19 2 / 2014
Doesn’t everyone know that once you stop being a proper woman (which an unabashed lesbian feminist definitely is not) and start insisting on being a person, men will stop loving you?
Yeah, that is the conventional wisdom but at this point I kind of think ‘meh’ to that. If I’m going to be loved, I want to be loved as a person.
Feminism literally is ‘the radical notion that women are people’ and exists in the first place because society at large doesn’t seem to agree. One of the most obvious symptoms of that sad fact is male identification in women ourselves (I don’t know how far it goes in genderqueer and non-binary experiences). There’s an awesome, very accessible article here, on the importance of woman identification instead, because male identification is basically just a fancy term for thinking that everything needs to be validated by men in order to be valid at all. As though women and how we feel about stuff didn’t count. As though we weren’t really people.
The threat that men will stop loving you is a powerful one in this kind of context, one where men give everything its value – especially because that everything includes ourselves.
But love and value aren’t the same. If you’re valued but can’t give value then it’s like you’re an object. Your value is in fact a price – ‘can be exchanged for’ kind of thing. You can’t love an object, something that can’t feel back – that’s called a fetish. Fuck being fetishised.
Which is obviously easier said than done. I won’t lie, whenever I’ve gone and lost myself some exchange value in the eyes of men who don’t actually love me – by, say, displaying sexual agency thus proving that I’m not an object – I’ve been tempted to compensate by turning on the submissive feminine charm next time I see them. But I strive to one day just say ‘and look at all the fucks I don’t give’ with an expansive gesture.
I do feel that I’m one step closer to achieving that aim by having made a conscious decision to pursue sexual and romantic relationships with women as opposed to with men."
13 2 / 2014
The ‘empowered or demeaned?’ game is of course a familiar one. It’s one of those media bastardisations of feminism that ends up reinforcing the dehumanising extremes it claims to avoid. Are you empowered – a tits out, up for it, ball-breaking capitalist – or demeaned – a prudish, frigid, man-hating victim? Are you taking ownership of your life, busting out of the strictures that confine you, or are you standing back, watching while sexism is done to you? There’s no question, really, as to whether or not Barbie, or Page Three, or rape porn, or unpaid labour count as ‘objectively’ empowering or demeaning. It’s all a state of mind. The impression is that you get to choose. There is no such thing as structural oppression. Feminist critique is no longer a challenge to patriarchy; it’s a personal statement. I am empowered, or, I am demeaned.
That there are other ways of being – other ways of responding to images of womanhood – seems to be long forgotten. Are the women in the Blurred Lines video empowered or demeaned? If you question the ethics of this form of representation, are you personally responsible for demeaning those involved? Is a positive attitude all that’s needed to transform women’s experiences of their lives in relation to men? If, in the end, we find womanhood demeaning, can we each simply think our own way out of it? I am not really a woman, not like the other women. I don’t find Barbie demeaning. I don’t find subordination demeaning. I don’t find exclusion demeaning. This kind of thinking becomes an aspiration, a personal triumph. Feminism is not about overcoming oppression, it’s about teaching yourself not to ‘feel’ oppressed."
12 2 / 2014
"Internet feminism is fraught not because women cannot support one another. It is fraught because it is not a safe space. We still need the approval of heterosexual men. We don’t want to be ‘the wrong kind of feminist’, one who likes women too much and sucks dick too little (hence the rampant lesophobia of the most right-on masses). We want to be able to blame ‘the wrong kind of feminist’ for everything, from slut-shaming to transphobia to the murder of sex workers. This has no bearing on reality but it makes feminism appear a far easier enterprise. Kick other women and nothing else needs to change."
28 1 / 2014
"Baptie disagrees with the notion that prostitution is about a liberated female sexuality or bodily autonomy: ‘Prostitution is not about women expressing our sexuality on our terms, it is about playing into patriarchy to make ourselves marketable to men who want to have sex on their terms’."
28 1 / 2014
While some ‘women and girls may feel like they are “choosing” the industry, the truth is that prostitution chose them’. Issues like poverty, addiction, mental-health issues, precarious housing situations, Baptie says, along with gender inequality, lead women and girls into the industry and keep them there.
What isn’t often acknowledged is that efforts to frame prostitution as a free choice are based in libertarian and pro-capitalist ideology."
24 1 / 2014
The further away from the memory of my teens and ex-boyfriends I get, the more I find men to be OK on an interpersonal level (although the whole ‘man’ category and everything it denotes and the fact that it even exists — absolutely not). Meaning that I find myself having lunch with men, going for a coffee with men, having a pint with men and generally coexisting with men in social space quite often and with few problems. Increasingly, my feminism is pre-declared as non-negotiable (along with my lesbianism and hairy armpits, which helps) and the proselytising zeal I used to feel has been replaced with a desire for an easy life and the realisation that I don’t give a flying fuck what men think about women’s rights as long as they keep it to themselves because it has nothing to do with them anyway and I don’t want them ‘involved’ in my feminism any more than I want people involved in my business generally.
14 1 / 2014
I can see why the ‘sex-positive’ movement and feminism have found common cause: slut shaming is the other side to the coin of victim blaming in the economy of rape culture. By saying that sex is a need which people (and feminists view women as such) have every right to claim, you can re-humanise the Slut, the woman with sexual agency, and undermine one of the main myths on which rape culture trades.
But ‘sex right’ and prude shaming are two sides of another coin in the economy of that culture, one with at least as much currency.
In fact, while we’re using a monetary analogy, the idea of sex as a need and a right directly commodifies sex. So how much of it does a given person have a right to? And who gets to decide? And given that the commodity of sex is actually, in the context of having a right to it, the right of access to another person’s body, who supplies the bodies? What if no-body wants to supply theirs? Do you really have a right to sex if no one wants to have it with you? If you don’t (and I really hope you don’t) then how can it be a need? It’s obviously not a need in the way a donor organ is for someone with kidney disease (who still, incidentally, doesn’t have a right to a donor organ) because you can live without it, so in what way is it a need?
Probably in the way that such pressure, pity, shame, derision and erasure is placed on anyone who isn’t having it in our society."
18 12 / 2013
Content note: refers to rape and rape culture, but not in detail.
‘The personal is political’ in feminism and lived experience is the most authentic form of knowledge so it’s no surprise that in feminist discussion, positions will commonly be set out along the lines of ‘As a…’, sometimes just followed by ‘woman’ but more commonly, now that its recognised there is no one universal experience of womanhood, a more explicit kind of woman, like ‘working class woman’ or ‘black woman’ or ‘lesbian’ or ‘woman with a disability’ or ‘sex worker’ or ‘survivor of sexual violence’.
But whilst its useful to know the specific experience someone is bringing to bear on an issue, particularly online where all you often have to go on is what people tell you about themselves, it’s inexcusable to oblige anyone to qualify themselves like this: I’ve tried to present examples of such qualifiers on a kind of rough scale above and I think it should be obvious that expecting a woman to out herself as a rape survivor before she can even make an argument is invasive and weird.