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That Explains That. (Or, ‘Witchcraze’ Pt. 3) May 26, 2013

Posted by FCM in books!, logic, meta, politics, pop culture.
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ive been seriously wondering for years how certain radical feminist writers managed to get published.  actual, real published in the sense of actual, real publishing houses, with editorial controls, factchecking (where the official “facts” are either baldfaced lies or spin, or where the real truth is unknowable) bank checks to be written and cashed and various patriarchal gatekeepers throughout the process.  how did daly, dworkin or anyone manage to get their work out there despite all the obstacles specifically designed to quash and erase womens work in general and radical feminist work in particular?  i wondered this from the first time i read dworkin and the question has lingered.  lingered!

welp.  reading and finishing anne llewellyn barstows ‘witchcraze’ has been eye-opening in more ways than one.  i mentioned earlier that barstow concludes that women as a class — having been relentlessly hunted, raped, tortured and murdered in a stunning period of global gendercide against women — understandably “kept a lower profile for several centuries” following the official period of the burning times, meaning after the period of 1560-1760 (or after 1800 depending on the source).  (p. 29)  bawdy women, women who talked back to men, were “scolds” or prominent members of the community for any reason (perhaps especially midwives and healers) having been put in their place by 2 centuries of unbridled misogyny and woman-murder, carried out by men and male institutions, all women understandably laid low after that.  for several centuries.  several.  centuries.

doing the math, and understanding that “several” generally means three or more, we see that the period of “laying low” wouldve ended by about 2060 or so.  its still happening, in other words.  but she doesnt say it.  and she uses the past-tense — women kept a lower profile — which reverses what she actually means.  she doesnt mean to say that this ever ended, but she does say it.  or more accurately, she says both, but the effect is to communicate that it ended at some point when that cannot be concluded from her own research or her own words.  a mindfuck effect.  later, she concludes that, as a result of the burning times,

[w]omen began to protest less in general.  From having, at the end of the Middle Ages, a reputation for being scolds and shrews, bawdy and aggressive, women began to change into the passive, submissive type that symbolized them by the mid-nineteenth century.

(p. 158).  what she doesnt do is make any statement at all about the “feminizing” effect of the global witchhunt by men against women carrying over into modern times or address how and indeed whether it still affects us at all.  it does, of course.  how could it not? and why would anyone assume or believe otherwise — that women found their voice at some point — and if anyone did think that, when exactly did this happen and how?

the mystery of how barstow got published has been answered to my satisfaction, and the answer appears to be that she didnt make any useful political connections or draw any relevant feminist conclusions from her own work.  instead, she makes the historical point, and the math takes us well into the future but she doesnt explain how or indeed whether the patriarchal purpose (intent and effect) of the witchcraze is relevant now, or how or whether it will continue to be relevant into the future or perhaps forever.  she leaves the reader to do that, and in fact no thinking person who was both paying attention and interested in the subject matter could reasonably conclude otherwise, based on her work and the information she provides.  hmmm.

as for daly and dworkin, it seems as if the same principle applies, and obviously so, so dont shoot the messenger mkay.  specifically, dworkin criticized PIV — intercourse — to within in inch of its life (as a patriarchal institution that benefits men at womens expense) but what she never said was that PIV-as-sex or for pleasure alone was inherently oppressive to women.  and when asked to clarify, she did — as everyone knows, she said that it was her belief that intercourse-as-sex could and would survive equality.  what she didnt do was explain how or why she thought that, or indeed how that conclusion reasonably followed from her own work.  it doesnt, by the way.

and daly, as i recall, (as many radical feminists do) used “5000 years” as the age of patriarchy, concluding that patriarchy is therefore a social (read: not biological) phenomenon with a beginning, and that therefore it will have an end.  but in reality, it seems as if institutionalized patriarchy began about 5000 years ago, and merely codified and formalized the previously informal patriarchal controls and structures that already existed everywhere anyway.  daly (and others!) using the 5000-years tidbit didnt lie exactly, but did the actual, real (whole) truth no favors and made it harder in some ways to draw reasonable conclusions based on the evidence.

now, im not calling daly or dworkin liars, or handmaidens or disparaging their work at all, i dont think, by calling attention to what was very likely a calculated trick or strategy used in order to get published in the patriarchal press.  in fact i appreciate both of them very much, including whatever strategies they mightve employed to think, write and publish because their work changed my life and my brain etc etc.  i feel about both of them the way you probably do — with love, admiration, gratitude and awe.  and probably other things.  amiright?

but what i am saying is this.  because published radical feminists (obviously) have to make concessions in order to be published at all, in order to get to the real, actual (whole) truth, other radical feminists have to read very closely, and not just *some* radical work but as much radical work as possible by a lot of different authors and make the connections ourselves.  *we* still have to figure out what the hell is going on, and take these radical thoughts to their logical ends.  this makes truth-seeking very difficult as its made both time consuming and frustrating.  and as is always the case, these half-truths and thought-termination/truncation make it decidedly *unobvious* that there is, in fact, any further truth to be revealed at all, or any obfuscating strategies being applied at all.

in the case of radical feminist publications in particular, its entirely possible that, since men cannot truly understand radical feminism, male editors and publishers didnt and in fact couldnt take these thoughts to their ends and understand the implications of any of it, including where and how it went off the rails, or was inconsistent, incomplete or unclear.  and being that men conflate “pleasing” with male-pleasing, they cant even identify that — male-pleasing as a political strategy (used to get published, despite being irrational or not reasonably following from the material) or as a “politic” at all.  even though it obviously is one.

of course, since i believe that the radical feminists that came before were some of the most intelligent, ingenious and creative humans who ever lived, i can only assume that this was deliberate on their part, and if it was, that they counted on us to realize what was happening and to do what they likely couldnt — to use their published work as a springboard and to take this material and these thoughts further, deeper and wider than anyone has ever done before.  to read between the lines and to use it in any and all ways to get to the actual, real (whole) truth about womens lives, and what men do to us, in order to liberate us from male dominance.  they are asking us to do this, i think, but in any event we are clearly invited to do it.  thats the point really.  not only the (historically gatekept, written) medium but the nature of radical feminist work itself absolutely invites our freedom of thought.  it just does.


1. FCM - May 26, 2013

guess i will be playing “spot the concession” from now on. not as a gotcha-game, but to get to the truth. read between the lines, figure out whats not being said etc. dworkin actually said that as a reader and a fan of literature, she learned to comprehend what wasnt being said, like a second-track playing and to understand that *that* was the most important part for girls and women. because no one tells girls and women the truth, or the whole truth. that applies across the board i think. what a genius she was!

FCM - May 26, 2013

or “spot the weirdness.” seriously, the part about “women laying low for CENTURIES” struck me as so odd, knowing that the witchcraze wasnt that long ago. wtf?

2. mbraaheidner - May 26, 2013

Absolutely, I am using Daly and Dworkin as my spring board and hope to get out there, the truth some day, or at least my own springboard for future feminists to launch from.🙂

FCM - May 26, 2013

wow, that comment added absolutely nothing to the discussion! thanks?

3. nuclearnight - May 26, 2013

The thing about telling women the truth, and I think as radical feminists we strive to do that, at least to the best of our ability given any situation (patriarchy permitting amiright?), is that most women cannot or will not hear it. This includes ourselves through the process of radicalization. A friend and I were discussing this once. We had been subjected to hearing a group of young college women share their stories of victimization by men. I was really dumbfounded that these young women hadn’t figured out yet that you didn’t HAVE to let a guy rub his dick on your ass. That you could choose to stay in instead of going to a dance club. I knew these things even when I was an empowered libfem. What made me angry is that at no point did anyone directly around these women who were so invested in influencing them bothered to tell them this simple truth. My friend told me that where those young women are at, they just couldn’t have been able to hear that yet. They’re still in the stage of honoring the fact that it feels icky, so detached they are from their own selves.
Perhaps this is the reason that our foremothers didn’t (or couldn’t) say all the plain truths, draw the logical conclusions. They didn’t think we were ready for them.

4. SheilaG - May 26, 2013

The reason Dworkin and Daly found publishers had to do with the herstorical moment. Feminism was very powerful when they were writing, and women were marching by the thousands in the streets. Beacon Press, Mary Daly’s publisher, had always published radical and liberal books, and her stuff was considered cutting edge in the academy. The women’s movement also had a dedicated and politically sophisticated cadre of women who cut their teeth in two key radical movements; the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements. You had a ground swell that provided the impetus for all this work by radical women, and then you also had a huge network of radical feminist magazines worldwide.

Since 1980, we have been actually in a backlash against feminism that has been relentless, so few women who went to college in the mid 80s to perhaps the mid-90s had access to the radical movement.

Mary Daly had such a dedicated following, that the entire group of women who went to her Harvard Memorial Chapel sermon, walked out with her in 1971. Consciousness raising groups spread the word about the feminist authors, and it was a very powerful time. So that was the context. Thousands of other texts and tracts and magazines were being published so there was a very large constitutency for this kind of work.

The time we are in now is not the same. Women on blogs write great stuff, but they are for the most part isolated, and not a part of communities of radical women. Because they haven’t had the activist backgrounds that was more common among women born in the 30s and 40s, the skills honed in the streets have not been there.

It’s why we get the innanity of slut walks. But it is an age of extreme repression and push back. Daly, I thought, was more radical than Dworkin, because she didn’t think men would do anything. Dworkin still held out for the humanity of men.

I suspect that men didn’t know what hit them when Daly came on the scene, and now have craftily learned to undermine feminism more effectively. And also, feminism waxes and wanes with each generation, to be rediscovered yet again.

I find easier access to radical women in real life, through lesbian communities that have maintained our connections to one another. We don’t have children in these groups, have never really dealt with men, and have persisted decade after decade in our work. Daly was a lesbian, and never married or had much to do with men at all. She knew the horror of their tactics when she got her advanced degrees, and because she was a lesbian, had an advantage of never sleeping with the enemy.

5. SheilaG - May 26, 2013

Maybe another factor is the decline of education and reading itself. Radical feminism is about study and books, and it is not entertainment. I find women in their early 20s lacking in a lot of basic skills, and ignorant of these movements, which the malestream is always trying to erase anyway. Radical feminism has always been accessed through movements and connections between women in activist contexts. Mary Daly was as much a feminist activist as she was an academic. She helped organize protests and demonstrations, and traveled the world spreading radical feminism. She had a sophisticated international background, and managed to escape the U.S. for a long period of time to study in Europe. Not being in the U.S. for most of the 1950s was a plus for her; she had time to develop her thoughts inside a rigourous European educational system that really doesn’t exist in the U.S. Andrea Dworkin traveled widely as well, and I believe she spoke French fluently. Daly studied theology in Latin, and was well versed in Thomas Acquinas and medieval scholastics. She credits these studies with her rigorous mind, and philosophical training, which she then translated into radical feminism.

Her dense footnoted work I think was over the head of most men to begin with. I don’t believe men in general have any understanding of radical feminism. They just can’t access its sophisticated concepts, but they do try to destroy it any way they can. The trans invasion of radical feminism in the academy is yet another tactic. In a nutshell y’all🙂

6. witchwind - May 26, 2013

My assumption is always that if men approved it at some stage of its creation process (whichever stage it may be) then the next step is to figure out what is it they approved exactly and why they would think it would suit them, even to a very minor degree. Basically, why the powers that be (men) would have an interest in or at the least not feel threatened by letting it be published.

On the woman’s side, spotting the concession she made, on the top of spotting the concession and moving on from there, makes it possible to spot the constraints that were put on her, and thus gives us better insight as to which conditions limited their freedom of thought. If i see concessions, it tells me something about her condition, and i will ask myself the following questions: which men is she dependent on for her survival? How do these men (or institutions, or any physical or organisational agent representing men and men’s interests, which may include “feminist” organisations if they are male-centred) control her thoughts and what she says?

I do agree that concessions are always political, as in a strategy to minimise retaliation from men, but i don’t think they’re necessarily conscious – they can be conscious, but it’s also likely that they’re not, because if you’re in a situation in which not only what you write but your entire life depends on whether you are published or not, well that conditions your thoughts before you can even think about it, because your willingness to make your thoughts depend on men means the concessions are already made, to some extent. I do believe that Andrea Dworkin and Mary Daly had much integrity in their writing and were very much committed to truth, so I don’t think they’d have written something if they KNEW with certainty it wasn’t true.
Unfortunately these unconscious survival strategies, which should be honoured as political resistance and desire to survive, are what keeps us making concessions rather than seeing our captivity to men, and seeing men for what they are.

7. witchwind - May 26, 2013

That leads me to the next question, why are some survival strategies unconscious while others are very deliberate and conscious?

I find this one tricky. I do have a sense of why, but wouldn’t be able to articulate it properly for now. I’ll have to think about that one.

Coming back to your article, you said in every way possible “i respect daly and dworkin, admire them etc” to prepare for what you were going to say – yes we are invited to springboard from radical feminists, but your “softening the lines” does show that you are aware (and rightly aware) that this is not what is commonly expected from us, quite on the contrary: we’re expected worship what certain women have said, and not treat their work seriously, as in seriously engage with it, which also means challenging it, or taking it and build from there. Men do this all the time, they take other men’s previous work and build from there. This is how they improve on their patriarchal system, generation after generation. But they try everything to prevent us from doing it, of course.

This uncritical worshipping (or its opposite, blind trashing) is of course NOT what Daly and Dworkin wanted – at least that’s what they said themselves, and I trust them – but when we think critically and take things further, silencing occurs more often than not. This means that what is at stake is not truth but gain or loss of male-given / male-made status. If we are truth-focused and consider each writing equally, that is, as spring board material, then there’s less possibility to worship blindly the women doing the writing.

8. fatimangry - May 26, 2013

After reading your post, I’ve been thinking about the way I reacted when I read that Dworkin said that PIV would survive equality, it was with astonishment and incomprehension since there was nothing in her work that I could recall leading to that conclusion. I rapidly thought that it was something about pleasing the masters, even though I didn’t think about editors, I had in mind her being able to speak in public and existing in male-dominated politics (for the anti-porn/anti-prostitution campaigns)..
Another thing that I’ve been thinking about after reading your witchcraze posts is in relation with the fact that I am from africa, and that in my country, there is no HIStory of witch burnings (there is narratives in popular culture about existing witches, they are evil and feared, sometimes glorified for their supposed magical powers, but i’ve never been across stories about male organised violence against them), and I’ve been wondering about the effects on women of the probable erasure of that part of the story by men.

FCM - May 26, 2013

yes in the case of dworkins bizarre “clarification” i think her written work was left incomplete, so that she wouldnt have to come to the logical conclusion and say (write) it out loud: that PIV for pleasures sake is inherently oppressive to women. then when she did clarify it, orally, later, i think you are right that it was likely to preserve her livelihood as a speaker and even as a writer who wanted to continue to publish. somewhere dworkin said that her book “pornography” was only a third of what it shouldve been and what she wanted it to be, but she stopped and published when she did bc it was killing her, and she needed to eat. or something! im not exactly sure what she meant but it was in the context of writing for a living and how hard it is. its stunning to think about anyone doing this kind of work for a living which is always why ive wondered how anyone could do it considering all the obstacles. and re intercourse, dworkin pulled a punch but still she was completely hated for what she did say. i have heard that other radical feminists shied away from PIV criticism after that bc of what happened to dworkin and they chose to focus on rape and anti-pornstitution instead, even though PIV criticism is obviously related. perhaps thats why they were left with only being able or willing to say that dom/sub was the “root” and not womens sexual and reproductive abuse by men. it doesnt really make any logical sense to do it their way, but it does make political sense if they were invested in legal reform, and being taken seriously by men (or male-identified women) who will never, ever, ever give up their PIV or “go there” in a serious political way at all.

9. Sargasso Sea - May 26, 2013

What SheilaG says about the radical past is true. I witnessed the *last throes* of those times as a girl and I consider myself very, very fortunate for it – it has allowed me to hang on and remember the way it once was. What is passing as radical today is, frankly, a dangerously sad joke.

I have things to say about “connections” but I’ll make a separate comment on that🙂

FCM - May 26, 2013

i hear what sheila is saying about the “radical past” and i accept that for the most part, however it only begs the question WHY would someone of dalys caliber say something that was verifyably untrue/misleading which is that patriarchy is 5000 years old? if gerda lerner could figure out the truth, then daly couldve as well — meaning that its knowable, and that a dedicated researcher could suss it out of only she wanted to. lerner was no lightweight either and was a professional historian and womens historian. and even lerners conclusion — that patriarchy had a beginning, which means its a social phenomenon (read: not biological!) and therefore will have an end — did not follow AT ALL from her own work! because INSTITUTIONALIZED patriarchy and mens informal sexual and reproductive abuse of women, enforced by informal violence and rape, are not the same thing at all. and the latter has been around a lot longer than 5000 years and provided the model for institutionalized patriarchy such as medicine, religion and law (which all codify mens sexual and reproductive abuse of women, and back it up with formal/state sanctioned force including violence and rape). lerner presents us with all the data but fails to sum it up properly. but there it is, for everyone to see for themselves.

if the climate was truly radical-friendly, why would any concessions have to be made at all? and if this work was vetted and fact checked, why wasnt this caught and corrected? BTW i havent read all dalys work yet, but i think i read the 5000 years reference in quintessence which was published later, in 1999. i dont know if she used the reference earlier or not? i remember that it was her bc i hadnt ever heard it before and it really impacted me, along with the entire book which blew my entire mind. it was the first book i read of hers. and later when reading lerner it troubled me bc i realized the 5000 years thing wasnt *exactly* true but daly and everyone was/is using (pushing) it anyway. i will flip through quintessence later and see if i can find a page number.

10. Sargasso Sea - May 26, 2013

Ha! I’m pretty sure a radical-friendly time has never really been🙂 But as Sheila seems to suggest some of it slipped through the cracks before they caught on.

As for the 5000 year thing? It appears to me to be rather arbitrary – perhaps loosely pinned to written language?

FCM - May 26, 2013

BTW i suppose i should “thank” the MRAs for flooding the reviews at amazon with their butthurt screeching about how “witchcraze” is sexist against men and therefore “poor scholarship.” its what convinced me to buy it actually bc i wasnt sure it was rad enough for me, or even feminist at all. its really not, in that it doesnt go all the way to the end or make feminist conclusions or political points that are relevant TODAY. but the MRAs hated it with some kind of passion, actually protesting it ffs, well kind of, in an impotent amazon-review sort of way. thats good enough for me. 😀

11. SheilaG - May 26, 2013

That’s a good question about patriarchy and the 5000 years. No one knows for sure when patriarchy won out over the planet, or what exactly it was like before patriarchy took over. Daly also exaggerated the number of women burned for witchcraft, putting the figure at 9,000,000, which other scholars have corrected.

Sometimes, I thought Daly also spoke in metaphor, or the use of the number 9,000,000 put it in a category with the 6,000,000 halocaust victims.

I don’t recall what the date was for patriarchy according to Gerda Learner. Feminist speculated that patriarchy won when agriculture was invented, and there was a surplus of food. Also they speculated that men did not know how babies were born, and so the goddess and women were worshipped as the bringers of life. When men finally figured it all out, then they wanted to imprison women in marriage to control their status as “legitimate” fathers of their children. Women always know who their children are, men never do unless they do a DNA test these days.

Daly and Dworkin had such hard work to do, because they were breaking through the huge silence of women back then. I think we often forget this. Even my life was filled with the complete absense of any information about lesbians at all. My complete herstory was erased and continues to be erased by straight women as well as men gay and straight.

Erasure is a tactic of the dominating and ruling classes.

Someone above talked about young women talking about sexual violence done to them, and how they struggled to even know that men were dangerous. Or that they couldn’t get beyond the ick factor with male sexual demands. This was an interesting comment, because even when I was in junior high and high school I saw men and boys as absolutely dangerous, and by the time I got to college, I thought women were insane going to frat parties with keggers, that were all the rage in the 70s. But, not being heterosexual, I had no attraction to men, so I could never see what hetero women saw in the drunken frat boys, the keggers, the drugs, the whole dating / sex scene that was huge during the great sexual revolution.

Daly was born in 1928, so she was literally from a very different time.
She had to create metaphors and language to describe patriarchy and how it worked. 5000 is a round number, perhaps she wanted women to be able to know a number, to know the exact date patriarchy began. Not an excuse for her, but she got two numbers very wrong, and the big picture very right.

12. SheilaG - May 26, 2013

LOL about the witchcraze book’s bad Amazon review by MRAs FCM.
I’m reading the book now, and don’t know how I managed to miss this gem. Any time men get really angry at a book on women’s herstory, that is an endorcement. I was surprised that the dummies would even be reading those books in the first place. Most men out there have never heard of radical feminism, have never read Daly or Dworkin, and certainly aren’t familiar with the hestory of the witch craze itself.

But on the other hand, even bringing up mild radfem arguments with a lot of women freaks women out. Women don’t want to hear this stuff or deal with. Perhaps a legacy of the burning times, that created in women such fear. I

FCM - May 26, 2013

the 9,000,000 burned for witchcraft couldve been propaganda, yes. make the bastards prove her wrong. at least then they would have to address it, and show their work. barstow corrects the number too and specifically calls out dworkin for exaggerating it. barstow concludes 100,000 died and 85% of these were women. many more than that were persecuted, and literally all women in these regions were terrorized and lived in fear. but she also admits that the true number is not knowable. the court records are not complete or are missing, and “gender” was often left out as if it were insignificant. she explains how she arrived at her number but it was basically like ok, we can guess-timate that this many were accused, lets assume some fraction of those were prosecuted, some fraction of those prosecuted were actually convicted, some fraction of those convicted were actually killed, etc etc. even the 100,000 is inexact but she says voltaire came up with the same number so i guess that was some kind of validation for her. but even if 100,000 is correct, the fact is that this was global mass-murder of women by men, which was completely inexcusable legally or morally and was due to misogyny. that much is clear, and barstow says as much. 100,000 is enough!

FCM - May 26, 2013

she also called out dworkin for saying that the period of the witchcraze spanned 400 years. barstow prefers to limit the “official” period to 1560-1760, or 200 years instead. im not sure why exactly. but obviously looking at a longer period of time would result in a larger figure, and looking at a shorter period would result in a smaller figure. women are still being persecuted for witchcraft today in some parts of the world so limiting research and comment to a specific period raises questions for me. but as i said, barstows work wasnt especially radical or feminist. she took off the “gender” blinders is all, which is more than anyone usually does when looking at the witchcraze. which was enough to enrage the MRAs. and yes, she uses GENDER as a euphemism for reproductive sex throughout.

13. Greywing - May 27, 2013

I don’t think men perceived feminism as any kind of threat to their power at first. More like something like sewing circles, a little feminine indulgence that gave their useful objects a little breather to keep them ticking. Maybe even rendering them marginally more useful and ticking more reliably.

And why would men have thought differently at the time? Women had been completely subjugated and rendered docile for centuries following the burning times. Add to that men really did not understand feminist texts at all, so they would have no way to evaluate which texts might pose a threat to their power, so some actual useful things slipped through.

Once it became clear that feminism did at the very least lead to their useful objects making annoying demands on tweaks to men’s rules, they began seriously counter-strategizing to entrench their power more firmly.

BTW, ever notice we don’t have female-only sewing circles online? Whenever I find an online community catering to interests that are considered feminine there is always at least one male there monitoring and policing, often literally as an admin. Also things like bronies and geek/hipster men taking up interests that are considered feminine. This is generally seen as beneficial gender-boundary eroding progress, but it contributes to the erosion of any kind of female-only space, even space that isn’t at all named as feminist or political. For extra horror, compare with how women are treated in male-dominated spaces online.

14. Greywing - May 27, 2013

This really ties more into the previous entry on how to stunt men’s violent impulses, but it also relates to male patriarchal strategizing in general. I just came across this very telling liberal feminist article:

The writer, Soraya Chemaly, is using a story of preschool children as a precursor to how sex and rape is dealt with in adulthood. A girl builds a castle every day at preschool (Chemaly emphasizes how feminine this castle is) and boys destroy it. She makes three examples:

Boy #1 destroys the castle over and over and his parents enable and cheer him on with “boys will be boys.”

Boy #2 destroys the castle and his mother admonishes him and asks him to consider how he would feel in her shoes, which stops him from destroying the castle more than once.

Boy #3 (described by Chemaly as “really smart” – emphasized in italics) convinces the girl to not only allow him to destroy the castle, but to participate herself in the destruction of her own work, over and over again.

Now, Chemaly is horrified at boy #1 and what his lack of boundaries might signal regarding him disrespecting female sexual boundaries in adulthood. She expresses concern that boy #2 might not enjoy the process of learning to curb his destructiveness. But most telling she seems to think boy #3 is the ideal scenario, since he manages to manipulate the girl into consenting. And apparently a preschool-aged girl consenting means whatever is happening is unproblematic. Chemaly doesn’t seem to notice that the end result with boy #3 is the same as with boy #1, that the castle is destroyed repeatedly. But it’s actually even worse than that, since boy #3 also eroded the girl’s original instinct to protect her work, and instead gets her to take his point of view. It’s telling that Chemaly’s analogy between sex and destruction of the castle has stopped at this point. She never spells out what exactly a male seducing a female into participating in her own destruction would translate to in terms of adult sexual relations. These recent patriarchal strategies are so effective that even a preschool boy (albeit a “really smart” one) can outwit a fully grown supposedly feminist writer.

FCM - May 27, 2013

i appreciate the points made here, so let me sum up what i am gathering from this conversation, as well as my own thoughts at the moment. 🙂

male-pleasing is a political strategy but since “sexual politics” is implicated its not “just” politics in the ordinary or male-defined political sense but a matter of life and death for women. thus male pleasing is a “survival strategy” and has broad applications. for professional writers it includes producing work thats likely to get published, but also includes everything else such as livelihoods and avoiding retaliation from men. okay.

next, men are mostly or completely unable to understand radical feminism, because its a female-centric discourse and a female perspective that comes from being born reproductively female, and being female where females are dominated and oppressed by males based on our sex. so to men reading radical feminism, its basically “blah blah blah” and it makes no sense anyway, even when its logically sound but also when its not. they cannot tell the difference, in other words. one thing this means is that men cannot help radfems in any stage of the writing or editing process as far as making it more clear or more logical. they are simply unable to do this, so male “friends” lovers partners or whatever should not be consulted at all. and thats when their intentions are good, and they often arent.

in any event, since the net effect to men of either logical or illogical radfem texts is that they are incomprehensible, (lets say its a value of “zero” either way) you can add either obvious or unobvious male-pleasing elements so that it pleases them on some level, even if its unconscious so that the net effect is “positive” or greater than zero. that is, they dont know what they just read but it left them with a pleasant feeling even if they dont know why. things like “patriarchy is a social, not biological phenomenon” is male pleasing for example, and this is whats implicated when anyone says that patriarchy is only 5000 years old, even though thats not true, or only a half truth. similarly, you can add obviously male-challenging elements that will leave them with a yukky feeling. saying conclusively that “intercourse for pleasures sake is inherently oppressive to women” would give that yukky feeling and in fact andrea dworkin, for all she did say, decidedly did NOT say that either in writing or orally, even though that is the conclusion that logically follows from her work. today, the obviously male-challenging element would be trans-criticism. this is the red flag they look out for since they cant understand anything else. definitive (not wishy-washy) PIV criticism works too.

in the past, the edginess of radical feminism or the academic credentials of the author, such as mary daly, mightve been good enough to leave a net-positive effect (depending on what else was said or not said) leading to the work getting published, OR similarly the fear of not being seen as edgy or academic enough themselves by refusing to publish it mightve worked, but it doesnt work anymore. this could be due to the positive impact on women of radical feminism, or the negative impact on men of radical feminist influence or both over time. that is, men still dont understand a word of it (except for the male-pleasing or obviously male-challenging elements) but they understand cause and effect just fine. other elements and forces could be at play as well.


FCM - May 27, 2013

re wishy-washy PIV criticism, i mean the kind that says that PIV should or could be de-centralized, but definitely NOT the kind that says it should be removed entirely from the “sexual” repertoire because its inherently oppressive to women. ive seen the libfems say it could or even should be decentralized because its homophobic and transphobic to equate “sex” with PIV!!!11!!2235 and because BDSM/anal/oral is moar hawt. what they NEVER say is that theres anything fundamentally wrong with it, or fundamentally harmful to women, or politically useful to men, or even UNEQUAL even though it very obviously is and EQUALITY is the holy grail of libfem politics and their favorite word. and indeed, a close reading of “intercourse” reveals that the book is really about gender, and not about sex at all. she mentions that intercourse is “directed toward the vagina” because it causes pregnancy, but thats just ONE reason and just one thing it does and that effectively reproduces GENDER where women are othered and acted-upon (submissive). and nothing explicitly about SEX and how reproductive harm and controlling the means of (re)production is the foundation of male political and personal power. of patriarchy itself, in other words. dworkin never went there, even though this is what logically follows from her work. interesting how she was so despised ANYWAY for writing a book about GENDER! interesting and terrifying. i wonder what wouldve happened to her if she had made “intercourse” about reproductive sex instead.

15. Sargasso Sea - May 27, 2013

Certainly they don’t/can’t really understand radfem text. We have had the *luxury* of being schooled to use their thought processes so we can easily grasp whatever it is they have to say but they have never been trained to understand ours – thus, we’re crazy and don’t make any sense. My first thoughts about the amazon *reviews* of witchcraze were: how did they even KNOW about this book, have these guys even READ it and could they even UNDERSTAND it in the first place???

And it’s telling, isn’t it, that Dworkin was/is best remembered for wanting to take away the precious porn and NOT for her “against all evidence” stance.

16. Sargasso Sea - May 27, 2013

To be more clear: that even the inclusion of any kind of male-pleasing is instantly and thoroughly outweighed by anything they find threatening. And the very idea of the loss of their porn is second only to the idea of the loss of their PIV.

FCM - May 27, 2013

brought to me (and now you!) by the male mind:

women of beg and cry vajinal porno

thats todays search term! yay!

FCM - May 27, 2013

also, from reading the “reviews” and by that i mean screeching noises emitted by butthurt MRAs, it seems as if “witchcraze” is used in at least one college course (history?) as an example of poor scholarship. due to its sexism against males….where 80% of the accused and 85% of the executed were female and not male. thats the only way i can think of any male reading it. even so, they likely didnt understand much of it, like why it qualified as a global terror campaign against women, aka. terrorism, and why sexualized torture of women by men — which resembles so much porn — is a bad thing. or any of it really. surely the part about 200 years of sexual terrorism “feminizing” women looked alot like “blah blah blah” and no thought was given at all to how this probably still effects women today and will continue to do so in the future, or again, how this is actually a BAD thing.

honestly this whole thing has made me see MTF trannyism and all genderism in a whole new light. or rather, a brighter light than it was before. how fucking dare they appropriate this? and how dare they think it has to do with EITHER clothes, or a “feeling inside” whether its hardwired or just another personality type…when its actually none of these things. FUCK YOU!

FCM - May 27, 2013

as if women have no history. FUCK YOU TRANNIES.

17. SheilaG - May 27, 2013

Mary Daly meant her work to be understood by all women who wanted to learn from it. She called her tribe the radical lesbian feminist tribe, and that was her point of view. Back in the day, most people were unaware of this subtext in her work, we wrote in code back then, and we still do it today, to protect our groups from women who bring threatening men with them.

Men well understand the threat of half the world saying no to them; they fear this night and day. They know what they have done to women, and the fear is we will retaliate in kind. The wealthy live in fear of the peasants coming with torches to burn down the castle.

And back a bit, frightening that the “feminist” writer thought boy # 3 getting the girl to destroy the sand castle with him was a good option. How about option 4, the girl has learned judo or karate, and the boy knows it and doesn’t dare to even go near the sand castle? What about the option of all little girls being trained in the martial arts, while boys dig ditches. Self-defense for girls, not the placating of boys.

80-85% of the accused being female, doesn’t faze the boys. Because to them, the witchcraze tortures of women, was the porn of that day, as was the Malleus Malificarum. Pure porn, way ahead of its time. Marquis de Sade was just an add on later, Kramer and Sprenger in 1485 were it as far as the Dominican “celibate” porn masters go.

Clearly, according to the UN declaration on human rights, and their preventative steps on genocide, the porn invasion worldwide is the building up of a dramatic attack on women. We now have 2 million females in the womb being killed. The miracle of ultra-sound makes it possible for men worldwide to exterminate women before we are born, and this is ok with them.

18. tiamathydra - May 27, 2013

”Clearly, according to the UN declaration on human rights, and their preventative steps on genocide, the porn invasion worldwide is the building up of a dramatic attack on women.”

That’s what I’ve been thinking for ages. That if, say, a war started, the IIIWW maybe, the boys will have learnt an entire set of genocidal torture against us, once again, and history will repeat itself. Anyone thought about the impact of porn as of nowadays already? I mean, we have this genocide in the media and in men’s heads 24/7… women will lay low for a few more centuries after this, because of not having healed from the witchcraze and already being
tortured again and this time round, the torture is being distributed massively for everyone to see through screens. I’ve been thinking about that for a bit, that the modern genocide institution not only tortures women but documents and distributes the torture… women will lay even lower than after the witchcraze, and for more centuries.

19. Morgan - May 27, 2013

in reference to the number of “witches” burned or when the witch craze is to have taken place, and i haven’t looked up “official” accounts because i’m not concerned about how many or how long but that it happened at all, but on the borgias in the last couple of weeks it has been mentioned that the show is currently set in the year 1500, and on last night’s ep lucrezia and some dude were discussing whether they burn witches in that part of italy.

SheilaG, i like your addition of a 4th option. i imagine there could be several more options added to that, that don’t involve the castle ultimately being destroyed, some involving what you describe (the girl being equipped to prevent destruction) but maybe even some options where the boy doesn’t want to destroy it. could be a different set-up of society all together, like if the girl were in an environment free of boys, or something. or maybe if boys were taught early on to leave girls alone completely, do not speak to them or approach them unless the girl invites him to do so, not that the girl would but at least the boy might stay away. etc.

i haven’t read the book (mail is slow) but re: the men finding sexism in it against men (ha ha ha), and the quoted figure of 80% of accused and 85% of the executed were female… it reminded me of encountering the difference in amount that people/men perceive women talking vs. how much they actually speak. ie. in classrooms a teacher may perceive everything is equal, but when amount of speech is measured boys turn out to be dominating. and that if women do speak anywhere near 50% of the time then they are perceived as speaking far more than that/getting too much attention/dominating. and that it’s not men we are comparing women speaking to, but silence. women who speak at all are speaking too much. so i wonder if the book focuses more on women as victims, and that one male victim automatically erases the sex-based nature of the prosecution. like they don’t actually look for parity, they look for men losing out. and if men lose out, then women aren’t being victimized. even if more women lose out than men; as soon as one man loses out, then women are getting more than their fair share.

20. citizentaqueau - May 27, 2013

If she had made the book about the harms of reproductive sex, I don’t know that it would ever have been widely read. I mean, men can write about “overpopulation,” but even they are not telling anyone to stop having PIV (except for poor women who can’t access birth control I suppose! Because a poor woman in a refugee camp or a housing project is in a great position to ask the men in her life to stop sticking their dicks in her). Because the book was about gender rather than sex-specific harm, it could be categorized as theory rather than a call to action. It briefly got a foot in the door under the umbrella of theory, before the radical feminist theory got blacklisted. That’s my answer on Intercourse.

I notice how mocking, dismissive, threatened — generally *reactive* so many men and many women will get when even one woman declares she has no interest in bearing children. “You’ll change your mind,” I would hear a lot when I was in my 20s and even my early 30s. Often from smug new fathers, after they’d tried to buttonhole me with some horrible story about their female partner’s labor experience, co-opting it, “We wanted to have a vaginal birth” and on and on in detail, with the woman totally absent from the conversation, of course, she was home with the baby! Creeps. They’d tell the same story at the bar to men.

Non-feminist women get smug towards non-mothers, toom sure. Usually worse if they have only sons. They relish torturing their daughters-in-law. That sort of thing. But usually it was men who were really concerned that I wasn’t popping out babies. Now I’m 40, unpartnered, and people have stopped asking. It is a relief, and leaves room to talk about more interesting topics. Anyway. The concern-trolling question, “Don’t you want to be a mother? Don’t you like kids?” What is going on there? I need to think about it further.

The previous post mentioned Dworkin’s marriage, and JS’s creepy level of control over her intellectual estate. He may simply be picking up where he left off. He got to play “the good man,” while refusing to do anything but cry and wring his hands when his partner was viciously attacked into the state of constant combat stress that killed her. When I read his words and look at interviews, I see a self-pitying dude with a deep envy of women. And he is Obsessed with gender. He called little boys “children with penises,” FFS. Gross. Let’s talk about kids that way. Ugh. I’m not surprised his new novel is about a bunch of underage s3xytimes.

21. lisaprime - May 28, 2013

Let’s add that there are two periods in a (straight) woman’s life when PIV isn’t subject to hormones: pre-puberty and post-menopausal.

Post-menopausal straight women are no longer subject to hormonal fluctuations. We are free of the desire that binds us as young people.

I would like to talk about life spans. We are pre-pubertal, say, for 13 years, and we do not give a shit about men (again, talking about het women). We are lost to biological desire from 13 to what, 50? From there we are home free, and remember our pre-pubertal selves.

I’m not sure how to add this to the discussion. I just wanted to speak as an older woman for which this PIV stuff is less and less of an issue, assuming we don’t have daughters suffering…

FCM - May 28, 2013

i dont think women have a biological desire for intercourse. in fact there is plenty of evidence that they dont, since so many of them dont even like it and are forced to do it through various mechanisms such as marriage (and rape). for many women who end up enjoying it eventually, after plenty of trial and error, lubricants and booze, its an acquired taste. oh, and vaginal dilators and surgery for those who suffer from “vaginismus” or painful intercourse. so painful that penetration isnt even possible that is. as long as penetration is possible, the pain doesnt matter, or you think its supposed to feel like that because you dont know any better, or you start getting off on the pain itself. or you assume its the latex thats irritating you, or the lube, or the constant yeast infections and UTIs that are making it uncomfortable….eventually you realize it was all of that. and that theres no other way to do it. every once in awhile the act itself is complication-free or even pleasurable, if all the stars and planets line up just right….but the stress of the semen exposure cancels out the pleasure, or at least it lasts a lot longer — until you get your period. and thats even with relatively reliable birth control. and all you can do is cross your fingers that your partner hasnt given you a terrible disease, or isnt lying his ass off about where hes been. and we all know men lie all the time.

this does not sound like anything approaching a natural, biological process to me. it takes grooming, and practice, and its backed up by force and threats of force (you might be taken to a doctor if you dont do it, or if you dont like it enough. men of course get to decide what that means). the whole thing reeks.

FCM - May 28, 2013

sonia johnson offers an interesting perspective as well, which is that women arent naturally “sexual” at all. this is mens natural state and men have molded women to fit their own male biology which goes against our own. she suggests that women in our natural state would constantly touch each other though, and that we would have no reason to EXCLUDE touching each others breasts and genitals, any more than we would exclude touching hands and faces. men have “sexualized” and grotesquely severed these parts from the whole — the parts THEY like — but in our natural state all our “parts” would just be part of *us* and part of our culture of touch. she believes women would not even naturally use language, and that we would communicate via touch as well. its an interesting and profound thought, if for no other reason that it allows us to imagine a completely different way of being and therefore opens up the possibility that we have been completely twisted and molded by men in their own image and that we are really nothing like men at all. even in a very “basic” way such as “sex” and sexual desire which everyone takes for granted and assumes is natural to HUMANS when theres no proof of that at all. men do not equal women and women do not equal men.

FCM - May 28, 2013

and how disturbing to realize that YES, if another witchcraze/global femicide occurs, it will likely be documented and distributed via porn! the only difference between that and standard issue porn and torture porn we already have would be that the torture would be state-sanctioned i guess? whereas now we just have the torturers dressing up like cops and other indicators of power-over and even institutional-power-over (cops, doctors, jailers, etc) as role-play?

if the technology had existed the first time around it surely wouldve been done then too, and in fact we do see drawings/paintings of accused witches being tortured. the ones ive seen are very specific and are said to depict actual scenes from actual “cases” just like we have courtroom artists today. since the torture and sexualized torture was part of the judicial process, the courtroom artists back then were in fact producing pornography, and torture porn. barstow notes that many of the moments throughout the “process” were deliberately crafted “pornographic moments” meant to titillate and arouse the males (both those participating and those merely observing) and to terrify and horrify the females in the audience. like cutting off womens breasts and shoving them in the womans mouth on the way to the pyre. sorry if thats TMI but its in the book. this entire discussion and indeed this entire blog needs a trigger warning (which is why i dont give them).

22. SheilaG - May 28, 2013

Sonia Johnson actually does a pretty good job explaining the connections lesbians have to one another. We are physically demonstrative and connected in ways that are sexual and not. In our own worlds, rape is just non existent; which is the main point of creating male free space to begin with. All men interfere with the physical, intellectual and social interaction of women; they destroy the atmoshphere. Even the Michigan music festival was really the creation of lesbian, taking the land, bringing women together. The use of the word “wimmin” from that era, simply was code for lesbians.

I think male sexuality is so controlling, and straight women so stuck in this, that it becomes this horrifying torture scene, with so much focus on the food, clothing, shelter aspect of living with men to begin with, then women have children, and they are now completely owned.

Sex by male standards is simply ownership for male pleasure. Women are groomed to give men this, but we really don’t know what hetero women would do in a world of free choice without male interference. Sonia Johnson was married to a man for ages, before she even knew she was a lesbian. I think her descriptions of sex are a little bit suspect from a purely lesbian point of view.

Nobody much bothered me with the nonsense questions of whether I was going to have kids or even marry a man. All of that just disgusted me from the earliest of ages, and het people were too afraid to bring the subject up with me. No way in hell did I present that way; they got it.

But the physical connection of women is profound, especially in cultures outside the United States, which is very female touch phobic in so many ways. I was always deeply moved by the physical affection of women as I traveled on long train trips in mainland China, Taiwan, in Japan, and in my connections to Saudi women and Muslim women in America–both lesbian and straight. I think American women really have been cut off by a different kind of patriarchy, a kind of physical deprivation that is sad for me to see.

And we need to know absolutely that worldwide porn distribution is readying the troops of males globally for huge attacks on women, for the filming and distribution of this globally as well. The billions in profits over filmed rape of women is monumental now. Just wait until the other wars occur. We can look to the Balkans in the 90s, what is going on in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Arab spring, and how women are under seige in Egypt.

23. witchwind - May 28, 2013

this world war II, III is eurocentric bullshit. It was war everywhere in the world (except in the empires) in the heydeys of USSR and US empires, but it wasn’t called a world war was it? Also the war / peace distinction is a male one. Men are at CONSTANT war against us. It’s THEM who get to define when it’s war and peace. Only they have long periods of peace before and after the war. In many countries today, after the “war ended” there are still as many murders and rapes as during the war. Even though it’s called “peace”.

And they already make porn of the rapes and torture of women in every war. This is what men do.

Also, this thing about numbers annoys me greatly too, because of course the genocide is viewed and counted in male-centric terms, that is, only those women who went to court and loosely counted by men are counted. Because men don’t risk being murdered at any time of the day by those who own them, at “peace” or “war”. Those women slaughtered by husbands, or attacked and murdered on the spot (especially women living without men) aren’t counted in the “witchcraze”. Even today, the continued murdering and slaughtering of women, girls and hardly born girls and all the deaths from the tortures, trafficking, marriages, rapes, forced pregnancies, forced labour, toxic products they force on us every day – all these are not defined or counted in the GENOCIDE (it’s not gendercide, femicide, or whatever euphemisms are given to it now). They are always viewed separately. But that’s millions every year, we don’t even know, we have no idea how many of us die, because we don’t count, nobody counts us.

Women do not have hormonal impulses to have dicks put in them. We are different from other female animals in this respect.

24. tiamathydra - May 28, 2013

Actually I think that women are already laying lower due to porn, and will for many many centuries. It’s a circular thing what happens, yes, the ”world war” is patriarchy isn’t it and women are already suffering the effects of the genocide.
But wait until things get even worse… I wonder when will women massively start to really admit that we are men’s scapegoats and targets everywhere.

25. Sargasso Sea - May 28, 2013

On being left to make connections for ourselves:

There is no way of knowing if these women (published radfems et al) had gone to the end of their thoughts, had more to say but didn’t, were communicating in code, wanted *us* to fill-in-the-blanks, were simply doing what it took to pay the bills or whatever. All of us (if we’re doing it right) are works in progress. My mom once said to me that we can’t know everything… I replied that I intended to die trying🙂

The connections which we make for ourselves are the basis of our own truth. It’s something that cannot be taught or forced – our ability to make these connections ARE innate. It’s the only way we truly learn (“aha! moments” = mind + spirit + body) anything.

This reality was important enough for us to not have The Kid (our daughter) in any kind of *formal* schooling from ages 7 through 11. We wanted her to be able to become aquainted with her own mind/spirit/body and the way SHE worked within HER world and trust herself to make her own connections.

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