21 7 / 2014

Radical feminism is basically historical-materialist so ‘being precedes consciousness’, i.e. the material world determines what you can think about it (your ideology).  Or, the material world of humans is produced by capitalism so then humans have a capitalist ideology (substitute ‘capitalism’ for ‘patriarchy’ when talking radical feminism).

But in queer feminism/ theory, consciousness precedes being so the root that the ‘radical’ so often affixed to ‘queer politics’ refers to is what you think.  Which sort of makes sense if you take an ‘I think therefore I am’ approach — you have to have a consciousness for the material world to exist for you, therefore the material world stems from your consciousness (for you).  Therefore you can think the world differently.

Personally I think being and consciousness are in a kind of chicken-or-egg loop, but if pushed I opt for historical-materialism.

07 7 / 2014

"Previous research has suggested that parenting roles, work roles and home roles within same-sex parenting families are more equitably distributed when compared to heterosexual families. ‘People take on roles that are suited to their skill sets rather than falling into those gender stereotypes, which is mum staying home and looking after the kids and dad going out to earn money. What this leads to is a more harmonious family unit and therefore better health and wellbeing."

28 6 / 2014

So two bisexual identifying women I know recently decided to discontinue their short-lived relationship with each other on the grounds that, by mutual agreement, they just weren’t bi enough.

There is a political lesbian part of me that is like ‘good on ‘em for giving it a go anyway (but also — try harder)’, there is a general Team Same-sex Attracted part of me that is like ‘so that’s one-nill to the heteropatriarchy’, there is a residually bi identifying part of myself that is like ‘fuck sake, do you two have to perpetuate the no.1 stereotype against the very people you claim to be, i.e. bisexual women, about how you guys just say that to seem cool (or at least not appropriative in writing a queer dissertation)’.  There is also a plain vindictive part of myself that is like ‘STEREOTYPE PROVED RIGHT: LICENSE TO MISTRUST ALL FUTURE POTENTIAL SEXUAL AND ROMANTIC PARTNERS WHO IDENTIFY AS BI (that’s a win for me, right?).  But this makes it even more annoying that bi liberation discourse says talking about this kind of thing happening outside of stereotype is bigotry though’.

As illustrated by the use of capslock, the vindictive part of me is the loudest.  And basically every lesbian I know would share in my sense of vindication — every lesbian I know goes through the emotional mangle of ‘woop, she’s not straight!’ alongside ‘but how not straight is she really?  Have I ever known her to have a female partner or even flirt with a woman?  Does she generally mention her bisexuality around men?  Has she been drunk every time I’ve known her to kiss a woman?  Does she generally mention her bisexuality in the context of threesomes?  Is she still with her boyfriend?  If she is, but they’re open, is she “allowed” to pursue men as well as women, or do women just not really count compared to men for her?’  and so on and so on every time a woman you fancy is bi.

And I can absolutely see why this would be annoying as hell for your bona fide bisexual woman — although I also think that if they’re honest, bona fide bisexual women do it too – but I have to ask: where is the problem coming from here?  From lesbian insecurity or from straight posturing as bisexual which gives lesbians just cause to be insecure?  Or even: from the heteropatriarchy which makes it too difficult for women who can imagine enjoying relationships with other women in theory to enjoy such relationships in practice?

I’m going to say: lesbian insecurity is not where the problem is coming from, even if it is the easiest target.  Coz hey, who’s going to stand up for lesbians?  Lesbians are a minority even within the LGB community and outside of it, well, you know that thing about how lesbians don’t want to be sexually accessible to men?  Yeah, people don’t like that very much.

Saying this as a lesbian though, even as a bisexual political lesbian (probably the most accurate label for me), is just going to invite screeches of ‘biphobia!’ or (shudders)  ‘monosexism!!’ — online at least.  Offline, I know bisexual women who are also like ‘yeah I wish straight women would stop passing off their objectification of other women as like, the most countercultural thing ever and calling it bi’ and even ‘yeah it would be nice to have a female bisexual public figure who wasn’t in a relationship with a man, or better yet, who was in a relationship with a woman’ and so on and so on.

It would be nice if we could amplify those women’s voices.

27 6 / 2014

If you mean vulva, say vulva — don’t say vagina if you don’t mean the muscular tube leading to the cervix.  ’Female’ genitalia (the kind of genitalia that makes doctors say ‘it’s a girl’ when a baby is born, anyway) is not just a hole.  The most fun bits, for those of us who have this kind of genitalia, are on the outside.  The vagina is the bit that’s the most fun for cishet men.  Let’s not reduce our genitalia to that.

27 6 / 2014

"Prostitutes are real people with personalities and feelings. This is not a radical notion. Pro-sex work lobbyists are not the only organizations fighting for the rights of women’s personhood. Yet, the work and activism of feminists are demonized by the pro-sex work lobby — abolitionist groups, for example, are unjustly compared to the conservative right (not-in-my-backyard types). The comparison is justified on grounds of language similarities, as abolitionists frame prostitution as an inherently sexist, violent act — a form of exploitation. This argument is not rooted in conservative moralism, though. The abolitionist stance refuses to demonize the prostituted woman, but rather assigns blame to the perpetrators of violence, the state, and the dominant sex. Unlike NIMBYs, both historically and contemporarily (such as the 1984 injunction), feminists who oppose the sex industry address the hierarchies which exist within prostitution and that create a context within which the sex trade can exist(race, sex, and class) and the systems of oppression which are exercised. Feminists are not attempting to erase prostituted women and their experiences, but rather criticize the conditions which allow exploitation to manifest."

27 6 / 2014

"

By now, I have political lesbian/ feminist reasons for wanting women, no matter how they identify, to seriously consider and positively discriminate towards relationships with other women. However, I don’t think that anyone’s feelings for anyone should be written off as insignificant or unimportant: I know too well how that feels. I can’t honestly empathise with the pain that some bisexual people express when called gay instead of bi, or subsumed under gay and lesbian identities, but I can empathise with the pain of being insistently presumed straight and I guess it’s the same kind of thing.

BUT, it has to be the same kind of thing on a different scale. This is a compulsorily heterosexual world in which ‘gay’ is a subculture (and I like to think of lesbian as a counterculture). Pressure to identify as exclusively same sex/ gender attracted just can’t be compared to the pressure of compulsory heterosexuality. Lots of bi activists admit this, but things like calling gays and lesbians ‘monosexual’, as though *which* sex/ gender we’re attracted to were incidental (and then lumping us in to a Privileged Group with heterosexuals), is inexcusably reductive. It’s no way to counter biphobia in communities gathered around same sex/ gender attraction or other forms of gender non-conformity either.

"

25 6 / 2014

I think I’ve realised what the basic difference between radical and queer feminism is, apart from the latter being generally much more trans* inclusive.  This is something I’ve written about before, but not very well.  I may do the same now, but anyway: radical feminists want to abolish gender, queer feminists want to abolish the cis-tem…

24 6 / 2014

The New Statesman published an article today claiming that ‘Lefties march in moderate numbers, again, and then go home, again’, isn’t much of a story and I’m inclined to agree — it probably isn’t ‘newsworthy’ and there probably isn’t a media conspiracy to blackout coverage of Left wing activity.

However, there are two implications in the article with which I disagree.  The first is that the reason why marches such as the People’s Assembly’s most recent one aren’t newsworthy is also the reason why they aren’t ‘relevant’.  The second is that the people who attend these marches attend them in order to get on the news.  The latter may actually be true, but if so, a big point is being missed.  Because something does not, in fact, have to be newsworthy in order to be worth doing.  I realised that ‘socialist’ was not a mere synonym for ‘anyone who doesn’t think poor people should go die in a ditch’ on a march which got almost no news coverage.  I also, incidentally, made a friend on the same march who would literally save my life a few months later, and met the feminist whom I would credit as the single biggest influence to date on my consciously political thought.  That’s not negligible, even if I haven’t subsequently changed the world any more than that march did.

Marching, really any activity which gets broadly like minded people together and makes them feel less alone in their convictions, is capacity building.  Making people feel less alone in their convictions also matters in and of itself.  No one wants to be a minority of one.  But the capacity building thing is sort of undermined if people feel the whole point of a march is to get news coverage: they will inevitably feel disheartened by them.  The Left would feel like a much more hopeful place if we reconceptualised  the audience of our marches and demonstrations as each other and remembered the constant underlying message: ‘you are not alone’.

15 6 / 2014

"Lesbians more than any other group of women disturb the cultural perception of women as ‘other’, as beings who exist to complement men – their very existence says that some women can exist first and foremost for themselves and for other women."

Comments under Let’s Make ‘Androsexism’ a Thing We Talk About (http://feministcurrent.com/9136/lets-make-androsexism-a-thing-we-talk-about/)

07 6 / 2014

"'My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants'. Gosh that’s weird. Because to me 'a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants' sounds 'very wealthy', not 'feminist'."