Hello, my fine-feathered friends, and welcome to the Fifteenth Carnival of Radical Feminists. I’m Nine Deuce, and I’ll be your guide through this round-up of some of the best current radical feminist writing on the internet. I am, quite simply, stoked to be hosting this installment of the Carnival, and I’d like to thank all of the women who submitted these excellent posts, as well as Heart at Women’s Space for putting the whole thing together. I won’t bore you too much with corny platitudes, but I do want to say that I am thrilled that this Carnival exists to provide women around the world with a means to share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings in a free and supportive environment, and to allow us the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with each other in our efforts to make the world a safer and better place to be a woman. That’ll be enough from me. On to the posts…
L at Editorializing the Editors has written a series of posts on apologizing in which she discusses the gendered aspects of apology-making and of holding grudges. The first of the series (I recommend the other two as well), On apologizing and holdging grudges, explains the ways in which apologies and the act of forgiveness reduplicate social hierarchies, and the ways in which holding a grudge can be a feminist act:
Holding a grudge requires remembering what happened to you. Holding a grudge recognizes that apologies are often empty, fake, political, or disingenuous. Holding a grudge acknowledges reality, the reality of a harm done and the reality of what that harm means about the person who did it. Holding a grudge recognizes that sometimes — if not often — an apology just isn’t enough. Holding a grudge is a slap in the face to patriarchal asshats who would say that women’s memories of the harms done against them are wrong, lies, impossible, or not a big deal.
However, holding a grudge does not necessarily require that the wronged person seek revenge against the wrongdoer, nor that the grudge-bearer act or think in terms of violence, as these would be yet more incantations of the annoying, overdone Campbellian monomyth. Holding a grudge is another way of saying “I remember what you did, and it’s not okay, no matter how much you regret doing it.”
Holding a grudge is a way for the disempowered, the marginalized, the fringe-sitters, to draw a boundary and maintain it. And women are generally disempowered and marginalized.
Allecto at Gorgon Poisons, in her post Women’s Liberation, explains why she is no longer a feminist but rather a Women’s Libber:
My name is feminist no longer. I walk as a woman, just a woman, hand in hand with the Dark Mother. We walk together, as women, towards liberation.
I do not seek equality with those who wouldst rape. I do not seek equality to those who would plunder for the sake of pleasure, laugh at destruction. I do not seek equality with those that would murder, buy women as sex, wank to women’s dis-memberment, take pleasure from the destruction of Our Dark Mother.
I do not seek equality with killers, with those who hate my kind, my grandmother’s skin, my mother’s rage. If I name myself, if I am named, feminist, I am not whole. I must deny. That Dark part of me. I must deny/hide/pretendpretend… She does not exist. I do not exist.
On a related note, Debs at The Burning Times, in Walking to Liberation, asks us whether equality with men, rather than liberation from them, really ought to be our goal:
Women’s liberation must not be measured in relation to men at all. One of the problems with the concept of equality with men is that, once again, men and male-centric ways of going about things are being used as the benchmark against which women’s rights or equality are measured, the idea being that once we measure up, have equal pay, no discrimination and all the rest, our battles are over and we can rest. And of course, this is ideal for patriarchal society. They would just love it if women won equality, and could be happy with that and stop whining. But when or if we ever achieve equality (and it won’t be any time soon, if at all), we will still not be free. Behind the concept of “equality”, in a feminist context, there seems to be the underlying idea that “man” is the ultimate a human can be, and we should all be aiming to be like “man,” or at least have the same rights as “man.” It just can’t work like that. Women do not want or need everything that “man” has. In a world of truly liberated women, why would there be any need for the nuclear capability to obliterate the whole of Europe several times over, as the UK currently has, for example? Everything “man” has is neither admirable or desirable, and women should not be working to get their hands on it. They should be working to get “man” to give it up, as many women are and have been in the past. The goal has to be literally “women’s liberation,” meaning liberation from the rule of men, the laws of men, the religions of men; liberation into a world where everything is not measured against “man” as though “man” is the goal. Women need to recreate the world in their own image.
Also from Debs, A choice between suicide and submission draws parallels between the growing number of Afghan women self-immolating in order to escape abuse at the hands of men, modern-day witch hunts taking place in India in which women are being burned to death, and the witch hunts of Medieval Europe:
The fire once used by men to dispatch the ‘wayward’ woman, the ‘other’, is now a viable option of the ‘other’ in dispatching herself. It is most notable that men do very little to prevent this. It is horrible to think it, but it is in my head anyway, that men are pleased at this outcome as the women, if driven far enough, and treated appallingly enough, will do it to themselves, thus preserving ‘man’ from the responsibility of the act. I have yet to hear it said, but surely it is only a matter of time before some learned male says the women are suffering some kind of “mania” or are all “hysterical” thus divorcing himself even further from any responsibility for the situation. Of course, if it were not for man’s law, religions, and hatred of women, this would not be happening at all.
In Women in the Workplace: Ask a Woman, Holly at Menstrual Poetry has posted a link to the Ask a Working Woman survey being carried out by AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees and Working America. Despite MRA attempts at skewing the data, we all know from experience that the working world is still a tough place to be a woman. Head over there and fill out the survey and make your concerns as a working woman known. The deadline is June 20.
Holly also wants you to know that The Emma Goldman Clinic Wants to Hear About Your Experience. The clinic is collecting stories form women who have faced financial obstacles to abortion services in the state of Iowa. If that includes you, check out Holly’s post for info on how to contribute your story to the project.
Renee at Womanist Musings, in Men Troubles, rebuts the interconnected claims that the route to happiness for black women is through landing a man and that the way to find a man is through learning to be submissive and “soft”:
Since black women were brought on this continent in chains we have never been given the luxury of being “soft”. We have been the ultimate un-woman. We lead because that is how we have been able to survive in a world that has proven to be predatory. The whole idea that gender can be split into one dominant and one submissive belies the fact that these are social constructions, and are not “natural” characteristics of either gender. We experience gender in a state of flux therefore each sex takes on characteristics of dominance, and submission. To request that black women submit in order to empower the black male patriarchy eschews the vitality of female agency. Yeah lets all stand and clap our hands, and celebrate that men will agree to lower themselves to marry. Of course they don’t benefit from marriage in anyway. They are only entering the institution (note: the fact that marriage is an institution should scare any sane person) out of a true desire to be magnanimous. They don’t live longer when they are married right? They don’t get a live in housekeeper, nanny, cook, and built in sexual release? How many damn buttons, and hems do we have to fix before we acknowledge that men benefit far more than women do from marriage?
Rebecca Mott of rmott62, in her post entitled Something That Makes Me Uncomfortable, discusses the Myra Hindley case and argues that feminists ought to hold women accountable for abusing others. It raises the issue of women’s agency in a patriarchy with regard to violent crimes:
I do believe the vast majority of women who use violence are pushed into it. I believe it understandable to kill a man who has battered you for long period. I understand girls joining gangs for identity and protection…
I would never make an excuse for any man who kidnapped and took part in the torture of children. I would not care if he claimed he was manipulated.
I would not take his word as the truth.
But I am told to believe the word of a women who kidnapped and take part in the torture of children.
I am told I should sorry for her.
But every day women and girls are mentally, physically and sexually tortured by men. The vast majority of those women and girls do not torture children.
Also from Rebecca is a post entitled It is Not the Same discussing the difference, from the standpoint of a survivor of both kinds of rape, between the experience of rape at the hands of a family member and the experience of a prostituted woman/girl who has been raped for pay:
One thing that I have from being raped by my stepdad and the men who pretended to my friends, is that I know them.
I can remember their faces. I can still hear their many words to convince me that they care about me. I see them in a clear light.
I have no image left with the men that rape in prostitution.
There was too many of them, they became a mass.
There is a difference.
The men I thought I knew I choose to look them in the eye before they had raped me. So, after the raping I could hold in my heart my hate at their betrayal.
I knew it was a crime. I knew I had not wanted it.
This was held in my heart, not expressed outwardly.
But with prostitution there was never that clarity.
I survived by refusing to see the men who paid to rape me. I refused to see their eyes.
But I could not think it was rape when I took the money. When I perform sometimes with a smile what they demanded.
I could not name that rape.
The men who rape me and rape prostituted women and girls do not think of it as rape.
I do believe that violent men will and do rape any woman or girl who is easy reach.
Prostituted women and girls are like a candy store for these men. They are so convenient.
Pisaquari over at Buried Alive, in her post entitled No More (Sexual Stigma p.2), delves into our cultural norms and stigmas with regard to sex and how these play into the idea of consent on the part of women:
At the intersection of power, stigma, and sexual socialization there has been made an incredibly thriving market to the tune of billions of dollars and, what’s more willing worldwide participants, in the celebration-the orgasmic celebration if you will-of no “No.”
And what I am talking about is not limited to rape and sexual assault though they, of course, are some of the darkest manifestations of this. No–I am talking about the ubiquitous, ever-existential, concept of sexuality and how much of our sexuality has been formed on the erasure and undermining of “no.”
In sexual stigma p.1 there were two main points that I wanted to make clear:
1. Consent and sexual readiness has been presented to us, through marketing and media, to be a look-a set of features-embodied by women/girls. Thus creating a situation wherein, if the “look” is present, the sexual meaning is implied. When sexual meaning is implied the first layer of consideration for the women’s interest in being considered sexual by another, as well as her legal ability to even be so, is removed. A layer of “no” is gone.
2. We are being conditioned to find people sexually attractive and ready in way that is supposed to be against our will. From early ages we are presented a set of sexual norms that we are supposed to want yet what we are supposed to *not* want is most sexualized. Thus our capitulation and lack of control is sexualized. Thus we perceive our own responsibility and agency as a bit of a continuum–vulnerable to change given how desirable we find the subject. As the stigmas normalize and mainstream our ability to achieve this same arousing effect diminishes. We are now searching out new sexual ways to breach our own will.
Exactly how many ways can one say Rape Culture?
Next we have two posts from Heart at Women’s Space. The first, Smackdown Time for Max Hardcore: Jury Finds Paul Little Guilty on 10 Counts of Criminal Obscenity, made my day when I read it.
In the second, Heart asks, Democrats, Why Should We Support You? She poses a very important question:
Can we count on your support for — or even acknowledgement of the importance of –- any of the following issues?
Punishing Women and Children Because Men Have Raped and Abused Them (Fundamentalist LDS)
New Jersey Four
Vigorous Pursuit of Sex Traffickers
Prostitution Legislation (Swedish Model/De-Criminalize Prostitution,Criminalize the Buying of Sex)
Cyberterrorism of Woman Bloggers
Sexism and Misogyny in the Media, as Exemplified in the Presidential Campaign
Rape of Women Employed by Defense Contractors Abroad, No Right to Pursue Criminal or Civil Charges Against Their Rapists
Recourse to Persons Harmed by Pornography and Pornographers
Rape and Pimping of Women in the U.S. Military
Also on the subject of politics, Violet over at Reclusive Leftist explains, in Why I will not vote for Obama even if he’s the nominee – and why you shouldn’t either, why feminists ought to consider not voting for the newly-nominated Democratic candidate, offering a bit of a switcheroo to highlight the misogyny in the media coverage of Clinton’s campaign:
Imagine this scenario:
The shoe is on the other foot, and Obama, not Hillary, is the punching bag of the media — a media that is blatantly and unapologetically racist. And I do mean blatant. Jokes every night on the cable news shows about Obama’s hair and his fondness for fried chicken. Pundits laughing about what a problem uppity Negroes are.
Across the country, racists openly ridicule Obama and his candidacy. In mainstream stores there are gag gifts playing on racist themes: maybe a (water)Melon Baller with Obama’s head on the handle, maybe a Barack Obama Shoeshine Set — you get the picture. 501c groups invoke the most grotesque racist slurs with their advertising; T-shirts say “Quit Running for President and Shine My Shoes!” Anybody who protests is branded a fool and a spoilsport
Maggie over at Meta Watershed might not agree that we should boycott Obama (she says she’d vote for Spongebob Squarepants, should he turn out to be the nominee, rather than a Republican, which I thought was a good one), but in her post What She Said, Maggie argues that we ought to remember who engaged in misogynistic bombast during the primary:
And I’ve been sick inside as I’ve watched the testosterone-fueled fist-pumping victory dance. Because for some of these guys, too many of them, it was not just Hillary who was going down in flames. It was all the uppity bitches who ever denied their male superiority. We really can tell the difference, you know. You asswipes fool NOBODY but each other. And your exalted candidate did not lift one fucking finger to interrupt it. Which means when it’s time to let YOUR values get assaulted, he’ll choose silence if it serves him in the long run there, too…
Also from Maggie, Women at the Start of Human Time discusses the work of Judy Grahn on the role of menstruation in the development of human consciousness:
The unanswered question is how did we cross the divide from primate consciousness into human consciousness: Who first made hatchmarks, and why?
Modern studies of how the brain works have revealed that all human learning involves metaphor. On a rudimentary level, when we encounter something new which needs interpretation, we do the equivalent of the Sesame Street singing game which goes “Which of these things is not like the other?” We compare and contrast, using metaphor. This occurs in at least three of the main languages used by humans — verbal, mathematical, and musical. When we find a similarity, we link the new thing to the old, a synapse is formed, and we have the basis for retaining memory of the new thing so we may continue learning about it.
We actually cannot take in information and render it as a retained abstract in any other way.
Thus, to understand how the first humans took such a strikingly different path from all other life on earth, we need to imagine what they were experiencing, seeing, contending with to make that first leap — and it needs to be common to every culture, every region, because this did not happen on one place only. Many different groups of humans were counting in prehistory.
One counting object does reliably appear in numerous early human cultures: Sticks, bones and stones marked with lines which add up to 29.5 days.
In another post from Maggie, The White Night Riot, 21 May 1979 and Lesbians Against Police Violence, we get a glimpse into the riot and into the Lesbians Against Police Violence, of which Maggie was a member:
At the LAPV meeting the following evening, we talked for hours about what we had seen and what it all meant. We agreed we were the inevitable target of any investigation–no one would believe we had tried to stop the riot, and by this time it wasn’t even a claim we wanted to make. We knew the first attack would come in the form of a grand jury. Enough of us had read Grand Jury Comix and followed the Susan Saxe case to know our greatest threat came if we refused to testify. But there was no way we were going to testify. If you refuse to testify to a grand jury, you do not have the right to claim the fifth amendment. Instead, you are granted immunity (meaning your testimony cannot be used to directly incriminate you) and if you still refuse to testify, you are declared in contempt of the court and thrown into jail. You can be kept in jail without recourse for the length of the grand jury, and if the grand jury reconvenes, you can be sent back to jail over and over again–no trial, no due process of law. It’s an excellent tool of reprisal used in this country against political dissidents.
There were around 30 of us involved in LAPV at that time. We sat in a big living room, most of us on the floor, and someone kept detailed minutes. One by one, we each talked about what we stood to lose personally by going to jail, and what we’d like to have done for us by the rest to keep our lives intact until the boys gave up and let us out of jail. Two of us were parents; after a long discussion, it was agreed that if, at all possible, we two would avoid grand jury summons, leaving town if necessary. Women talked about their jobs, their pets, their leases, their houseplants, and their bills. At every turn, one or more of us volunteered to cover for her if she was jailed, with no time limit. By the end of the night, we had a solid contingency plan, a sworn commitment to never break silence, and enough resources to cover the jailing of several (though not all) of us. I don’t know what would have happened to us if we had been sorely tried, but I remember believing every woman in the group with all my heart, and feeling ready to go down fighting for any one of us.
Sarojini Sahoo at Sense & Sensuality, in her post Is It Risky for a Woman to Deal with Female Sexuality in India, analyzes the cultural biases and restrictions that female fiction writers in India (and elsewhere) face:
In India most of the female writers either quit writing or make them more adjustable to male dominated values, after their marriage. You find shyness in their voice while relating the truth and exposing their innerself. Even their weaknesses or love relations are also not expressed clearly in fear of social scandal of their character. A typical womanish shyness prevents them to write their actual feelings towards sex and love. This is not only due to any restriction imposed by their family, but many times we find that an idea of being a good girl pursues them to hide their own feelings and experience.
Also from Sarojini Sahoo, Pleasure at Par argues against the prevailing idea that women in India’s classical period enjoyed more sexual freedoms than they currently do. She discusses the long-standing patriarchy-defined role of women within romantic relationships:
… this patriarchal society always tries to reject women’s sensibility towards love. The patriarchal concept of love between a man and woman actually means, how it is politicized, how it is socially and culturally manipulated with masculine view which is constructed by the idea how to love a man, and how to care for him not only by our instinct, but by the socially expected gender roles. A woman may totally love a man, and refuse to cook for him, but it would not be acceptable behaviour for a ‘woman in love’ according to our cultural codes. Social needs to sustain families on specifically prescribed gender roles also instruct us on how to love a man. There is a hidden code to exploit women in the whole cultural and social scheme of romantic love, mostly because the concept of romantic love has been authored by men, and is based on men’s fractured understanding of women as primarily sexual objects. The patriarchal concept always denies the individuality of a woman as a human being.
At abyss2hope, Marcella Chester offers us her analysis of the American Life League’s claim that birth control pills amount to attempted murder in Protest The Pill To Protect Life Or To Mock It?:
If giving information about the killing of babies (meaning fertilized eggs) is so important and these people want to ensure that potential parents know that their actions will lead to killing babies, why isn’t this group working to inform men that having sex with a fertile woman who are on birth control is a murder attempt?
If women on birth control can be considered killers the moment a sperm reaches an egg then those who inject the needed foreign ingredient for these deaths are actively and deliberately sending their children to their deaths. Except for cases where a girl or woman rapes a boy or man, the boy or man is making a deliberate decision prior to any egg being fertilized and therefore has made the decision to send his child to certain death unless he knows that the girl or woman isn’t using birth control and will not use birth control.
So what is the American Life League doing to prevent men from killing their own children?
Thanks again to everyone for these kick-ass submissions and for the opportunity to host the Carnival. I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every one of these posts and I hope everyone else will, too! The next edition of the Carnival will be at Allecto’s place, Gorgon Poisons, and you can submit posts by clicking here.