Tuesday 30 December 2008
Edit:(01/05/2009) As I said in the comment thread to this post, I understand why some people may have felt confused by this post because I was pretty tired & depressed when I'd initially written it and I guess I'd just let my personal thoughts go freely and weirdly without elaborating enough on what I really meant by seduction. I think it is now fair for me to edit my definition of "seduction" so that people can now understand what I really meant by seduction (through developing what I actually meant a little more), partly from personal experience. Now, for the people who keep sending accusatory comments: can you please stop it? I have NEVER said that all intercourse (or all sex) is rape, and neither has Andrea.
No doubt I will go back to all these various topics in future posts, but I just want to write about the different kinds of male sexual exploitation of women I have noticed:
- forcible rape (the most obvious), i.e. literally violating a woman while using threats and violence;
- sexual demand: insisting that she does something, haranguing her about it, carrying on asking for something, e.g. things he says like "If you loved me, you would do this" or "Everybody does it," "Every girl does that" [in the porn he watches, yeah, right]. Some sexual demands may involve blackmail;
- sexual coercion: this may involve grabbing, pushing, hold a woman down tightly, forcing any kind of sex on her, though sexual coercion may take different subtler forms, e.g. closer to sexual demand;
- prostitution: (in the vast majority of cases) when a woman or girl's body is bought and sold to primarily satisfy men's sadist sexual desires in a patriarchy;
- sexual 'duty': when a woman is forced (or sometimes 'forcing herself') to perfom sexual intercourse or any other kind of sex act as if it were somehow 'her duty' to do so, to "satisfy her man," in marriage or in a relationship. Sexual "duty" may even involve set dates as to when sex must take place or some sort of planning such as "Every (so often), we should have sex", for instance;
- sexual pressure: when a woman feels pressured to say "yes" to sex and thus 'consents' under male pressure;
- sexual payments: when a man buys a woman dinner, clothes, presents, etc and expects sex from her in return;
- pornographic coercion: rape of the mind; forcing or persuading a woman or girl to watch pornography so then her resistance to unwanted and uncomfortable sexual activities can be more or less overpowered. Alternatively, pornographic coercion can be forcing or persuading a woman or girl to have herself being photographed or filmed whilst naked or having sex;
- seduction: when a man persuades a woman to have sex with him, often subtly, through being kind, polite, chivalrous, while playing on her feelings, possible vulnerability, or sometimes getting her consent by deceiving her, distracting her, or, sometimes, intoxicating her (with alcohol or drugs) so that he can use her for his own sexual gratification and purpose.
- rape of our souls: when we, women, are not allowed to be ourselves because of having to conform to patriarchal feminine gender 'norms'. Whether we do it to "be liked" or not to be criticized, most of the time, we conform. This culture trains us to conforms and alter our body parts because, in a patriarchy, we are not allowed to Be Ourselves; we are not allowed to be human beings, i.e. we are not allowed to have a full bodily integrity (e.g. we 'have to' shave, wear make-up, etc to conform to male-supremacist feminine norms).
Nearly all women on this earth have had to deal with one or more of these forms of rape in a patriarchy. This is basically feminism 101 reiterated: women, as a class, share a common condition, i.e. what it means to be female in a patriarchy. . .
ETA (01/03/09)= a sidenote: Seduction is a form of male sexual exploitation of women. And I certainly do not condone when men screw women over, whether in an individual case or culturally. I will need to get back to this somehow, sometime: seduction does not feel like rape at all when a woman has fully accepted to submit to the patriarchy; that does not change the fact that patriarchal masochism is a destroyer of inner female energy. I think I should have called seduction 'a form of male sexual exploitation that intends to destroy female energy', but I will surely go back to that in a future post. ;) This actually gave me a great idea... Patriarchy will keep calling you 'crazy', but it is truly speaking to itself in fact: patriarchy blinds most people - especially men, but also including some women - and drives them 'crazy' so they cannot see oppression, exploitation or destruction of someone's human capacity for equality...
WRT to the main subject of this post, to sum up some of my new points: Yes, rape or male sexual exploitation of women can take different forms... That's my personal opinion that having to conform to gender norms is a personal rape of my soul. Most feminists argues that patriarchal gender norms are personally and politically oppressive anyway... I guess I meant 'rape' as male sexual exploitation. I think I like expressing a wider definition of rape (feminists have been looking for wider definitions of rape). In some cases, there are forms of sexual exploitation that a woman does not really want or does not really feel happy or fulfilled when these things have happened to her. Seduction may not be exactly called rape, but it still generally does involve a man fucking a woman over and deceiving her. Damn! I've seen this happen to me and women friends so many times, I'm not crazy: I have heard them complaining about what assholes often men can be... Any form of sexual exploitation (even a subtler one) you don't really want to happen to you or that you feel shitty or depressed about the fact it has happened to you is a form of rape or male sexual exploitation of women somehow. And these kinds of exploitation also make you feel horribly bad and mistreated, as a woman.
[Now there is another interesting subject coming up in my mind: masochism; and I will elaborate on it in a future post, just not in this one. ;) ]
A major point I have made in my comments: Straightforward sexual assault is of course one of the worst things that can happen to you. The guy has literally gotten off on you saying No, or expressing the NO while the tears were flowing down your eyes - like what happened to me, for instance- I think I'm very psychologically damaged by the experience in a way; this hasn't changed in years... Now, the unwanted hostile commenters, do me a favor and run along (!) please, or I'll just keep pushing the "reject" button...
Fucking patriarchy we live in! You cannot even express your own thoughts without the male-supremacist system keeping trying to play with your words and express them in its own way, a way you actually didn't mean your personal thoughts to be expressed in... Damn, I know it is not very happy everyday to be a radical feminist but it sure must suck to be a patriarchist! :P
Wednesday 24 December 2008
These images include women in submissive positions, rigidly conforming to stereotypically feminine beauty standards; these women are also being bruised, threatened, attacked, roughly grabbed, tied up, fragmented into body parts, represented & treated as if they were mere pieces of meat. On some of the pictures, it even looks as if they were dead and photographed at murder scenes.
This video is merely one example that demonstrates how the sexualized torture, abuse and murder of women have become "sexy" and commonplace in our culture.
George Bataille once said:
"Beauty is desired in order that it may be befouled; not for its own sake, but for the joy brought by the certainty of profaning it"
-- Bataille, in Death and Sensuality, p.140.
Beauty is admired in a patriarchy, but only so it can be defiled, debased, violated, tortured, etc.
In this pornified culture, women must be beautiful. They must abandon their humanity through conforming to feminine roles, traits, beauty standards, etc which have been taught to them by male-supremacist culture. And then, once they conform to the system, they must be treated as most men view them: as passive sexual objects.
Of course, that is not to forget that most women find it very hard to conform to all the 'airbrushed' feminine ideals that the advertisement industry sells them everyday. And the price we pay, in a gender-based woman-hating culture that constantly shapes our attitudes, buying habits, viewpoints and the ways we view the world, is high. As this trailer for "Killing Us Softly 3" (a Media Education Foundation film) shows:
A longer version of this MEF film "Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising's Image of Women" can be found if you click here.
A sidenote: Sheila Jeffreys has just released a new book on the ever-expanding sexploitation industry. It is called The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade. You can find an article about it here.
Tuesday 28 October 2008
It includes many interviews (herstories) of radical feminists:
- My Own,
- Sam Berg's,
- Julia's, and
It also includes links to excellent writings by other radical feminists, e.g. Nine Deuce (of Rage Against the Man-chine), Rebecca (of Rmott62), Amananta (of Screaming into the Void) and Marcella Chester (of Abyss2Hope), etc. And more!
Please check out all the great content of this new carnival here. Pisaquari did a wonderful job. Congratulation for all the hard work and thank you so much!
Also, please check out this new anti-rape myths campaign:
This is Not an Invitation to Rape Me.
ETA (10/31/2008): Tonight, it is Samhain.
From Sharkbait's blog:
Now, please take a moment to consider all the women who have been, will be and are being, persecuted as Witches around the world.Please check out this post.
In Sisterhood and Solidarity,
It is Witches' Eve tonight. And misogyny continues.
Tuesday 21 October 2008
"All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable. . . Wherefore for the sake of fulfilling their lusts they consort with devils. . . it is sufficiently clear that it is no matter for wonder that there are more women than men found infected with the heresy of witchcraft. . . And blessed be the Highest Who has so far preserved the male sex from so great a crime. . ."-- Three quotes from the Malleus Maleficarum (by Kramer & Sprenger), guide to the Inquisition's Witch trials, witch-hunter's manual, and Christian pornography.
"When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil."
". . . the natural reason is that she is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives. . . "
"We now know most of what can be known about the witches: who they were, what they believed, what they did, the Church's vision of them. We have seen the historical dimensions of a myth of feminine evil which resulted in the slaughter of nine million persons, nearly all women, over 300 years. The actual evidence of that slaughter, the remembrance of it, has been suppressed for centuries so that the myth of woman as the Original Criminal, the gaping, insatiable womb, could endure. . ."-- Andrea Dworkin, "The Herstory - Gynocide: The Witches," in Woman Hating, p.149.
"While women who stepped out of line in early modern Europe were tortured and killed as witches, today such women are regarded as cunts or bitches, deserving what happens to them."-- Jane Caputi and Diana Russell, "Femicide: Speaking the Unspeakable", in Ms., 1 (3), p.34-37, 1990.
"We're not disrespecting women, we're disrespecting bitches."-- Easy E of NWA, 1990.
-- Kenneth Bianchi, "Inside the mind of the 'Hillside Strangler'" by Schwartz & Boyd, in Hustler (1981, August), p,36.
"Why is it wrong to get rid of some fuckin' cunts?"
"Repeat the syllables-- Robin Morgan, "The Network of the Imaginary Mother," in Lady of the Beasts: Poems.
until the lesson is pumped through the heart:
Nicriven, accused of lasciviousness, burned 1569.
Barbara Gobel, described by her jailors
as "the fairest maid in Wurzburg,"
burned 1629, age nineteen.
Frau Peller, raped by Inquisition torturers
because her sister refused
the witch-judge Franz Buirman, 1631.
Maria Walburga Rung, tried at a secular court
in Manheim as a witch,
released as "merely a prostitute,"
accused again by the episcopal court
at Eichstadt, tortured into confession,
and then burned alive, 1723, age twenty-two.
What have they done to me?"
Originally, the researchers' goal in this study wasn't to document the effects of pornography on sexual assailants. Their research was aimed at studying the sexual abuse of street prostitutes, both prior to and following entrance into prostitution.-- Silbert & Pines study.
In a comment (in which the offender mentioned some pornographic material) which was reported by one of the prostitutes who was a victim of rape, an assailant told the woman:
“I know all about you bitches, you're no different; you're like all of them. I seen it in all the movies. You love being beaten.” (He then began punching the victim violently.) “I just seen it again in that flick. He beat the shit out of her while he raped her and she told him she loved it; you know you love it; tell me you love it.”
Another prostitute reported her rape to the researchers in this way:
“After I told him I'd turn him a free trick if only he'd calm down and stop hurting me, then he just really blew his mind. He started calling me all kinds of names, and then started screaming and shrieking like nothing I'd ever heard. He sounded like a wailing animal. Instead of just slapping me to keep me quiet, he really went crazy and began punching me all over. Then he told me he had seen whores just like me in [three pornographic films mentioned by name], and told me he knew how to do it to whores like me. He knew what whores like me wanted... After he finished raping me, he started beating me with his gun all over. Then he said, “You were in that movie. You were in that movie. You know you wanted to die after you were raped. That's what you want; you want me to kill you after this rape just like [specific pornographic film] did.'”
This particular woman suffered, in addition to forced vaginal penetration, forced anal penetration with a gun, excessive bodily injuries, including several broken bones; and a period of time in which the rapist held a loaded pistol to her vagina, threatening to shoot, insisting it was the way she had died in the film he had seen. He did not, in fact, shoot after all.
Misogyny is historical.
Misogyny is also contemporary.
I admit I have written posts which were very powerful and, even sometimes, yeah, optimistic, on this blog. This ain't going to stop and I will keep writing such posts in the future.
But right now, I'm just feeling low...
We live in a world that doesn't take violence against women seriously.
Most people say rape is bad but they do nothing to work toward a world where rape wouldn't exist, let alone analyze or identify all the institutions, customs, behaviors, etc that make rape inevitable.
People would rather say that rape is "inevitable", which is false. Rapists are not born, they are made. Most radical feminists have identified the things that make rape possible, which are notably socialization to masculine norms and behaviors, repression of empathy toward women, children, and/or some other males (in the few cases of men raping other men), pornography, pornified culture, patriarchal customs & institutions, etc.
Regarding prostitution, millions and millions of women and girls are being raped on a daily basis. And hardly anybody cares. Many people just do not want to hear the truth about the sex industry. Some feminists or women who genuinely care about other women are having that truth hidden from them, often by malestream media, sometimes by glamorized prostitution culture, etc.
I reject the term "sex work" as it is somehow too convenient for the men who (ab)use prostituted or prostituting women. I still acknowledge that there are some very unprivileged women in the sex trade who call themselves ’sex workers’ while feeling negative about prostitution though. And when they tell their painful stories while using the term ’sex work’, well I’m absolutely fine with that. Their stories matter as much as so many others’ who’ve been harmed in the sex trade. It is possible that their pimps or madams (and some of their johns) called it “sex work,” “a job” or “work” when they spoke to them, which makes sense why some prostituted women have internalized the term “sex work.” In contrast, however, there are some formerly prostituted women who loathe the term "sex work" because they feel that it attempts to conceal the great suffering they've experienced in the prostitution industry and that it also tries to make prostitution look "respectable" when it's not, when it is in fact a violation of a woman's body and rights. Anyway, I can fully understand both cases.
We live in a patriarchy. . . Patriarchy socializes us, fucks us over, violates us, restricts our freedom and our autonomy, etc. The list goes on. . .
That doesn’t change the fact that “sex work” is not a term I use, as it is patriarchal and it benefits men with their age-old anti-woman beliefs. Prostitution has been called the world’s oldest profession for ages and ages. And prostitution has not yet been recognized as an inherent form of sexual slavery and violence against women (for the vast majority of the women & girls in it) by most people. . .
As I said: Patriarchists (that includes the few women patriarchists too), do not ever try to control my language! The language was invented by the patriarchy, and I want to obey no edict or rule given by the male-supremacist system. I use terms I want to use, terms that recognize women & girls’ oppression under patriarchy, sometimes even new terms I invent if I want to.
For instance, when we, radical feminists, say 'herstory', we mean by that beautiful word: the history of women, pointing out that the history of women should matter as much as the history of men. But the history of men has always been more documented in patriarchy. That's why accurate documentations of herstory would be so important in order to understand how much, as women, we have been hated for a very long time. The witch-hunt in early modern Europe is only one of the so many examples in the history of misogyny.
I have another definition for pornoiarchy. It is also a society that restricts sexual imagination, i.e. that constricts us as sexual beings, because it is a patriarchal society invaded and controlled by pornography. Because pornography tries to control sexuality; it maps out people's sex lives with the same old scenario of male-over-female domination. To me, not being able to imagine an egalitarian sexuality (that wouldn't rely on the objectification and the degradation of another human being) is myopia. I believe that sexual imagination can go beyond the boundaries of pornoiarchy.
To me, anybody who defends pornography, prostitution, Christianity, capitalism, and/or male-supremacist laws, customs or institutions, etc (while being fully aware -without necessarily admitting it- that these things are inherently misogynistic or oppressive) is a patriarchist.
Andrea Dworkin was absolutely amazing. I believe she was hated because she firmly stood against patriarchy and she was very vocal about resistance to patriarchy. And, in a patriarchal society, such a woman is hated, including by some (patriarchist) “feminists”.
Any radical feminist woman who speaks out eloquently against porniarchy becomes unfortunately #1 on the patriarchists' shitlist.
Thus, because patriarchists have the power of naming (i.e. the power of language, which was invented by the patriarchy itself, the power of words, the power over communication and expression), they can hate and misrepresent radical feminists as much as they please. That is to say that every single word, every single argument, every single phrase, every single expression of feelings, etc that a radical feminist uses, says or writes can potentially be (deliberately, carelessly, or disingenuously) misunderstood, twisted around, quoted repeatedly out of context, and bent out of shape by the patriarchists. Because (you see?) the patriarchal status quo has to be protected by its cruel guardians.
As a result of only this simple fact (patriarchists having the power of words), the list of misrepresentations of radical feminism (& radical feminists in general) is endless. It is present in the malestream media, in the academia, on the Internet, etc.
It is as though this great amount of lies and distortions about radical feminism were this huge vortex of water, and we, radical feminists, were constantly being dragged down to drown underwater inside this whirling mass of suffocating misinterpretations of the words we say.
Patriarchists have to be powerful in the ongoing task of slandering us. They are trying to make sure that we will never be taken seriously and that the male-supremacist status quo is being bolstered.
Therefore, pro-pornography views are usually what's popular out there, while radical feminist views are (usually) either totally hated or not even heard of. I witnessed all this in real life as a fact. During years and years, I had only heard pro-pornography views on the subject (especially from men and ex-boyfriends, and the mainstream media, etc) before discovering radical feminism by chance when I was online. I only found radical feminism by chance. I had never heard of radical feminism before May 2006. And before I decided to become a radical feminist, I'd quickly figured out how much radical feminism was hated, misrepresented and/or shunned from mainstream society. That didn't stop me from becoming a rad fem, but that's another story.
Note: While I say that pro-pornography views are usually what's popular out there, I am talking about the culture of men. I believe that most women are anti-porn at heart, even amongst the few ones who use pornography. Most women want to stay away from pornography because it is too painful to look at. They usually use the terms "disgusting" or "filthy" but they in fact do notice that porn is degrading to women. As for the ones who use it, I believe that, when they can look at it with a clear mind, they obviously notice that it is not advancing freedom for women, or that it does not promote equality.
Before hearing about the feminist critique of pornography, I only had vaguely heard about feminism and never heard of radical feminism. But now, being a radical feminist and having heard and read about all the multiple misrepresentations of my type of feminism, I realize how much it hurts.
I've realized that radical feminism is the complete antithesis of patriarchy. Patriarchy is the very system of oppression and control we're living in. Therefore, radical feminist politics are the solution to the overthrow of the male-supremacist system. What makes me mostly sad is that most women do not know all this.
Wouldn't there be such a huge barrier imposed by malestream media in order to prevent mass-communication from rad fems to women, along with stereotypes & lies being widespread about radical feminism written in so many places on the Internet, women would know about radical feminism and they would know that it is not to be hated but understood clearly. Radical feminism is a call to freedom from all forms of oppression through the destruction of power structures.
A fellow blogger once said to me:
"I think a lot of women have some sort of coping mechanism that allows them to deny or ignore reality. I take it as a luxury, when I can.
But long-term, it becomes resistance to change and the women who work remain few and the task relentless."
-- Sophie, of 2 B Sophora.
This is true.
I believe that women don't necessarily need to read radical feminist writings to see how much men and the culture of patriarchists hate us. They just have to seriously open their eyes to notice that fact. However, I do believe that radical feminist books help you identify all the different complex structures that cause all these atrocities perpetrated by men against us. It gives you words to be able to properly describe your experience of having been born female within a world that regards female humans as second-class citizens.
I also believe that women have this coping mechanism, as Sophie explained, to pretend that reality is not what it really is. I resorted to that kind of psychological dissociation when I was younger. I also admit that now I still have my 'mind-split' process taking place now and again to avoid falling into depression.
When I notice too much the increasing aggression against women as a class, the sexism that permeates society, the ever-increasing violence and misogyny within pornography, the fact that prostitution has still not been recognized as a violation of women and girls' human rights and the numerous distortions and misrepresentations of radical feminism, I sometimes tend to mentally disconnect from all this pain. Because I'm just this little person and I can't take all this. Consequently, like Sophie, I take it as a luxury, when I can.
Nevertheless I agree that, in the long term, the 'mind-split' becomes a resistance to change. Women have to speak out on male violence:
. . . one thing I will never, never be is silent. I'd RATHER be critical, judgemental and negative of male supremacy, and be perceived by other women and men as a harpy, an evil bitch, batshit crazy etc, etc... than be silent on the atrocities that men are committing against women every day. It sickens me too much not to speak out. It sickens me too much not to speak out loudly and angrily. Men's violence is just too horrendous and sickening to ignore.
-- Allecto, in a comment to one of my posts.
Allecto's words echo in my ears. When I listen to these words, it gives me strength. I feel like I don't care about being criticized for speaking out on male violence and male supremacy; I want to keep screaming and shouting about how much the culture of patriarchists hates women; I want to keep screaming and shouting about how much men hurt women in a patriarchy.
In this society, men hurt, abuse, rape, beat up and, sometimes, murder women. Not all men abuse women, but many of them do. I've already explained that masculinity (i.e. social gender construct) is the root cause that underlies this system.
Male violence against women is not only widespread; it is often accepted as being "just life." How do we explain that within a culture that has eroticized rape in the first place, i.e. that has made rape "sexy"? :(
Nowadays, it is almost impossible for a woman to have a close friendship or relationship with a guy without him trying to force intercourse onto her, or trying to persuade her to "do this" or "do that". Also, generally, a wife has to allow herself to "be fucked" by her husband as a 'duty'.
I get a clear picture of the current situation here: Rape (as real feminists define it) is commonplace, tacitly considered "normal" in our patriarchal [pornified] culture.
As Ruth Anne Koenick, director of Rutgers' Department of Sexual Assault Services and Crime Victim Assistance, said when she was interviewed by Robert Jensen:
People don't come out of the womb wanting to be rapists nor believing that they are to blame when they are victims, but that's where so many end up. What does that say about the culture's belief systems?. . . One of my favorite people once said, "Rape is illegal, but the sexual ethic that underlies rape is woven into the fabric of our culture."
During my life, I have been raped, coerced into sexual activity and domestically abused by some men who used pornography.
I remember the pain. I remember the lack of empathy I could see in their eyes. I remember how they would sometimes ignore me when I cried.
I remember them grabbing me, them slapping me, them bruising me, them tying me up to the bed and telling me I'd "enjoy it".
When the pain became too intense I'd just mentally shut down, dissociate my mind from all this.
When I was living in domestic violence, I kept ignoring the bullying through dissociation, denial, by splitting my mind into parts, by pretending that the cruelty that I was subjected to was not there. . . I just had to. . . keep pretending this abuse I was sustaining wasn't happening to me. . . I'd split my mind into parts. . . I'd numb the pain. . . I'd take the pain away. . . by splitting my mind into parts. . . I was perfectly able to ignore all the pain when I could. . . split my mind into parts. . . numb the pain. . . blank out all the sexual and domestic abuse I had suffered from men.
The pornography, I wanted to stay away from it. There was some kind of a sick feeling I was getting when seeing it, I could not quite describe what it exactly was at the time. But now I think that it had something to do with the fact that only taking glimpses at the raw woman-hatred that it was made me sick, which is why I tried to stay away from it in spite of boyfriends constantly trying to force the pornography - visually or sexually - onto me. Ignoring the pornography was another way of numbing pain.
In general, when something was too painful, too sexist, too demeaning, too hurtful, I would just mentally shut down from it by escaping to another corner of my mind.
It is an excellent coping mechanism. But it just doesn't always work. And we, women have to speak out on male violence. We also have to speak out on victim-blaming; that is atrociously widespread in this patriarchy.
As Laurelin once wrote:
‘Victim mentality’ assumes that there is something about the victim that makes them a victim, something the victim does that invites victimisation, and that therefore the victim is responsible for their suffering. It asks the victim to take responsibility for the actions of their aggressor. And it is used because it easier to pile more blame upon the vulnerable than it is to stand up and point out that there is something wrong with the world in which the victim, the aggressor, and the speaker live.-- from Perpetrator mentality.
I wish all the victim-blaming which pervades society would stop. It is the aggressor's fault when a woman is raped, abused or beaten up; it is, broaderly, patriarchy's fault, not the victim's. But how do we explain that within a culture that is contaminated by sick messages (rape ideologies) like these?= “"Women don't know their own minds; men know better what women really want and need sexually," "A woman might not want it at first, but once she gets a taste of hot sex, she can't get enough," "Women are sexually manipulative," "Getting her drunk is a way to get her in the mood," or "All women are whores at heart and want to be fucked by any available man;"” these are misogynistic messages that come straight from the mainstream contemporary pornography industry. Fact: we live in a rape culture.
I go to college five days a week and I have to put up with the fact that I'm studying in the same classroom as men of my age who probably use porn (just under half of the class is male; a little more than half is female). It makes me sick. When I hear guys laugh at sexist porn or rape jokes, it demoralizes me, but I'd rather remain quiet. Sometimes, these things still shock me too. Probably because I so much want them to stop; I want this pornified culture to stop. But then, after the 'surprise' effect is over (it usually lasts for 5 minutes at the most), I just feel terribly exhausted and distraught and I almost feel like shouting at them, "Fuck off with your porn! You woman-haters! You're fucking abusing women, only by watching this." Sometimes I swear I wish I could say that to them, but I don't. . . because I know I'd get terribly slammed for that. I'd be hated, just for telling the truth. :(
Thus, I'd rather work with women, or get the chance to talk to the women whenever I can. Because I know that, 90% of the time, women will listen to me (and sometimes will discuss the issue at length) when I say to them that pornography is degrading, woman-hating, violent, etc.
Finally, I would like to add that this is pointless women arguing with each other or hating each other in this world, because it distracts us from seeing who really is in power in this society, who is in a position of privilege, i.e. men in a patriarchy. I believe that when women fight or are being cruel to each other it can be called "harem politics" (as some writer once suggested - see quote below). Women who fight, who hurt each other, who are jealous of each other, etc will not unite against patriarchy.
I mean, of course, we all screw up sometimes. We all sometimes happen to, intentionally or unintentionally, hurt each others, e.g. Woman A hurts Woman B, then Woman C hurts Woman D, etc. and vice-versa, etc. Arguments we sometimes have among female survivors of male violence and among women as a class are patriarchy-related. Patriarchy intends to perpetually distract us from being angry at the male-supremacist system which maintains rape, pornography, prostitution, battery, etc as "inevitable facts of life."
Patriarchy often disconnects women from each other. Woman-hating is historical. Male supremacy takes different forms: patriarchal religions, marriage, forced childbearing, prostitution, pornography, institutions that protect gender roles, etc. The list is big. I believe that women would have to identify all sites of oppression under patriarchy if they ever want to be able to overthrow the system.
Patriarchists are counting on our ignorance, our disconnection from each other, our refusal to see how much their society and culture hates us, our refusal to see all the harms men have been doing to us throughout history. Patriarchists are counting on all that. They "are betting that we cannot face the horror of their sexual system and survive," as Dworkin wrote in Pornography: Men Possessing Women (p. 224). This is why, like many other women, I struggle everyday in this patriarchal culture. . .
“The genius of any slave system is found in the dynamics which isolate slaves from each other, obscure the reality of a common condition, and make united rebellion against the oppressor inconceivable. The power of the master is absolute and incontrovertible. His authority is protected by civil law, armed force, custom, and divine and/or biological sanction. Slaves characteristically internalize the oppressor’s view of them, and this internalized view congeals into a pathological self-hatred. Slaves typically learn to hate the qualities and behaviors which characterize their own group and to identify their own self-interest with the self-interest of their oppressor. The master’s position at the top is invulnerable; one aspires to become the master, or to become close to the master, or to be recognized by virtue of one’s good service to the master. Resentment, rage, and bitterness at one’s own powerlessness cannot be directed upward against him, so it is all directed against other slaves who are the living embodiment of one’s own degradation. Among women, this dynamic works itself out in what Phyllis Chesler has called “harem politics”. The first wife is tyrant over the second wife who is tyrant over the third wife, etc. The authority of the first wife, or any other woman in the harem who has prerogatives over other women, is a function of her powerlessness in relation to the master. The labor that she does as a fuck and as a breeder can be done by any other woman of her gender class. She, in common with all other women of her abused class, is instantly replaceable. This means that whatever acts of cruelty she commits against other women are done as the agent of the master. Her behavior inside the harem over and against other women is in the interest of the master, whose dominance is fixed by the hatred of women for each other. Inside the harem, removed from all access to real power, robbed of any possibility of self-determination, all women typically act out on other women their repressed rage against the master; and they also act out their internalized hatred of their own kind. Again, this effectively secures the master’s dominance, since women divided against each other will not unite against him.”
–- Andrea Dworkin, in Our Blood: Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Politics, pp. 85-86.
ETA (10/30/08): I just added the sentence "Misogyny is also contemporary," and I definitely should have done it before (see comments).
Monday 20 October 2008
A few things I would like to bring up:
-- In September, the Eighteenth Carnival of Radical Feminists, exploring a radical feminist understanding of hierarchy and class, was up at Witchy's place. There will be the Nineteenth Carnival of Radical Feminists up at Pisaquari's place, Buried Alive.
-- The Stop Porn Culture Slideshow is back online! Please read my post I Blame The Porno-iarchy for a good introduction to it.
-- A new website is up (from an email I received):
Our Voices Matter (OVM) is a new, grassroots, online project being launched to bring to the forefront the voices of individuals who have been harmed by prostitution, pornography, and/or trafficking. OVM seeks to provide a safe space for survivors to give voice to how prostitution, pornography, and trafficking have impacted their lives.You can also share your story anonymously (or by using a nickname) here on my blog if you've been harmed, affected by pornography or harmed in the sex industry. Survivors of pornography and prostitution, let your voices be heard. Your stories matter.
Our Voices Matter aims to shatter silences, create healing, raise awareness and incite action. OVM seeks to gather the pain, hurt, abuse, and horrors of survivors into a loud, overwhelming, and hopeful outcry that can and will be heard. OVM is an assertion that women and children matter; that the quest for a day when women and children are not bought and sold is worth fighting for; and that real social change is imperative to actualizing this goal.
Our Voices Matter seeks your involvement:
* Share your testimony. We welcome written, audio, and video testimony as well as art, poetry, and other creative mediums. Testimony can be shared anonymously or with a pseudonym. All communications are confidential.
* Spread the word. Please circulate this link to individuals and groups that may be interested in taking part. Please post the available flier in your community or at your local rape crisis center, battered women's shelter or other community space for women.
-- A new film, by Chyng Sun & Miguel Picker, The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality & Relationships is now available from the Media Education Foundation website.
-- Also, from Melissa Farley of Prostitution Research & Education:
. . . Despite the illogical attempt of some to distinguish prostitution from trafficking, trafficking is simply the global form of prostitution. Sex trafficking may occur within or across international borders, thus women may be either domestically or internationally trafficked or both. Young women are trafficked for sexual use from the countryside to the city, from one part of town to another, and across international borders to wherever there are men who will buy them.-- from the article Human Trafficking and Prostitution.
Prostitution is widely socially tolerated, with the buyers socially invisible. Even today, many mistakenly assume that prostitution is sex, rather than sexual violence, and a vocational choice, rather than a human rights abuse. Although clinicians are beginning to recognize the overwhelming physical violence in prostitution, its internal ravages are still not well understood. There has been far more clinical attention paid to sexually transmitted diseases among those prostituted than to their depressions, lethal suicidality, mood disorders, anxiety disorders (including post-traumatic stress disorder) dissociative disorders, substance abuse, and traumatic brain injury. Regardless of its legal status or its physical location, prostitution is extremely dangerous for women. Homicide is a frequent cause of death.
Prostitution is an institution akin to slavery, one so intrinsically discriminatory and abusive that it cannot be fixed--only abolished. At the same time, its root causes must be eradicated as well: sex inequality, racism and colonialism, poverty, prostitution tourism, and economic development that destroys traditional ways of living. The conditions that make genuine consent possible are absent from prostitution: physical safety, equal power with johns and pimps, and real alternatives. It is a cruel lie to suggest that decriminalization or legalization will protect anyone in prostitution. Until it is understood that prostitution and trafficking can appear voluntary but are not in reality free choices made from a range of options, it will be difficult to garner adequate support to assist those who wish to escape but have no other choices. Enforcement of international agreements challenging trafficking and prostitution can aid in this effort as can laws challenging men’s purchase of sex.
It is important to address men’s demand for prostitution. Acceptance of prostitution is one of a cluster of harmful attitudes that encourage and justify violence against women. Violent behaviors against women have been associated with attitudes that promote men’s beliefs that they are entitled to sexual access to women, that they are superior to women and that they are licensed as sexual aggressors. Those concerned with human rights must address the social invisibility of prostitution, the massive denial regarding its harms, its normalization as an inevitable social evil, and the failure to educate students in the mental health and public health professions. Trafficking and prostitution can only exist in an atmosphere of public, professional and academic indifference.
And, finally. . . for my little return to the blogosphere, let's chill out a little and put some music on!
Here is Neneh Cherry, one of my favorite (female) singers, in the video of Woman:
Lyrics of Woman:
You gotta be fortunate
You gotta be lucky now
I was just sitting here
Thinking good and bad
But I'm the kinda woman
That was built to last
They tried erasing me
But they couldn't wipe out my past
To save my child
I'd rather go hungry
I got all of Ethiopia
Inside of me
And my blood flows
Through every man
In this godless land
That delivered me
I've cried so many tears even the blind can see
This is a woman's world.
This is my world.
This is a woman's world
For this man's girl.
There ain't a woman in this world,
Not a woman or a little girl,
That can't deliver love
In a man's world.
I've born and I've bread.
I've cleaned and I've fed.
And for my healing wits
I've been called a witch.
I've crackled in the fire
And been called a liar.
I've died so many times
I'm only just coming to life.
My blood flows
Through every man and every child
In this godless land
That delivered me
I cried so many tears even the blind can see
[Please note: I do not agree with every lyrics in the song, just some bits and pieces I can relate to.]
Saturday 16 August 2008
And I still blame the porno-iarchy. . . and the patriarchy!
ETA (08/22/2008)= I just read this today: Radical feminist Jenn has done a wonderful job with her critique of a pro-"feminist porn" article. Go read it!
And thanks a lot, Laurelin, for your support. :)
Thursday 14 August 2008
This post is a follow-up to my previous (March 2008) post On Choices.
A couple of important points I had made in that post:
1/ Prostitution is a global industry of sexual exploitation in which sex is traded for money, clothing, food, drugs, shelter, or favors. Prostitution includes strip bars, lap-dancing clubs, massage parlors, brothels, saunas, adult and child pornography, street walking, live sex shows, phone sex, prostitution rings, Internet pornography, escort services, peep shows, ritual abuse, and mail order bride services.
2/ The 'sex' industry has done a great job in focusing the debate on "women's choices", while the focus of any discussion on the subject should be on the consumers who CHOOSE to use pornography, and, in the case of prostitution, on the johns who CHOOSE to buy women for sex.
Agency: Who really has it?
One of the most common misrepresentation and accusation that gets thrown at radical feminist who take a stand against pornography and prostitution is that we're somehow "denying women's choices" or that we're "ignoring women's agency" in all this.
I know that in my previous post I stated that I acknowledged the lack of choices that most women who enter the 'sex' industry have. I still do. I meant that, in a patriarchy, women in general have more or less limited choices and that our agency is often shaped by patriarchal logic, by male supremacy. I meant that most of the women and girls who end up in prostitution are the female human beings with the most limited choices.
Still, I'll tell you what I think of this "rad fems deny women's choices" accusation:
Rad fems do not "deny women's choices."
Yes, we, women as a class, do have agency, but it is somehow more or less restricted within the boundaries of patriarchy. The male-supremacist system is not here to benefit us, which always more or less limits our choices.
Accusatory people haven't properly read our work or haven't paid enough attention to all our words. I, myself, in my post On Choices, wrote:
"I believe it is possible that there are a few women out there who do freely choose to enter the industry, are fully aware of what's involved and/or make a lot of money. Still, I do not believe it is honest people focusing all their attention on those few somewhat privileged women while ignoring the vast majority of prostituted women who never got the chance to choose a better life, who are being controlled and mistreated by pimps, and who are used and abused by johns."
In another post, Prostitution, Trafficking and Law, that came after that, I wrote:
"Never will I stop being on the side of the overwhelming majority of prostituted women who never got the chance to get a better life and are suffering unbearable pain and injury on a daily basis!"
The fact is that Melissa Farley, a feminist researcher on prostitution, and some colleagues of hers conducted a large-scale study interviewing 854 people (who were in prostitution) across nine countries. The results of this research can be found here. 89% of those prostituted or prostituting people (most of them women) stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately. Which makes it obvious that their choices and agency were limited within this cruel industry.
Farley has carried on researching on prostitution ever since, one of her most recent studies being on the 'sex' industry in Nevada. Farley was repeatedly slandered and misrepresented by the pro-prostitution lobby and its followers. She was repeatedly slandered and misrepresented by some women who claimed they advocated "the rights of women".
But what was most unfair and disturbing was that the voices of the 89% of those prostitutes who said they wanted out of prostitution were denied and silenced by the pro-prostitution lobby. People who claimed they "defended sex workers' rights" refused to hear those important voices. The voices of those so many prostitutes, who'd made it clear that prostitution is not a "career choice" but abuse and violence on a daily basis, were silenced by the pro-prostitution lobby in order to try to promote their agenda (i.e. "prostitution as work").
"Melissa Farley is lying", "Biased research" or some other foolishness, the pro-prostitution lobby and its followers said. No, there was no way that lobby was going to believe such a comprehensive research and the voices of the so many prostitutes who had been interviewed in it. . . because, obviously, there was so much 'vested interest' in protecting the 'sex' industry for those pro-prostitution folks, right? (rhetorical question)
Recently, I left a comment on Rebecca Mott's blog, telling her that she was NOT the only 'example of the harms of the sex trade' (as she put it). I’ve met women in the radical feminist movement who are survivors of the sex trade. I’ve been in touch with an anti-prostitution organization that helps women exit the sex trade. And most of the members of that organization are radical feminists and they are very pro-Swedish model abolitionists because they have worked with so many prostituted women and girls who wanted out of the sex trade, not “better working conditions”.
I also said to Rebecca:
I love Rebecca. She's one of my favorite writers. And, by speaking out her truth, she's hoping to help many women who are or have been in the sex trade to be heard and/or speak out on the harms that are inherent in prostitution.
"You are far away from being the only survivor of prostitution. I’ve read and heard so many stories similar to yours. These important stories have so much educated me on the harms of prostitution. Two years and a half ago, I was ignorant, i.e. I had no idea that all of this was happening in prostitution ’cause I had never read nor heard stories like these."
Thing is that when we criticize pornography and prostitution, we sometimes hear (but not always) someone say "But my friend does porn or strips or prostitutes and she likes it". Well, here is how I would respond to this: I would never judge your friend for her choices and I don't know her exact circumstances or what the experience really means to her. I think she is an exception because the circumstances within which most women and girls who enter prostitution and pornography are as follows:
-- past experience of child sexual abuse, rape or physical abuse; because when a woman or a girl has been raped or molested (sometimes repeatedly) in childhood, she is more likely to be re-victimized, and more vulnerable to recruitment for pornography and prostitution. By this, we do not imply that a woman who has been abused in the past is incapable of making choices, but we are just trying to shed light on all the complex feelings that abuse (especially rape) entails: it is very traumatic and it can make you believe that you're just a "sexual object" or a "thing", that it is your only value or purpose in this world. Abuse in general often leads to self-hatred in the victim, and the victim sometimes needs to find a place where they can have a feeling of "being loved" or "empowered" (even if it's fake). All these feelings and more. To summarize study findings, research carried out interviewing prostitutes (some of whom had pornography made of them) and clinical literature on different types of prostitution, it is estimated that between 65% and 95% of those in prostitution were sexually assaulted as children;
-- poverty, economic hardship, or homelessness; because, yes, serious money problems can lead some women to entering the 'sex' industry;
-- international and domestic trafficking; because some women are transported by pimps from one place to another for the purpose of prostitution. And many of the practices systematically used by pimps to control women in prostitution -- sensory deprivation, dehumanization, threats to family, deliberately induced exhaustion -- are the same as those used by military torturers, as also recently reported in Traffick Jamming;
-- and socialization to the pornified culture; because we, radical feminist, do acknowledge that some women choose to enter the 'sex' industry but also acknowledge that most of the choices of those women are probably uninformed, i.e. some young women have only seen the "glamorization" side of the pornstitution industry and are not fully aware of what it entails.
As I wrote in On Choices:
We do not imply that every woman who makes certain choices is poor, uneducated, and/or horribly abused. We are not saying that every single woman or girl in the 'sex' industry has had exactly the same experience. We just want to point out to the fact that most women in prostitution (i.e. that includes pornography) are the female human beings who have entered the 'sex' industry with choices that are not really free. We are saying that their agency, in general, has been somehow unfortunately constrained, limited or influenced by patriarchal (il)logic and we deeply empathize with them.
"There are many agencies that specialize in recruiting young women to the porn industry with the promise of making big money and becoming a star. Indeed, the money is an attraction for mostly young, working-class women who face limited choices in a harsh economy. Given those economic realities and the glamorization of pornography, it’s not surprising that some young women will see this as a viable career option. Undeniably, the whole culture promotes the "porn star" job as a glamorous job. In TV shows, the image of the "porn star" is shown as "liberating" and "empowering" for women."
And we, radical feminists, sincerely empathize with those women because WE KNOW they are being terribly harmed in the pornstitution industry. Here is another page on things to know, based on research, not mere guesses.
Now, the REAL question is: Who really has agency in this patriarchal society?
I will tell you who really has it in a patriarchy:
It is the john who really has it, the porn user, the strip club patron, etc. It is HIM.
He has the agency of buying a female body, the body of another human being, and do whatever he wants to her, whether she wants it or not.
He has the agency of buying, renting or downloading movies that contain images of her naked body wounded or hurt, her personality dehumanized, her self humiliated and degraded, her mind so harmed (sometimes beyond recovery), her face sometimes shown onscreen as enjoying the torture because the pimps control the script and run the show for the johns. Movies and images of her to which the john/porn user cruelly jerks off to.
He has the agency of going to clubs where her body is exposed, objectified and degraded for his own selfish pleasure.
He has the agency of creating the demand for an industry within which she, for the most part, will not have full agency and will be hurt.
He can insult her. He can beat her. He can rape her. He can tie her up. He can throw money at her and say "That wasn't rape 'cause I paid you".
He can reproduce the image of her being degraded, tortured and/or hurt, this image being used as a 'jerk-off' material, and share it with other men at an exponential rate, technologically speaking (i.e. internet porn, etc.).
He can do anything to her. Because HE has the full agency to do so.
Within patriarchy, his agency is, more often than not, unlimited. Because the patriarchy works toward his advantage. Male supremacy serves him, fulfills his purpose.
He'd rather try to prove his "masculinity" to his male friends by using porn or buying prostitutes. He'd usually rather go toward that direction instead of questioning the whole concept of masculinity altogether. Generally, he doesn't even know that masculinity is not innate, that he could choose humanity instead.
His agency is thoroughly defended in a patriarchy. However, within a society that purports to be egalitarian, the patriarchal defense of his agency to use and abuse women has to be implicitly expressed under the cover of "her agency", i.e. framed in arguments such as "That woman, she wants it, they all do" or "women freely choose to prostitute" and blah, blah, blah. . . ad nauseam. . . ultimately tacitly meaning (in fact): "I, the man, want to degrade her and use her for my own pleasure, thus I have the 'right' to do so" or "I, the man, freely choose to have her as my prostitute, my 'fuck object' or my property". This is what you hear when you get to the core of his thinking.
"Subhumanity": Who really sees prostituted women as 'subhuman'?
I already explained why we, radical feminists, refer to women in the 'sex' industry as 'prostituted women' somewhere in there.
There is an unfounded accusation that has been thrown at radical feminists and that stuns me: "Radfems see women in the sex industry as 'subhumans'". Blah-the-fucking-blah.
I will tell you who really sees prostituted women ("sex workers") as 'subhuman':
The male with the pornographic mind does, NOT radical feminists.
As Rebecca Mott recently posted on her blog:
"When men rape prostitutes, it is not real. How can there be a rape, when he has paid.
Injuries on prostituted women and girls don’t matter, it just rough sex. Men know her fear or lack of reaction is just part of the act.
Hadn’t he seen in porn over and over that women like her like to be raped. Women like her enjoy violence with sex.
Didn’t porn say that whores will do anything for money.
I know in my body as it remembers the tortures men did to me, that they saw me as real-life porn. I know as I remember their contempt, their laughter at my injuries and not believing that I could feel pain.
God, I remember those men posing me on the bed, against the wall, in alleys, on top of graves, in back rooms at the club. At those times, flashes of photos from the hard-core porn went over me.
I know I was infected by porn, as I became a robot performing the sex acts the men wanted."
I certainly do not believe that the men who bought and abused Rebecca were seeing prostituted women as real human beings. I believe that they saw them as 'subhuman'.
It is not uncommon to encounter this type of men. The men with the pornographic mind. Many non-prostituted women frequently meet those men in real life. But prostituted women, unfortunately, are the ones who are the most horribly abused by these men.
These men believe in the sexual philosophy of the Marquis de Sade (whether they know it or not), which is, to quote:
". . . there is no more selfish passion than lust; none that is severer in its demands; smitten stiff with desire, 'tis with yourself you must be solely concerned, and as for the object that serves you, it must always be considered as some sort of victim, destined to that passion's fury. Do not all passions require victims?"-- Sade, in Juliette, p.269.
I totally disagree that "all passions require victims." There are many sexual and sensual passions that can be enjoyed with the inclusion of the respect toward another person's dignity, the inclusion of the caring, the connection, the equality and the mutuality.
Sade was a rapist, a batterer, a child abuser and the world's foremost pornographer. Sade has his apologists and his 'libertarian' defenders who mistakenly portray(ed) him as an "avatar of freedom". Sade helped pave the way for the unfair 'leftist' defense of pornography we've been confronting for years.
Here is de Sade's conception of sexuality served to the male pornographic mind (translated in its full cruelty): "All that matters is your own selfish male pleasure. Do not care about being cruel to women or treating them as objects. There is nothing more important than your orgasm even if it requires necessary victims." Cruel conception indeed.
As Andrea Dworkin wrote in Pornography: Men Possessing Women (p.100):
"[Sade's] convictions are ordinary, expressed often in less grand language. . . they are fully consonant with the practices. . . of ordinary men with ordinary women. . ."
It is to wonder what those ordinary men are influenced by?
Dworkin also wrote:
Seriously, I will tell you who sees prostituted women as 'subhuman':
". . . pornography and prostitution were one and the same thing. We know that the world's foremost pornographer, the Marquis de Sade, tortured, raped, imprisoned, beat, and bought women and girls. We know that influential male thinkers and artists who enthused about rape or prostitution or battery had, in many cases, raped or bought or battered women or girls and were also users and often devotees of pornography."
Not radical feminists, we fully empathize with women in the sex industry. We realize that most of them have had a somehow limited agency in patriarchy and that they are being terribly abused by abusive johns.
The johns, the tricks, the porn users, the strip-club patrons, etc. are the ones who really see prostituted women as 'subhuman'.
They are the ones who think it is their "male right" to treat women in the sex industry as 'subhuman' objects.
They are the ones who have the, barely questioned, agency to see women in the sex industry as 'subhuman' through pornography, in the act of prostitution or at the strip club, etc.
They are the ones who believe there are necessary victims required for their self-centered orgasm.
They are the ones who create the demand for these widespread crimes against women that are called pornography and prostitution.
They are the ones who believe it is their "male right" to use, objectify, degrade, hurt, harm, abuse, rape, beat up, torture and/or (sometimes) kill women.
They are the ones who believe it is 'male nature' to do so, without seriously thinking about how culturally trained their porn use, etc. have been within a culture that unfairly condones such an unfair abuse of female human beings by describing it as "adult entertainment" or "sex work".
These johns, tricks, porn users, strip-club patrons, etc. are the ones who have to stop seeing prostituted women as 'subhuman' and who have to stop creating the demand for a brutal misogynistic and racist pornstitution industry that relies on the discrimination and the ill-treatment of half the world's population to cater to its consumers/johns' cruel appetite for the degradation of women and girls.
Postscript: for another excellent resource on prostitution, please see also my previous post Prostitution, Trafficking and Law.
ETA (08/25/2008): For another excellent resource on prostitution, please see also Heart's new post Voices of Survivors of the Sex Trade: Prostitution Is Sexual Slavery, Gang-Rape, Sexual Abuse.