I See What You Did There. Or, “Witchcraze” Pt. 4? June 13, 2013Posted by FCM in feminisms, gender roles, international, meta, politics.
Tags: london, radfem 2013, reformism
so radfem13 went off without a hitch. mostly. the event took place and the organizers have issued a postgame statement focusing on the legal issues involved in organizing and meeting as women, in women-only space exclusive of men and trannies. the title of the piece is “protecting female-only space in the UK.” an “interim legal statement” was previously published here. the organizers are quoted extensively in an article on “counterpunch” which you can read here (via gendertrender).
relatedly, melinda tankard reist has been reporting on the saga of young feminist talitha stone taking on a misogynist rapper — i will expound on how this is related below. the latest installment of this series is here.
theres a lot going on here, and its hard to know where to start. so lets start at the beginning, which is probably “what are we doing here in the first place” or the point of radical feminism. and lets be brief about it and come to the analysis quickly. radical feminism is about locating, exposing and understanding the root of womens oppression by men, so that we can be liberated from male dominance. so what is the root?
radical feminists understand that the logical endpoint to radical feminist thought is that the root of womens oppression by men is mens sexual and reproductive abuse of women. this is what it means and what it looks like to be oppressed as women by men as men — men dominate and enslave women based on our reproductive biology and mens demonstrated ability and interest in exploiting it.
this means “othering” and pathologizing womens biology by eroticizing intercourse and separating or falsely separating “sex” from reproduction, where there has been no 100% reliable contraceptive invented and there is unlikely to be one ever. and by gaslighting women when we experience reasonable anxiety and aversion to penis-centered “sex” and when we become “unintentionally” knocked up, as if there was any other reasonable outcome to eroticized and normalized PIV considering our female biology and how it works.
it means that men grant themselves the power to open the door to formal, institutional and state control of women by doing the one thing that only men do to only women and which we cannot do to anyone — by impregnating us. note how the big-3 of the patriarchal institutions — medicine, religion and law — all attach to womens bodies and womens lives at the moment of conception, and that this does not happen to men at the moment of conception or ever. its literally a trap, baited and set by men and producing an outcome intended by men that benefits men — control of women, and control of reproduction, including the terms and conditions of intercourse, pregnancy, birth, and childrearing.
this is what our oppression consists of and what it is. men get to name it (sex, fucking, knocked up, mother, father) men get to execute it (intercourse, impregnation) and men get to enforce it (rape, heteronormativity, marriage, and legal remedies and lack thereof for sexual and reproductive offenses). note that i am considering rape to be the violent enforcement by men of womens sex role as fuckholes and breeders.
and there is no legal solution to rape — men rape us, period. then when we are inevitably impregnated, we are caught in their trap and cannot escape — pregnancy triggers the system of overlapping controls on women (via reproduction) including medicalizing/legislating/moralizing abortion; the medical and other standards of care that apply to pregnant, laboring and lactating women; and laws and customs that allow surveillance and control of caretakers, primarily women, and defining parenthood itself so that men are included, tethering women to the men who impregnate them for life. all of this is made-up by men and follows no natural (inevitable) law, and is all by patriarchal design.
now, it is important to note that both rape and legal remedies for sexual and reproductive offenses are used by men to enforce their sexual and reproductive control of women. arent they? thus, womens relationship to the law specifically regarding issues of sex and reproduction — and therefore the terms and conditions of both our oppression and our liberation — is not merely complicated but demonstrably conflicted where men obviously use rape and then not-punishing rape, as well as restrictive (legal) controls on pregnant, birthing and mothering women, in order to dominate and enslave us.
so. regarding radfem13, we have organizers statements indicating that “protecting female-only spaces in the UK” is paramount. whether or not this is the case is a question for the community. so i present the question this way: does protecting female-only spaces in the UK cease or even affect mens sexual and reproductive abuse of women? in order to know whether it does or doesnt, or whether radfem13 was radical at all, we must understand what the organizers themselves intend and mean when they say it. and to figure out what they mean, it helps to read what they have said in their own words about what they were trying to accomplish and why. they tell us what they mean where they say that they wish to evoke the Equality Act to preserve their right to legally assemble sans men; and they explain that the reason they need to do this is because gender, meaning stereotypes which emanate from a persons born-sex but which arent endemic to either sex. and that the artificiality and unfairness of “gender” (meaning sex-based stereotypes) apply to both women and men.
so firstly, we have an appeal for legal reform/protections in one country to meet in women-only space; being generous we can assume they mean that they wish to have mens laws interpreted and applied fairly to women generally and globally, although they do not say this. previously, the organizers released this statement which indicates their intention to fight for our right to meet as females; and another statement here concerning the legal issues and difficulties involved in meeting in female-only space in the UK. again, no mention is made of why this is necessary; nowhere in these statements is there an acknowledgement of or an appeal to end womens sexual and reproductive abuse by men, or why its important, or how they wish to achieve this. and (therefore) no mention of anything of any importance to radical feminists or radical feminism as a matter of fact.
from an outsiders perspective (i did not attend) and assuming that it served some legitimate purpose, it seems as if the intent and effect of radfem13 was meta — the purpose of meeting in the UK in women-only space was to prove that they could. one wonders whether this was fair to women who traveled long distances to attend a radical feminist conference, rather than a reformist one, or one centering the legal situation in the UK which does not affect all or even most women globally.
but still, is it possible that, once attendees gathered inside, this conference became radical, or less reformist? sadly, organizers statements made elsewhere indicate that it probably didnt. while all radical feminists must agree that “sex matters” and that trans and queer politickers misuse “gender” essentially as a euphemism for sex, albeit “brain sex” (or as voluntary “performance”) the obviously reformist-oriented radical feminists we see organizing radfem13 and elsewhere misuse both “sex” and “gender” to mean essentially sex-based stereotypes. “stereotypes” which, according to them, are oppressive to both men and women, or at least reflective of the biology or essence of neither, even as we see male violence — and mens sexual and reproductive control of women enforced with male violence — as a global phenomenon that transcends social conditioning, and men across time and place embracing it and manifesting it in various ways. even the “good guys” and men in less violent and “less patriarchal” cultures do this in their own way and we fucking well know it.
and even as we see women, globally and throughout time, dissonating with, negotiating within and around, and ultimately rejecting our sex (not gender) role as mens fuckholes and slaves. equating women with men — against all evidence — is a false equivalence and simply is not rigorous, logical analysis or honest intellectual labor. and conflating “sex” with “sex-based stereotypes” does nothing to locate the root of womens oppression by men — our sexual and reproductive abuse as women, by men as men — in order to liberate women from male dominance.
and finally, i bring up melinda tankard reist’s recent reporting of the young feminist who is single-handedly taking on a notoriously misogynistic american rapper because this is yet another manifestation of reformist-oriented politicking, what it consists of and where it leads. on her blog, reist says,
One of the great rewards of this work is seeing a growing wave of young women go into battle against violence against women in all its brutal manifestations, calling out and naming this violence as unacceptable. One such woman is 24-year-old Talitha Stone. […] Talitha’s passion and gutsy activism gives me hope that things can change.
okay. here, we have reist, a well-known, seasoned radical feminist who makes money on radical feminism as a speaker and writer, applauding and encouraging individual women who dont make money on it and who in fact may have little or nothing to gain from it, to engage in “gutsy activism” (and everything that entails including the very real danger of physical and emotional violence by men) by taking on a misogynistic industry and all misogynists everywhere — in this case by protesting rap lyrics that describe the sexual abuse of women by men. how and indeed whether this instance or this kind of activism is likely to liberate women from male dominance is never made clear. and frankly, giving well-known seasoned radical feminists who make money from radical feminism hope that things can change, in the complete absence of evidence that this is true, or even that radical feminism informs this activism, how, and why, is not a good enough reason for anyone to do it or to expect anyone to do it, or to applaud those who do it at great cost to themselves.
indeed, if a woman throwing herself on the pyre in this manner inspires hope, and i think this is an apt metaphor, one might wonder “hope for what, exactly?” hope that the next generation of women will fall into the same reformist traps, creating paying “radical feminist” jobs and opportunities for MOAR ACTIVISM, and more meta — the continuance of reformism itself, in other words, as opposed to identifying the root of and liberating women from male dominance — is what it sounds like to me.
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to email (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)