Sunday 9 March 2008

Rad Fem

Before I knew there was such a thing as radical feminism, I remember I wasn't very interested in politics. No politics out there really appealed to me. They seemed all boring and unprogressive. No politics seemed to make any sense or to support any genuine change.

I was younger and more interested in listening to music, watching movies, having fun with friends, going out dancing, trying to "find the right man" for me, etc. I was a rather "everyday girl" (if I can call it that way 'cause I cannot figure any other way of how to call it). There was an incredible pain, an incredible boredom, an incredible suffering that I was feeling in me. However, I didn't know what it was. Having been raised in a Catholic family, I had been taught to believe in "god". But "god" was of no help in all those painful years.

Then, one day, I found out about a little faction of the world's politics, a small group of (usually) women kept away from mainstream politics. They had their own politics. It was called radical feminism.

I learned from radical feminism that pornography and prostitution were inherently harmful to women and children. And I also noticed that this radical feminist claim wasn't based on mere guesses, but a great amount of thorough research, public testimonies, etc. Their anti-porn movement had also grown out of 70's grassroots anti-violence groups.

I had spent a great part of my life living with abusive boyfriends who consumed porn. One of them especially, the first one, had been coercing me into sex and repeatedly tried to have me imitate the scenes that were in the pornography he was using.

He was also highly interested in the degradation of women who were in prostitution and in pornography. Most of my life, I had somehow known that there was a sort of unequal power relationship between the prostituted or pornographized women and the johns. But I had no word to talk about it.

As for other men I'd known in my life (before my current partner), I could observe these cruel, uncaring, and rough behaviors in them, along with the fact that I could often see the lack of empathy in their eyes. I could feel the callousness of most men but had no words to express my feelings about it. I often had asked myself "why?", "Why most men are the way they are?", "Why do they have to hurt that much?".

When I started reading radical feminist literature and being interested in radical feminism, I concluded that I had finally found a politics that spoke to me. I had found, for the first time, a politics that genuinely wanted complete revolution and social change. As I read the painful stories of so many women and girls that were written in radical feminist books, I felt pained but I also felt heard, echoed. It was reassuring: I was not the only one these things were happening to.

I learned from radical feminism that I was living in patriarchy, that is to say a society largely controlled by men. I learned that most men were not the way they are by nature, not only as a result of being born male but as a result of being men having been socialized to benefit from patriarchy and male privilege, having been socialized to repress their empathy and get off on the suffering of the other half of the world's population -- women. I thought (and I still think) there is a hope if men are not born that way, but made to be that way.

I also learned from radical feminism that religions such as Christianity were male-supremacist and I then renounced Catholicism. I renounced Christianity and I don't care if my Catholic parents don't like this fact! Radical feminism taught me that patriarchal religions were brainwashing and woman-hating. I learned about the misogyny of the Bible and I couldn't care less about the patriarchal "god" that doesn't exist. I had never been a committed religious person anyway. So being an atheist now feels better for me.

I also learned that there were many other patriarchal instrument of brainwashing, including pornography (as I mentioned above). As I said before: the patriarchal Church once used to dominate the society and control women's lives, rights and sexuality -- and still dominates and controls many women's lives, rights and sexuality nowadays. But now pornography primarily dominates the society and controls women's social and private lives and their sexuality.

At the same time I learned terribly bad news: radical feminists are largely censored and slandered by mainstream media; and all the people who have fallen for what the media says to them about rad fems, believe that radical feminists are evil man-haters. Such a lie!

Plus whenever academic pro-porners criticize radical feminists, they cannot even quote one part of their works properly: they (1) quote parts of rad fem books or articles that have been put in a certain context (in the original source), either that or they (2) falsely quote things that rad fems have never said nor will ever say. I cannot even believe how shocking this is when radical feminists are accused of the misogyny they are pointing out. They are merely describing the misogyny that is happening right now within this pornographic world.

Before I chose to become a radical feminist, of course I knew that radical feminism was hated. It didn't stop me from choosing radical feminism though for I perfectly knew through reading radical feminist books that these women were not like the mainstream media and pornified culture portrayed them.

And also because never in my life had I seen such a progressive politics, a politics that wanted genuine social change, a politics that wanted the end of all forms of oppression, a politics that was speaking to me, that had been speaking to me all along as a woman suffering in this patriarchal world, a politics that was now giving me words to really be able to express my feelings. And I've also met quite a few radical feminists who are themselves survivors of prostitution and that also confirmed to me that there was nothing glamorous about the 'sex' industry.

I expected to be hated in becoming a radical feminist and speaking out against pornography and prostitution which harm so many women and girls (and porn also harmed me), which is partly the reason why, since I created this blog, I've hidden backlinks. I wouldn't be interested in checking out whoever links to my blog because I know that, although well-meaning rad fem friends might do it sometimes they tell me when they do so, and I have no interest in knowing whichever pro-porn site or blog will be linking to me (if it hasn't already happened).

I know that because rad fems tell the truth about patriarchy, rad fems are hated. And I know that pro-porners have an agenda which is completely an antithesis of our agenda. And they are very manipulative in the way they promote their own agenda.

I know from Laurelin's recent Observation at her blog that we, rad fems, are referred to as "fascists" and "wingnuts" by pro-porners. These are the comments I've made on Laurelin's blog:

". . . those who call us “fascists” or “feminazis” do so as an attempt to shut us up. They’re obviously annoyed that we criticize their porn and their so-called “rights” to use prostituted women. The idea of women being objects for their use matters to them more than the fact that women are human beings who suffer. They just don’t understand oppression under patriarchy!"

". . . Truthfully, that’s the politics of pro-porners which are right-wing and reactionary: They are cruel, anti-humanity, anti-empathy because they don’t care about the facts that women and children are harmed in porn/prostitution and by pornography; they don’t give a fuck who gets hurt so long as they have their jerk-off material! Atrocious!"

Obviously, being a rad fem living in a patriarchal pornified culture, I am totally aware that whenever a woman speaks out against pornography and prostitution, she is hated, she is rejected, she is called a "shrew", a "bitch", etc.

It is also noteworthy not to forget that the patriarchists, the guardians of the status quo, the pro-porners know that if they were all males defending their pornstitution, they wouldn't be credible. People would more quickly notice the woman-hatred inherent in pornography and prostitution if there were only men defending these sexual exploitation businesses.

Therefore, this is why porn users/johns/pimps have to magnify the few women who are willing to defend misogynistic industries and then use these women as proxies to attack radical feminists. These pro-pornstitution women also help them conceal their misogyny and excuse their so-called "rights" to use women and girls as sex objects in pornography and prostitution.

Undeniably, porn users/johns also need "happy hookers" to elevate and to help them viciously attack rad fems. Typically, these men only want to hear the glamorized malestream corporate media stories of "women who say they love being in prostitution and pornography" while refusing to hear the stories of women who say they have been harmed in porn/prostitution and by porn. If presented with the real life stories of these women, they'll pretend to care about abusive pornstitution stories for a minute or so and then dismiss these common stories as "rare" (or "lying") and go back to "happy hooker" stories they love so much.

In truth, these few "happy hookers" (whether what they say is the result of dissociation or not) are more listened to by men than us rad fems because men only listen to women who accept their position as "sex objects". And when women "celebrate" themselves as sexual objects, porncrazy men champion that because "happy hookers" validate men's pornographic fantasies and make them feel good about their porn use. Porncrazy men hate whoever opposes the idea of women as objects! They hate whoever supports women as human beings!

This is what happens in the world of patriarchal logic: women-as-objects are elevated, championed and magnified by porncrazy men while women-not-as-objects are hated, rejected, dismissed or ridiculed, or even sometimes raped and beaten. Of course, in the end, both women-as-objects and women-not-as-objects will be viewed in the same way by porncrazy men: as women, as inferior to men. Nevertheless, most men need women-as-objects in their maintenance of the male-supremacist status quo. This is such a cruel and unfair world and this is what patriarchy is about= making sure the status quo is being maintained.

There is something terribly wrong about being lied about and thrashed. Which is why I hid backlinks, I am not interested in checking my backlinks: I'd rather not know when it happens to me (if it hasn't already happened). I expect to be hated, I expect to be misrepresented, but in the end I don't care. All that pro-porners can say is bullshit and childish name-calling. The politics of pornography and, more broadly, patriarchy are anti-evolution. It is so much easier for some people to be on the pro-porn side because it refuses a serious deep thinking which is an essential part of evolution toward real political action and revolution.

I know it happens to all of us fighting pornstitution: the better we are at what we do, the more shit we get for it. Pro-porners are overwhelmly male and we know it. They simply need to magnify the few pro-porn women and give them "megaphones" so they (men) then can attack us better! We'll never be able to prevent pro-porners, MRA's and their posse of porn users from vilifying radical feminists. Them using women to attack us is not new. It's a two-decade-old pro-pornstitution tactic.

I'd rather not give a fuck. I've heard pro-pornography arguments during most of my life while I was the girlfriend of abusive porn-users. I've heard pro-pornography arguments during all those years I had to force myself to have sex in order to please men. Now, I'd rather stay away from pro-pornography arguments. They give me bad memories.

Whatever pro-pornstitution folks have said, are saying or will be saying about me, I know it's only about them thinking their "We benefit from the status quo so that's where our loyalties lie" me, me, me's. Whatever pro-pornstitution folks have said, are saying or will be saying about me, I know it's not true, I know it's not me and that's all that matters to me.

I'd rather not know and not give a flying fuck. I'd rather be spending my energy on doing some more patriarchy-bashing. In other words, I'd rather carry on what I'm doing and try to reach other women or people who have/will have a heart and understand the harms of pornography and prostitution.

I know that there are also a few well-meaning secular men, in this world, who have reconsidered their patriarchal socialization and who have understood why men (in general) should stop using pornography and should stop buying women and girls in prostitution too. I welcome them to be our pro-feminist allies.

Above all, I know that we, women, have to unite in a sisterhood as best as we can in order to, one day, accomplish the feminist revolution of overthrowing the whole patriarchal system!

"The Revolution is not an event that takes two or three days, in which there is shooting and hanging. It is a long drawn out process in which new people are created, capable of renovating society so that the revolution does not replace one elite with another, but so that the revolution creates a new anti-authoritarian structure with anti-authoritarian people who in their turn re-organize society so that it becomes a non-alienated human society, free from war, hunger, and exploitation."
-- Rudi Dutschke, March 7, 1968.


Debi Crow said...

Well said, Maggie! :D x

Anonymous said...

It is also noteworthy not to forget that the patriarchists, the guardians of the status quo, the pro-porners know that if they were all males defending their pornstitution, they wouldn't be credible. People would more quickly notice the woman-hatred inherent in pornography and prostitution if there were only men defending these sexual exploitation businesses.

Therefore, this is why porn users/johns/pimps have to magnify the few women who are willing to defend misogynistic industries and then use these women as proxies to attack radical feminists.

So, so, very true Maggie.
The upside for the females who defend misogyny and pornstitution, is that they get attention and approval from their male puppet-masters. It is very sad that some wimmin need to exist solely on male approval. Nor is male approval a feminist objective (which is always twisted as 'man-hating').

Anonymous said...

This is a very powerful blog entry, Maggie. I'm very much moved, as I really relate to a lot of what you are saying here... I can't entirely say why here, as unlike you I'm neither brave nor stable enough to write up my experiences.

Radical feminist writings were an amazing discovery for me too. I always knew something was wrong in the justifications I was hearing for the objectification and sexualisation of women, but I could never put my finger on what exactly it was. That feeling inside, that dreadful nagging doubt that you tell yourself (because everyone else does) is crazy, that deep, deep grief... I read several wonderful feminist authors, and suddenly it made sense. That's what truly great writing can do.

People are very fond of criticising the radfem authors which they have never read, because they are afraid. Dworkin is a good example of just this phenomenon- she was read by many women who realised they could relate to what she was saying, because she spoke up for the most vulnerable and abused women out there. The only defence her detractors had was attack- spreading lies and distortions. Even when they disdained to actually read her work, they distorted it. I was under the impression that Andrea was hateful until I decided to find out for myself, and picked up one of her works. I'm so glad I discovered her, she changed my life. She changed so many women's lives.

Still now, even after her death, if you express agreement with her, or an emotional attachment to her writings, you will be told that you are unable to think for yourself, that you are laughable and worthy of scorn, a religious zealot etc. etc. etc. Of course if you profess to agree with a male liberal or an acceptable 'sec positive' feminist, you are smart and sexy, in charge of your own mind and sexuality, progressive and loveable... blah blah blah

The vile comments, the language not-so-subtly designed to connect us with the right wing, is a form of silencing. And the attempt to silence another is a confession of cowardice.

Maggie said...

Thanks Debs, Stormy and Laurelin!

Stormy: I quite like the "male puppet-masters" analogy in your comment.

Laurelin, excellent comment!

I especially loved the points you've made about the detractors of Andrea Dworkin. You are so right! She's always been misrepresented and lied about by the patriarchists because her writings were so powerful (and still are). Dworkin is my favorite writer!

I have the same feelings as you about pro-porners trying to silence us with their silly accusation.

Anonymous said...

Just to correct my craptastic typing...

when I said 'disdained to read' I meant deigned to read, and when I said 'sec positive' I meant 'sex positive'...

typing not my strong point...

Maggie said...

I know, Laurelin. Thanks.

And BTW, when I said "their silly accusation" (in my comment above), I meant: "their silly accusations" (plural) - I'd forgotten the "s" at the end.