fuck. And I think that was probably practice for what they were also doing to their own wives and daughters and female friends/colleagues etc. at home – the extreme emotional, psychological abuse and manipulation so subtle the women don’t even see it – which could also be very easily extended to include sexual abuse of partners/children.

Because, especially for middle class guys, it’s probably important that their victims be compliant with what is happening to them. After all, no one listens to poor women when they complain about violence, and poor women have few economic or educational opportunities to allow them to get away from the situation anyway. But a woman who is better off could (theoretically at least) have more chance of being able to support herself and her kids sans man, so the ongoing mind-fuck is crucial to keep those women from leaving or seeking out other options, which brings us back to this notion of women trying desperately to fix men and het relations, and failing, and not understanding why, and failing to actually consider real, revolutionary alternatives like Sheila says, ie refusing to live with men and seeing this whole sorry business for what it is.

Yes, I also agree that abusive men gravitate towards the trusted professions where they have authority over lots of vulnerable people. Sick really.

I’m also not really trying to say that one group of women is better or worse off than the other – the whole thing sucks obviously, and middle-class violence is often just more hidden, not more absent – but I do think the mind-fuck element is important, and it does seem to be practiced especially against women who are better off precisely because they do potentially have more opportunities, and there needs to be a way to control that.

9. weirdward - January 3, 2013

also the culture of violence in poor communities usually has a lot to do with organised crime.

10. Toni B - January 3, 2013

Check out the documentary The Queen of Versailles. I don’t know if the filmmaker intended it, but it’s great commentary on rich, white male entitlement, “aged” trophy wives, classism and economic trauma bonding. Interestingly enough, it’s the 16 year old daughter who sees very clearly what the shaky foundation of her parents relationship is built upon.

FCM - January 3, 2013

another mindfuck is the “heads men win, tails women lose” of patriarchy and this is manifested in the amount of labor women perform at home too. it leaves women feeling as if they cant win — but thinking that their perceptions are wrong or that its a mistake, instead of it being a completely accurate perception of a deliberate patriarchal strategy, in this case one thats designed to steal womens labor and further benefit men inside of marriage. according to the research in this book, where women who outearn men perform all the domestic work too because reasons, women who earn less, even if they work more, or the same amount of hours at an even more stressful job, and considering the sexual harassment and daily indignities in the evaluation of womens paid labor too, these “underearning” women still have to do the lions (lioness’s?) share of the domestic labor because MENS HIGHER INCOME buys men leisure time at home. the author notes that within marriage and in our own fucking homes, women are being punished for our own economic disadvantage — for earning less, even when we work more — in the workplace which we experience due to sexual discrimination — married men benefit from workplace sexual discrimination against women in a tangible way, in the slippers-and-newspaper way and clean-floors way and the hot-meal way. and womens jobs ARE more stressful than mens when you consider objective factors which in the study of workplace stressors and workplace quality of life are stress versus control. men who have high-stress jobs (like doctors and lawyers) *also* have high control (over their schedule, over other people etc) and the control cancels out the stress. womens jobs are stressful too, but as nurses and paralegals (for example) we also tend to have less control which in the end means an objectively harder job. FOR WHICH WE EARN LESS, because we are women. even female doctors and lawyers surely have less control than male doctors and lawyers, for the simple fact that other people dont appreciate being “controlled” by women and resist it actively and passively, making the womens job harder, and women are sexually harassed and degraded at work no matter what their profession and this cannot be controlled.

FCM - January 3, 2013

its difficult for me to even talk about “equality” with a straight face too considering that the equal rights amendment failed in the united states — in that context we know that ALL equality rhetoric is male-centrism and backlash designed to prevent WOMEN from organizing with WOMEN and to prevent women or men from “discriminating” against men. equality does not mean what we think it means, and it is frankly incompatible with womens liberation from male dominance — the legal and “ethical” problems we now see with women-only space make this all too clear.

i am currently reading sonia johnsons “going out of our minds: the metaphysics of liberation” where she details how she and her womens movement friends fasted at the illinois legislature to try to influence them to pass the ERA there. they failed, and they knew the ERA would not pass and so did monica faith sterwart, a black chicago legislator who had this to say about it (johnson calls this one of the most stunning performances in history):

I don’t stand here to petition your yes vote, because what is your constitution to me? The Declaration of Independence was drafted by a man who, yes, was a founding father; who yes, was a great economist; but yes, he was a slave holder, and yes, for 37 years he went into the bed of his slave, who he thought was the perfect woman. Why? Because she was a slave. And so, gentlemen, what is your constitution to me?

You can vote this amendment up or down; quite frankly, it doesn’t make any difference to me. I think you are acting as people of your class and tradition have always acted, and you know what? It won’t matter, because we’ve survived much worse than this. Back when I was in school, we had a saying, that if things didn’t go the way you liked them in the classroom, we’d meet you outside at 3:15.

And so, white males of the world, it is now 3:15. I represent the majority of people on this planet who are women, the majority of people on this planet who are of color, and you cannot have your sovereignty any longer. Why? Because I say so!

11. SheilaG - January 3, 2013

All of the comments above are excellent. We have to know that the social structure is the same, and I am always curious as to why we don’t have more variety in terms of women and control over space.
Why not a whole movement of women who are hetero but who don’t live with men, so there is no chance that they would do any housework for the men. Or more women creating huge communities on their own, and men would be allowed in now and then or as tokens only, thus insuring that they don’t have that much power. I notice men are well behaved a lot of times in women controlled institutions–they often just go off and sit by themselves because they can’t converse in female bonding ways.

Large numbers of women creating collective families, large numbers of lesbian towns, not just isolated events like Michigan but huge groups everywhere around the world. The fact that these things don’t easily exist means women are disadvantaged in the institution of marriage that essentially never changes. It might appear to change, with women being able to own property or vote, but the slave labor and social demands placed on women in the home never go away.

Women are always drafted for sexual/slave duty–if not the rich housewife, then the brown women domestics who work for the master,
or men being terrorists in the home and how clever they are at hiding all the awful things they do behind closed doors.

And men being in the access to children professions or the creepy psychiatrists who rape or cajol their vulnerable female patients into sex/rape— Jung comes to mind here.

So there has been no change on a massive level in the actual day to day living or working environments of women. Lesbians have some theme and variation, but I still have to deal with the creepo men and their porn sick minds out in the world. And they are creepier and creepier to be around because porn has invaded their very souls–you can feel the level of male toxicity rising in an energetic and psychic way to such a degree– that it has gotten to Fukushima level now.

Just like the ice caps are melting– the tipping point with male porn sick woman hating ideas are now widely out in the open, and women are in more danger now than ever. Women of course are renewed in radical feminism, and put 20% of women in the US Senate– harm reduction to quote FCM, Akin being defeated, Romney being defeated, the Women/men voting gap…. but the social structure where women have to live with men is unchanged by and large, and having no other widely available alternative, women are unaware that they are being boiled slowly like the proverbial frog put in cold water vs. the frog thrown into the boiling pot where it jumps out immediately.

Lesbian male free spaces of course are harm reduction, but never having PIV, and largely not associating with men has really helped. It doesn’t free all women, but the sexual, emotional and political satisfaction of life is significant. It’s why now that there is more vvisibility of lesbians and more legal protections more women are coming out at later ages, more women are openly lesbians than ever before, and this is a significant social change. But we have to harness the power of half the world, and I believe we can do it. I’ve always been an optimist because I have seen how far lesbian nation has progressed and how successful radical feminism really was in my formative years.

The conundrum of het women of course is that they feel they don’t love women erotically– it is ok, I’m not the sex police here, but it is a block, and maybe its one reason that hetero women are trapped in some ways, and less socially adaptable than lesbians.

Change the living arrangements on a massive scale, but living with men, ain’t gonna change nothing!

12. silverside - January 3, 2013

Unfortunately, “equality” feminists have made it nearly impossible to dump these unemployed/unemployed losers. Now that we have “shared parenting,” these jerks will get custody after a divorce or separation, and the woman will pay them child support to sit around on their @$$ and play video games all day. Meanwhile, the kids will be neglected (at best) if they’re not out and out abused. NSF’s own studies show that abuse and neglect are much higher in single-father headed homes, but the data has been buried due to the influence of the of the MR/FR crowd. For the most part, the data is not on line, but only in the paper documents.

13. silverside - January 3, 2013

Oops. Not NSF. HHS.

14. witchwind - January 3, 2013

“The conundrum of het women of course is that they feel they don’t love women erotically– it is ok, I’m not the sex police here, but it is a block, and maybe its one reason that hetero women are trapped in some ways, and less socially adaptable than lesbians.”

You seem to say that if het women loved women erotically, they wouldn’t stay with men. I think this is a denial of men’s power over us. what traps women is not the fact they don’t love women, but male violence: the purpose of men’s everyday and totalitarian violence is to keep us captive and to prevent us from freeing ourselves from their hold, and reprisals are fierce if we don’t comply, whether we love women or not. It’s like saying, “if jews loved each other more, there wouldn’t be a genocide”. It is victim-blaming, it’s saying that “this wouldn’t happen to women because of x y z behaviour”. I also find this assumption insulting to all those women who do love women erotically but who have no way to escape domestic slavery, and would otherwise be killed.

Second, it’s assuming that lesbianism is the only alternative to domestic and sexual enslavement by males (I don’t call it heterosexuality because being raped, colonised, impregnated and vampirised by males is *not* a sexuality). This is false, there are other ways of bonding with women, such as through friendships, which might be just as emotionally satisfying and probably more conducive to stable relationships, given that our sexuality and integrity is so destroyed by men that it takes years if not decades to even free ourselves to a certain extent from the layers of traumas they induced.

Alternative “sexuality” to men is actually not the immediate priority for the liberation of all women IMO. It is to escape men, male violence and then somehow get men to cease their violence, or get rid of them if they don’t. The means for this is necessarily female bonding, but whether this bonding is erotic or not is not of primary importance (except when erotic bonding takes the form of objectifying other women, which goes against any form liberation). Also, lesbianism can always only rest upon individual choice and desire. Lesbianism is great and it should be made visible and of course any woman can be a lesbian, but it can never be a politics per se because desire is by definition something that has to emanate from yourself – whatever it may be – otherwise it is forced, imposed.

Seeing things from the prism of sexuality is male-centred, it’s viewing things from men’s experience of rape as sex. Sexuality with men is NOT the problem. Sexuality with men does not exist in Patriarchy, the power difference between them and us precludes equal relationships, and therefore reciprocal sexuality. It will necessarily be a relationship of power. Violence from men is the problem.

FCM - January 3, 2013

one problem i see is that people who arent sleeping together need more space than romantic couples — or it could be that theres a HUMAN need for space that HET women are never allowed to have when they are partnered with and colonized by men, but regardless if *i* were going to live closely with other women on womens land or whatever i would need my space. i think all the women would need or at least DESERVE to have a small but adequate living space which included privacy and autonomy (with shared spaces as well for when that was desired and appropriate). but women are so fucking poor, we are dirt poor and those of us who can imagine doing this or have to do it dont have the resources to do it properly. we live literally on top of each other, get on each others nerves, and for reasons upon reasons this fails. my own experience with this is from living with roommates and my family too — it couldve worked IF. if we had enough space, if we had the proper mindset which is basically an us-versus-them mentality in my experience, like its a team-effort to survive (which of course it is) and importantly if theres a FAMILY-like bond and function that friends rarely perform for each other — like you keep helping the person out, even if you are WAY past being sick of them being there, you make room for them and their personality and their mess. its too much to ask of a friend, but women need this kind of commitment from each other or its not safe or permanent, or even semi-permanent. women bringing men into the equation fucks this up royally too, or women leaving each other when a man comes around and promises HE can offer more. its a lie of course, but het women fall for this one. there would have to be a commitment not to, ever, that could not be broken ever no matter what. these are the problems i see. but then i also see women saying there is plenty of thriving womens land out there, and that if we only wanted to we could all move there tomorrow. is that true? i dont see how, but i want to believe.

15. witchwind - January 3, 2013

it’s interesting that you see this in terms of space or lack of. However this question is not a question to me if you assume that whether in a romantic relationship or not, we deserve a space of our own. Not having this space at hand is a different question, which doesn’t mean you have to be in a romantic relationship if that’s the case. It might just mean having to pile up in a room, which of course isn’t easy to deal with but something different. If you’re in a romantic relationship with someone only because you have nowhere to live or because of lack of space, then it isn’t romantic, it’s dependency and power. I wouldn’t recommend that to any woman. How would it make the lack of space easier to cope with if we were in a relationship with woman with whom we shared the space?

Also, it’s interesting that you view friends as unstable and rom. relationships as more trustworthy (is that right?). I would tend to see it the other way round (by the way by “friendships” I was referring to a case in which women were already separatist from men – a separatist forms of friendship bonding – that is, no chance of going back to men). Romantic relationships tend to end more all of a sudden, which might mean having to move out very quickly in case of a break up, etc and I find it more unsafe in this sense. Of course friends can also fall out but I find friendship relationships to be more stable and more respectful of boundaries – and generally, less chances of falling out because of this (with separatist women, not male-owned women – of course the equation is completely different with the latter).

FCM - January 3, 2013

well, i think its assumed by a lot of people — including by landlords and realtors — that a small one bedroom or studio apartment would be “suitable for single occupant or couple” but not suitable for 2 people bc theres not 2 bedrooms. i personally find this not to be realistic (and politically its problematic) and that its stifling not to have a room of my own — but how many women have a room of their own? none that i know, and *if* theres an extra room it belongs to the kids or the husband as either a playroom, or a gameroom/den. i had a room of my own once for a couple of years…..ah those were the days. anyway, my point was that there is no way i would think to move into “womens land” if we were all going to be crammed in together, but sheilas lesbian couples might be willing to share (or maybe they wouldnt, again, i think its inhumane but couples do this all the time). and if they didnt want to share, well, who has the money to do this properly? its kind of doomed to fail isnt it? when i think of an ideal “cooperative” living situation, i think of a big tract of land with many small “mini homes” and a couple of large communal spaces for quilting bees or whatever 🙂 or maybe if its an urban setting, a building with several units that are all rented by individuals but who function as a group. a large shared kitchen or recreational space would be nice in that case as well. i do not think that any situation where people are on top of each other is likely to be healthy or sustainable, and that includes “romantic” couples who do this all the time (and many of them break up for whatever reason, or are unhealthy, or both). anyway, i think ive forgotten my point 🙂

also, no i dont think that romantic partnerships are stable, but neither are friendships for women most of the time bc theres no shared sincere commitment to stay with each other long term, or through trials and tribulations or forever. the closest i have ever come to experiencing the stability and commitment i am talking about was “family” and thats more like extended family and parent-child, not the nuclear family or women depending on a man for any reason. i could imagine staying with my aunt or grandfather for a year for example if i really needed to, or maybe my mom, but i have NO friends who would allow me to do that, and i wouldnt ask. my one childhood friend who would do this for me if she could, cant bc shes married now and her husband would never allow it. im talking about a level of commitment to other women that i think most women do not have with other women, and the kind and degree that would likely be required if we were to make a communal living situation really work, and be safe and permanent. do lesbian couples have that with each other? i hope so, but i wouldnt know. again, sheila keeps implying that het women are disadvantaged in these areas…perhaps thats not true at all?

FCM - January 3, 2013

also, yes, your definition of “friendship” is not the one i was using. yours would be more likely to be strong and committed, like the “extended family” situation i mentioned that was more than a “mere” friendship — the way i was using it, to mean a non-separatist non-political non-committed friendship. which is what most women settle for from other women isnt it?

16. witchwind - January 3, 2013

Yes I agree that community would only work if we have our own space and friendship /relationship is committed and based on male separatism. That’s a bare minimum. I do mean friendship as “extended family” and plan to move in with women friends in the long term, but it would take me at least 2 or 3 years of trial relationship to make that decision with any woman. 2-3 years is enough to be able to see whether you can overcome conflicts pretty peacefully and respect each other’s evolutions, time, space, etc. Anything other would be short-time emergency helping-out. But for a community to work, getting to know each person very well and knowing beforehand that it’s possible to function in healthy ways is a sine qua non condition to me.

Since the strength and health of communities depends on relationships within that community, if relationships are violent (horizontally), unstable, unsafe (etc.) then it is a failed community because it’s not viable. A community can be hell if relationships are toxic.

Having access to housing is another difficulty, but actually the models you describe make life much cheaper than the classic patriarchal nuclear family model.

FCM - January 3, 2013

i dont think it would be cheaper though — a het couple could share one 1-br apartment, or would be expected to, but for a group of people who would *each* have to rent an apartment, although they functioned as a group — thats rent times 6 (or whatever). and who owns a huge tract of land and a dozen mini-homes they would be willing to make available to a bunch of women? i think that would be seriously awesome and i would seriously consider living and working there, if it was available. but i never hear about these things. this is surely deliberate since they would be an attractive target for male surveillance and abuse. whenever we talk about this stuff here i am *always* hopeful that there are younguns reading, bc it seems like it would be relatively simple for someone to set something like this up if this was their idea from day one, instead of taking the long way around like many of us have. i hope so much that young women will value their friendships and seriously consider making a life with those women, understanding that it is extremely unlikely to get any better than that, and very likely to get a hell of a lot worse, if you buy into the idea of partnering or cohabitating with a man. or even the lie that you can do it “on your own” and have a room of your own, in your own place, forever. this is not realistic for very many women at all, and it takes a lot of sacrifice and male pleasing to be “successful” that way.

FCM - January 4, 2013

and thats *if* the friendship is a real friendship. if its not, then its really unlikely to work out…but then again, most marriages end in divorce, so whats the harm in trying i guess? seriously. at least your bff isnt going to get you pregnant.

FCM - January 4, 2013
17. weirdward - January 4, 2013

Well, I think there are some differences with lesbians in that lesbians often have no one to rely on but other lesbians – so many of us get rejected by our families, society in general, straight women too more often than not – so by default I guess a women’s culture gets created. And this does have enormously exciting potential as a liberating and transformative tool, but of course this is short-circuited by self-hatred, and pornified lesbian culture (which has been going on for a long time, though it’s definitely getting worse) and now also by the fact that lesbian spaces have been colonised by trans and pomos and queers and taken away from actual lesbians. And then of course lesbians are also often very economically marginalised, and this prevents building of community resources. And none of this is accidental, needless to say.

I don’t think relationships between women need to be romantic or erotic, though I do also kind of get what Sheila is saying about the power, or at least potential power, of romantic/erotic love between women, in that I don’t think she is talking about anything that could be equated to what passes for romantic het partnerships, or het relationship models, although of course this IS the model that a lot of lesbians use, and we all know how successful that’s not (hello gender identity).

But I also agree with witchwind that women are with men because the system is set up that way, and women are punished for not complying, or never get the opportunity to get away *at all* and probably if large numbers of women did start saying no to men and trying to set up (e.g.) our own towns we would see extreme violence. As evidenced by the women’s only village in Kenya that came up on this blog a while ago, and men wanting to destroy it in the name of ‘culture’, and that was certainly telling, wasn’t it?

And I also agree that there needs to be a whole host of different kinds of relationships between women (friendships, blood-kin relationships, physical/erotic love if so inclined) that are invested in, not just one kind. At some point, though, there does seem to have to be some kind of conscious decision to choose women (in whatever fashion), b/c I know straight women who have pretty much opted out of being actively heterosexual since they can see that the whole deal is crap, but they haven’t really replaced it with anything else – they haven’t built up extensive female friendship networks or professional networks or anything – and so they just kind of inhabit this negative space of nothingness, sometimes for years on end, and that to me seems very weird. It’s like they’re not being honest with themselves about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and maybe are pretending to themselves and other women that they’re still in the game when they’re not and they don’t want to be.

Yes also to space. When I’ve lived with partners in the past we both had our own rooms. Space is a good thing.

18. weirdward - January 4, 2013

Love these ladies (excuse diki):


19. mechantechatonne - January 4, 2013

I could never wrap my mind around the idea of living with a man. I’ve kind of hovered between sort of dating men, going as long as three years without dating anyone, and having ultimately disastrous relationships with women. The largest difficulty I’ve faced is that after years of trauma at the hands of men, the lesbian/bisexual women that I date are wrong out, untrusting, insecure and with a host of psychological issues. They’re either scared I’ll treat them like men do, and constantly suspecting me of being unfaithful or thinking I’ll abandon them, or they’re on the opposite end hoping that I will treat them like a man will and complaining about things like me expressing my emotions clearly and saying that I am being too “chatty” or alternatively analyzing what they say too much when I don’t just shut them out and ignore them and actually talk back and listen and recall the things they say to me. I’ve even flat out been told by a lover that she’d like me to be more like a man and that she thinks that “all relationships need a masculine and feminine party in order to have a proper balance.” I was unsure how to even respond to someone literally telling me that I’m not playing my part in pretending to be a het couple. If I wanted one of those, I’d be with a man. The whole set up with the butch/femme thing and all of the playacting and strapons and gendah and increasing numbers of lesbians turning into “transmen” makes what passes for lesbian nation these days a pretty uninviting place.

I think that the truth of the matter is that partnering with men sexually and domestically in and of itself IS detrimental to women’s freedom and the consistent deconstruction of anything resembling an alternative to it clearly demonstrates that. I didn’t really feel bone deep how much of an impediment it is until, after having PIV with a man again after over a year of having not done so my period was late (for the first time.) The normal terror of maybe-maybe-not being pregnant was bad enough, but the very imminent possibility of never being able to eradicate this man from my life or that of my potential child’s life was chilling. He was so fucking gleeful and I could see so clearly what he was so gleeful about that I was in terror. He was gleeful about being able to trap me and set me up as a replacement for his mother in the role of domestic servant. He was gleeful about the fact that he’d find it much easier at this point to convince me to marry him and live in his home, by default under his rule. Living with men is living with PIV all the time, and living with that is living with the constant threat of having yet another 20-year sentence of ongoing access to you and your children on his terms. If you get in a relationship with a man, then things heading that way is almost certain in due course.

When I think about how important to women’s liberation lesbianism is in that context, it’s hard to come up with a picture of a way that women can be liberated from men and have PIV with them. Especially in light of the expanded access that has come from equality rhetoric. At least in the past if you wished to shoulder the financial, emotional and legal burden of your children yourself, then in exchange for the man not supporting your children you could have him out of your way. With “father’s rights” that option, as anemic as it was in light of women’s reduced wages, is also off of the table unless a man consents to it. Shared custody, mandatory visitation, requirements of residency ranging from notification to prohibitions to leave the state… The only way for women to really be not only free from the total control of men that comes with living with them, but also free from the trauma bonding and threat of unwanted offspring creating legal ties even if a woman eschews marriage is either being lesbian or I suppose total celibacy. While total celibacy is possible, the likelihood of it being sustainable over a long term for a large number of women, particularly pre-menopausal women is rather thin, I would think. That brings my opinion over to the idea that erotic love among women is an element that, if not essential to successful separatism, is at least important if it’s going to happen on a scale of any significant size.

20. cherryblossomlife - January 4, 2013

Space and money are the two things that radfem women seem embarrassed to talk about. Like socialists, it’s considered a faux pas to admit that 1) money is important 2) space is important. You can’t do much (can hardly live as a human being) without those two things. Nigels suck up huge amounts of space and energy simply by *being present* in the home, so get rid of your Nigel and your perceived amount of living space will increase a thousandfold, even if you end up in a much smaller appartment as a result of a split (Unfortunately, many women are not in a position to even do this!)

And thanks for touching on the “negative space of nothingness” weirdward! This is as much of an issue as actual, physical space.
When you decide to reject men, there is suddenly a nothingness has to be filled, and if you’ve wasted time with men over the years, then the tenuous threads of connections you might have had with other women have probably suffered greatly. If you’re 32, like me, you’ve probably flushed over a decade of possible bonding and potential emotional security with other women down the toilet, and you’ve probably reached the point of no return.

21. doublevez - January 4, 2013

Can you get this? “Listen” below the picture: http://www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/documentaries/2012/10/14/baba-yagas-house/

22. weirdward - January 4, 2013

I’m 31. But I think having been an always lesbian/lifelong lesbian there are things about my evolution that have been different, at least to the extent that I could see quite clearly from a very young age that I was going to have to take serious and highly unconventional action if I was not going to end up trapped in heterosexuality. And I was prepared to go to extreme lengths to avoid what was to me a totally abhorrent and unacceptable deal. (I think there is an old thread on gallus’s blog somewhere about this topic)

In some ways my working-class upbringing was an advantage, in that poor women and also women in communities of colour do tend to have their own networks of support between women. It’s a matter of physical safety, if nothing else, and we know that we can’t call upon official authorities to help us, who indeed are often the ones being violent. Even if it works more as a harm reduction strategy, I guess it did give me some sort of starting point in terms of thinking about building up alliances with women, and it made me think about what relationships I actually wanted to focus on and have in my life, which – big surprise – did not include violent rapist men, who were often also criminals on the run from the law, or caught up in powerplays with other criminal men, or doing other stuff that was extremely dangerous for women and girls to be in close proximity to.

mechantechatonne – there was one woman in particular I dated recently-ish (not for very long, needless to say) who was also so invested in the gender stuff she could not imagine or understand how to do a relationship without it. Very dispiriting.

23. cherryblossomlife - January 5, 2013

weirdward, interesting about the working class upbringing creating links between women. My own situation was pretty unusal because my mother was a full time working professional, out-earning my father, but because I had, like, a millions siblings (well, not a million), and because my extended family were working class, I ended up mixing in working class circles rather than in middle class circles, and adopting working class values.

However, my home was rife with all kinds of abuse, and although my parents were *very* left wing, it seems to me (looking back) that my survival tactic was to sell myself the hell out of that situation into a conservative, right-wing marriage at the tender age of 23. This was NOT my parents plan for me, and they were very angry (mother did not come to the wedding). Looking back, I think my mother was right, and she was trying to assert control over me in the only way she could. However, because patriarchy had made sure that my mother and I had no relationship at all to speak of, and she was also incredibly abusive, so it wasn’t as though I could just live with her and ride out the knocks that life would to throw at me. If I had had the choice, for sure I would have lived with my mother after finishing university (In the UK, the government supported you through uni when I was there, so education was less of a class issue, although this has changed now)

No, the safest, (and I really believed that marrying was crucial to my safety at that point in my life) option for me was marrying. I can honestly say, without exaggeration, that I could easily have ended up dead if I hadn’t had SOMEWHERE to go. Of course, I believed I was marrying for love, because I did have feelings for my husband. But Jesus Christ, how my coercion does a woman have to face before she’s willing to admit that, yes, love is all well and good, but there’s no way she’d have committed to marriage without the push factors (safety being a major push factor).

OF course it’s all a lie, after all, because women are more likely to be murdered in their own homes than anywhere else.

24. cherryblossomlife - January 5, 2013

how *much* coercion, that was meant to be.

25. cherryblossomlife - January 5, 2013

I also think that going to uni for 4 years, (and being one of the only girls in my circle of friends who was encouraged to go to uni), severed my links with my female friends, and with the working class community. ANd yet at the same time my working class mannerisms and accent was a huge set-back in the workplace. So all in all, that left two options: marriage or prostitution!

FCM - January 5, 2013

yes i faced the same choice once i was finished with school (we cohabitated without marrying tho, although we got pretty close to marrying at one point!) i literally had no money, no prospects and nowhere to go, and my relationship with my mom was pretty bad — not only was i not welcome, but we didnt have the mindset it wouldve taken for us to live together without it being a horrible disaster EVEN IF WE HAD WANTED TO. plus she had HER nigel living in HER HOUSE so it wouldve had to have been ok with him tooooo. gee thanks mom for completely running me out and locking the door behind me…..i loved nigel its true, and i thought we would have a go at a life together, but as you say cherry JESUS CHRIST its not like this wasnt completely, unambiguously coercive. it most obviously was.

26. Liz - January 5, 2013

@weirdward´s “negative space of nothingness”

Unfortunately that´s totally true.
I just haven´t found out how to counteract this phenomenon yet.
I´m 32, childless, with a few failed hetero relationships behind me and 5 years of “abstinence” from hetero-relationships bc I always had problems with men´s entitlement/porn use/destructive &oppressive behaviour/objectification/mansplaining, etc…. (I could go on for infinity)

I´ve thought about having a relationship with another woman but what I have seen in terms of relationship dynamics in lesbian circles frightened me. They change partners even more freqently than most heteros I know, hitting on other women´s partners is accepted/expected/normalised- even if they are friends of yours. There´s rampant objectification/pornification/strap-on and penetration glorification going on, which, as mechantechatonne pointed out:

“The whole set up with the butch/femme thing and all of the playacting and strapons and gendah and increasing numbers of lesbians turning into “transmen” makes what passes for lesbian nation these days a pretty uninviting place.”

Also, they don´t take kindly to women who used to sleep with men or to bisexual women. I´ve heard them being labeled as fakes and traitors bc there´s the assumption that women who have been in heterosexual relationships/had sex with men will always regard other women as inferior to the “mighty penis” and will sooner or later miss PIV (with a “real” penis) so much that they will leave their lesbian partners to go back to living with men.

On the topic of being left without any deeper connections with other women as friends:
I had three separate circles of female friends (two of them overlapped for a long time but parted a year ago over some differences, lifestylewise).
One of them consists of a lesbian couple plus two other solo females.
Recently, one of the solo females acquired a nigel who consistently tried crawling over and pawing all of us (except for his partner). When I pointed out that I wasn´t going to meet them in the future, if said nigel was going to be present, I was told by one of the lesbian couple (she´s one of my oldest friends), that “it´s just for fun”, “he can´t help himself”, “he´s been successful using this behaviour to get women to have sex with him” and that it was my “responsibility to just keep on telling him that you don´t want this” and that obviously my life was “lacking positive relations to men”. I was just so stunned. And hurt. I mean a few years back when somebody (men) dared to get even a little into her personal space, she would scream bloody murder.

Second circle of friends consists of two female friends and my sister. One of the friends got together with an absolute douchebag and basically went off the horizon for three years. ( Recently, scumbag dumped her, lucky for her- but she already vying for the next one). The other friend practices serial one night stands and hasn´t been interested in something other than religiously practising the feminine gender role (complete with pornified outfit, solarium, etc.) and drinking herself into a stupor at clubs on weekends for a long time now.
My sister (24) is so challenged by self-worth issues, indoctrinated by society´s photo-shopped porno bunny- obsession that she abhorrs even the word “feminism” and runs in the other direction if you dare mention it (or any feminist issues). She told me a few days ago that she´s now ready to have two kids with the boyfriend she acquired two months ago (she´s been telling me how much she hates kids for years! And that she can´t stand PIV! WTF?!)

Third circle of friends I picked (among other things) bc two of them said that they didn´t like men (although all of them are hetero) and that they wouldn´t consider having relationships with men. One of them seemed really hardcore about it. Guess what? She´s in a relationship with one now and you never ever meet her without him. You also can´t talk with her bc he ALWAYS dominates every conversation. Same with the other two, even if you get them alone, guess what they want to talk about? Their nigels…. Barf.

All of my friends have wanted to fix me up with men in the past but quite recently I declared this a wasted effort out loud and told them, if anything, I would consider having a long term relationship with a woman.

I love the ideas of women living together based on friendship without any men in the mix but it certainly would not be feasible with any of the women I encountered and befriended up till now. They are all busy buying the heteronormative patriarchal nightmare.

27. cherryblossomlife - January 5, 2013

It obviously was. And while I understand that lesbians don’t even have the option of “selling themselves” out of the situation because (I’m guessing) the thought of sleeping with a man makes them physically ill, getting married, or cohabiting with a man, (like prostition) has zip to do with sexuality.

I re-read “The Enchanter’s Daughter” to my daughter today. God, I love that fairy tale. Usually, the patriarchal narrative goes like this:
A girl lives with her father, with or without an evil stepmother, and her real mother is dead. Then one day a prince comes to save her, sweep her off her feet and she lives happily ever after.

Whereas in The Enchanter’s Daughter, it goes like this:
A girl lives with her father, a powerful enchanter, who won’t let her leave the castle. With a wave of his hand can offer her anything she desires. She doesn’t have a name, and he calls her “daughter”, which she doesn’t think strange, because she calls him “father”.
But in time, she grew bored, and pestered him each day, so he made the mistake of letting her read, and from her books she learned about the world.
She eventually escaped by tricking him, but the journey almost killed her, and she was found half-dead in the woods by man—who turned out to be her brother. He took her home to his cottage, and she was nursed back to health. It turns out, you see, that a rich man had offered her mother some money for her daughter many years ago when she was tiny, but her mother had refused. THe very next day the little girl went out to play and never came home (The Enchanter had kidnapped her).
The girl was delighted to be reunited with her mother, and even though they had no jewels or riches, she lived happily ever after with her mother and brother in the cottage at the foot of the mountains.

Ahhh. 🙂

28. DavinaSquirrel - January 5, 2013

Great post and thread, particularly many of the comments by witchwind and FCM (others too).

Just addressing something in the OP;

seriously, what revolution? if anything, she is talking about equality rhetoric, and lets examine — shall we?

At the time, in the early 70s, it *felt* that way, a revolution. I was just that sniff too young (chronologically and geographic factors) to take part in the second wave, and most of my exposure to it was via TV news and secondhand. But even witnessing it that way, I still felt it, felt the sense of a revolution for women happening. And it really was revolutionary, compared to how things had been in the 50s and 60s for women, both in marriage and the workplace.

And a lot in the 80s like me, were waiting for (and assured) that the balance of women’s disadvantages in all spheres was just taking time to be put into place. I guess that was also when the ‘equality’ rhetoric was really taking hold (we were duped of course) and the 80s was the real start of the backlash against all previous feminist gains of the 70s. It was also the start of the rise of porn (largely because of inventions like VCRs, which has compounded with later technology like internet, phones).

The main reason it was not quite a revolution (but nearly perhaps) is that we have to address all areas of male domination and control at once, lest a backlash develops in one of the overlooked areas. So it is firefighting on all fronts, a huge job. And of course, every time either collectively or individually we do make progress in any area, there is usually a backlash of violence or threat of violence to stifle further progress.

Yes, communal female living (and child raising) is the way forward. And to develop a number of female-BFFs. Patriarchy trains women to prioritise males over female friendships/bonds, and one big change you can make on an individual level is to reverse that (to its proper position) of prioritising females over males, every time.

29. DavinaSquirrel - January 5, 2013

The normal terror of maybe-maybe-not being pregnant was bad enough, but the very imminent possibility of never being able to eradicate this man from my life or that of my potential child’s life was chilling. He was so fucking gleeful and I could see so clearly what he was so gleeful about that I was in terror. He was gleeful about being able to trap me and set me up as a replacement for his mother in the role of domestic servant. He was gleeful about the fact that he’d find it much easier at this point to convince me to marry him and live in his home, by default under his rule. Living with men is living with PIV all the time, and living with that is living with the constant threat of having yet another 20-year sentence of ongoing access to you and your children on his terms. If you get in a relationship with a man, then things heading that way is almost certain in due course.

Yes, absolute Mech. It is the trap that most women do not realise they are getting into. And with the upsurge of FR (that Silverside mentioned), that entrapment is cemented. So young women, if you are reading, avoid the No.1 method of entrapment for females. You’ll thank me later on.

30. Sargasso Sea - January 5, 2013

Interestingly, I recently made a comment elsewhere wherein I recalled that equality model of feminism really started happening after the ERA was shot down. I agree with Dave:it really did feel like a revolution in the 70s. But I remember clearly the sense that the wind had just been sucked from our sails and that we should just be happy with the few things we did manage to get out of it because it was (seemed) so much better than it had been…

I have about 40 things I’d like to add but can’t seem to focus on any of them! Thanks for the great thread 😀

FCM - January 5, 2013

how utterly fascinating that something that WASNT a revolution “felt like” it was one. i think this needs to be parsed and examined thoroughly because obviously it was a false reality. how did that happen?

i will leave comments open for people who want to discuss.

31. MarySunshine - January 5, 2013

Thanks! that’s my entry cue. 😀

But hafta go out right now to pick stuff up. Will answer when I get back.

32. MarySunshine - January 5, 2013

When I first got into radical feminism, I was het & married; knew I was trapped. That it was a dead end. My primitive FEMALE reptilian brain knew that. But of course, there were no words, no concepts to describe that knowledge.

As soon as the WLM arrived, I lunged for it. I thought females were going to rise up and overthrow males.

But here’s the thing: the WLM had been genned up mostly by women with some kind of political activist background. So the language of discussion, the dialog, reflected that. “Revolution” and “oppression” were words that came from that shared background. I didn’t care. All I cared about was that here were wimmin communicating with each other emphatically about all the ways that females were getting fucked over by males. So excellent!

After the exhilarating environment of female-only “small group” meetings, the shock of re-entry to the heterosocial was noticeable. The heterosocial environment was just more and more repulsive to me with each passing day.

After not too many months I was really bummed out to realize that all that these women wanted was to “revolutionize” the heterosocial environment. Whatever “revolutionize” meant …. 😐

These women were never going to “rise up”. They were just going to protest, and then beg for favours.

Meanwhile, I had left the husband, and was living in a pseudo-female-only house. Pseudo because there was a guy living in the garage who occasionally came into the house to make brief use of the kitchen and the bathroom. I always treated him like shit or ignored him and he scurried out again quickly. I was loving being a man hater, and wanting to only ever know and mix with females for the rest of my life.

I’ll end this (long) comment here, and carry on in my next comment.

33. MarySunshine - January 5, 2013

So when that household broke up, I lived in a van with my three year old daughter. One of the best times of my life! but this was California, eh? A great way to have freedom to figure things out for yourself.

Within a few more months, I realized that as long as females were forced ( and I did see us as being forced / coerced ) into sharing quarters with males, we were going to be ground down as a life-form. This wasn’t “political” thought: this was (just!) Female Intelligence that had finally been allowed to talk to herself. 1970, 1971. Maybe some year I’ll be able to sort out the months. Anyway. I hung around with random radical women, and met up with a few dykes. The dykes were not necessarily radical feminists, and the radical feminists were not necessarily dykes, but they were interspersed in my acquaintance.

Long story short, I ended up at the old ICI Women’s bookstore in Oakland / Berkeley where all the radical feminist as well as lesbian feminist and separatist books and periodical were being sold. By this time I was already a lesbian, and finally met up with other separatists.

Now it gets complicated.

The *volume* of energy that continued to power the “women’s” movement was that of het-feminist reformism. The *intensity* of the energy that recirculated back into it was lesbian-feminist and lesbian separatist. The rhetoric that made it into the mainstream women’s magazines, and MS magazine, was het feminist pseudo “revolutionary”, already watered down from the late 60’s, 1970. Already quite a bit watered down from Shulamith Firestone.

next ….

34. Sargasso Sea - January 5, 2013

And I’d like to stitch onto what Mary is saying about that time:

My mom was indeed a politically-minded woman and a woman who was none too fond of men and a het-ish woman who was not afraid to hang around with lesbians. I know that she really did have Liberation in her gut (if not her heart) but when the *obvious* became OBVIOUS – that we were not going to be liberated – she fell back on the equality model certainly because women have been forced to be pragmatists.

I’m also a politically-minded woman so I know that the ERA would not have been any more effective in actuality than any other “equal protections” which are 99% Equality window dressing, but had it actually passed the *probable realities* for the future would have been different, I think.

35. Sargasso Sea - January 5, 2013

Should have said: *possible realities* 🙂

36. MarySunshine - January 5, 2013


So, the “revolution” rhetoric was harnessed to the purpose of het reformism. What the “original” 2nd wave activists didn’t get around to realizing, or analyzing, was that *revolution* itself is a male concept. It’s just another game of pat-a-cake that males play with themselves while pretending that something really important is going on. But women were happy to ride with it because it *sounded* so much better than anything we had had before. The way the vote sounded to the suffragette generation.

How does something “feel like” a revolution?

Well… wtf is a “revolution” anyway? 😛

How does a male “feel like” a female?

How does a female (poor soul!) “feel like” a male?

Hmmmm … has woman ever “felt like” something was turning out the way she hoped, while it was actually just the same old shit that happened to other women but never ( !!! ) to her.

By the mid 70’s the appropriation of grass-roots radical feminism by academentia was well underway. Also, the relative popularization of feminism had led to the increasing common substitution of the word “gender” for “sex” in discussion of women’s issues. For instance, the phrase “gender roles” replaced “sex roles”. “Gender discrimination” replaced “sex discrimination”. And generally, feminism was being undermined seventeen ways to Sunday.

So yes, as s4 says, the wind had been sucked out of our sails. Actually, it was being seriously sucked out of our sails by a lot of things already by 1975. I’m amazed that there was any left by the 1980’s. But to women younger than me, women now in your 50’s, I imagine that it could still have felt that there was some kind of feminism left that could be built on, or worked at. But, alas.

Yes, equality feminism. The safe harbour of the anti-separatist. The sensible middle ground. The carrot on the end of the stick toward which the dutiful donkey plods on endlessly. Don’t stick your neck out – you may get it lopped off.

A female stronghold is not a revolution. It is Female Survival.

And at this point, lacking any female strongholds, freedom is just another name for nothing left to lose.

Carry on.

FCM - January 5, 2013

thank you. 🙂 how enlightening to think about “revolution” for women as being synonymous with “survival.” is that what you mean? if so, then yes, mens “revolutions” are nothing like ours and there is no reason for them to be — like everything else, they just blow their shit up beyond all proportion like its so goddamned important and profound. labor organizing versus surviving and escaping the death camps to go on to flourish somewhere else — is that what we are talking about? bc yes, those arent the same. at all.

PS. i hate men and especially male revolutionaries. fuck them all.

37. MarySunshine - January 5, 2013


Survival is survival.

Revolution is a male wet dream.

A “women’s revolution” is the application of male-wet-dream terminology to our sense that we need to get out from under males.

Women, if they allow themselves to be aware that they need to get out from under males, invariably turn to the fantasy that they can get out from under males without having to get *away* from males.

Hence the male-wet-dream terminology.

FCM - January 5, 2013

it makes sense that women “felt” that a revolution was happening though, if what we mean by that is that they felt that WOMENS SURVIVAL was afoot or would come easier now. for one thing, they were probably spending time in female-only safe space while they were discussing it. 🙂 and if they thought more money and opportunities would be forthcoming, our SURVIVAL mightve seemed like it was finally coming, finally, finally…

they mightve also been duped into feeling it in a labor-organizing kind of way…but considering women in the most favorable light, i am willing to believe they werent DUPED as much as they felt hopeful for a future where women would survive, and that the proposed and actual changes happening at the time would make it easier if not assure it. but the P kept chugging along, as destructive to women as it ever was (and getting worse daily it seems). again, i think its time to reevaluate the situation. and centering WOMENS SURVIVAL seems to make the most sense of anything i have heard. thanks mary.

FCM - January 5, 2013

agree that there is no women-centered reason to keep using the language of “revolution.” and yes, if you think about it in terms of womens survival (or even getting out from under men — these things are the same thing arent they?) then getting *away* from men is clearly indicated. the burden should be on het non-or or anti-separatists to show that getting away from men is not necessary (to womens survival) but i dont think they would be able to do that. *any* reevaluation of our situation would put us there, staring that one in the face. no wonder no one wants to reevaluate or ask any probing questions about “where are we now?” or to evaluate our effectiveness at all.

38. MarySunshine - January 5, 2013

You got it. 😀

FCM - January 5, 2013

but i want to have 5 sons mary. stop crapping all over my dream of perpetual service to males — my 5 sons — with the REAL TALK of separatism.

FCM - January 6, 2013

and female survival.

39. cherryblossomlife - January 6, 2013

I’m starting to think that there is no such thing as “abusive fathers” and “abusive mothers”. What happens is that if a girl child happens to be born into the family, then the adults in the family suddenly have a vessel into which they can channel all the world’s misogyny (which results in seuxal, physical and/or psychological abuse.) They use her as a type of recycling machine, and unless a girl is incredibly lucky to have had a mother who is neither emotionally or financially dependent on a man, the extent to which girl children are abused is simply a matter of DEGREES.
Boy children may, at some point, lock horns with their father in some type of dominance battle, yes. And they may even be on the receiving end of neglect, or other abuses from their mother. BUt that can not be compared with the sheer vileness that most female children have to contend with at the hands of their parents. Often, in the same family, girls and boy children are treated completely differently.
So when we talk about survival for girls and women, we’re not talking about whether or not they can get a job after leaving school; which is what men might think about when they hear the word “survival” (comparable to the labor organizing that men refer to as “revolution”), we’re actually talking about psychic and physical survival from birth to death.

FCM - January 6, 2013

So when we talk about survival for girls and women, we’re not talking about whether or not they can get a job after leaving school; which is what men might think about when they hear the word “survival” (comparable to the labor organizing that men refer to as “revolution”), we’re actually talking about psychic and physical survival from birth to death.

yes! exactly this.

40. weirdward - January 6, 2013

So many great comments! Lots to think about.

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