Archive | September, 2009

Let’s come up with the next big revolutionary world political/economic theory.

20 Sep

OK, maybe that’s a bit much to ask. Still, there’ve been some discussions going on in comments lately regarding what the goal of radical feminism is. What kind of world might come into existence should all of our wishes come true? I’m too busy these days reading other people’s social, economic, and political theories to come up with any of my own (though I think about it a lot), but I’d still like to discuss the various economic/political -isms and how they relate to the most important -ism of all (feminism), and I’d like to hear about whatever ideas people may have as to what the goal ought to be.

We know what’s wrong with the world (male supremacy, racism, class hierarchies, waste, war, Seth Rogen movies, the fact that we’ll never really know who is America’s best dance crew, etc.), but what’s right? In what kind of world would women be liberated from male supremacy? What would it take to put an end to rape, abuse, dehumanization, etc.? How do we get there? Will it require large-scale revolution? Or is it enough just to try to change people’s attitudes and improve our lot within the current system? If that’s enough, how do we best accomplish that? If it’s not, what actions should we be taking? Do we have to get violent? If we do, will we have lost the plot? Is it necessary for a bunch of people to die in the course of a wholesale reorganization of human society? Who will those people be? Who gets to participate in the revolution? Is separatism a viable option? What about the women whose needs it can’t address?

And after the revolution, then what? What’s feasible? Is a global cooperative the desired outcome? Or should we be looking toward creating small communities? If the latter is desirable, then what happens to our current infrastructure and world system, as fucked as it is? How do we provide for ourselves and make the most efficient use of the world’s resources? If the former is desirable, do you think it’s possible, given the language and cultural differences at play?

And, saying we’ve managed to overthrow all hierarchies, then what? How would we prevent the replacement of old hierarchies with new ones?

How do the Internet and the modern media affect the development and effectiveness of radical social movements? Does it make us lazier than radicals in the past? Less engaged or more? Are we too weighted with the debris of consumerism and stupid entertainment to put anything serious together? Does the pace of contemporary life militate against the development of radical social movements? Does the social trend toward anti-intellectualism mean educated (self or otherwise) radicals will end up isolated and silenced? Don’t we need people to take responsibility for theorizing an improved world in order to move forward (not that I’m saying no one is)?

Feel free to address any one or any combination of these questions or to pose your own. And to use one of my questions as the basis for your PhD thesis.

This discussion is absolutely not open to non-feminists.

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Here’s where I fulfill everyone’s “radical feminists are cat ladies” stereotypes.

17 Sep

Meet Samsquanch, everyone. I got him last week. He takes a lot of naps in between kicking everything’s ass.

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Dear Other Internet Feminists

17 Sep

Did anyone but me notice how nasty things got on the ol’ blogeroonies over the summer? It seemed that everywhere I looked, all I found were posts explaining why this feminist or that feminist was the asshole du jour. It got to the point where it had bummed my party out so hard that I didn’t feel like writing, and I think the paucity of posts over the last few months might be attributable to that more than anything else. I know that feminist-on-feminist shit talking isn’t exactly a novel phenomenon, and that it has gone on and will go on as long as we have had/will have feminists who can talk or write, but it’s destructive. I mean, fuck, I watched a bunch of BDSM porn and didn’t get too freaked out to write, but watching feminists rip on each other over points of ideology sucked the will to rage against the ‘chine right out of me.

I suppose that’s because it made me feel a little hopeless. I mean, how are we going to fight an oppressive, repressive, hegemonic, destructive, and stupid social system if we can’t get together to do it? Ripping on feminists, no matter how egregious their fuck-ups, doesn’t bring us any closer to the extirpation of the phallocracy. You know who benefits from internecine throw-downs among us? MRAs, anti-feminists, porndogs, Van Halen fans, Rush Limbaugh, the people who make Axe commercials, plastic surgeons, the fashion industry, etc. They benefit because we waste our time ripping on each other rather than them. They benefit because they can use the arguments we use between each other to try to discredit feminism as a movement.

Because I’m arrogant, presumptuous, and full of goodwill, I have a suggestion. Next time you find yourself sitting at your desk, hands poised above the keyboard to let the world know just how hard some other feminist is blowing it, don’t. Instead, write about the real enemy. If you can’t come up with any material, turn on MTV for about 30 seconds, walk down to the newsstand and leaf through a copy of Details, google something like “women are” and see what you find. Think about recent interactions you’ve had with men and other women. Write another post about how wack porn is. Write another post about how much you hate Tucker Max. Whatever, just aim your weapon at the real enemy. And if that doesn’t work, head over to a blog you like and tell the blogster (I don’t use -ess endings) that she rules and to keep on stickin’ it to the Man. I promise, it’ll make you feel better than spewing personal attacks will.

I know I’m not exactly breaking theoretical ground as far as recommending that members of a countercultural social movement not tear each other down, but it seems like it needs to be said. I’m sure I’m guilty of a little bit of it myself, but I’ve always tried to avoid it as a matter of course, simply because it’s not an interesting topic. I can’t get as mad at another feminist as I can at Max Hardcore, know what I mean? In any case, it’s now official policy at the ‘chine.

* Note: If you aren’t a feminist, then I guess this doesn’t apply to you. Oh, and you’re an asshole.

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Who is qualified to speak for ALL women in the sex industry?

14 Sep

Pretty sure that’s no one, right? I’ve been getting a lot of shit lately from pro-porn people for supposedly speaking on behalf of all women in porn, but I wonder who appointed them the spokespeople for everyone involved. I might be guilty of making some blanket statements (though I avoid the words “all” and “none” when I can), but I try to be cognizant of the fact that there are women for whom my statements aren’t true. There are, I know, women who choose to do every kind of sex work that exists. I’d have to be a complete fool to be unaware of that fact, because I’m bombarded every day with messages from pro-sex work bloggers who want to tell the world how stoked they are about what they do.  But are these women more qualified to speak on behalf of ALL sex workers than anyone else? I don’t think so, and the fact that they do so and then give me shit for purportedly doing so is kind of funny.  (I won’t even discuss the men who call themselves “pro-porn activists,” because the paternalism and glaringly obvious self-interest that drip off of their protestations make it unnecessary.)

The thing is, I don’t claim to be qualified to speak on behalf of anybody. I forcefully state my opinions and recount the observations from which they derive, but I’m not anyone’s spokesperson. Asshole men speak for women. I’ve probably made some gross generalizations in the past, but I’d like anyone to find a quote in any of my posts in the last year that makes any kind of claim that I speak on behalf of anyone.

But what about people who don’t get to have their voices heard? Who is going to speak for them? There are an awful lot of women in the sex industry without the wherewithal (computers, Internet access, writing skills, self-confidence, leisure time, etc.) to speak on their own behalf and whose opinions might differ from those who have chosen not only to do sex work, but to argue on behalf of the industry for their own gain (and who do have computers, Internet access, writing skills, self-confidence, leisure time, etc.). Am I allowed to speak on behalf of the women who e-mail me and tell me they used to strip, do porn, etc. and tell you that there are at least a former few sex workers who think there’s something wrong with the sex industry? Or should I forward their e-mails to porn producers and pimps and let them decide?

We know what pro-porn and pro-sex industry people think. The world is inundated with the views of those who profit from the porn industry and the people who think that anti-woman propaganda and women’s sexual servitude are liberating and awesome. But what about those who disagree? What about the sex workers who, given the choice, wouldn’t be sex workers?

So, to those of you who tell me I have no place speaking for all sex workers (which I don’t disagree with at all), I won’t. But if you’re going to do so, how about we get a little more accurate portrayal?

Or is kicking the truth about sex workers’ lives not what this is really about? Is accusing me of “speaking for” women in porn just a derailing tactic designed to distract people from the point (that porn and the sex industry on balance are a detriment to women’s lives) by calling me a bad feminist or claiming that I’m dehumanizing women in porn just as much as the men who get off on seeing them degraded are? Lunchtime. A red herring burrito awaits me.

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This is fucking outrageous.

14 Sep

I generally refuse to discuss the “trans question,” and I won’t be doing so here, but there’s a serious problem with this story (which I found out about via a post of Witchy’s).

Apparently, a person who is in the process of transitioning from male to female has been ordered moved from a men’s to a women’s prison in the UK, because the final stages of the process (surgery to have the penis removed) can only be carried out at the women’s prison. She’ll then, because the state has deemed her a woman, stay at the women’s prison. Now, normally I’d just sit around and ponder this for a few minutes. I’d think, “Well, the state has recognized this person as a woman, and she presents as a woman, so I suppose living in a male prison wouldn’t be safe for her. But what issues does that raise for the women in the prison she’ll be going to?” And then I’d go back to thinking about names for my new cat (who I’m calling Steve French and/or Samsquanch for the time being) without having taken a stance either way. You know, because I’m still weighing my own views on gender, sex, sexuality, and the relationship between them and have yet to decide how I think society can best cope with people who don’t fit into the gender binary while that binary is still hegemonic. I’m still working on how I’ll conceptualize and argue about the relationships between the different types of oppression the gender binary and the male supremacy that begat it create.

That’s what I’d normally do, ponder a bit and let it go. But in this case I can’t do that, because the individual in question is in prison for the attempted rape of a woman. Does anyone else see a problem here?

The prisoner has of late been kept in a private cell at the men’s prison. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the state to continue that arrangement after the operation has been completed? Or at least to keep this individual separated from the other inmates at the women’s prison? I understand that the prisoner’s rights and safety need to be taken into account, but what of the rights of the women who’ll be locked up with an attempted rapist in their midst? Oh, that’s right. Those don’t matter.

This judge has weaseled out of an awkward position by forcing already disadvantaged women to take on the burden of dealing with this prisoner that our social and legal systems have no means of coping with. Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Magistrate. I almost forgot the number one principle of democratic patriarchy: women’s right to not be raped comes last; anyone else’s right to anything they want to lay a claim to matters more than women’s right not to have their bodily sovereignty and human rights violated.

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To my readers who use Reddit

9 Sep

Would you please go over to this post and put your four cents in? This poor woman is struggling with a porn-using boyfriend and all of these dicks are telling her she’s an asshole for taking issue with it. I don’t think there’s any point in arguing with entitled porndogs, but I do think there’s value in letting this woman know she’s not alone and that there’s nothing wrong with her feelings. And that she should get rid of this clown.

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Van Halen sucks.

2 Sep

There, I said it. Why is it that every dick in the world expects me to like Roth-era Van Halen in order to give me a cool sticker? Obviously, everyone knows that Hagar-era Van Halen is the worst thing in the world behind Tequiza, but I’m coming out and saying it: Van Halen — even with Diamond Dave — is, like, the worst band of all time. I say that for several reasons, the foremost of which — for me at least — is their overt misogyny and the fact that their lyrics can’t possibly appeal to anyone but the kind of dude who pours beer on his own face when he gets fucked up and uses the word “tits” as a synonym for “cool.” But beyond that, is there such a thing as a song as overplayed as “Panama”? Hasn’t being into some dumbass band full of dudes who make surprised faces while “wailing” gone past the point of nostalgic irony and revealed itself to be just as stupid as it was in 1981? I’m sorry, dude, but Van Halen does not “rock.”

But aside from the fact that I’d rather listen to Colin Farell pontificate about the merits of fedoras vs. trucker hats than suffer through hearing “Hot for Teacher” one more time, let me get back to that misogyny thing. I know, I know, the 80s were the zenith for bands full of androgynous dudes aggressively objectifying women who wore less make-up and looser pants than they did. I know that Van Halen weren’t exactly alone in their laser-like focus on tits and partying, but they’re the most irritating to me because they’re the band that even people who’ve figured out being into Motley Crue’s first album isn’t cool still play on jukeboxes in urban bars with punning names (Crowbar, anyone?). Or maybe it’s that they seemed more serious about it and they never sang about anything else. I mean, in addition to singing about poontang, Poison sang about roses having thorns in them and other fruity cowboy shit, Motley Crue sang about the devil, Skid Row sang about being a badass eleven-year-old or whatever, but Van Halen was all tits and ass all the time, and they fucking meant it. Listening to the average Van Halen song makes me feel like some dirty old man is licking my ear. It’s just gross. Check out the lyrics to “Drop Dead Legs,” for example:

Drop dead legs, pretty smile,
Hurts my head, gets me wild.
Dig that steam, giant butt,
Makes me scream, I get nuh-nuh-nothing but the shakes over you
And nothing else could ever do.
Chorus:
You know that you want it.
I know what it is.
You know that you want it, baby,
When the night is through, will I still be loving you ? 
Dig those moves, vam-pire
Set me loose, get it higher.
Throw my rope, loop-de-loop
Nice white teeth, betty boop.
Set it cool real heavy.
I aint fooled, gettin ready.
Chorus

Just yuck, right? Diamond Dave is about as subtle as Luther Campbell. Almost every single one of their songs resembles this one, with a description of some body part or other that gets David Lee Roth’s old bald ass hot, a few notes on how bad he wants to hump the body part’s owner, and a promise that he’ll toss her away like garbage once the humping has been completed. I was talking to Davetavius about this the other day and he said, “What if a woman were to write a similar type of song about a dude? What would it even say?” We snickered a little as we wrote lyrics about giant dongs and “ripped abs” and the like, but it was just ridiculous. Even if I were one of the Donnas and spent all my time writing songs about how many dudes I wanted to bang, I still wouldn’t be writing inventories of disembodied body parts that made me want to get busy and then take off after having used the body parts’ owner to sate my base desires. That might be because I don’t fetishize body parts and get aroused by disconnected bits of flesh because I’m not a sociopath. There’s a difference between the Donnas singing about wanting to bone some guy and Van Halen saying they want to use a woman and throw her away.

I can’t get hot and bothered enough by looking at a buttcheek to be able to ignore the fact that there’s a human attached to it. You see, no matter how fancily crafted a body part might be, you’ve got to interact with the human being that it comprises a part of in order to have sexual contact with it. For me, that has often meant that no contact would occur, since finding out someone is — oh, I don’t know — a Van Halen fan or something will make it impossible for me to maintain interest in a body part. In any case, I’ve never been able to understand the ability to ignore someone else’s humanity (or personality) in order to use her/his body parts and then bone out. I’ve never been able to figure out how someone could want to have sex with a person they didn’t think it was worth talking to. I think that makes me a better person than David Lee Roth, right? I mean, of course I’m a better person than the dick who covered “California Girls” while wearing a captain’s hat, but now I’ve got even more proof.

Really, how can any woman have ever bought a Van Halen album? And how is it that these ironic dicks who think being into a Camaro band is cool can expect me to like a band that might as well print a label on their album covers that says, “A note to female listeners: We hate everything about you except for whichever body part of yours we might want to use for a few minutes, and after that we hate all of you.” That was a rhetorical question. Anyone who is into Van Halen is stupid enough to expect anything. But still, the expectation is representative of the kind of pervasive misogyny we deal with at every turn, and of the fact that we’re not even allowed the space to call attention to it. If I tell some guy who thinks Van Halen is “awesuuhm” that I’m not into being dehumanized by the bands I listen to, he’ll tell me to relax, that it’s party music, that I’m being a fag (and we all know that calling someone a fag is just misogyny in drag). And then I’ll know I’m talking to a Liberal Dude, one of those guys who claims to support women’s rights as long as those rights don’t start looking like the freedom to define our own sexuality and to live in a world in which we don’t have to laugh it off when people tell us that we’re nothing but masturbation devices.

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