Motherhood

1. Introduction

Quick note: This is written mainly for Lesbians, from a Lesbian Radical Feminist viewpoint. This piece should also be read after the two last posts:
https://icemountainfire.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/lesbians-and-children/
https://icemountainfire.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/hetero-sex-rape-and-lesbian-choice/
These posts clarify my personal experience with the question of motherhood and sum up my thoughts on hetero sex, which will not be a part of this piece here.

Since this is a very long post, here is the table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. Liberal Analysis Isn’t Enough
3. Not a Biological Question
3. 1. Humanity Will Not Go Extinct Without Lesbian Mothers
3. 2. The Potential Of Motherhood Is Female, Motherhood Is Feminine
3. 3. Under Patriarchy, Motherhood Is a Right
3. 4. Female Bodies Are Not Designed For Procreation
3. 5. Instinctual Dislike Of Procreation
4. Stick and Carrot – Privilege and Discrimination
4. 1. Discrimination Against Mothers
4. 2. Motherhood Gives Privilege
5. Motherhood Undermines Female Solidarity
5. 1. Mothers Choose Their Sons Over Women
5. 2. Mothers Choose Their Men Over Women
5. 3. Lesbian Families Promote Hetero Families
6. ″Feminist Motherhood″ Has Failed
6. 1. Feminists Failed To Raise ″Better Sons″
6. 2. Lesbians Fail To Raise ″Better Sons″
6. 3. Lesbian Mothers Are Inevitably Legally Tied To Men Also Thanks To ″Feminist Mothers″
7. Motherhood Is Doing Patriarchy

I hope the numbered headings and sub-headings help not only to clarify the arguments, but also will be helpful in the discussion I’m hoping for.
2. Liberal Analysis Isn’t Enough

Mothering is a hot topic for liberal feminism. But as usual, the defenders of the choice paradigm have nothing to offer in terms of analysis and remain on the very surface of things. Liberal feminist analysis is ahistorical, sexist, racist and classist.
Except in the context of what is barely more than liberal poverty porn (http://jezebel.com/homeless-mother-arrested-for-leaving-kids-in-car-during-1553880432), liberal feminists discuss motherhood like any other middle-class ″project″: Breastfeeding versus formula, cloth-diapering versus Pampers, pram versus baby sling, family bed versus Ferber method, home births versus hospitals, orgasmic birth versus epidural, doulas/midwives versus elective c-sections, stay-at-home-moms versus working mothers – the intensity of these discussions is caught in the buzzword ″mommy wars″. There will be defenders of every position and those who try to fuse both positions. One group of feminists views breastfeeding as the ultimate feminist act, others will say the same thing about formula, and those seeking compromise will declare that both are equally fine and feminist and mothers should be able to make the choice for one or the other.

But to analyse motherhood along the lines of choice is not radical.
It is just the same old liberal story of how to make individual women’s lives better instead of figuring out what would be best for all of us. And motherhood is not the best for all of us.
3. Not a Biological Question

3. 1. Humanity Will Not Go Extinct Without Lesbian Mothers

Whenever a woman questions the need to procreate on a fundamental level, she will be told that refusal to breed will cause humans to die out, mostly said with a tone of voice between reproachful outrage and badly hidden panic. This even happens in Lesbian and feminist communities.
I don’t know if this is the old anti-abortion rhetorics of ″How would you like it if your parents aborted you?!?” on a societal level, the sheer panic of having mean old dykes wrenching away their favourite life project or good old capitalist fear of having taken away something they feel entitled to.
However, at this point, there are over 7 billion people living on this planet and the population is growing. Humanity is not at the brink of dying out. Humanity is at the brink of exploding. So, when Lesbians don’t procreate, humanity is not going to end. Patriarchy and rapists keep up the birth rate, why would Lesbians want to show solidarity to their patriarchal construct by participating?
It is illusionary to assume that all these people would stop having children just because some Radical Lesbian Feminist says it would be better for women and the planet as a whole if humanity would stop overpopulating and Lesbians wouldn’t buy into the breeding ideology of patriarchy.
3. 2. The Potential Of Motherhood Is Female, Motherhood Is Feminine

The ultimate argument of liberal feminist pro-breeders is biological. To have children is seen as a biological imperative, and those who seem to lack this need are on the one hand deserving of liberal tolerance (choice!), yet on the other are still the exceptional, the dysfunctional, the ″With this mindset it is better you don’t have kids anyway″. That the need to have children is perceived as the ubiquitous norm is the rationale behind liberal feminists’ crusade to enable gay and trans people to have children at any cost – and may it be by throwing poor ″surrogate mothers″ under the bus or taking away fundings from women’s health research in favour of uterus implant research.

In the rhetorics of empowerment, liberal feminists also often paint pregnancy, childbirth and lactation as manifestations of female superpower, as something a non-mommy will never be able to best or even understand. At the same time, they are the first to call out what they mistakenly consider biological essentialism in Radical Feminist analysis of the trans cult.
It’s true, biology matters; no surgical procedure and no amount of hormones will ever make a man female. A man can’t ever conceive or give birth.
This gives the transcultists the opportunity to take intersex people and infertile hostage for their own women-hating agenda: ″They can’t conceive and give birth either! Are you saying they aren’t women?!?”
And when Radical Feminists then say that they of course are women due to their biology, the accusation of essentialism is coming next.
But those who call Radical Feminists essentialists forget one thing: We are not framing female bodies as a tool of action (conceive/give birth). Having female organs does not include the need for any action to be set.
Having hands and legs and a head does not include the need to be a soldier: Most people are born with two hands to carry a rifle with, two legs to march with and a head to put a helmet onto. Yet, having hands, legs and a head does not force us to be soldiers.
And likewise, having an uterus, ovaries, a vulva, a vagina and a monthly cycle (or lacking any of those as many women-born-women do for various reasons) does not come with any natural inborn necessity to become pregnant, give birth and raise children.
If it was compulsory, there would be no way to avoid procreation. If the presence of sex organs meant the individual need to procreate, procreation would happen like breathing or the beating of our hearts. The only things a human has to do are: Breathe, eat, shit/urinate, sleep. These are the only needs dictated by the very design of our bodies. This is the reason why the basic regulations (breathing, heartbeat, hormonal release to regulate feelings of hunger and fullness, tiredness, sense for heat/coldness etc) are beyond our conscious control.
But our procreation is within our mind’s control. Our ovulation is relatively hidden. Some women can track it by close observation of themselves, some can’t. In one way or the other, nothing in our biological existence forces us to mate and procreate. Human women are not in heat. While some women report an increased sex drive around ovulation, it does not force them to seek out males and maybe isn’t even true (in patriarchy, this would be a desired answer to give when asked). The simple decision not to have sex with men is fully within our abilities.
I’m not preaching ‘abstinence as contraception’. In patriarchy, i. e. rape, brainwashing into heterosexuality, prostitution/pornography, withholding of biological knowledge, forced marriage etc, ‘abstinence as contraception’ is a cruel, cynical joke. I just want to say that in the absence of force and coercion, the choice to not have sex with men CAN be made because there is no biological need to have sex with men.
This is a hallmark of Radical Feminism. We actually do think there is an alternative to heterosexuality, an insight unpopular all over the place.
The whole philosophy behind the sexual orientation theory is based on the desperate attempt to make the expression of our sexuality a biological thing: ″I can’t put women first! I’m just biologically drawn to men!” or ″Stop hating me for being gay! It’s just the way nature made me!” And it happens the very same way with motherhood. Left or right, liberal or conservative, dictatorial or democratic, religious or secular, every single ideology endorsing motherhood ultimately ends up with pseudo-biological arguments – and may it be the most trivial and stupid reference to the ″clock ticking″. There is no damn clock beyond the one patriarchy hung over our heads, declaring it was a part of our bodies.

So, this is the crucial difference between biological essentialism and Radical Feminism:
To essentialists female bodies come with an inherent order to do things. They think gender is biological.
To Radical Feminists, female bodies just are. To be of female sex doesn’t require you to do anything.

So, becoming and being a mother is not a biological necessity. Becoming a mother is an action set following force or choice. It is behaviour, not state of being, shaped by cultural context and personal circumstance rather than biology. It is doing patriarchy.

 
3. 3. Under Patriarchy, Motherhood Is a Right

Women under patriarchy have exactly three rights: The right to be feminine, the right to be fucked, and the right to bear children.
Women who are not allowed to have children (see further down) are defined as un-women by the patriarchy, but that doesn’t free them from the obligation to be feminine and fuckable. Even women in Nazi concentration camps were kept fuckable enough to be raped in camp brothels.
Patriarchy doesn’t care for mothers’ needs, because being feminine, fucked and a mother is everything and the best a woman in patriarchy ever can be. Patriarchal societies sometimes candy-coat this into rhetorics of ″the sanctity of motherhood″, ″the highest calling″, ″the hardest job″, ″the hand that rocks the cradle″. Patriarchy knows that women are more docile when they are flattered.
And so it is only logical that there is one thing each and every patriarchal ideology agrees on: women have to be mothers.
Left and right, liberal and conservative, democratic and fascist, secular and religious, literally every political ideology proclaims how the family is under siege and backs up its claims with their respective narratives of threat: For religious people, families are too small and not god-fearing enough for society to survive. For seculars, families (and the societies made up by them) are either bound to implode through their archaic religious values or humanity will lose the evolution lottery by breeding itself into extinction. For fascists, the ″proper families″ will collapse due to being outbred by the ″wrong people″. For democrats, the family unit is under siege because the state isn’t doing enough for the future voters and tax-and-pension-payers. For conservatives, the family is threatened by welfare and too much individualism. For liberals, the family is crumbling under way too much nanny state interference and too little individualism.
There is not and never was a shortage of hetero families and therefore mothers. But of course all over the world the lie of the “decline of the family″ is passed on, and has been all throughout (written) history.
This lie is one of the core myths of patriarchy: There is always one more child that has to be fathered, birthed and raised, who in turn has always one more child, and one more, and one more. Hunger, disease, war, there is nothing that will stop patriarchy producing more children. In fact patriarchy actively and in particular encourages people to have children in times of hardship: For practical reasons – e. g. hope for children surviving into adulthood to take care of old parents – but also for ideological reasons. Without children, no believers. No consumers. No workers. No soldiers.
Religious thinkers (= ideologists who promote male dominance by making use of the authority of supernatural forces) stress how it is a right of women to have hetero sex and children. I have heard this in university discussions with protestants, Jewish people, Muslims and practicioners of hinduistic traditions. Ibn Warraq in his book ‘Why I Am Not A Muslim’ quotes Richard Burton’s claim that wives in the Islamic tradition are better off than their christian counterparts because of their god-given right to have sex with their husbands. In an absurd scene, I have been told the exact same thing by a young Muslim woman at university, who considered this right a sign of Islam being a forerunner of modern ″sexual liberation″.
Just to make clear one more time: This is nothing specifically Islamic, but something typical for patriarchy. As I said, I have been present at an uni discussion with all kinds of believers who roughly had the same position.
We also find the same position in medicine: From ancient Greece to modern times, the medical establishment (= men who made up wild nonsense in order to gain control over women’s bodies even beyond legal and religious oppression) have declared that unfucked women will fall sick.
Psychoanalysis (= a historically lucky fraud invented by a junkie con artist in order to keep women and children in line and provide men unfettered access to them) and its offshoots take the same line.
Evolutionary Psychology (= a pseudo-science latching onto biology as a form of modern backlash against liberation movements like feminism and anti-racism) declares fucking/birthing the only meaningful motor of human behaviour.
Sadomasochism (= a male perversion and a Trojan horse to re-establish the worst parts of patriarchy inside feminist and Lesbian communities) fetishises impregnation and pregnancy, birth and lactation.
This should be proof enough that hetero sex and procreation are the most powerful tools of patriarchal oppression. If there was no oppression in them, sadomasochists couldn’t make a fetish out of them in the first place.

 
3. 4. Female Bodies Are Not Designed For Procreation

″The vulva and vagina are actually perfectly designed and sometimes I just think about birth and am completely amazed at what the female body can do. Birth is awesome. You can grow an actual person inside your uterus and expel it out of your vagina where it goes on living as it’s own unique being. That’s pretty incredible.”
http://doulaness.tumblr.com/post/82557221816

Statements like this are rampant in feminist spaces. In order to praise the choice to be a mother, the life-endangering business of pregnancy and childbirth is romanticised, up to the claim of not only pain-free, but orgasmic childbirth.
But this couldn’t be further from truth. As evidenced by all women dying, by all women left permanently damaged (starting with simple incontinence and ending with outright disability), female bodies obviously are not at all ″designed″ for pregnancy and childbirth. We can more or less tolerate it, if we are lucky. But even the most uneventful pregnancy and easy birth will wreck havoc on the integrity of our bodies. My native dialect, charming and tactful as always, has a special expression to describe the washed-out appearance of a woman growing the parasitic entity of a fetus in her: She looks like puked-up barley.
And then there are all the complications.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childbirth
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childbirth-related_posttraumatic_stress_disorder
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complications_of_pregnancy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Episiotomy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestational_trophoblastic_disease
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maternal_death
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maternal_physiological_changes_in_pregnancy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molar_pregnancy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obstetric_fistula
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obstetric_forceps
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obstructed_labour
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postpartum_pelvic_floor_dysfunction
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelvic_girdle_pain
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perineal_tear_classification
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placental_abruption
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postpartum_depression
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preeclampsia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphysiotomy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_pregnancy#Medical
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventouse
(The list is nowhere complete.)
Here are two articles telling the truth about the utter design faultiness of pregnancy and childbirth:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meredith-bland/10-surprises-from-the-first-days-after-delivery_b_5544704.html
http://groupthink.jezebel.com/how-my-vagina-got-her-groove-back-tmi-1540110557
Note how many commenters fully agree on the descriptions and tell about their own experiences of being physically ripped apart. And now tell me again how our bodies are designed for childbirth and how natural it is to sacrifice our health.

The same goes for breastfeeding. Despite the lies of women-hating organisations like La Leche League and people who want to outright force women – like UAE’s lawmakers, model Gisele Bündchen and the countless internet commenters in their favour – to breastfeed, the ″natural″ way to feed babies is comparatively unreliable and can lead to severe health problems in the mother:
http://jezebel.com/5968243/fuck-you-breastfeeding
″Because that’s what it’s like: burning, stabbing, sharp, deep, wide, thick, soul-sucking pain that will cause your asshole to constrict so far up into your body that you fear you might choke on it. (…) I used to punch the arm of the couch, kick my feet, and scream, “Cocksucker motherfucker!” just to get through a feeding. And then, roughly two hours later, I would be presented with my child, by my husband or another family member, telling me it was time to do it all again. “Already!?” I would cry, before sobbing so hard from revisiting the pain that I couldn’t even make noise, but just silently quake. When one of my breasts developed a painful case of mastitis, I was told that the only way to cure it was to “keep her on the breast as much as possible.” That was the last thing I wanted to hear. Both of my tits were gross. They were so bloody and scabby that they looked like someone had stubbed cigarettes out on them, like it was some kind of gang initiation ritual, symbolizing my induction into Da Mutha Hood. Of course, the worst came when I discovered, to my horror, that my left nipple became semi-detached from my areola. It was hanging on by a slim cord of flesh. My hands trembled as I moved my whole nipple up and down, like the head of a Pez dispenser. Panic-stricken, I asked my midwives what I should do. I was convinced I might need to be hospitalized. Again, I was told to “keep her on the breast as much as possible.” Eventually, it healed, but I’m scarred—in more ways than one.”
The commenters, they called her lazy. Selfish. An asshole. Dumb. A Bitch. A Monster. Crazy. Insane. Shitty. Other women reported how nurses and ″lactation advisors″ physically reached into women’s clothing and pulled their breasts out. One commenter openly said that she looks down on women who do not breastfeed.
And there were endlessly many comments of breastfeeding mothers who reported pain, bleeding, thrush, pus oozing out of their nipples, detached nipples, crying and shrieking in fear. Many of them gratulated themselves for not ″giving up″. Many of those mothers also see no contradiction when they on the one hand report their own troubles and on the other claim how great breastfeeding is: Self-gaslighting at its finest.

(Regarding breastfeeding laws:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/united-arab-emirates-breastfeeding-law_n_4689740.html
http://thestir.cafemom.com/baby/107460/gisele_bundchen_says_there_outta)

 
3. 5. Instinctual Dislike Of Procreation

Another hint that procreation is nowhere as ″natural″ as promoted is the fact that girl children are not born with an inclination for pregancy and childbirth. Quite in the contrary. They have to be subjected to severe brainwashing in order to force them on the track of motherhood.
They are given dolls and younger children to babysit, they are asked over and over again in a suggestive manner if they want to have children themselves when they are adults. All information on sex they receive is focused on procreation.
I’m not advocating to withhold this information from them at all. But it is important to point out that before a little girl hears about Lesbianism for the first time, she will have years of procreation propaganda under her belt already. Everything children learn about sexuality is subsumed in the question ″Where do babies come from?”
Even deeply feminist women fall into this trap when they are celebrating menarche as a world-changing thing, as the one happening that distinguishes girls from women (this I will write about another time).
But still girls keep up a deep sense of unease about procreation. Look at this girl here who is made to watch her own birth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0MyWpILzYA
Look at her face, her body language.
I have heard from both US citizens and Europeans that their schools actually made use of the natural revulsion against pregancy and childbirth in order to hammer home the message of safe sex; there are schools who actually show the students birth videos in order to frighten them into using birth control.

Most girls and women at some point give in. A big majority of them either has children or at least despairs trying to have children.
But some keep on resisting. Some of them do this in a conscious manner (e. g. childfree activists), some within the framework of some weltanschauung (e. g. nuns, environmentalists, voluntary extinction activists etc.). Some women find themselves restisting because they sense motherhood is at odds with Lesbian life and feminism. These are the women who are targeted with policial means: Their convictions are attacked, their values ridiculed, their worldview mocked.
Some women don’t need any form of intellectual framework for their refusal to have children. Their reaction is basic, emotional and fundamental. For them, the patriarchal backlash comes in the form of medicalisation: They are diagnosed up and down the manuals, hardly a psychological condition or a physical illness that is not suspected in them. Neurosis or hormonal imbalance, narcissism or ‘on the autistic spectrum’, women who retain their visceral dislike of pregnancy and childbirth are simply declared sick.
The medical establishment even created a specific ″disease″ to get every last child-refusing woman under the sick label:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokophobia
Tokophobia, a phobia of childbirth. A phobia by definition is a fear that is unreasonable, blown out of proportion and has little to nothing to do with real endangerment. To declare that a deep instinctual fear and hate for pregnancy and childbirth is a phobia rather than a perfectly justified concern in the face of billions of women crippled and dead in childbirth is gaslighting, nothing else.

In the nineteenth century medical authorities declared that runaway slaves suffer from a medical condition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drapetomania
Some things never seem to change.

 
4. Stick and Carrot – Privilege and Discrimination

4. 1. Discrimination Against Mothers

Mothers often experience discrimination by state and society. This leads many feminists to the reverse conclusion that motherhood can therefore be a potentially radical act of opposition and resistance against the patriarchy.
But it is not motherhood per se leading to discrimination. It is the wrong kind of motherhood.
Mothers who are discriminated against are discriminated against because they are poor, disabled, immigrants, too old or too young, or simply because they are women and their motherhood is a convenient point to attack. Misogyny takes many forms, and motherhood is just one thing to latch onto.
A disabled, brown-skinned immigrant poor Lesbian experiences intersectional oppression for being disabled, brown-skinned, immigrant, poor, Lesbian and a woman. If she also is a mother, the hate against her may be expressed as hate against her motherhood, but there are other factors at play.
Maybe it is racism: ″Brown-skinned people breed us light-skinned people into extinction!”
Maybe it is ableism: ″I’m not saying eugenics are good, but…″
Maybe it is nationalism: ″She and her anchor baby are not one of us and never will be!”
Maybe it is classism: ″If she can’t feed it, she shouldn’t have it (and we will make sure she will not be able to feed it since she doesn’t deserve it)!”
Maybe it is Lesbophobia: ″She’ll be making her children gay/she wants to abuse her children!”
(I have heard the last with my own ears. I was told by an acquaintance it was okay for me to be a Lesbian, ″as long as you don’t abuse girls″. Seriously.)
Or maybe it is pure and simple garden-variety misogyny: Because women are hated, everything what women do is hated. Women can be presidents or astronauts, heroes and geniuses, sport champions and beauty queens, but they still will be hated. Women can in every aspect completely submit to the patriarchal ideas of their respective societies, and still will be hated. And so mothers are hated. But it is not motherhood per se that the haters target, it is the mother’s femaleness. Mothers in the workforce are not discriminated against because they are mothers; they are discriminated against because they are female and their motherhood is a convenient tool to do this.

On the other hand, there are certain forms of ″discrimination″ that shouldn’t even be framed as such, because they are merely disappointments of feeling entitled:
The lack of child care and child support enforcement, forbidding women to breastfeed in public, employers unwilling to adapt workplace circumstances for mothers, too little political representation of families, hospitals too insensitive to mothers’ ideas of ideal childbirth, poverty in old age for stay-at-home-mothers, oppressive beauty ideals, conservative mothers bemoaning the lack of mother’s salary and family tax splitting, progressive mothers bemoaning the lack of re-entry programs for mothers returning to work, the list is endless. And, as indicated by the last two examples, whatever society does for mothers, other mothers will complain that it is wrong, ineffective, harmful and oppressive. Speaking from an European perspective here, conservative women view the mere existence of child-care institutions for babies as patriarchal oppression and devaluation of mothers. Leftist and liberal women on the other hand feel the same way about money from the state to stay at home for years. Both sides claim that the majority of women would choose (choice is a very important point of rhetorics in this whole discussion) their lifestyle if society just did enough to support these choices.

This shows one thing: All the discussions about motherhood have nothing to do with motherhood as such. It is merely a discussion among women who attempt to make their personal situation more comfortable, using their privilege in the hierarchy of women. They prefer to talk about how big exactly the carrots they are entitled to should be and ignore the stick that beats those women who say no to patriarchy.

 
4. 2. Motherhood Gives Privilege

From a cynical perspective, patriarchy doesn’t need to lift a finger for women. There still will be babies, no matter how little is done to literally keep women and girls alive.
But as a matter of fact, patriarchy does things for mothers because it is effective to keep women committed.
The default model of womanhood in patriarchy is the virgin-then-mother. Being a mother in patriarchy is the highest position of privilege a woman can have. Napoleon once was asked which woman he admired most. He said it was the one with the most sons. This holds true for each and every patriarchal society, past or recent.
Every patriarchal society has its own way of rewarding motherhood via praise and privilege over non-mothers. By this societies establish a hierarchy of women, with married mothers at the top and childless Lesbians (in particular Butches) at the bottom.

And mothers are aware of their privilege, using it to silence or lecture non-mothers in feminist spaces. Mothers also use their privilege to derail feminism in their own selfish interests. Mothers are so very much aware of their privilege that it is not uncommon to hear them starting arguments with phrases like ″Well, as mother, I have to say…” or ″I’m a mom, and so…” They know, their motherhood gives their argument weight, both inside and outside feminist spaces.
Just imagine a Butch Lesbian standing up in a discussion forum and starting her argument with ″Well, as a Butch, I say…”. It will get her nowhere.

 
5. Motherhood Undermines Female Solidarity

5. 1. Mothers Choose Their Sons Over Women

It is almost trivial to state this, but motherhood is the biggest force in undermining female relationships. It is a trope that children always will come first – take one look over to Facebook, Pinterest or Mumsnet. Children, and small children in particular, are women’s top priority. This is even acknowledged in extreme right-wing circles where motherhood is the only thing that is for women at all:
http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/lindsey-graham-det-bowers-south-carolina-senate-2014-elections-106007.html#ixzz30E0cQl23
The darkest side of this is mothers covering up for and remaining at the side of their sons when they turn out to be criminals. Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother had the gall to ask the public after her cannibal serial killer son was killed in prison: “Now is everybody happy? Now that he’s bludgeoned to death, is that good enough for everyone?”
Even his step-mother stood by him: ″Lionel Dahmer is now retired from his career as an analytical chemist and resides with his wife in Medina County, Ohio. Dr. Dahmer is an advocate for creationism, and his wife was a member of the board of the Medina County Ohio Horseman’s Council. Both have refused to change their surname and have professed their love of Jeffrey in spite of his crimes.”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Dahmer#Imprisonment_and_death)

 
5. 2. Mothers Choose Their Men Over Women

The same is true for hetero women living in partnerships with men. Not only are the worst criminals showered with marriage proposals and get married frequently, sometimes more than once, women frequently choose their male partners over other women, even their own daughters.
This woman even goes on TV to defend her despicable husband who not only left behind him a trail of brutally raped victims all over England, but also made a pass at the woman’s teenaged daughter:
BBC Real Crime: The M25 Rapist (Part 1 – 4)




This girl was lucky. She got away. Others didn’t. Like the five year old girl in Germany who for years was raped by her stepfather while her mother taped everything:
http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/urteile-in-hildesheim-erzieherin-filmt-missbrauch-ihrer-tochter-a-979781.html#ref=veeseoartikel
The mother is a child care worker, by the way.

Women will even side with boys against other women without having any connection whatsoever to them. This is an article on pseudo-feminist site Jezebel about mothers posting anonymously how they regret to have had children: http://jezebel.com/happy-mothers-day-from-the-moms-on-whisper-who-hate-the-1574199180
Most comments are firmly on the side of outrage: Sad, heartbreaking, narcisstic, poor children, child abuse, mental illness, hateful, being a shitty person, ″You know having them was actually a choice, right?” and ″This person is an awful, awful human being″. Their heartbreak goes up to demanding trigger warnings, as if the headline ″Happy Mother’s Day From The Moms on Whisper Who Hate Their Kids″ was in any way ambiguous.
There are also plenty of female commenters getting all wrought up at the thought that women indeed could not like boys for being boys, often while writing about their own oh-so precious sons: ″I have tears in my eyes after reading that, and thinking about my own wonderful son and how much love he gives and receives every day.” One mother even points out that forcing herself to be comfortable with the thought of maybe having a boy after all while carrying a girl made her a better parent to the girl now. Other mothers of girls hurry to confirm that they of course would have liked to have a boy as well.
Many of the commenters who feel sad for the unwanted sons speak from the position of having been unwanted daughters. They compare their own experience of being unwanted female children in patriarchy with boys without realising that they are supporting patriarchy’s next generation of oppressors over their own female sisters. Whether they are aware of it or not, by siding with the boy and not the mother, they choose patriarchy, the very patriarchy they were rejected by.
This indeed is a choice – a choice for privilege.
Some women sense that they are literally carrying the seed of patriarchy; one commenter quotes a woman who very lucidly puts in words why she doesn’t want a son: ″She called him “the stranger with a penis inside me”.” This is nothing but the bare truth. She was not introduced to the sprog and it did have a penis, after all.
This woman (who – according to the commenter – also lost her uterus in the aftermath of the pregnancy), and others who dislike their sons may not have the courage to have an abortion or give the boy away. But at least they are not fooling themselves into patriarchal bliss like so many other women do to justify their choice for privilege.

 
5. 3. Lesbian Families Promote Hetero Families

Regarding Lesbian mothers in particular, I find it impossible to think about motherhood as seperate from the idea of heterosexual family. The parent-child relationship biologically and historically is the heart of heterosexual family. The idea of for example a childless hetero couple as a family is relatively new and not widely accepted.
One thing all patriarchal political movements have in common: They don’t question the institution of heterosexual family at its very core. This is even true for groups which envision a future of commune-like structures without nuclear families: No matter how communal the child-raising is organised, there still is a mother who has given birth. Real life experiments of communal child-raising also have either moved towards stronger nuclear family structures again (e. g. the Kibbutz system) or failed miserably (e. g. the European post-1968 communes).
The cultural model of the hetero family is so dominant that it is inflicted even on non-family groups, e. g. in Austrian youth groups where troubled children and teenagers of both sexes are put into shared flats by the authorities so that they can ″experience a healthy family situation″. Needless to say, this leads to severe sexual abuse of little girls at the hands of troubled older teenage boys (http://steiermark.orf.at/news/stories/2604589). This is an excellent example where the dominance of the ideal of heterosexual family with older and younger siblings, brothers and sisters, puts girls at a huge risk. They have nowhere else to go, completely at the mercy of their ″brothers″.
Lesbian families promote the dominance of the hetero family by their participation into this ideal.

Also, many women actively invite male figures as ″role models″ into their families. Motherhood removing all male presence is rare, if it exists at all. Even if a single mother raises her daughters alone, she still often upholds patriarchal tradition.
After WWII, many children here in Europe grew up in households made up of mothers and grandmothers, and there are sociologists who link this to the rise of feminism. But the absence of a man does not mean the absence of the ideal of a man or the absence of male values. To stick with the example of the post-war families, there were plenty of mothers who build up the dead/missing soldier father as some kind of puppet god (″What would your father say!” or ″How can you do this to your dead father!”). The idea that children need father figures was so strong that psychologists actively encouraged women to do this (I will write about that someplace else in more detail.).
There are plenty other forms of patriarchal ideology carried on by mothers which also make use of male puppets, e. g. religion, male-identified political ideologies or simple everyday heterosexual brainwashing within the norms of mainstream culture. Hetero mothers mostly have either the biological father, boyfriends or long-term partners stick around; if they don’t happen to have any, they often at least teach the children that they should have one.
Too many Lesbian mothers also actively invite men into their families, like the sperm donor (as a co-parent, often a gay man), male relatives (sometimes there is even an overlap, sperm donors who are relatives to the non-biological mother are not entirely unheard of) or some random male person they consider necessary to be around to provide their children with a ‘male role model’. Lesbian mothers also very often try to over-assimilate into mainstream culture and community life, as if to serve as living evidence for how homosexuals are really just like everybody else.

 
6. ″Feminist Motherhood″ Has Failed

Mothers often like to envision themselves in a position of power. It is the mothers who do the majority of childcare, so very often it is the mother who ultimately has to power to e. g. feed a child or not. In reality, she of course doesn’t have nearly as much power over her children as it seems to the children themselves. Controlled by the patriarchal family she is often a part of, and a broader patriarchal society, her actual power is limited. A mother continuously refusing to feed her child will most likely get in trouble with the father of the child/child protection service, tragic individual cases nonwithstanding.
Mothers also have very little general control over the development of their children. I have plenty of friends who are young mothers, and each and every of them likes to bemoan how their seemingly unique and smart children fall for societally shaped and advertised consumerist promises: If I had an Euro for every time a mother telling me how she lost the battle against the invasion of pink glitter princess stuff in their tiny baby daughter’s lives, I’d be a full-time writer by now. Mothers realise that they can’t keep their children from using swear words as soon as they are in contact with other children (mostly in kindergarden). Mothers realise that they have no real power over what their children eat: I know a mother who attempted to raise her oldest son without any sugar and battled the whole family (including the grandparents who felt deprived of their spoiling rights) to enforce this diet. By the age of four, the boy stole money from her purse and went to the gas station to buy sweets. Parents of older children know very well the begging and outright terror children can put up in the fight for clothing, mobile phones, computers etc. (I’m painfully aware that in particular class-oppressed children and teenagers often put up this kind of terror to avoid social exclusion and bullying, so I’m not even blaming them. )

In short, mothers experience their relative powerlessness daily, but still many of them fool themselves into believing they somehow have enough influence and power to raise their children towards feminism.
By this they swallowed an old piece of anti-feminist propaganda.
When women were rallying for the right to vote, one argument against female suffrage was that women already were shaping the world as mothers: ″The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world″ was trotted out back then and still is trotted out by right-wingers like this loony Texan pastor who runs a christian movie review site I came across recently. From the good pastor’s review of Mona Lisa Smile (2003) with Julia Roberts (http://www.capalert.com/capreports/monalisasmile.htm): ″Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles) was the real surprise. As the one who was initially most likely to embrace Watson’s new age teachings and as the one who was Yale law school bound, Brandwyn was the one who saw the benefits of the greatest and most important job on the planet. She elected to become the housewife and mother Wellesley tradition cherished.There is no greater job than the one you mothers have. Our future depends on you. God indeed instructs children to honor their father’s commands, but He instructs them to heed your teachings. [Prov. 6:20] Yes, God made the husband the head of the wife [Eph. 5:23], but the wife is the neck who can turn the head any which way she chooses. Mothers and potential mothers, please do not let this Mona Lisa Smile (and soap opera) kind of tripe in entertainment make you think you are any less than you are. Mothers shape the world. One child at a time.”
Another example: “No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother – cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one’s precious husband and children.” (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/14/why-i-rejected-life-as-mormon-mother-religious-scepticism)
Mothers should confine themselves to motherhood instead of voting or having a career, because mothering gives them the best opportunity to change and shape the world anyway.
Somewhere along the way, feminists started to believe this twaddle.
Of course voting and careers are out of the question today, but ″feminist motherhood″ is definitely a thing and thanks to the brave actions of liberal feminists, there are plenty of women out there who demand to have their economically and intellectually idiotic decision to be a stay-at-home ″mom″ lauded as a ″feminist choice″.

 
6. 1. Feminists Failed To Raise ″Better Sons″

At this point in history, there are two, maybe three generations who were raised by mothers with a certain feminist consciousness. A good portion of these mothers would even be actively feminist in one way or the other.
The first big anti-feminist backlash of the 1980s, the aggressive hijacking of feminism of the 1990s and the almost lost fight for women’s liberation in the 2000s were conceived and carried out by men and their female collaborators who were raised by second wave feminists.
If that is not evidence that ″feminist motherhood″ was one big fail, I don’t know what is.

 
6. 2. Lesbians Fail To Raise ″Better Sons″

The same is true for Lesbian mothers. One glaring example for the complete failure of Lesbians to raise better sons is Tobi Hill-Meyer, trans activist:
http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/tobi-hill-meyer-admits-he-authored-controversial-anti-lesbian-memes/
http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/censored-from-butch-voices/
Or this precious angel here, rallying against homosexual marriage:
http://www.dennyburk.com/child-of-lesbian-couple-speaks-out-against-gay-marriage/
His mothers must be so proud.
Another example, showing the plain, low-profile, casual everyday sexism of patriarchy:
http://i-once-had-a-guy-tell-me.tumblr.com/post/75885833766/tw-homophobia-my-best-guy-friend-said-he
″My best guy friend said he wouldn’t date a girl because she “is a feminazi and won’t put out” but it’s ok he’d never come near me because “I look like a raging lesbian”. He was raised by a lesbian couple and has no male relatives, how he’s such a sexist fuckwad Is beyond me.”

And isn’t this the main argument of rainbow family activists?
″We can be trusted with access to adoption and fertility treatments, because we raise our children EXACTLY like everybody else and with the EXACT same outcome as evidenced by countless studies proving our children are perfectly average and norm-adhering in every regard″?
So how do Lesbian mothers envision their role, then? Raising perfectly patriarchy-adjusted children who at the same time are the generation of anti-patriarchal Lesbian liberation? We cannot have it both ways.

 
6. 3. Lesbian Mothers Are Inevitably Legally Tied To Men Also Thanks To ″Feminist Mothers″

There is another threat to Lesbian mothers they mainly owe to hetero mothers: The tendency of the law in the US and many European countries to strengthen the position of fathers. Despite the lies of MRAs, hetero mothers have a vital interest to keep the fathers legally bound to the children. Liberal feminists fight not only for the financial engagement of fathers, but also for their social involvement.
And the lawmaker, patriarchal as ever, is happy to oblige. In several EU states men get even visitation rights with their children when they battered the mother. Australia, ditto:
http://antipornfeminists.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/austrailias-domestic-violencechild-custody-law-doesnt-work-and-this-is-the-law-the-uk-government-is-seeking-to-copy/
In many states, mothers can be charged for kidnapping – even when the child is only a fetus, even when the woman has to fear for her life!
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2681033/American-mother-lived-Britain-16-years-allegedly-fleeing-abusive-husband-extradited-US-charged-kidnapping-three-children.html
So even if a woman has her mind set on raising the children alone, it is legally impossible. In the name of ″equality″ and due to the lobby work of ″father’s rights activistis″ lawmakers force patriarchy into each and every single house.
This is particularly true in states where Lesbians are not allowed to use sperm banks, although under the guise of ″children’s rights″ even this possibility will likely be de-anonymised soon.
So, even if there was a community of separatist Lesbians raising girls in an entirely female world (from medical care to schooling), at most places, there’d still could be a man appearing at the gates with law enforcement, sueing his way into access to the girls.
From a Lesbian point of view, this is an act of treason hetero mothers committed against us. Instead of being on women’s side, they choose their own privilege once again by siding with a male-centered system.

 
7. Motherhood Is Doing Patriarchy

Motherhood is at the heart of patriarchy. Patriarchy, the rule of the fathers, is impossible without mothers who make them fathers in the first place.
Mothers have sex with men or at the very least obtain sperm from men to become pregnant.
Mothers give birth to the next generation of men.
Mothers choose men and boys over women and girls.
Mothers raise the next generation of men, pouring endless energy and devotion into the task.
Mothers raise their daughters to become mothers as well and teach them to pick men over other women.
Mothers, on the other hand, have failed gloriously to raise ″new men″: Patriarchy is alive and kicking, and men contribute to it and benefit from it as ever.
Mothers do exactly what patriarchy wants them to do.

Lesbians shouldn’t be a part of all this. We don’t need more colonisation and assimilation. We need to say no.

Posted in Radical Feminism | Tagged , , , | 43 Comments

Hetero Sex, Rape and Lesbian Choice

First of all, I have not forgotten that I owe you a post on motherhood as a follow-up to the ‘Lesbians and Children’ post. This piece here started out as a part of it, but then developed a life on its own. When thinking about motherhood, it was inevitable to think about hetero sex, and while it would be much better for my peace of mind to ignore the topic on grounds of Lesbianism as I usually do, in this case I can’t.

Hetero sex has been a topic of radical analysis from the beginning, since hetero/ex-hetero Radical Feminists have an obvious and fully legitimate interest in the topic. The bulk of analysis is too big to be summarised in a single post, and this is not what I’m intending to do here anyway.

I want to focus on one aspect of recent Radical Feminist analysis I see all over our blogs.
When hetero Radical Feminists talk about hetero sex, they often frame it as rape, regardless the cirumstances it occurs. They invented the term ‘PIV’,which I dislike for its ″inside group speak″ character and the cute-ish sound (also, where is the difference between ″PIV″ and ″PIA″ or ″PIM″?). They also boiled down their analysis to a catching ‘PIV = rape’.

Well.

As a Lesbian Radical Feminist, I have overlaps with this kind of argument. Radical Feminist analysis makes it obvious that each and every interaction between women and men is necessarily inequal, and that a good portion of what we are culturally trained to perceive as hetero sex IS rape.

Feminists have come to understand that marital rape is a thing: for a long time a man couldn’t rape the girl or woman he called his wife, and many people still believe that.
Feminists also have come to understand that raping a drunk or otherwise incapacitated woman is, indeed, rape: again something even today people don’t necessarily agree on.
Feminists have uncovered countless forms of coercion as tools of rape, other than naked violence: Some laws in Europe still claim that it is not enough to just say no, real rape needs to be met with physical resistance to ″count″.

All these examples for rape which mainstream culture didn’t and doesn’t call rape (and there’d be dozens more examples) are so obvious even to the most superficial of feminists that the liberal feminists dreamed up the concept of ‘consent’ for distinction:
Consent, a term taken over from property law (telling), is the thing that magically turns two same acts into two entirely different things: A man sticking his dick into a woman is either rape or – by the miracle of consent! – the ultimately pleasurable human experience. Or worse, a man whipping a woman raw, calling her names, pissing on her and selling her to a gang of strangers who rape her until her pelvic floor is going to pieces can either be rape or – by the miracle of consent! – a great liberating, transgressing ″BDSM session″.

Somewhere along the way liberal feminists must have realised that there is something queasy about the principle of consent. The term morphed into ‘informed/enthusiastic consent’ in no time, when liberal feminists felt the need to clarify that consent can’t be reached by deception and does not equal playing possum (purists sometimes defend the use of mere ‘consent’ by saying uninformed and ″implied″ consent isn’t consent at all).

The point is, no matter in which incarnation, liberal feminists and sex positivists are convinced consent (informed, enthusiastic, whatever) is the ultimate tool of distinction between ″good for women″ and ″bad for women″.

Radical Feminists disagree.
″Consent″ is never given in a vacuum and without context. Every woman lives in patriarchy. Every woman is oppressed in patriarchy. It is ridiculous to claim that our sexual choices of all things somehow are unaffected by this.

BUT:
This doesn’t mean that I consider all women inable to make decisions. Not at all. And this is the problem I have with ″PIV = rape″.

″PIV = rape″ implies that this equation is true in all cases. It implies that each and every woman who acts in a heterosexual way is coerced in one way or the other. In this mindset, the most privileged – while women are always the underclass in patriarchy, it is undeniably true that some women are more privileged than others, rich, educated, white, heterosexual mothers are at the very top – of heterosexual women would be coerced by some invisible force commonly subsumed under ″socialisation under patriarchy″.

Privileged women somehow get to claim that their refusal to make the right choice is the same thing as the lack of choice more oppressed women experience: A privileged woman for example is able to choose or refuse motherhood. If she chooses to become a mother despite being in the position to either not to be with men in the first place or at least have an abortion, she, in the sense of the axiom ″PIV = rape″, is literally in the same position as a girl or a woman held captive and forcibly impregnated. They may not be beaten, locked-in, starved and raped, but they get to claim victimisation by socialisation. The force who made them mothers is maybe a little less visible, not embodied in the person of a rapist, but society as a whole, but it still is there and just as powerful as the poor woman’s rapist and prison guard.

This argument probably would be true in a world where there are no lifelong Lesbians. But we are here. Right here. Many of us have been raped in the strictest sense of the word. And yet, most of us who have been raped and by this experienced the ultimate coercion into heterosexuality did not turn to men afterwards. We remained Lesbians, even if this meant we were vulnerable to more (corrective) rape.
We are living proof that women can make a different choice than submitting to men.

Queer theory disciples, liberal feminists and – more implicitly – some hetero Radical Feminists want to belittle, erase and take away our choice. They say we are ″born this way″, having a ″sexual orientation″. To them, we sometimes even seem privileged: Nature designed us to be able to stay away from men, so when we do stay away from men, we are not doing something worthwile and radical, we are just following our bodies’ and minds’ design and should be dutifully grateful that we were born without the seal of slavery.
(Queer theory and liberal feminism at the same time do their best to force us into worshipping men, flooding us with accusations of ″transphobia″ and ″bi-erasure″, two offenses we commit purely by existing.)

In this mindset, a hetero woman turning away from men is doing something much greater than us boring Lesbians who just got away by a fortunate fate that made us Lesbians.
But it wasn’t a fortunate fate, and it wasn’t an accident of biology that made us resist.

Born this way is nonsense. We are choosing women, day after day after day. We are not even ignoring men. There are no men in our minds. We are choosing women and – those of us who are lifelong Lesbians – never have done anything else.

This is proven by the fact that many of us were raped before we had a Lesbian community, political analysis or even an idea of ourselves being Lesbians. Countless little girls are raped, many of whom grow up to be Lesbians. We didn’t have the plaster cast of political awareness and Lesbian strength to put on our broken bones when we were little. But we knew, deep down, that other girls had to be at the centre of our world, not boys and men. And we stubbornly clung to that knowledge, choosing girls and women over the dazzling promises of privilege within heterosexuality.

We choose girls and women over giving in to patriarchal attempts to coerce us into heterosexuality. We are living proof it is possible. We are living proof other women did not resist. We are living proof that other women deliberately choose heterosexuality, which is one of the main reasons why Lesbians are so very much hated by liberal feminism, sex positivism, the trans cult and even hetero Radical Feminists.

We are proof for an inconvenient truth:
Heterosexuality is doing patriarchy. A heterosexual woman makes herself, her energy, her body, her mind, her talents, her time available to men. Men are the patriarchy.

Liberal feminists coined the term ‘slut-shaming’. They claim heterosexuality as a woman’s right. They think it is possible to fight patriarchy while submitting all their might to male interests before female solidarity. But they forget that a slut is tied together with the virgin: They attack the mindset of the virgin-slut dichotomy, the Madonna-Whore-complex.

But instead of throwing out the whole dichotomy, they just try to make the ″negative″ pole of the dichotomy positive as well. By this, they act as if the Whore meant sexually active, and Madonna meant desexualised (and by this dehumanised). They are forgetting that a virgin (in the patriarchal sense of the word) is a woman not yet fucked, waiting to be fucked, remaining unfucked although she is intended to be fucked: A little girl in patriarchy is an adult woman waiting to happen, not desexualised. An older virgin is a spinster (NOT in the feminist sense of the word), the one who didn’t yet win a man, not desexualised. A nun is renouncing physical heterosexuality in favour of mental heterosexuality, not desexualised. A woman in a hijab is so very sexual she has to cover herself up with fabric all over, not desexualised. Even an ″asexual″ woman in the sense of the modern ″orientation″ isn’t desexualised at all; terms like ‘heteroromantic’ or ‘demi-sexual’ are often associated with her.

Virginity (in the patriarchal sense) is heterosexuality in the making. The Virgin and the Whore are not fundamental opposites. They are the exact same thing: Heterosexual women, doing patriarchy in their respective ways. The fight against ″slut-shaming″ isn’t more but the liberal try to get a better deal inside the system. A slut does not threaten patriarchy any more than does a virgin.

The real opposite of the Virgin-Whore-dichtomy, the only thing that really has no connection to patriarchy whatsoever is Lesbianism. When we are not colonised into assimilation, Lesbians don’t need or serve men in any way.

I don’t know if it can be possible to be hetero by choice and be a Radical Feminist. I don’t think so. I can’t imagine to invite the enemy into my home, my bed. I sometimes desperately wish I could believe that all those smart, intelligent, strong hetero Radical Feminists were driven by some invisible force that makes them invite the enemy against their very wills. I tend to look for the tiniest shred of evidence for coercion because I so very much want to believe that these smart, strong het women are not wasting themselves on men for the silliest of reasons and the most hollow of privileges.

But the ugly truth is, many of them do.

Posted in Radical Feminism, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Lesbians and Children

Children to me personally are a non-issue. I never wanted them, and since I have a distinctly younger sibling who was a baby and a toddler in my teenage years, I know very well what it really means to have children. The beauty-of-motherhood propaganda is wasted on me.

I see the emotional, psychological and political damage done by the principle ‘family’ as a whole. I also see how troublesome it is when Lesbians direct their energy towards their children, in particular towards boys. Het or Lesbian household, boys are treated better than girls in so many regards, and even those women who attempt to raise sons in a ″feminist″ manner failed, as the history of feminism shows.

When I came out, I assumed the kids topic was off the table. Things in Europe always are a few years behind the US. While across the Atlantic ocean marriage and adoption rights for homosexual couples were already a big issue in the media, the average inhabitant of my little country in the mountains never would have associated ″I’m a Lesbian!” with ″I want to get married and have children!”

In the contrary, it still was the time of ″How can you do this to me, I was hoping for grandchildren!”

For several reasons the grandchildren issue wasn’t that important for my own parents, and I enjoyed a refreshing period without anyone wanting me to have children.

Before I came out, that was different.
Since grammar school I was badgered if I wanted to have children, and when I stoutly refused, I was met with confusion or disdain.

I argued with the nurse when we were sent to the rubella shot at school. We were told that it was to protect our future children. Neither me being prepubescent nor me assuring I would not have children stopped the nurse. Of course not. Law has to be obeyed and the law says the bodies of 13 year old girls have to be prepared to carry and birth children, end of the story.

In the mountains I was born language often is brutal. When I was a teenager and still refused to say I wanted children, I usually was given the sentence: Where you spit, you have to lick up.

This is a traditional way to say ″karma will get you″ and means that I will be cursed with a bunch of kids for contempting the joys of motherhood in my youthful ignorance. I have – so I was told repeatedly – a very fertile great-grandmother and very child-bearing hips, after all.

All the psychological terror came to an abrupt halt when I told people I was a Lesbian.

But things didn’t stay this way.

Now the tables have turned once more.

Now the main goal of the local Lesbian and gay organisations is to open marriage, adoption and all kinds of fertility treatments for gays and Lesbians. There are more Lesbians on TV than all through my childhood, real Lesbians and fictional Lesbians, and most of them want, crave or have kids. It has become the most normal thing in the world that Lesbians have kids – just take a look at Grey’s Anatomy. It doesn’t get any more mainstream than that.

And  I get to feel the outcome of this. The heterosexualisation of Lesbianism in the media and society have taken their toll. Again I am asked if I want to have kids, and why I don’t want kids, and how kids ever could have been the decisive factor for me to break up with my long-term girlfriend.

Again I have people – and not just nasty people or stupid people, mind you – urge some male’s semen on me. This implication is something I usually don’t point out to people who want me to have kids, because it is rude. But it sure is a valid thought: Some loser in Denmark desperate for money and/or sure of his own genetic superiority jerks off and I am supposed to want to put that disgusting slime up my vagina and have the result rip my vagina in shreds nine months later? There are better things to do in Denmark.

So I decided to make a list of all the arguments I had hurled at me, because the uterus sniffers and the fertility brigades just don’t stop hurling them.

I am convinced every Lesbian of vaguely child-bearing age who doesn’t buy into the heterosexualisation of Lesbian culture will have heard them, too.

1) The Political Insinuation argument:
It basically means I violently suppress my natural urges to have a child in order to promote my political belief. They call us feminazis, after all.

2) The Too Egoistic For Precious Little Souls Anyway argument:
This always strikes me as a clumsy attempt of reverse psychology.
″It is good you don’t have children, you would be a lousy mother anyway!”
″He called me a lousy mother! Now I’m gonna prove I am mom of the century!”

3)  The If You Don’t Find The Right Man To Procreate You Want Too Much argument, or The Uppity Bitch argument for short:
This is one taken from the fundus back when I was young. No matter what women want in a man, and may it be basic health and no crime record, they will be accused of setting too high standards. Who is the uppity broad who actually wants to decide whom she mates with?
Also, whenever a father of the year ends up in the news for raping/killing his kids, there will be voices blaming the mother for procreating with the wrong man. But of course: When women set high standards, they are doing it wrong. When they set low standards or no standards at all, they are doing it wrong, too. I detect a pattern here.

(I have yet to see the het woman who draws the only resonable conclusion: Stay away from men, stay away from procreating. But I am wasting my breath here, I assume.)

4) The Nature Wants Women To Be Mothers argument:
When we are talking nature here, I’m dead. Nature decided to kill me when I was eight years old, and since nature doesn’t provide surgery… too bad.

5) The What If Your Parents Would Have Thought Like You argument:
This is a spin-off from the abortion rhetorics: ″What if your parents aborted you!″
It amazes me on many levels.
First of all the sheer stupidity of it: If I wasn’t born, I wouldn’t mind, because there would not be an ″I″ to mind. And what’s with the child that couldn’t be born because I took up the space in my mother’s uterus for so long?
Second: This rationale would be also true for abstinence (the trademark religious way of contraception) and religious celibacy. Yet I don’t see bishops preach to nuns to get out and have children? Also, every menstruation is the bloody sign of an egoistic woman who let one more month pass without granting the chance for a child to be born so that it can police Lesbians later.
Third: What if my parents didn’t think at all? Children as ″accidents″, children because abortion is impossible, children born from rape or incest – there are millions and millions of mothers who didn’t even have a chance to ″think like me″ because they have no choice. I know, something that is not very welcome in our postmodern society and not even liberal feminism who values tales of ″choice″ over Lesbian experience (of for example corrective rape).

6) The Broodmare For The Fatherland argument:
Only the wrong people have kids – the poor, the brown, the stupid. They will breed us good human material into extinction. Go on, German Mother! Give us blonde children for our people!
(And I’m not even German or blonde.)

7) The Future Tax Payers argument:
Who will pay your pension and wipe your ass when you are old and sick? You women have the vote, but you don’t do your duty as citizens and crank out tax payers!
If you don’t, MY precious tax payers for sure will not pay for your egoistic hedonism!

8) The Future Doom or The Menetekel argument:
This one comes in two versions:
″Once your post-thirty hormones will kick in, you will CRAVE children!”
or
″Once you are post-menopause you’ll suddenly realise you missed the best part of life!”
Both versions culminate in the same: ″And then you will realise it is too late!”

9) The Right Man or the Once You Meet Him, You Will Want Babies argument:
Again an originally heterosexual trope, but I have heard it with The Right Woman too. In particular with The Right Woman. Must be the age. Bonus version: ″You will give up the Lesbianism and have children when the Right Man shows up.”

10) The Old And Lonely argument:
″If you don’t have kids you will be all lonely when you are old and nobody visits you.”
Because it never happens that mothers end up alone when they are old or see their children only when they want money. No, that never happens. Ever.

11) The Poor Victim of Politics argument:
This is my secret favourite. They basically are concern trolls who tell me I make life decisions based on the whims of politicans who fail to provide things like attractive child support or daycare. While of course child support and daycare are helpful for raising children, I still wouldn’t reject a deep need of mine for political reasons. I’m a Lesbian. It means I’m discriminated against by politics, law, church(es) and society all the time. Does it make me give up being a Lesbian? No.
If I wanted to be a mother, I would be a mother.

12) The I Know Better Than You What You Want argument:
″If you are older you will want children. Full stop.”
Full stop, indeed.

13) The You Must Have Had A Horrible Childhood argument:
This blanket statement can make use of many circumstances: When you actually had a horrible childhood, people will ask you just why you don’t want to make it better with your own children? If you had a lovely childhood, they will not believe you or want you to ″pass on all the love you received″. If you are a single child, they will tell you that this made you egoistic. If you have siblings (probably even more siblings than usual) people will tell you ″But children from big families always want big families themselves! ALWAYS!”, brushing off arguments along the lines of “I had enough noise, shit, yelling and poverty in my life already, thanks.” with a simplistic “But children give so much back!”

14) The Breeding Is The Sense Of Life argument:
Because, you know, life is totally senseless. All you are is a set of genes that has to be passed on. If you don’t want to pass on your genes, you are biologically broken. And because you are a woman, you have the biological urge to stay at home and wipe up baby shit while I make money. WHO ARE YOU TO RENOUNCE EVOLUTION!
By the way, the evolutionary-biology-fuelled atheist community is the very corner I personally experienced the most blatant homophobia and sexism from. Not even the catholics come any close to what is going on there.

15) The Mentally Disturbed argument:
It always amazes me how freely people flaunt homegrown diagnoses of mental illness when they meet people whose values they don’t share. And no, I’m not ″on the autistic spectrum″.

16) The Spiritual Healing argument:
Once you shed your pop cultural Sex and the City party lifestyle (ha!)/university education/atheism and find true spirituality/god, you will automatically take up your natural role as giver of life. Amen and Hail Mary!

17) The Baby Smile argument:
Nothing you can achieve will ever be as good as the SMILE OF A BABY.
The more I hear about that infamous baby smile, the more that smile reminds me of the threatening tooth-baring of a baboon, really.

18) The Just Do It argument and the Sigmund Freud sub-argument of it:
This aims at every woman, but also at women unwillingly pregnant and rape victims in particular: ″Hey, probably this will turn out great! Stop worrying so much, just do it! You’ll see how great it is to have kids!”
A particularly vicious twist of this argument is ″If you truly wouldn’t want kids, you wouldn’t have forgotten to take the pill!” and the most despicable of all: ″It doesn’t matter you got pregnant by rape. God has a plan with you!”

Given the high numbers of Lesbians who are raped, there is a clear hetero agenda behind both rapes and this ″argument″: Children as punishment and tool of submission.

19) The You Are A Child Yourself argument:
We all get to hear that we are only true grown-ups and responsible adults when we have procreated. We don’t bear responsibility and deal with the hardships of life before we have kids, you know? As a truly mature individual you have to learn how to put someone else before you and your own egoistic needs. This puzzles me most: How can they advertise the joys of motherhood by telling me I have to learn to suffer? This CAN’T work.

Also, this is a very common homophobic pseudo-argument in general: Our love will always be less-than, because we don’t know the hardship of hetero family (religious twist). Our love will always be less-than, because we failed to mature into ″real women″ (psychology twist). Our love will always be less-than, because we don’t have a penis involved (porn twist).

20) The Perfection argument:
I often hear women claim they put off having children because they think they would not be good mothers. And this seems to be one of the few arguments that are actually accepted in patriarchy – a patriarchy which even makes sure women suffering of cancer have eggs frozen. It still backfires often when women decide to have children after all. This is the classical Bad Mother argument: ″Why did she even want to have children, if she doesn’t want to care for them?

All these arguments, no matter how different they may look, have one thing in common: They assume that the heterosexual/heterosexualised family is a good thing. They are patri-archal in the strict sense of the word: patēr = father and arché = rule.

Lesbians and feminist hetero women see this clear enough, and yet many Lesbians and feminist hetero women think their very own heterosexual/heterosexualised families are somehow something else, ‘queer’ or ‘rainbow’ or suchlike.

Motherhood is a complex thing. Mothers in patriarchy have the highest status of all women. Being a mother gives status, respectability, social standing and a place in the patriarchy.

This is also one of the reasons I suspect behind the heterosexualisation of Lesbian life.

And this is something I can refuse to give in to.

Posted in Radical Feminism | Tagged , | 68 Comments

Pasta and Coal Mines: Why Equality Is a Dangerous Concept

I’m grateful for this piece of twaddle Rob Stephenson, “Associate Professor of Global Health at Emory University and an expert in HIV and sexual behavior among gay men” recently published on Huffpost:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rob-stephenson/why-is-my-penis-funnier-t_b_4285912.html?utm_hp_ref=sex

It gives me the opportunity to spell out my thoughts about the nonsensical assumption that there possibly could be sexism against men and why the concept of ‘equality’ is an empty scheme.

But before I start out with my arguments: Vagina, vagina, vagina – the word you are looking for is vulva, Mr. Health Professor. Isn’t it delightful you can be a HIV expert and still be dismissive of the proper anatomical terminology?
But since the rest of the piece is written in an exceedingly sloppy manner as well, I should let that slip.

And, to be perfectly clear throughout: I’m highly critical of the concept of transgenderism. So, when I write about men and women here, I mean male persons = persons with penises who benefit from the hierarchal concept of gender and female persons = persons with vulvas and vaginas who are oppressed by men through the hierarchal concept of gender.

I. Who Is Poking Fun At Penises Onscreen?

″Chris Straayer, in his cinema studies text Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies suggests that the phallic shape has more cultural power than images of the actual penis. Comedy often involves creating situations in which traditional social norms and expectations are challenged. By showing men in situations in which their penises are put up for public viewing and fun-poking, movies are deriving fun through challenges to the traditional, cultural representations of the phallus as strong and powerful. These penises are also soft. Movies are literally deflating the penis, and male power, for comedy effect.”

The author fails to fully spell out whom he sees to blame for this depiction of penises. He suggests that the regulations of mainstream media could have to do with it: ″Current MPAA regulations prevent the showing of erect penises in movies, thus leaving filmmakers who want to avoid the box-office death associated with an X-rating only one option for giving give [sic] the penis screen time: humor.”

I refuse to believe that the author envisions a secret organisation of female media tycoons meeting to plot out the hundred best ways to symbolically castrate men onscreen. I assume he rather is aiming for the classical liberal pseudo-feminist stance of ″Patriarchy hurts men, too!”

My interpretation is backed up by the fact that the film business is heavily male-dominated. One look at the Oscars is enough to confirm where the power lies within the industry (1). For a bit more context: http://www.nyfa.edu/film-school-blog/gender-inequality-in-film/

In short, the movie mocking of penises comes out of male brains.

The movies also don’t stand alone. If mocking is a form of violence (which the author seems to imply), then it ties in a much larger male culture of penis devaluation:

– Male-only groups like frat boys or soldiers acknowledge each other’s penises in situations where the the penis is challenged (e. g. hazing, teasing/bullying in locker rooms (2)) or aimed at someone else (e. g. in gang rapes). This allows for homosocial behaviour, yet in their mind frees them from the suspicion of homosexuality.

– The mocking and maltreatment of penises and masculinity is a well-loved fetish among men. Hetero men are willing to pay women to do it, and – if we can believe gay porn – gay men are not entirely disinclined either.

– Men invent elaborate religious concepts to justify their pleasure of violating penises. The heated arguments over  circumcision in the last year all over Europe make this very obvious. Historically, some religious traditions even demanded full castration, e. g. for galli priests in Kybele veneration (3) or in different brands of christianity e. g. the Skoptsy cult (4). Outside the religious sphere, the castration, circumcision and genital mutilation of men is an entirely male business: Men and boys were mutilated to feed an endless demand for eunuch guardians and courtiers, sex slaves, singers and athletes. Indigenous people in many places of the world (Africa, Australia, Southern America, Polynesia and Melanesia) practiced penile subincision (5).

– Men sometimes attack the penises and therefore the manhood of other men as punishment.

The author also seems to forget that there is a world wide multi-billion industry based on the depiction and glorification of erect penises. Compared to the porn industry, Hollywood can go home:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng172g_F8rM

II. The Material Culture Of Genital Mockery

The author has not done his homework. There is plenty of ″vagina stuff″ out there: http://www.etsy.com/search?q=vagina%20&view_type=gallery&ship_to=ZZ
Over thousand hits for all kinds of ″vagina stuff″. And that’s just Etsy and just one search term. As for ″vagina cupcakes″ (vulva cupcakes, but who will be picky), Google offers me 711.000 hits.  A lot of perfectly regular pasta resemble vulvas and vaginas: capunti, cavatelli, cencioni, conchigliette, conchiglie and conchiglioni, gigli, lumache and lumaconi, orecchiette, sorprese and sorprese lisce or torchio (courtesy to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pasta). They may not have been designed for the purpose, but in case they are needed, they’ll do.

On the other hand, the author himself (correctly) says that a lot of the penis stuff is meant for women’s bachelorette parties. Such parties are the place where consumerism, heterosexual marriage and fake ‘sexual liberation’ meet. No matter how much it is dolled up with ″naughty″ glamour, heterosexual marriage is just the same old heterosexual marriage within its patriarchal framework, sexist ideology and bloody, woman-hating history.

Women still do the majority of housework and childcare. Women still are sexual property, even in Europe. Many women actively participate in the oppression of other women:

Recently, not too far away from where I live, a new 7000 square metre brothel invited people to an open day, whereupon families with children flocked in curiosity. The mayor praises the ‘economical benefits’ of having a huge brothel in the village, and blathers about ’36 new and secure jobs’. No protesters to be seen, and obviously the women who took their children to the open day had no problem with the exploitation of other women either.

In the cinemas you get to watch ‘Venus in Furs’ the brand-new sadomasochistic movie by rapist Roman Polanski, with his faithful wife as the female lead. Nobody bats an eye, no protesters to be seen, even the public radio station between their Mahler symphonies and literature readings praises Polanski up and down. I’m sufficiently sure that there will be women buying tickets and by this shovelling money into a child rapist’s pockets.

Meanwhile, I read about a 12-year old girl giving birth after she was raped by the man who now is her stepfather. The mother has been informed by the officials beforehand that the man has been on trial for sexual abuse of a minor twice (he was only nineteen when he was trialed for the first time). The first conviction was withdrawn because of a procedural violation, the second brought him a three years, two months sentence which only recently became legally binding (which is the reason why he is in jail now and was not before). The mother didn’t care. She let him rape her daughter. After the girl started to gain weight and change her behaviour, she fooled the officials who conducted a pregnancy test by giving the urine of the younger sister for testing. She had the 12-year old girl give birth at home without medical assistance. And finally, she married the rapist a few days after the birth of her grandchild/stepchild. Everyone who reads about the case is angry (I read an online comment calling out to ″sew the mother shut″, direct quote), but nobody gives a second thought.

This is one extreme story, but we read similar stories every day. We read about the statistics of male violence against women and children (7). We read again and again that having a boyfriend or a husband makes the risk to be raped, beaten and murdered explode. We read about fathers kidnapping their children and ″fathers’ rights activists″ handing out death threats (e. g. to our women’s minister). We read about women falling into poverty after they take responsibility for their husband’s debts or after being housewives for decades before they are divorced. We read about husbands pimping their wives. Every single day we read about the dangers of heterosexuality. It is impossible to escape it.

Yet, women still get married – something liberal feminists celebrate as a ″choice″. And they not just get married, they even over and over reenact the misogynist spectacle known as white wedding. They have their father hand them over to the bridegroom while they wear white gowns and veils which will be flipped back for the inevitable kiss.

Today, the white gown is associated with virginity, although this is a secondary interpretion. For centuries, European women’s wedding dresses used to double as ″Sunday best″ for the rest of the woman’s life. Even in the 19th century, they were mostly colourful or black (depending on the social background). It was Queen Victoria whose wedding dress made white the favourite wedding colour for upper class women. This fashion trickled down, because it became a sign of wealth and education to have a white dress: It was made only for one occasion, difficult or outright impossible to clean and would be passed on in a neat, bourgeois family line. So, even if I wanted to overlook the secondary virginity metaphor attached to it, it is impossible to ignore the deeply classist meaning of a white gown. Besides, Turkish brides often wear ″western″ white gowns with a blood-red sash, the sash being the virginity symbol – or rather, a defloration symbol.

The veil is a more obvious virginity symbol, and the flipping-back ceremony emphasises this meaning, lending an overtone of ″unwrapping a gift″. For centuries, European married women also kept their heads covered as a sign of their married state. Headcoverings as a matter of general female modesty are still a thing in many religious traditions. The only other convincing reading of the veil I know (e.g. regarding an ancient Roman bride’s orange/yellowish/reddish flammeum or the red bindalli of a Turkish bride) is that the veil is meant to protect the future wife and mother from evil influences. So, at best, the veil is an instrument to secure future fertility, which – for millennia – was the main reason to get married at all (that, and money, of course).

As for the kiss: For centuries, sex on the wedding night, the ‘consummation’ of the marriage used to be public or semi-public. This is equally true for the highest stratum of society (aristocracy and nobility) as for the lowest (rural peasants). Sometimes witnesses were right in the room during sex, sometimes they ″only″ led the newly-weds into the bed and waited outside. This mirrored the social and public function of a marriage and was a form of control over the values of the social group (e. g. when the witnesses waited for the bloody bedding to ensure the bride’s virginity). Even today, the concept of a ‘wedding night’ includes the necessity of sex. When I was twelve, I was talking about weddings with my best friend. Nice catholic school girls we were, so I didn’t find it bewildering that she told me this exact thing: ″You know, I wouldn’t want to get married. If I was married, everyone would know what we [the husband and she] would be doing, and I would be very ashamed.” Today, nice adult Radical Feminist that I am, a quick browsing through really any kind wedding advice in the media boils down to two things: One, how to choose the sufficiently raunchy lingerie for the wedding night, or, two, the groundbreakingly radical idea to postpone the first marital sex because the newlyweds could be too tired to do it right. So, one way or the other, historically speaking or more recently, wedding (night) = sex.

Today we have the notion of privacy, so it isn’t socially accepted to poke around in other people’s bedrooms. (Although, in my country in rural areas, bridal couples better secure their house. Their wedding guests and everyone else in the vincinity will do their best to break into the house, wreck havoc on all their possessions and even try to disturb the wedding night. Weddings are a rough affair here.)
The conventional ″You may kiss the bride″ is nothing but the faint remnant of centuries of (semi-)public marriage consummation which often enough was marital rape.

From a Radical Feminist point of view, penis cookies and penis pasta are just the same symbolic reenactment of the age-old patriarchal heterosexual marriage as is the common Western wedding ritual. No matter how ″ironic″ the noodles, no matter how ″hot″ the marital sex, in the end it will be the woman who cooks noodles for a bunch of drooling toddlers/ungrateful teenagers and spreads her legs for her husband, to prevent straying or divorce.

Men do not celebrate their bachelor parties the same way. They will not be the ones stuck at home. The ″worst″ things that will happen to them is sexual fidelity, a perceived lack of homosocial gathering (″out with the boys″) and to end up paying child support (= paying for a woman without the right to see her naked) – which is the reason why liquor stores, strip clubs and brothels make good money with bachelor parties.

Bachelorette and bachelor parties mimick the pitfalls of marriage in an almost comically accurate way.

III. Are Women Laughing At Penises In Real Life, And Why Do They Do That?

Short answer: Yes. They do make fun of penises. I have spent enough time with hetero women of all ages and many political convictions to confirm their habit to laugh at penises, the men attached to penises and the behaviour of both penises and men. In my experience, nobody mocks penises and penis-bearers more cruelly than older heterosexually married women who subscribe to ″traditional values″.

Men seem to dislike women laughing at them.

Second-wave German feminists fought hard against mild sentences for wife/women killers based on the judges’ empathy for the convicted on the grounds of ″But she made fun of me/belittled my manhood″. Even today this defense crops up now and again: ″And then she laughed at me and I just saw red and couldn’t help myself but to grab the knife and kill her″. Popular culture also jumps on the bandwagon: Rarely a Criminal Minds episode which doesn’t explore in loving detail the humiliation of the killer by his mother, nanny, girlfriend, wife, prostitutes, teacher, uppity customers, women on the street, boss or really any woman he has contact with until the poor dear practically has no choice but to dismember random women in later life.

Margaret Atwood has boiled down this phenomenon to one quote (8):
“Why do men feel threatened by women?” I asked a male friend of mine. […] “They’re afraid women will laugh at them,” he said. “Undercut their world view.” Then I asked some women students in a quickie poetry seminar I was giving, “Why do women feel threatened by men?” “They’re afraid of being killed,” they said.” (Writing the Male Character (1982) (reprinted in Second Words: Selected Critical Prose (page 413) from a Hagey Lecture on February 9, 1982, at the University of Waterloo))

Seen on a larger scale, the oppressed always tell jokes about their oppressors. There are countless jokes Jewish people made about antisemitic stereotypes in general and Hitler and the nazis in particular (9). They are heart-wrenchingly hilarious, and continue to be told.
In a similar fashion, people in the Soviet Union had no qualms to invent Stalin jokes, which also remain in circulation (e. g. some of the famous Radio Yerewan jokes (10)). Such jokes could get you into a concentration camp or the gulag, therefore they were dubbed ″whisper jokes″ (11).

Laughing at and ridiculing the oppressors is the very last resort of the oppressed.

Making fun of the penis is nothing but the reflection of a world in which men wield the ultimate power and use their penises to execute it. But this making fun of penises does not happen in movies; their ridicule comes from another place. It happens among women, in the privacy of all-female circles.

IV. Vulnerability

″But understanding why we laugh at penises in popular culture also necessitates questioning why there is no comedic role for the vagina. Writing in Psychology Today, Naveed Saleh reports on the varied negative cultural representations of the vagina, which frame the vagina from vulnerable to dangerous. Saleh notes that there are ways to counter this negativity and the influence it may have on female self-esteem, through the promotion of positive images of the vagina (pointing to O’Keefe’s flower paintings as a way to herald the vagina).”

The flower image is questionable. First of all, ‘flower’ is not exactly the right word, similar to the constant mixing up of vulva and vagina. Strictly speaking, Georgia O’Keefe depicts blossoms (12). I don’t know what she intended with them, as I am not a mind-reader. But the author, Naveed Saleh whom he quotes, and the general public seem to see her pictures as empowering images for vulvas and vaginas.
But this reading strikes me as superficial. As any gardener can tell, blossoms are vulnerable to the extreme. Before even opening their petals, they can wither due to sudden freezing or animals feeding on them or breeding inside of them. When they are open, their sole purpose is to ensure fertility. That’s why they look as pretty as possible for insects – you should see the psychedelic glory of a plain white flower through a bee’s eyes! After a relatively short time blossoms vanish to develop into fruit. From bud to fruit, flowering plants are fundamentally vulnerable throughout. They have strategies (like being poisonous) to protect themselves, but in the end flowering plants are not commonly viewed as the epitome of strength. Compared to other plant species, blossom-bearing plants are delicate and vulnerable regarding environmental influences like soil, light, pollution and species to fertilise them. Before the dandelion can grow in a crack in the concrete, there were countless other, tiny, non-flowering plant species who broke through and created the soil for it.

In general, I fail to see how it is empowering to envision a vulva and a vagina as anything else but a vulva and a vagina. Since the author mentioned the Vagina Monologues, there is a whole piece on a woman who hates her genitals so much she envisions them as ″cozy futons with light cotton comforters, little velvet settees, or pretty things – silk handkerchiefs or quilted pot holders. Whenever a man was inside me, I pictured him inside a mink-lined muffler or a Chinese bowl.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgtpOuxuoB0

She then gets to love her genitals because there is this man (of course) who likes to look at them as they are.
We are culturally prone to perceive blossoms as beautiful. So we perceive Georgia O’Keefe’s blossoms as beautiful. When we say that those painted blossoms are offering an empowering perspective on female genitals, we make a mental leap. Vulvas and vaginas are beautiful because they resemble something else we consider to be beautiful. In itself they are not much to look at, but when we make a mental leap to see them as exotic blossoms which in themselves are nothing but paint on a canvas, they suddenly become beautiful. Of course paint on a canvas is easier to market than the reality of flesh, blood, hair, scent, moisture, motion and life.
So, where is the difference between a pretty Chinese bowl and a pretty blossom?

And, to get to the point I want to make: The equation of vulvas and vaginas with flowers lies at the very heart of patriarchy. In fact, the image is ridiculously patriarchal.
Latin gives us the term ‘defloratio’ for the act of the first penetration of a vagina, and the word was a smashing success. The written Latin of Late Antiquity shifted the meaning from literal ″picking flowers″ to the familiar meaning of today. The metaphor lived on through the Middle Ages (e. g. in one of the nastier songs of the Carmina Burana (13)), spawned into several European languages, among them English with its terms ‘defloration’ and ‘deflowering’. Even pop culture makes use of the ancient flower = female genitals metaphor; George R. R. Martin in his deeply misogynistic and disgusting Game of Thrones books uses ‘flowering’ to avoid the terms menarche/menstruation (14).

The metaphor also has deeply violent connotations. Until recently even in Western countries the assumption that first hetero sex will lead to bleeding was unquestioned and in many other places it still is. Several women I know did bleed, and online articles regarding the matter also have their share of posters reporting bleeding, even if they claim they were truly desiring sex (15). At the same time I see claims that bleeding is actually a rare thing, and those women who do bleed just employed the wrong ″technique″ (16).
I don’t have an opinion on anatomical matters to offer here, but I want to point out that both possibilities – bleeding or not – historically had violent implications: No blood could lead and sometimes still leads to shame, violence, social or physical death. On the other hand, bleeding always means injury, no matter how trivial. The practice of child marriage (which should be more accurately named forced marriage and rape of girls) for sure has contributed to the connection of first heterosexual intercourse with bleeding and helped to normalise the idea that women bleed. Women being injured thereby satisfies the patriarchal desire of control and helps doing business via women’s bodies, as marriage at the core is a transaction between the bride’s father and the bridegroom.

From the heterosexual female point of view, the deliberate injury serves as the hallmark of both true love and true sex. The first heterosexual intercourse is not just one heterosexual sex act among others. It is culturally elevated as a sign of true love e. g. in christian marriage ideology’s ″gift of virginity″ or in romance novels with heroines bearing the discomfort of genital injury to show their love for the hero. It also is what the heterosexual mainstream measures sex against: Few Lesbians, I imagine, have never been told that their sex is no sex, in particular in the absence of penetration. At the surface, the ‘queer community’ and ‘sex positivism’ seem to have a less limiting idea of sex. Yet the ubiquitous demand to use sex toys (most of which are designed to penetrate) suggests that their definition is different to the heterosexual mainstream in quantity, not in quality. The base remains the same: patriarchy.

The deliberate injuring of women’s vulvas and vaginas continues all throughout heterosexual women’s lives. Women experience rape, women are exploited through prostitution and women undergo harmful procedures mutilating their genitals (e. g. FGM, but also Western practices like labiaplasty or episiotomy). It may seem cynical, but on a global scale it is valid to assume that a majority of women experience rape (including all forms of marital rape), prostitution and genital mutilation in their lifetime. These and other forms of physical, mental and spiritual violence against women are the main tool to perpetuate male supremacy.

Heterosexuality as a principle and in practice is another tool, and in some regard even more powerful. Women who don’t resist the patriarchal brainwash they have been subjected since their birth, will perpetuate and normalise patriarchy by their life choices: Falling in love with a man, having sex and and then children with a man, raising the next generation of men and contributing into the brainwash of the next generation is accompanied by the aforementioned dangers (genital injury during heterosexual intercourse, different forms of violence). But that’s not all. The very nature of human procreation renders women’s vulvas and vaginas vulnerable in a manner men can’t experience.
I know a woman who after the birth of her child had to have fourty stitches in her genitals due to the extensive damage during the birth; given how small the area in question is, it is obvious how severe the tearing requiring fourty stitches must have been. And this was not treated as something remarkable or out of the norm. Both mother and child were perfectly well otherwise, the birth was comparably easy and a joyous occasion for her. In other places of the world or in another time, though, she probably would have died from an infection.

As long as violence against women is so normal it often is not even framed as violence in the societies they occur and women are injured and die because of the very nature of heterosexuality, it is a big blatant lie to announce vaginas and vulvas are not vulnerable.

Of course penises get injured as well. I already mentioned male-on-male violence, and men do damage to their own penises on a regular basis. Some actions are culturally accepted like e. g. body modification, others are more controversial, e. g. masturbation injuries by the use of unservicable tools like hoovers, or outright unacceptable to most people, e. g. the extreme measure of ″nullification″ (17).

Still, the difference to the vulnerability of vulvas and vaginas is obvious. Women’s genitals are endangered through patriarchy and heterosexuality.

Men’s genital injuries, intentional or accidental, come down to male fetishes.

Female violence against male genitals on the other hand is an extreme taboo. The taboo is so strong that even women who are orally raped very often can’t overcome their shock and use their teeth. When sometimes a woman has suffered so much abuse that she sees no other way to end the abuse but to attack the abuser’s penis, the public outcry is enormous.

One of the most famous cases is Lorena Gallo (then Lorena Bobbitt) defending herself against her then-husband’s battery, rape, psychological abuse and forced abortion. She cut his penis off, but it was re-attached so successfully that John Bobbitt shot porn movies afterwards and had two more wives who also accused him of violence. He was able to change what had started out as an attack into a success story. Patriarchy is so strong that an actual rapist, wife beater and abuser can gain money and fame for his despicable doings (18).

A more recent case is Catherine Kieu who in July 2011 cut off her abusive husband’s penis. She was put to trial in April 2013, whereupon the story hit the media (again). In the Daily Mail I saw a comment calling for her to be executed for the crime – it had over thousand likes and only between 60 and 70 dislikes (don’t remember the exact number, but it was in the 60s). I tried to find it, but all articles on the case seem to have been heavily moderated, with several comments I remember to have been there vanished today (19).

Women like the German feminist Alice Schwarzer (20) or Sharon Osborne who speak out in favour of Lorena Gallo, Catherine Kieu and others who did not put up with male abuse anymore, are met with rage and contempt – and not only by men, but also by other women: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/the-talk-ladies-under-fire-for-laughing-at-catherine-kieu-story-video/2011/07/18/gIQA3OjkLI_blog.html
The first reader comment is clear evidence which effect this lack of female solidarity has: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/the-talk-ladies-under-fire-for-laughing-at-catherine-kieu-story-video/2011/07/18/gIQA3OjkLI_comment.html?commentID=washingtonpost.com/ECHO/item/1311217527-313-936
″Great work, Ms. Hughes! I’m very thankful for women like you. Women who aren’t afraid to expose misandry, and who can understand why the type of things the media condones can be very upsetting to males. I’m lucky to be dating a woman who is much the same way. Thanks for your contribution to the men’s movement!”

This is not only an example for women actively contributing to patriarchy, it also proves how deeply ingrained the taboo regarding violence against penises actually is.
Before this background of the penis’ sacrosanct inviolability, the occasional fun-poking on penises in movies can only be read as either male in-group behaviour or, on the other hand, a mocking of all the women who had penises used as weapons against them.

IV. Laughing And Oppression

Perhaps surprisingly, in this last paragraph before my conclusion, I want to explore whether Mr Stephenson’s initial assumption is right: Is it even true vulvas and vaginas are not laughed at?

″In her text, The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History, Emma Rees notes that in our postmodern, porn-obsessed culture, vaginas appear to be everywhere, literally or symbolically but, crucially, they are as silenced as they are objectified. The vagina is so intrinsically linked to female sexuality, which so many societies have sought to control and suppress, that positive images of the vagina may risk breaking this control. But absent from each of these discussions is the notion of laughing at the vagina. In 2007, movie director Judd Apatow announced “I’m gonna get a penis or a vagina in every movie I do from now on… It really makes me laugh in this day and age … that anyone is troubled by seeing any part of the human body.” By reframing the vagina in comedy, can we strip away notions of vulnerability and make female sexuality as palatable in popular culture as male sexuality? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating we stop laughing at penises (they are quite ridiculous), but I do advocate for equal standing in comedy for the vagina. Just as we can deflate social notions of male power through comedic penile moments, perhaps we can destigmatize female sexuality by giving the vagina room to laugh. Or at least to be laughed at.”

I will ignore the nonsensical leap from ″laughing vagina″ to ″laughed-at vagina″: This is just too silly. Has the man never seen a sitcom in his life? I can’t even count how often I have heard ″They are laughing with you, honey, not at you!” on TV. If this distinction is above the author’s grasp, he probably shouldn’t have written anything at all (and again, how did he become a professor?).

The point I want to make here is that vulvas and vaginas already ARE laughed at. In fact vulvas and vaginas in patriarchy are perceived as ugly and laughable since millennia.

In ancient Greek myths, there is a figure named Baubo who is nothing but the personification of female genitalia. She is part of the Demeter/Persephone myth; after Persephone is kidnapped by Hades, her mother Demeter, a fertility goddess, goes looking for her. When she can’t find her daughter, she starts to mourn her, therefore endangering life on earth. Baubo, her old nursemaid, tries to cheer her up with crude jokes, among them exposing her vulva to her. This eventually makes Demeter laugh. Sometimes Baubo is depicted as an old woman, but sometimes (in particular in statuettes) she appears to consist only of a face, genitalia and two legs, a stumpy, only semi-human figure (21).

Of course this myth has been interpretated countless times since its development. Baubo’s vulva has been viewed as apotropaic, driving away evil forces. Baubo herself also has been interpreted as the crone in the triad of maiden (Persephone)-mother (Demeter)-crone (Baubo) by Robert Ranke Graves (22). Even misogynists and racists like ″ethnopsychoanalyst″ Georges Devereux have wiped their dirty fingers on Baubo (23). I have seen Wiccans view Baubo as belonging into their image of sacred sexuality or as Goddess of Laughter (24).
This is a topic for another post, but my opinion is a more complicated one and ties into a bigger question: Inhowfar can we as Radical Feminists find ourselves and make use of ancient myths at all? In this special case I believe it is important that the Demeter myth was formed and made use of inside a patriarchy. It was written down and passed on by men. Men have made up the biggest part of myth interpreters over two millennia.
The common argument in feminist myth interpretation is that there is some residue of the matriarchal origin of the myth still visible in the male-oriented text. Therefore feminists can take the most misogynistic stories and transform them to female-centered myths. I’m leaning towards paganism, so I for sure understand this line of thought. But I’m still not convinced, no matter how long and intense this feminist tradition is, no matter how much I read about it, that this is not just one form of Forer/Barnum effect (25). Myths and fairy tales are comparably simple narratives, it is relatively easy to find everything you are looking for in them.

But as I said, this is a topic for another post, and I want to stick here to the very core of the myth. Exposing her vulva, Baubo makes Demeter laugh. Baubo’s vulva is laugh-able in the most unambiguous sense. Baubo doesn’t even do something with her genitalia beyond exposing them. It is the mere aspect of a vulva that makes even another woman laugh – or so it was conceived by the men who passed the myth on. As if the sight of a vulva would be somewhat revolutionary to woman.

I may be sceptical of detailed myth-interpretation, but I know one thing is indisputable: Motives from myths are hard to get rid of. Baubo hasn’t vanished. The myth of her laughable vulva never died. It still is there, a deep layer of modern Western culture.

And, subsequently, Western culture still loves to laugh at vaginas, mocking them and outright bullying them, because this is the sliding scale: Laughing at someone – mocking at someone – bullying them. Not laughing at them – liking them – make them laugh, as the author seems to think. This makes me think about the smell of female genitalia, something in particular US culture is preoccupied with. To idiots, US vulvas seem to smell like fish. To me, the thought is absurd, and growing up I never encountered it in my own society. The very idea that my genitalia could smell bad was introduced to me long after I started menstruating and came solely out of US sources. But in the last years, this trend of vulva contempt is being imported into Europe. It is omnipresent in all kinds of media: Heck, Eve Ensler has included a woman joking about the tuna smell of vulvas and vaginas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQK-_AczShs (At 03: 07).
On the other side of the spectrum, The Bloodhound Gang included the lines ″Well, ten beers, twenty minutes and thirty dollars later/ I’m parkin’ the beef bus in tuna town if you know what I mean./ Got to nail her back at her trailer.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMGVMtnxXEw at 02:55)
Tuna town being a vagina, of course.
And there is the ever and still popular ″fish″ as an insult for women.
Whether this smell is real – and I strongly believe it is not and more of a culturally shaped misconception – it still offers endless opportunity for mainstream culture to laugh at vulvas and vaginas.

Menstruation itself is mocked on a large scale, liberally enriched with disgust and contempt. Just ask any girl what would happen if she happened to bleed through her pad in school? Something along these lines: ″I once had a guy tell me that if I gave him money, he wouldn’t bring up or make fun of me for an incident that involved me unknowingly period-bleeding through my gym pants during class and everyone saw. I was in 8th grade.” (26)
Menstruation is laughing-stock to such a degree that in patriarchy’s eyes it is the ultimate insult of women’s intelligence and ambition: ″Are you on your period?”

I could add more and more examples about vulvas and vaginas being laughed at and mocked with utmost cruelty: Porn jargon, everday obscenities, the usage of vulva and vagina synonyms as the ultimate insult between men, the mocking of childbirth in Hollywood movies (What a laugh! Hysterical women in stirrups! Screaming their lungs out! So hilarious!). But I don’t even believe this is necessary.

Just ask any woman if she ever has been made to feel ashamed of her vulva and vagina. That should be evidence enough.

V. Equality, Sexism And Liberation, or: The Conclusion

Even after reading the article several times, the author’s point isn’t entirely clear to me. It starts out as whining about the popular depiction of penises, but it ends in a surprising and entirely unconvincing argument that this way of depiction is actually justified – no, really! – and therefore it would be good for female genitals to be mocked in the same manner.

This argument would be much more convincing if it wouldn’t stand at the end of an article that sounds like one big eulogy on the poor, mistreated penis. One sentence of lip service (″Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating we stop laughing at penises (they are quite ridiculous), but I do advocate for equal standing in comedy for the vagina.”) does not change the whole outlay and the subtext of the article.

If the text would have been written by any random person, I would assume that this is the slightly muddled writing of a someone aiming too high and not thinking thoroughly.
But the text was written by an associate professor whose very trade is the dealing with words. So I have to assume that he was very aware of what he wrote and what he wanted to say. His text is a typical ″What about the men?!?” piece camouflaged by academia-inspired cloudy language and based on the liberal notion of ″equality”. Equality is the very last word of the article, intended to stick to the reader’s mind: ″A level genital playing field in comedy is a small, but important, step towards equality.”

So, let’s talk about equality.

Equality means that something the author is not aware of doesn’t exist, i. e. mocking of female genitals. If it doesn’t happen in the author’s world, and all human beings are equal, it therefore doesn’t happen for anyone else, either. Otherwise this other person would not be the same as the author, and that just can’t be right. Equality covers up and blots out all differences in experience and oppression by claiming oppression can be ended by trumpeting the mantra of ″All men are created equal”(27). Language sometimes gives away much more than it intends.

Equality therefore means that women’s experiences (childbirth, heterosexuality, rape) are nullified. Equating the culturally worshipped penis (= the tool of rape, the ultimate patriarchal symbol of all things powerful) with the vulva/vagina doesn’t stop the ongoing infliction of injury, violation and trauma on the latter. Joyfully claiming that female genitals aren’t really vulnerable in the face of a world full of violence against said female genitals doesn’t liberate female genitals. It merely makes it impossible to speak about the vulnerability. This is the exact mechanism of liberal feminists who succeeded to replace ‘victim’ with ‘survivor’. ‘Survivor’ (like ″female genitals are not that vulnerable!”) erases the perpetrators of violence and the violence itself. This ideology took over the patriarchal reading of victimisation = weakness = bad, but it doesn’t do anything to end victimisation.
While the author penned his lines about the non-vulnerability of vulvas and vaginas, countless women had their genitals ripped, torn, raped and cut up. The least he could do was to acknowledge this fact, but he deliberately chose to cover it up in the name of his ideology.

Equality means that the responsibility for symptoms of patriarchy (in this case male-on-male mockery on penises) is heaped on feminists by demanding that they have to fix it: You want to have the same rights as men? Fine, then you have to give men the same rights as women, too! Or else you just promote gender superiority!
But the oppression class (= the ones who withhold rights) is by definition not the oppressed class (= the ones who have their rights withheld from them). Is it imaginable to write an essay that blackface is funny if slightly hurtful, but having black people donning whiteface will help to end racism? Is that any kind of conceivable argument? Is it imaginable that antisemitism can be ended by nazis telling jokes about Jewish people to even out the telling of Hitler jokes by Jewish people and therefore establishing equality? No? Then why would this make any sense in questions of sexism then?

Equality means that a man feels justified to talk about how women’s genitalia should be treated. That’s what the whole article is about. When a male right winger is talking about his visions for female genitals (e. g. in the abortion debate or promoting FGM or in questions of forced heterosexuality and marriage), he gets told by ″equality feminists″ to shut his trap – and rightly so. But as soon as a man takes on a stance liberal feminism approves of (e. g. arguing FOR abortion rights, or for ‘sex positivism’), his opinion is considered to be important; oftentimes even more important than the opinion of a feminist on the matter: Just yesterday I came across a newspaper article on a stereotypical manly man defending his son’s dress-wearing habit (28), as if the argument ″Let kids do what makes them happy, fuck gender″ was so much more valid when it is uttered by a manly man instead of some hairy Lesbian manhater.
The Radical Feminist approach is clear: Women’s genitals and women’s oppression are not something men are entitled to talk about. Men are not entitled to suggest what has to be done with women’s genitals on a personal or cultural level, because this is the exact mindset basic to patriarchy.

Equality means that there must not be a struggle for better life circumstances, because equally bad life circumstances for men and women are good enough. In this regard, promoters of equality meet with men’s rights activists who regularly complain that women don’t work in coal mines. Let’s assume they’d be right (which they aren’t to begin with). It is radical to state that nobody should be working in coal mines at all, since coal mining and coal burning are devastating for the whole planet and every organism who lives on it.
On a metaphorical level, it is women who are down in the coal mines of oppression. Some women have it better than others (e. g. Scandinavian women compared to women in India, Saudi Arabia or the Congo; rich women compared to poor women), some choose to collaborate with men to make their personal situation more comfortable (e. g. heterosexual women who perpetuate their own oppression by upholding the values of this oppression). But women as a class are still down there.

The only way to escape is a radical tearing down of the multi-layered oppression of sexism, racism, classism, heteronormativity and all other forms of patriarchy – true women’s liberation.

References:
SOME OF THE SOURCES CONTAIN GRAPHIC AND POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING MATERIAL. Please be careful with yourself.
(1) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/oscars/9094326/Oscars-2012-Academy-members-overwhelmingly-male-white-and-old.html
(2) http://www.shakesville.com/2006/11/animal-house.html
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybele#Priesthoods
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skoptsy More pictures are at the German page — again, TRIGGER WARNING.
(5) TRIGGER WARNING! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penile_subincision
(6) http://www.heute.at/news/oesterreich/art23655,957532
(7) http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic_violence_topic.asp?section=0001000100220041
(8) http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Margaret_Atwood — the whole quote (which I shortened for practical reasons) is worth reading in full length.
(9) For examples see e. g. Elena Loewenthal, Ein Hering im Paradies, Eine Enzyklopädie des jüdischen Witzes (Piper Verlag München 2002)
(10) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Yerevan_jokes
(11) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisper_joke
(12) https://www.google.at/search?q=georgia+o%27keeffe&client=firefox-a&hs=JnZ&rls=org.mozilla:de:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=jVSUUuSyOauS7AbcyoCQDg&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=602
(13) For example in the Song Ich Wars Ein Chint So Wolgetan, which in a mix of German and Latin tells the story of a girl being raped. One of the lines is ″da wollte mich ein ungetan ibi deflorare″.  At 00:31 in this version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2INIU_X4U0
Translation (mine): ″There a bad man wanted to deflower me″.
The Carmina Burana: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmina_Burana
(14) http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Flowering
(15)TRIGGER WARNING FOR THE WHOLE PAGE AND THE POSTS (GRAPHIC CONTENT) http://jezebel.com/5861503/man-posts-evidence-of-brides-lost-virginity-to-facebook-world-retches?comment=44567796#comments or (regarding societal expectations) http://shitrichcollegekidssay.tumblr.com/post/66916695016/women-are-suppose-to-feel-pain-their-first-time
(16) e. g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=9qFojO8WkpA (17) http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/male-to-eunuch-asexuality-and-gender-nullification/
(18) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_and_Lorena_Bobbitt
(19) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Kieu
(20) http://de.wikiquote.org/wiki/Alice_Schwarzer “Sie hat ihren Mann entwaffnet. (…) Eine hat es getan. Jetzt könnte es jede tun. Der Damm ist gebrochen, Gewalt ist für Frauen kein Tabu mehr. Es kann zurückgeschlagen werden. Oder gestochen. Amerikanische Hausfrauen denken beim Anblick eines Küchenmessers nicht mehr nur ans Petersilie-Hacken. (…) Es bleibt den Opfern gar nichts anderes übrig, als selbst zu handeln. Und da muss ja Frauenfreude aufkommen, wenn eine zurückschlägt. Endlich!” – Emma Nr. 2/1994, S. 34f” […]″ My translation: ″She disarmed her husband. (…) One woman did it. Now every woman could do it. The levee is broken. Violence is no longer a taboo to women. Now we can fight back. Or stab. American housewives, when looking at a kitchen knife, don’t just think about cutting parsley anymore. (…) Victims don’t have any other choice but to take action themselves. There has to be joy among women when one woman fights back. At last!”
(21) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Terracotta_Baubo_figurine.jpg
(22) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baubo#Scholarly_discussion
(23) http://www.amazon.de/Baubo-vulve-mythique-Parall%C3%A8le-dintimidation/dp/2228906948
(24) Just google Baubo Wicca. I get almost 13 000 hits for it.
(25) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forer_effect
(26) http://i-once-had-a-guy-tell-me.tumblr.com/post/67898743943/i-once-had-a-guy-tell-me-that-if-i-gave-him-money For huge amounts of information on menstruation and the culture surrounding it see: http://www.mum.org/
(27) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_men_are_created_equal
(28) http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/09/my-son-wears-dresses-get-over-it/279333/

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Radical Feminism, Right-Wing Ideology, and Liberal Feminism

When I talk to “sex positives”, leftists or liberals, I often get told my Radical Feminist opinions about sexuality to them sound like conservativism of the worst kind. This certainly has nothing to do with me as a person, because it is far from new: This accusation has been hurled at Radical Feminists ever since Radical Feminism came into being.

The confusion of right-wing ideology and Radical Feminist analysis always struck me as the purely emotional fear of persons who are afraid to have taken their orgasms from them and lazy thinking combined with what I call ‘sloganism’, the tendency to simplify everything into easily digestible mindbits.

On the one hand sloganism has to do with communication style (e. g. demonstration signs, facebook, or twitter), on the other it seems to be a trait of human nature to feel the need to put everything into little boxes in order to tidy up a messy world.

This leaves out that even a single sentence contains multiple and complex layers of information:

I) It is said in a particular context of time and place and by a speaker who is rooted in both.
II) It is embedded in a bigger worldview.
III) It ″embodies″ a bigger amount of analysis and thought work, comparable to an acronym which ″embodies″ a multi-word sentence.
IV) It may also include a directive for action which is also based on analysis and worldview.

If all context is missing, the slogan stands alone and is open for the individual hearer’s interpretation. In this case, the slogan tells more about the hearer than about the topic it is about.

In my teenage years I read a quote by Ayn Rand, “We are all brothers under the skin – and I, for one, would be willing to skin humanity to prove it.” I was an European teenager and didn’t have the slightest idea who she was – and, indeed, whether a person named Ayn was male or female – , what her politics were and from which text the sentence came from. I read the statement as a radical anti-racist sentiment making use of a strong metaphor, because I was a teenager prone to strong metaphors and confronted with a newly elected government which included  a racist, proto-fascist right-wing party.

My interpretation says nothing about Ayn Rand, but a lot about me and the place where I lived.

If there is context, I) and II) are most obvious and accessible.

To stick with my example about Ayn Rand: I looked up who she was after her name appeared on The Simpsons. I don’t remember the exact episode, but Agnes Skinner (?) is reading a novel by Ayn Rand, because she is attracted to the author picture which she considers to depict a good-looking man. Lisa (?) then corrects her that Ayn Rand is a woman. I was a young, isolated dyke who had been mistaken for a boy before, so I immediately made the assumption that Ayn Rand must be like me. Off I went, excited to find a Lesbian novelist, maybe even a feminist who would give me food for my budding Lesbian feminist mind. Even today I remember the profound disappointment when I found out what kind of politics Ayn Rand represented, and a deep self-disgust about how I had liked her quote, but had been too lazy to look up the author.

I didn’t bother to find out about the text context afterwards, and even less about the details of political analysis in other texts after that. Or, in other words, I refused to learn about III) and IV).

To get back to the topic, I will now try to show this with an example which is notoriously brought up by liberals when they want to point out that Radical Feminism and right-wing ideology are really just the same:

Slogan: ″Prostitution is not a good thing.”
Time, Place, Speaker: 2013, church, catholic priest [I was raised catholic, so I just take this as one example for countless other forms of right-wing ideology.]
Worldview: There is an allmighty god who has created the world and gave a clear law for all human beings to live by. We know about god’s will because of the bible and other holy texts which are skillfully interpreted by the catholic clergy.
Analysis: Two thousand years of theological debate.  God made man and woman. They have natural, inborn traits and were created in relation to each other: Man is created to father children and provide for his family, woman is created to bear children, care for them and nurture the family. Both are created to be strictly monogamous, and sexuality is possible only between one man and one woman (hence, no divorce). Therefore there are only two options: Either to stay entirely virgin and celibate, or to marry. Marriage can’t be defined as anything else than between man and woman, and has to be open for children (so, no contraception, no abortion).
Prostitution by definition exists outside monogamy and virginity, therefore it is against god’s will and the order of creation of man and woman.
Directive for action: Both the prostitute and the client are sinners. Everyone has to be either virgin and celibate or heterosexually married with children/heterosexually married open to have children/heterosexually married and celibate. Therefore prostitution has to be stopped (by either providing help or punishment, depending on the time and place) and those involved will find forgiveness in god if they repent.

OR

Slogan: ″Prostitution is not a good thing.”
Time, Place, Speaker: 2013, Feminist rally, Radical Feminist [the following is MY analysis. I can’t speak for any other Radical Feminist or for Radical Feminists as a group.]
Worldview: We live in a patriarchy, which means women as a class are oppressed by men as a class. This oppression can and will be ended by women against the will of men who are unwilling to give up their power.
Analysis: Prostitution is founded in the fact that women under patriarchy as a class are poorer than men as a class, both in terms of income and property. At the same time women as a group are often denied education and job training (see for example the global illiteracy rates). These circumstances create economical pressure on women.
At the same time prostitution feeds the male demand for both available sex and exertion of power, while it functions as a tool of oppression.
It divides women from each other, e. g. ″honourable″/″dishonourable″, whore/wife, poor/rich etc and gives men control (e. g. prostitutes are controlled by pimps, non-prostitutes are controlled with the threat of ″You don’t want to end up like her″, the concept of female virtue in general or, the newest twist: ″Why don’t you want to be like her?”).
It has a gaslighting function, e. g. pimping as ″protection″ or the prostitute as ″economically independent entrepreneur″, the ″sexually liberated woman” or the ″empowered woman″.
It weakens women by equalising money with consent and endangers women’s health and safety (e. g. through violence by pimps and clients rapists, STDs, drugs and poverty).
Therefore, prostitution is normalised, institutionalised and commercialised rape.
Directive for action: Buying women has to be illegal and socially ostracised like all other forms of violence against women. Women in prostitution have a right to all kinds of support, the shame lies with the clients rapists, and them alone. In a non-patriarchal society there will be neither a male demand for buying women nor the need for women to prostitute themselves, and the very idea of buying a human being will be unconceivable.

How anyone can believe that Radical Feminism and right-wing ideology are the same is just beyond me. I have to assume that the equation of the two is done deliberately and consciously to smear Radical Feminism, nothing else.

Until recently, this would have been the point at which I would have stopped to think. This would have been my conclusion. But today I don’t think this is the end of it. It can’t be, because my analysis is dealing with the theoretical arguments of ideology, which is not all there is.

In fact, I never once have been asked for my analysis or have been offered analysis in turn. Nobody ever started a discussion with me which was concentrating on the theory and methodology of feminist analysis.

What I got were pseudo-arguments like these:

″You are a Lesbian, what do you know!” [This has to do with the Born-This-Way explanation for homosexuality. If homosexuality is genetic, I am of course genetically unable to judge heterosexual behaviour.]
″You are almost fascist!” [This needs explanation. It refers to the theories of Wilhelm Reich (1) who was very much loved among leftist circles in the 1970s in my country. This gives you an idea of the age of the man who told me that.]
″You are uptight/prudish.”
″This is your catholic upbringing showing.”
″You have a victim mentality!”
″You don’t know anything about women.”
″That’s not our [feminist] theory anymore.” [By a student, and meaning: You are outdated.]

There is one thing what all these pseudo-arguments have in common: They all include the word ‘you’.  They all imply that the problem is with the feminist, not with the feminism – or rather, they don’t even get so far to make a deliberate decision to rather address the speaker than the subject. They just don’t think about the subject at all, because they can’t see beyond the speaker.

My point is: This behaviour is not just laziness or an abstract need to put the world into orderly boxes.

This is the essence of male (and male-identified) entitlement. Would two men, meeting on the often-lauded ″marketplace of ideas″, say, an anarchist and a libertarian, would they use arguments on each other like the ones above? The very thought is absurd, because men take each other seriously, even if they disagree. But when a feminist is speaking, she is always only a woman.

This also ties into the capitalistic worldview which has hijacked feminism.

Capitalism – with its individualisation and personalisation of success and failure, its fairy tale of self-regulation equating fairness, and its glittery consumerism – is such a dominant model for world explanation that liberal feminists are not even aware of the influence it has on their thinking.

Liberal feminism does not fail to address the problem of personalised pseudo-arguments. Often it does. Popular liberal feminist sites are full with articles, essays and posts on stupid things someone said. Ann Coulter (2) says women shouldn’t vote because they are too dumb (= personalised pseudo-argument)? Rush Limbaugh (3) calls Sandra Fluke a slut (= personalised pseudo-argument)? Some What’s-his-name-again (4) says feminists act out against bad fathers ( = personalised pseudo-argument)? There will be liberal feminists writing personalised takedowns (5) of it; joking about it; seething about it.

But liberal feminism fails in political analysis.

Liberal feminism puts individual choice and agency above everything else. May it be in questions of prostitution, of ‘gender’, of sexuality, it always comes down to this:

″Well, as a feminist, virtually anything a woman does is empowering.”

Sounds familiar? It was Lisa Simpson (6) who ″said″ it. And liberal feminists, in their seemingly innocuous and quirky obsession with pop culture of course love her (7).

I liked The Simpsons as a teenager. I learned about Ayn Rand on The Simpsons and subsequently about myself. But at some point I realised that my personal likes are just not the point.

It doesn’t make me a feminist to like The Simpsons, because they are not real. Lisa Simpson is not real. She is a product sold by the Fox Network.

That ″feminists″ take something serious that comes out of the Fox Network just because the product is marketed to exactly match their consumerist desires, is more than telling. It is the very same kind of shallow thinking that makes liberal feminism promote pornography: Far from looking at what lies beneath, they – in the name of and with the backup of postmodernist academia – are happy to remain at the very surface which is deliberately designed to meet their needs e. g. for ″feminist″, ″female-friendly″ or ″ethical pornography″.

If the surface looks agreeable, liberal feminists fail to dig any deeper. They bring up personal choice – one can like pornography or not – and thereby take away any possibility of criticism. Everything comes down to personal like and dislike, and, as the proverb goes, personal taste cannot be a matter of quarrel. You like this, I like that, where is the problem?

But Radical Feminists do dig deeper. Radical comes from Latin radix, the root. Radical Feminists dig down deep into the toxic layers of patriarchy to see what lies beneath the surface.

What has been seen cannot be unseen, they say. Radical Feminists can’t unsee the layers and layers of patriarchy they have traced like careful archeologists. This is why Radical Feminism is a hard, uncomfortable path to walk, and why so many women choose to return into feel-good surface feminism by deliberately blinding themselves and forcing themselves to forget.

And here we are back where this post started. One of the blinding tools liberal feminists use is what I called ‘sloganism’ at the beginning. They take a faint surface resemblance of slogans (″Prostitution is not a good thing″) to ″prove″ Radical Feminism and right-wing ideology are both fundamentalist collections of commandments and prohibitions. Since they don’t look beneath the surface, they don’t see that there is a difference between ‘Thou Shalt Not or else the invisible supermale in the sky will punish you’ and ‘I have seen the roots, I have seen the suffering, I cannot bring myself to do this’.

When I live my daily life – and I strongly suspect that in this regard I’m not the exception among Radical Lesbian Feminists – I don’t carry an internal rule book with me and have to pay attention to stick to it. In Radical Feminism, there is no concept of ‘sin’ or ‘lapse’ or the idea of a rule which has to be kept against a strong internal urge to break it. There can’t be, because Radical Feminism isn’t based on authority.

Radical Feminism is empathy, solidarity and love between women, and that’s the complete opposite.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Reich

(2) http://observer.com/2007/10/coulter-culture/

(3) http://web.archive.org/web/20120308020418/http:/www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-rushlimbaugh-sponsorstre8230vy-20120304,0,3982839.story

(4) http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/21/the-angry-ladies-of-jezebel/

(5) http://www.shakesville.com/2013/10/puttin-on-my-rage-face.html

(6) http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Simpsons/Season_22#The_Blue_and_the_Gray

(7) http://jezebel.com/5012847/lisa-simpson-feminist-hero

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Code Switching

When I talk like we did back home, I am “blunt”.
White trash.

When I talk like it’s proper for women in academia, I’m “thoughtful”.
Meek social climber.

When I talk like it’s proper for men in academia, I’m “competitive”.
Agressive bitch.

When I talk from my woman’s heart, I’m “enthusiastic”.
Crazy dyke.

(2013)

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Can Women Oppress Other Women?

Reading around in the Radical Feminist blogosphere, I often come across posts claiming women cannot oppress other women.

Mostly this opinion is presented as a largely undisputed matter-of-fact statement. The rationale I see given* is that
1) patriarchy damages every woman without any exception
2) this damage in every woman inevitably leads to internalised misogyny
3) which then shows up in the individual woman’s character and deeds
4) sometimes in form of violence and exertion of power against other women
5) that ultimately is nothing but acting out patriarchal damage
6) and therefore can’t be called oppression, since each and every woman is damaged in her own way and “not better” herself, just different in acting out her damage.

I agree with 1).
For the sake of the argument, let’s assume 2) and 3) are true either, and for good measure 4), too.

But here I start to feel uneasy with the argumentation and find it hard to comprehend.

Women do horrible things to other women all the time and all around the world.
Mothers pressuring their daughters to diet, offering them to rapists, forcing them into femininity. Women who carry/carried the traditions of FGM or footbinding. Nuns who ran the Magdalene houses. Women who help serial killers by luring victims for them or trying to outwit the justice system to get them free. Female pimps and traffickers. The female staff of Nazi concentration camps. Right-wing women who do everything to make the world a very horrible place for all of us.

All these women have one thing in common: They are acting as agents of the patriarchy.
I don’t say that they aren’t damaged. They are, severely, and behind them there are always men pulling the strings.

But:
– What about those of us who are damaged by the patriarchy all the same, yet still strive to not inflict any harm on other women? Why are there women who choose to prioritise and fight for women instead of harming them, often from a young age? How are they able to do that? By a force beyond their own reach like luck, fortune or destiny? By sheer biographical accident?

– What is worth any resistance against patriarchy when feminism decides that inflicting harm on other women is a valid form of reacting to patriarchy, ‘valid’ meaning “not necessarily ethically right, but still a working form of coping mechanism”? It is a coping mechanism, yes, but I fail to see why Radical Feminism of all things should be content to just accept that? Ultimately, this justification of “acting out damage” leads to a position of “Do everything you as an individual need to do to feel good in patriarchy, feminism at worst frowns a little at you”. Isn’t this the very individualised answer on a collective problem we criticise in mainstream feminism?

– I don’t really understand the Throw the First Stone argument of “we all are damaged”. I wonder, where is the line? Is there any line at all where a particular woman’s actions are beyond explaining?Is there no fundamental difference in quality (instead of mere quantity) between the misogyny of a feminist who fights hard to get rid of it, and the misogyny of a woman who actively embraces it in order to gain something from it? Is the act of ‘taking sides with the oppressor class and use its power against women’ really any different of the act of ‘oppressing’?

 

I’m not suggesting this is a black-and-white question. I’m not suggesting that it is impossible for a woman to be a victim and a guilty party at the same time.

All I want to say is: I have encountered women who have prioritised women all their lives and (often at high personal cost) never have fallen into the big traps of patriarchy like heterosexuality, femininity, identification with males on a political, religious or economical level, putting men before female solidarity etc. Such women exist. Their existance may be swept under the rug – lifelong Lesbians may know what I’m talking about – , but it doesn’t change the fact that they are there.

So to me, this particular discussion cannot be over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*One example for this rationale is this discussion: http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/first-time-dressing-fully-male-ftm/#comment-23213
My post here is NOT intended to be an attack on the (excellent) blog the discussion took place at, or on any poster involved. Neither is it a belated answer I failed to post back then. Since July I have given much thought about the matter which I couldn’t have come up with ad hoc back then. I include the link solely to illustrate where I come from in this question.

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