A reply to Kate


by Jennifer O'Mahony    
9:34 pm - June 20th 2010

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Kate,
This is a classic standoff between feminists. The old guard in your corner, and the new guard in mine.

At the very least, unlike many women of my generation, I call myself a feminist. I know a Labour PPC who told me she “isn’t a feminist, because I believe in equality”.

In my piece, I wrote about what I saw as some personal and generational failings in an otherwise very easy ride in life. This is not to say I haven’t experienced sexism.

I have been leered at, had guys shout exactly what they’d like to do to me from car windows, and faced sexual harrassment at work, just like most woman.

I taught teenage boys in France for 7 months, and when I asked one of them to design his own iPhone, he came up with a woman trapped in a box he could have sex with whenever he wanted. I know what sexism is, and that it is very much alive.

However, the fundamental problem between us is that you think that women are always the victim of the patriarchy, and I believe it’s partly their own problem. My mother always said “You have to lie down before someone wipes their feet on you”. I’m not saying women are weak, that women are terrible at managing their own lives, or that they all hate themselves.

What I’m saying is, women must fight for their equality. When I hear about the 1960s, and even the ‘PC’ age of the 1980s, I am astounded at how vocal women were in their own liberation. Now, women expect it, but if they are denied it they don’t necessarily complain.

Women must be vigilant, and must resist being forced to obsess over their bodies so that they don’t notice when their freedoms get gradually taken away.

‘Ironic sexism’ means that we are supposed to joke about women in the kitchen rather than say it straight-faced, but I don’t believe that the underlying stereotype is helped by this.

As for me being middle class, Mary Wollstonecraft, Germaine Greer, and Simone de Beauvoir were all born bourgeois. If they’d been working class and hadn’t had access to an education, feminism might look very different. Being educated isn’t something I will apologise for, and and that line of argument seems entirely counter to all that feminism is about.

I do hope this clears the air between one feminist and another…

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About the author
Jennifer is a regular contributor to LC. She blogs here and is on Twitter here.
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Reader comments


“However, the fundamental problem between us is that you think that women are always the victim of the patriarchy.”

Entirely incorrect. That is ENTIRELY wrong. Sorry – you’ve simply got it wrong. If you have read any of my blog posts at all, you will know that the anti-patriarchy stance is my chief point of contention with socialist feminism. I do not believe women are victims in the patriarchy and have argued that bitterly. I embrace the patriarchy, and have written very positively about being born in a time and place that has allowed me to take a place in it, and earn my own money and get a good job.

Sorry to be so blunt, but you’ve misunderstood or misread something. I’m probably the biggest proponent of the patriarchy around.

I’ve got to agree with Kate here Jennifer, she’s one of the last feminists on earth I’d describe as believing that women are always the victim of the patriarchy. That would be me – old school/old guard whatever you want to call it, not Kate.

Yes – I think she’s just misunderstood.

Although she’s right about me being old.

No but you see my point… Don’t call women victims, they’re just trying to make their way in the world. You attack me for admitting that women (as human beings?!) have failings. I embrace that and think it should be part of the discussion. Don’t airbrush women… we make mistakes too.

Also PLEASE don’t patronise… I know I’m not very old but seriously “I think she’s just misunderstood” *nods… pats child on head* doesn’t make me want to listen to what you’re saying!

Still can’t understand what Kate is talking about.

Don’t think she really knows either.

You are basically saying I can’t criticise women, or myself! Therefore must be patriarchy’s fault?

No Jennifer – sorry, but you’ve just got it completely wrong and misread my post.

The whole point of my thesis is that socialist feminism is wrong to attack the patriarchy and to paint women as victims. You say above that the fundamental problem between us is that I believe that women are victims of the patriarchy. I do not believe that, and did not write that. Your post is based on an error of interpretation, so I think we should probably leave it there.

Sally – you’re not Med Mel, are you?

I think we should be told.

Mad Mel, I meant – although I think Med Mel is quite good.

@Sunny LOL Yeah, yeah – WHAT’S YOUR POINT!!!???

That is pretty funny though. You win.

Given that half your point in reply to Jennifer was that she was middle class and therefore should stop whining, I think it’s fair to say that you pretty much misrepresented her piece too Kate.

Oh, bollocks, Sunny. She’s missed what I said and you know it. And she described herself as middle class in her post.

I heard a joke recently which said: ‘you shouldn’t leave feminism to the birds: they will only go and mess it up’. Now it was a joke about being a sexist twat.

But it rang true for me.

I am no longer interested in feminism that pitches women against women, or claims to stand for ‘women’ as a group. I want to widen the debate.

To do that we probably have to stop claiming a special place of suffering and identity for ‘women’. This is not going to go down well with a lot of feminists.

It’s not about an ‘old guard’ and a ‘new guard’: it’s about different political perspectives.

What would the point of feminism be if it doesn’t address the oppression of women?

It’s like arguing that socialism shouldn’t be anti-capitalist, or that anti-racists shouldn’t focus on racial discrimination.

Gender discrimination and ‘women’ as a group are different. Gender discrimination happens for particular women and men in particular situations.

I don’t find ‘women’ as a group to campaign for very helpful anymore.

I am new to this way of thinking I don’t have a big book to explain it.

But I am going with it. It’s worth a lot more thought and discussion beyond comments sections on blogs. Though I value these spaces and LIbcon.

And she described herself as middle class in her post.

Her point was that it afford her privilege in her life denied to others. She accepted it. Your response was to attack that as middle-class whining that wasn’t important enough.

“What would the point of feminism be if it doesn’t address the oppression of women?”

There’s the problem right there, Sarah. Feminism assumes oppression, and how dare it assume that? I am a feminist, but I do not assume my sisters are oppressed. That’s a moral judgement and I am simply not in a position to make it.

What about a mature and useful feminism, based in the facts of our existing structures – campaigning for free childcare, for example, and/or for maternity leave on full pay for two years so that women in this society aren’t punished economically for carrying our their biological function?

We’re not always talking oppression when we talk about issues affecting women. We’re often talking economics. A lot of women want an education, economic independence, and a good job, but they are excluded from the real benefits by a structure that doesn’t cater for their childbearing role. The point of feminism becomes very clear when you place it in a genuine context like that. It’s when you make sweeping statements to do with the uninterrupted oppression of women that you lose real people.

So Sunny – are you arguing that the whingeing of the middle class has a place in feminism? You feel that ‘victim feminism’ is worthy of defence – or, perhaps more to the point, that the feminists amongst us who do not care for victim/confessional feminism aren’t worthy?

I have every right to comment on the way my gender portrays itself, and is portrayed. Describing and defining feminist ain’t about toeing a line, thanks very much. It’s about women discussing the female state. We’re all at very different points at the moment, and it’s right that the writing reflects that. I’ll be buggered if I’m going to stop.

Just wanted to say that I thought Kate’s attack on J – revolving around the idea that J somehow painted women as necessary victims – was indeed off, because J seemed quite obviously to be making the very good point that even though women have experienced enormous progress in the West over the past 50 years, it doesn’t follow that nothing remains to be done, or that what’s left is of small consequence and shouldn’t be fussed over.

The accusation that J promoted some version of feminist victim mentality and man-blaming looked to me pretty unsubstantiated, and this reply (insofar as it makes this point) is a good one.

Just my two cents…

Thank you, Paul. You’re wrong, but thank you for your contribution.

Kate, women are oppressed by men. Patriarchy is a global system which harms women and keeps men in power over us. It’s not an assumption, it’s an observation.

“I don’t find ‘women’ as a group to campaign for very helpful anymore.

I am new to this way of thinking I don’t have a big book to explain it.”

It’s called postmodernism, the logical conclusion of liberalism, and it’s worthless.

Whether you want to pretend there is no such thing as women as a group, women will still be being raped by men, discriminated against by men, used in prostitution by men, paid less than men, do most of the world’s work yet own only a tiny fraction of the world’s wealth…. I hope I don’t need to go on. I guess erasing the category of women is one way to claim the problem doesn’t exist.

Kate – what would or would not constitute ‘whingeing’ by a working class woman?

“I do not assume my sisters are oppressed. That’s a moral judgement and I am simply not in a position to make it.”

Also it’s probably pretty pointless explaining it to you, but maybe it will be useful to someone else, but it’s not a moral judgement it’s a political judgement.

or, perhaps more to the point, that the feminists amongst us who do not care for victim/confessional feminism aren’t worthy?

The first problem is that you see this as a zero-sum game. I don’t slag off direct action groups like Plane Stupid on the basis that they end up taking the shine off academic research. I believe the space is there for both. And ideally I’d like to publish a blog that creates space for a range of opinion without having to be told what kind of feminism is whinging and what isn’t.

I have every right to comment on the way my gender portrays itself, and is portrayed.

The second problem is that of representation. You have a perfect right to say you don’t like how certain feminists say things and offer your own interpretation. What you don’t have the right to do is dictate what kind of feminism is right and what is wrong and what shouldn’t be heard etc. Your attack by calling it “middle class whinging” was more an attempt to shut down debate rather than open it up.

sarah

It’s called postmodernism, the logical conclusion of liberalism, and it’s worthless.

Whether you want to pretend there is no such thing as women as a group, women will still be being raped by men, discriminated against by men, used in prostitution by men, paid less than men, do most of the world’s work yet own only a tiny fraction of the world’s wealth…. I hope I don’t need to go on. I guess erasing the category of women is one way to claim the problem doesn’t exist.

Yes. Spot on.

Sarah – I take your points, but you’re conflating issues that shouldn’t be conflated.

You say:

“Kate, women are oppressed by men. Patriarchy is a global system which harms women and keeps men in power over us. It’s not an assumption, it’s an observation.”

An observation isn’t a fact, though. It is an observation, and it doesn’t apply to all. You are absolutely right to say that some women have dreadful experiences and that there are structures in place which permit that. From rape conviction statistics to pay equality – there is a massive amount of work to be done. I know that. I’ve done a lot of work on that.

I am saying something quite specific, though – that there are women who are no longer oppressed to the degree that the 70s wave described, and who are thus in a position to do something more constructive than list perceived ills. Blanket statements like ‘all women are oppressed’ are not appropriate statements for women in such a position to make. I think feminists – and I say again that I am one – who have been fortunate enough to get an education, and who can support themselves financially, and control their fertility need to start developing a vision in which women are permitted to play powerful roles, and put women’s issues (I’m thinking pay, maternity support and increased access to legal abortion, etc) firmly on the agenda.

Women who have enjoyed the benefits of second wave feminism are no longer entirely in a position to play the oppression card. We’re not oppressed in the way that our sisters were oppressed 50 years ago when they couldn’t get a mortgage without a husband, or expect to do well at work and earn good money and liberate themselves financially. We need to acknowledge that some of us have been lucky enough to get to the next step if we want credibility.

You think because there are varying degrees of oppression, that it’s not possible to say that all women are oppressed? That’s illogical. There’s not one woman on this planet who has escaped the strictures of the patriarchy. Even the richest, whitest women are can still be on the recieving end of rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse and being forced into stereotyped sex roles.

That’s what Jennifer was saying and what seemed to spark your outrage.

As for credibility. Credibility with whom? With men? I’d say fuck that noise. Men need to start working for credibility with us, because frankly they’ve been pathetic in the fight for women’s equality and freedom and have stood in our way much more than they have ever tried to support us.

We need to acknowledge that some of us have been lucky enough to get to the next step if we want credibility.

From who? Whose approval are you seeking?

Not all people of colour suffer from the same degrees of oppression, does that mean that white supremacy doesn’t exist? Not all working class people are economically disadvantaged equally: some are better off than others, better off than fifty years ago, better off than many workers in the developing world, does that mean that we can’t fight capitalism or say that capitalism is oppressive?

There’s not one woman on this planet who has escaped the strictures of the patriarchy. Even the richest, whitest women are can still be on the recieving end of rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse and being forced into stereotyped sex roles.

To be accurate, there’s not one woman or man who has escaped this.

@Sunny – Disgree. You say you want to post blogs that create debate – except, I gather, debate from old hags like me who argue that middle class moaning is a waste of time and ill-directed. You’re saying you want debate – but only if it follows the right themes, which I presume mine does not.

You say:

“You have a perfect right to say you don’t like how certain feminists say things and offer your own interpretation. What you don’t have the right to do is dictate what kind of feminism is right and what is wrong and what shouldn’t be heard etc.”

That’s exactly what you’re doing, though, and that’s wrong. You’re saying to me that I’m not allowed to describe a certain kind of feminism as ‘victim feminism.’ You’re missing a trick, my friend, which is not like you. This debate has been gaining momentum on twitter for a while. It’s current. Women are arguing bitterly about definitions of feminism in the millennium. It seems unlike you to not want to allow that debate to continue here.

If it’s the tone of the thing that upsets you – well, I would have thought that you knew that women were well able to handle tough talk. We have to be able to handle it – we need to to survive. When we master it, though, we’re reluctant to give it up to take up the mantle of victim.

You keep correcting me earwigca. I’ll stick to my own words thanks.

Men aren’t oppressed by the patriarchy, it benefits them. It gives every one of them power over half the human race.

if Apple brought out that app, I’d be interested.

sarah – that’s bollocks! I was talking to a friend about online feminism last night and I came to the conclusion that every feminist should have a son – only then could they see the full effects of sexism. They could see how the demands of the strict gender binary we are forced to live under co-opt both boys and girls.

It’s not a gender binary, it’s a sex hierarchy – men over women.

And if you think what I said bollocks, tell me how much sense you think these two sentences make:

“There’s not one man on this planet who has escaped the strictures of the patriarchy. Even the richest, whitest men can still be on the recieving end of rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse and being forced into stereotyped sex roles.”

Women are oppressed in male supremacy. Men benefit from it, which is the reason why they fight to keep it and keep oppressing women.

sarah – both sentences make sense. And there is a gender binary – we live it every day, and it is strange that you do not recognise this.

Kate:
You’re saying you want debate – but only if it follows the right themes, which I presume mine does not.

No, I’m happy to reflect feminism from other perspective. What I’m attacking is the tendency to dismiss others as “whining”, without recognising that much of feminism is personal and therefore rejecting people’s experiences isn’t really helpful.

You’re trying to play the victim card here. I’ve not said I favour one kind of feminism over the other. What I deplore are personal attacks and attempts to say that what others are saying is just actually whining as opposed to just staking your own claim on what direction should take.,

Women are arguing bitterly about definitions of feminism in the millennium. It seems unlike you to not want to allow that debate to continue here.

I’m happy to for anyone to write articles and say they want feminism to go in this direction than that direction. In the same way, I’ve happily published articles challenging popular narratives on race etc. I just think you did it incredibly badly and personally.

well, I would have thought that you knew that women were well able to handle tough talk.

I don’t think Jennifer is running away and cowing from the debate. I just don’t think you’re willing to accept that your response to her wasn’t very productive.

Also, I find it annoying that it’s perfectly acceptable on the left to keep attacking middle-class people as if they have lots to apologise for. To me that’s as lame as middle-class attacks on working class people as scroungers or lazy. I’m not a fan of class warfare (except when its upper class Tories).

Men aren’t oppressed by the patriarchy, it benefits them.

No I don’t agree with this. It not only assumes all men think the same, but also assume that they aren’t forced into certain kinds of behaviour because of the roles they’re expected to play.

@21 Er, thanks!

@23 Agree. ‘Women’ do not need to stop being considered a group until all these issues are no longer relevant.

@28 Kate:

“[we] need to start developing a vision in which women are permitted to play powerful roles, and put women’s issues (I’m thinking pay, maternity support and increased access to legal abortion, etc) firmly on the agenda”.

Exactly. Who is in a good position to do this right now? Women like me. Which is why I said – acknowledge this, and act for the women who can’t.

At what point do I IN ANY WAY refer to myself as ‘oppressed’? The whole point of the post is that in many respects I am extremely free.

@33 – er, is shutting down debate allowing you to write your post and then publishing it?

And yes, I think I can take the ‘tough talk’… I actually laughed and rubbed my hands together in glee when I saw your reply. I would have been extremely disappointed if it had been ignored!

Class warfare is cheap and unproductive in this context. I note your lack of reaction to me pointing out three extremely important middle class feminists…

43. Just Visiting

jennifer

In defending your original piece you wrote:

> If we, the freest women, could just stop being so self obsessed, we could get a lot done, I feel. That’s all.

So I read your piece, to see what you proposed you wanted getting done: and this is all I found:

> If we, the free women, could just stop turning everything inwards, and express ourselves to the people that want to keep us less than completely free, then we could rid ourselves of the final remnants of what made us poor, ignorant, and abused for so long.

Which suggests that you are less interested in the problems women face that are not ‘internal’ – ie women under the strictures of different religious codes – women under different legal codes.

Or maybe I’m missing it – in which case could you unpack you paragraph line by line?

44. Just Visiting

Sarah 34

Others have disagreed with your view that:
> Men aren’t oppressed by the patriarchy, it benefits them. It gives every one of them power over half the human race.

This academic source all suggests that your statement is wrong, _The impact of inequality: how to make sick societies healthier__ By Richard G. Wilkinson.

How do you counter:

“Although more unequal societies are more male dominated and the position of women deteriorates relative to men, mens’ death rates are even more adversely affected by inequality than womens….social relations between men are even more damaged than social relations between women.”

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=kxWSsoA5Q_4C&dq=%22richard+wilkinson%22+inequality&pg=PP1&ots=xem4wcQbpL&sig=7jDm6UAG-GfUeBCX8BxPqYmmQRc&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA215,M1

45. Just Visiting

*also suggests* not *all suggests*

46. Shatterface

‘As for me being middle class, Mary Wollstonecraft, Germaine Greer, and Simone de Beauvoir were all born bourgeois.’

Being born middle-class (lets leave the word bourgeois for the historians) doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t identify with the oppressed but Greer has excused female genital mutilation and is notoriously transphobic; de Beuvoir drew on Freud’s misogynistic – and barking – psychoanalysis in her work and pimped female students for her husband.

Your best example died over 200 years ago.

@46

Greer has excused female genital mutilation

[citation needed]

There’s loads of middle-class feminists. Naomi Wolf, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Suzanne Moore, Eve Ensler et bloody cetera. I don’t see why class should be an issue tbh.

Oh and @46 I know what you’re going to “cite” for that Greer ref, I just think you’re wrong.

“What I’m attacking is the tendency to dismiss others as “whining”, without recognising that much of feminism is personal and therefore rejecting people’s experiences isn’t really helpful. You’re trying to play the victim card here.”

LOL – Sunny, it’s not for you to say what feminism is. It’s for us to say. You’re a staunch supporter, and you’re to be applauded for that, but you’re not in a position to tell women what the definitions of their all-important movement are. You’re certainly not in a position to tell me what feminism is not.

As for writing whining and the middle class off – indeed, I am entitled. This awful confessional stuff is setting the tone for our movement at the moment. I will indeed complain about it if I feel the need.

I’m a member of the middle class, as you like to remind me, and perfectly entitled to comment on it. And I’ve said something quite specific here, which is that women who’ve had an education, are in a position to support themselves, and can control their fertility need to start thinking and writing outside their own experiences if they are to be credible.

Let’s think of it this way – I’m a member of the middle class. I was born to a reasonably well-off family. My family educated me and gave me all sorts of opportunities. I’ve been able to choose jobs, choose where to live, choose how to spend my time. If I stood up in front of people who didn’t have those things and said ‘I’ve got all of this, but I’m still oppressed,’ they’d rightly dismiss me. The movement needs to be grounded in reality.

You say:

“Also, I find it annoying that it’s perfectly acceptable on the left to keep attacking middle-class people as if they have lots to apologise for.”

Well – sometimes we do have a lot to apologise for. Whining when we should be grateful and focusing on fripperies when there is real work to be done are examples. Are you saying the middle class is beyond criticism?

And finally:

‘I just think you did it incredibly badly and personally.’

That’s a matter of taste, I think. I accept that an old girl like me isn’t to everyone’s taste. I have no choice but to accept that. And anyway – doesn’t your original thesis allow for feminism as a personal response? You said in line that I quote above that feminism much of feminism is personal. I have a personal response to what I perceive as whining and ‘victim feminism.’ I will make that point if I want to, no matter the male taste in female expression.

Sarah you quoted me and then replied to Kate.

I get accused of being ‘postmodern’ as a big insult these days. I live in postmodernity, and a lot of that society I hate. But I value the intellectual and political work of post-structuralist writers, yes. There is a point at which using centuries old dogma to address current societal problems is not going to work on its own.

what kate did say was:
‘It’s when you make sweeping statements to do with the uninterrupted oppression of women that you lose real people.’

and I agree with her on that 100%!

“sarah – both sentences make sense. And there is a gender binary – we live it every day, and it is strange that you do not recognise this.”

Are you serious earwicga? You think that the richest, whitest men are at risk of rape and domestic violence. You do understand that they are the rapists and the perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual abuse and the beneficiaries of sexual stereotyping that places them above women. I already said that you’ve misdescribed the sex hierarchy as a gender binary. It’s a shame you don’t see the hierarchy, because it’s what feminism is fighting.

I responded to you and then I responded to Kate Quiet Riot Girl. Two in one post. Postmodernism is an anti-feminist movement. Of course its the easiest thing in the world to erase men’s oppression of women by pretending women don’t exist. The thing is, we do, and men will still be oppressing us, even if you erase our category. I tell you one thing – no-one ever talks about how they don’t subscribe to the category “men”. Men aren’t even under threat in the abstract – only women.

Sunny, not interested in whether you agree with me or not. It’s a bit like a white person claiming they don’t benefit from white supremacy.

Hi Sarah
People do say they don’t subscribe to the category ‘men’. People like Mark Simpson have been pulling apart ‘men’ and ‘masculinity’ for years. http://www.marksimpson.com
So has Judith Butler and many others. People who identify as gender non-binary and gender queer also challenge all gender categories by how they live their lives.
I have been writing on this subject too and will put up a blogpost about it soon.

Thanks Libcon for moderating this discussion; it has provided some food for thought.
Back to ‘RL’ for me now. Best wishes to all. QRG/Elly

Freud may have been misogynistic but he was also one of the most important thinkers of his time so de Beauvoir’s intellectualism would have been in question by people like you if she had ignored him Shatterface. Let me give you an example of what Freud allows us to think-

I think we do a good dance in pretending women have a lot more freedom and are less oppressed than we think they are. I think both Jennifer and Kate do that but what people don’t take into account is that the victimhood is not only instituted by men but the psychoanalytic make up of women themselves. You can’t feel sorry for people who are victims of their unwillingness to unpack themselves. This isn’t a practical argument, it’s certainly not about rape but it is to an extent about pay, white weddings, names. I think it contributes to a lack of women in board rooms and it’s not a discussion that takes place in public.

I’m not going to win any friends here but I get angry with other women and to pretend otherwise would be dishonest. Their conformity makes it more difficult for the next generation to be equal, it holds no understanding of history and the small steps that lead to a freer world, women are unwilling to take tiny steps that make huge statements because they want to be like their mothers and their peer group. That’s hardly limited to women though- I get angry with many people because of their failure to resist- it’s hardly female in its make up. The thing about all of this is you can’t have a discussion with someone about this stuff- if a woman changes her surname when she marries she isn’t going to understand why that action contributes to the broader picture because if she did she wouldn’t have done it. Incremental change is perceived as unnecessary.

(Shatterface) and Mr S Pill

There’s loads of middle-class feminists. Naomi Wolf, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Suzanne Moore, Eve Ensler et bloody cetera. I don’t see why class should be an issue tbh.

I think it is, but I’d also add “academic” to the mix. I think there’s academic feminism, as espoused and pontificated endlessly over by middle class university educated feminists, and then there’s lived feminism, you know, how some of us actually have to actually negotiate our lives as women in the real world.

Take a look at how this discussion’s developing for instance – we seem to have now moved on to debating post-structuralism and post-modernism and all that wank. All very interesting I’m sure (yawn), but completely meaningless and irrelevant to the vast majority of women facing immediate issues like low pay, domestic abuse, forced marriage, unwanted pregnancy and so on.

Sunny @40

I find it annoying that it’s perfectly acceptable on the left to keep attacking middle-class people as if they have lots to apologise for.

Do you not also find it annoying for feminists to attack men as if they have lots to apologise for? According to the original poster and her cohorts, men are oppressors, rapists and women beaters. In fact, most men are none of these things.

Jennifer cited one issue as “women who have to be drunk to have sex, because they feel they are doing something dirty with their bodies”.

Whilst I have sympathy for any woman who feels that way, I have to tell you that I feel no responsibility whatever for her problem. Presumably, Sunny, you make the argument that our patriarchal society is responsible for female sexual disconnection and that all men have, therefore, to accept their share of the blame.

Well I suppose if you enjoy guilt that’s fair enough. But I don’t.

And there is always the option for women who don’t want to do dirty things with their bodies not to participate in sexual activity at all. Indeed, as has been pointed out on other threads here, using alcohol to free sexual inhibitions can be seen as dangerous and irresponsible as the other party cannot be certain there is real consent to the activities.

56. Luis Enrique

where are the women who are not actually negotiating their lives as women in the real world?

Hehe, I knew I should have explained that better.

I don’t mean that there are women who aren’t having to negotiate their lives as women, what I meant was, some have the luxury of being able to study gender discrimination almost from a distance, because their privilege etc means that they don’t or haven’t directly experienced any themselves.

58. Luis Enrique

Cath,

yes, that makes sense. I realised as soon as I’d hit “submit” that comment was facetious.

Cath wrote:
I don’t mean that there are women who aren’t having to negotiate their lives as women, what I meant was, some have the luxury of being able to study gender discrimination almost from a distance, because their privilege etc means that they don’t or haven’t directly experienced any themselves.

But some of those privileged academic women are among those arguing that the term ‘women’ is too all-encompassing precisely because of these massive differences in women’s experience along the lines of class/privilege/ethnicity etc. Whatever your views on theorists, there are some who actually support prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable and oppressed in society: men, women and non-binary identifying people.

@53 Kitty:

if a woman changes her surname when she marries she isn’t going to understand why that action contributes to the broader picture because if she did she wouldn’t have done it.

Changes her name from what, though? Her maiden name? Which was inherited via her (male, presumably) father? And so on and so on…

If surnames are important – and I’m not so sure that they are – then they are all patriarchal by default.

@54 Cath Elliot:

I think there’s academic feminism, as espoused and pontificated endlessly over by middle class university educated feminists, and then there’s lived feminism, you know, how some of us actually have to actually negotiate our lives as women in the real world.

I see your point to some extent, but I’d assume that “academic” feminists have also had to negotiate their lives in the real world. Which is why I think the “middle class” issue is a bit of a red herring with this debate – surely the point of Jennifer’s original article was that despite having advantage and privilage afforded to higher-status people in a capitalist society she still doesn’t feel “free” for all the reasons she listed.

What about a mature and useful feminism, based in the facts of our existing structures – campaigning for free childcare, for example, and/or for maternity leave on full pay for two years so that women in this society aren’t punished economically for carrying our their biological function?

You are aware that this is the “New Feminism” espoused by Eleanor Rathbone & her ilk, right? Used to be pretty big.

“People do say they don’t subscribe to the category ‘men’.”

Who? Name one. And even if there is one, it isn’t half as fashionable as pretending that there is no such thing as a women which is what the anti-feminist postmodernists claim in order to undermine women’s politics.

I mean what a stupid argument – that because women have different experiences there is no such thing as a woman? Fish have different experiences, does that mean there is no such thing as fish?

“People like Mark Simpson have been pulling apart ‘men’ and ‘masculinity’ for years. http://www.marksimpson.com

You’re linking to a bloke who made his name coining the term “metrosexual”. You’re not seriuosly arguing that’s a serious investigation into masculinity and men are you?

“So has Judith Butler and many others.

Not aware of Butler’s work on men, perhaps you could cite it. I’m only aware of her attempt to erase the category woman, because her arguments weren’t good enough to contradict feminist arguments, so she went for a scorched earthy policy instead. I mean hell if you can’t argue people fighting for women rights and the end to our oppression, just pretend women don’t exist. The oppression and the need for rights immediately disappears.

“People who identify as gender non-binary and gender queer also challenge all gender categories by how they live their lives.”

Once again, it’s a sex hierarchy (men over women) not a gender binary. Gender queer dont’ challenge gender categories they reinforce them by pretending they are real.

Once again, it’s a sex hierarchy (men over women) not a gender binary. Gender queer dont’ challenge gender categories they reinforce them by pretending they are real.

…What? The entire basis of queer theory is challenging gender categories!

65. Just Visiting

here’s an analogy of why I didn’t like Jennifer’s piece.

It’s like we’re all sitting in a nice big house at the end of a long cul-de-sac: eating good nosh and drinking good wine, and being free to say whatever we want and post it to the world.
We sit round the table complaining how sad it is that we are not really free. Not really, really free.

And just outside the window in view are women from across the road being prevented by their families from going to school; further down the road in other cultures, women being honour-killed. And across the valley in another country: women being forced into marriage, women having acid throw in their faces, being stoned for being adulterers, and even women organising the rape of other women so that said women can then be recruited as suicide bombers as the only honurable way out for them.


If Jennifer wanted to ‘get things done’ – shouldn’t feminists focus 90% of their efforts on where 90% of the real suffering is?

66. Just Visiting

And we’ve been talking about women getting angry on this thread.

This makes me angry:
————————————————————————————————————–
Justice was done last Wednesday when the Muhammad and Waqas Parvez, the father and brother of Aqsa Parvez, received life sentences for strangling her to death in their home in Mississauga, Ontario, on December 10, 2007, when she was sixteen years old. But denial as to how a father and brother could have been moved to murder what should have been a beloved daughter and sister remains all-pervasive. If Canada, the United States and Europe are not going to be the sites of many more Islamic honor killings, that has to change.

Muhammad and Waqas Parvez murdered Aqsa because she would not conform to Islamic behavior codes for women.

Do you think middle class women in this country aren’t ever raped, beaten or even killed by men JustVisiting? Or is that not real suffering?

People need to wake up to the fact that male supremacy is everywhere. Everywhere men exert their dominance over women. Often through violence. Is there one woman on the planet who has got through her life without ever experiencing any sexual abuse, harassment or assault from men? I’d be suprised if there are many.

I am, for once in my life, lost for words. Stay classy, feminism.

I don’t plan on getting over patriarchy pagar. I plan on smashing it.

Quiet Riot, looking at the stories you write on the blog, advising anybody else to stay classy should probably be at the bottom of your list of things to do.

Yeah Quiet Riot Girl, you write about sex. And sex is icky & gross & wrong. Aren’t you aware that women are meant to be virtuous and pure?

Just Visiting – it seems to be you get angry over what Muslim women have to suffer (which is undoubtedly horrific in some circumstances) but say nothing about what western women have to suffer?

Sarah – sure, if you want to see it that way, but I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to your cause if you dismiss the other half of the population as people who think the same.

LOL – Sunny, it’s not for you to say what feminism is. It’s for us to say.

I’m not just having a philosophical discussion here. I’m having a straight editorial discussion here. It is unhelpful if you’re going to start accusing other writers of fucking whining everytime you don’t like what they say. I dated and loved a woman who was anorexic for over a year. If she wrote about her experience and you dismissed it as ‘middle class whining’ – I don’t really care if you think you’ve got the rights to do that because you’re a woman – it is disrespectful to her experience and her writing that you dismiss is to casually. That is really about basic human dignity and the willingness to empathise with others.

I will indeed complain about it if I feel the need.

And you think anyone will listen to you if you complain like this? Do you think you’ve had a positive feedback? Do you think you’ve changed minds? Because I don’t see it.

The movement needs to be grounded in reality.

But it seems that unless it’s about the kind of reality you want to listen to,it’s just whining.

I have a personal response to what I perceive as whining and ‘victim feminism.’ I will make that point if I want to, no matter the male taste in female expression.

Me being male has little to do with it. So please don’t play that card. You try writing something like that for The F Word and I bet you’ll be rejected. Because while the movement is all for recognising and understanding different approaches, it’s never helpful to just dismiss other people’s experiences as “whining”.

“Yeah Quiet Riot Girl, you write about sex. And sex is icky & gross & wrong. Aren’t you aware that women are meant to be virtuous and pure?”

No she writes stories about imagining a man who is using a razor on her genitals is going to mutilate her.

Given that there are millions of womens and girls in this world who actually have had their clitorises cut off and their labias sewn up because men like to have sex with them that way, it’s as obnoxious as hell to be eroticising it. And not very classy.

James: Hope you enjoy reading my blog. I promise you there will be nothing pure and especially not puritanical on it, ever. Women’s pleasure and men’s pleasure should not be in opposition to each other.

QRG – Seems fun so far. :)

sarah – I have to say, that seems like quite an understandable fear to encounter, within that context. Is it wrong that she mentioned thinking that, or that she thought it?

Tell that to the girls who had their clitorises cut off for men’s pleasure Quiet Riot Girl.

Capitulating isn’t an adequate political response you know.

James it’s wrong that she’s writing a wank story about it.

Do you really think the right response to men’s sexual violence towards women or to women’s fear of it is to eroticise it.

Idk whether I really would describe FGM II/III as “men’s sexual violence towards women”, seeing as its performed largely by women upon girls.

Well then you need to wake up to how male power works James. Women in the cultures where it happens are owned by men. Men have decided that if they marry a woman, she has to be mutilated for them – they won’t marry women who haven’t been mutilated. The fact that they get women to carry out their dirty work for them is neither here nor there. It’s a male supremacist society that demands women with mutilated genitals because the men in those cultures find it erotic. They enjoy having sex with women who have been hurt. Men could stop the practice in those cultures in a minute by saying that they wouldn’t marry mutilated women, but they won’t. Like I said, they like it.

Do you really not understand the power dynamic or are you just being disingenuous? My bet would be on the latter.

Now can you answer my question. Do you really think the right response to men’s sexual violence to women and women’s fear of it is to write a wank story about it?

80. Just Visiting

Sunny

> Just Visiting – it seems to be you get angry over what Muslim women have to suffer (which is undoubtedly horrific in some circumstances) but say nothing about what western women have to suffer?

Maybe you’re right, and my anger on LC is rather one sided – but for 2 good reasons:

1) I do believe that western women suffer so much less than elsewhere – the 90/10 rule.

I’m reminded of some vigourous young christians I met at a party on Saturday – like Jennifer they wanted to ‘get something done’, but for them they had decided that they could make a bigger impact to more people by going to Southern Sudan to help in their terrible schools.
On LC not once has any feminist started a thread on the lot of women under Islam in Suda: or Somalia, or afghanistan or Saudi or Egypt or etc

2) LC IMHO has a bias (that this thread maintains) of being too concerned with feminist naval gazing, and ignoring the wider world out there.

Hence I do rather sound like a broken record, trying in my amateur manner to address the LC balance.

==
Incidentally – with Kate volunteering to write it – I wonder if you will really allow a proper feminist debate on LC of the specific issues and concerns of women under Islam.

It would impress me greatly if you can overcome what appears to be your historic keenness to ignore this elephant in the room. :<)

sarah,

You are trying to use the suffering of genuine people as a prop for a shoddy exercise in structuralist modelling, following in the wake of the peculiarly influential soap salesman. There are many instances where things are nowhere near as simple as you present them that you have been forced to disregard, many of which are far from esoteric. For example I would point you towards the episode of Tribe :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHauJKLi6EI

This episode was from Ethiopia, a region (nationstate is perhaps too strong a word) where a whole lot of FGM happens. One of the most dominant figures in the tribe featured is also amongst the most strenuous of the advocates, as well as being female, and herself a victim of FGM. This is not even despite being a victim: it’s likely that suffering under such a context re-inforces the importance of the tradition. The entire “I went through it, it can’t be so bad” tendency that reinforces and perpetuates all manner of evil. If you can avoid thinking you lost something valuable under such agonising circumstances, it’s surely an alluring prospect.

But what we have is a woman vigorously advocating an act that will be performed by women, upon girls. And this is somehow transmuted to do with the fault of men? The reasons cited are superstitions that a clitoris, if left intact, will swell up and kill a woman if giving birth. So we have a mixture of pure ignorance (one of the best ways to genuinely end this trend, in case you care about that instead of merely sounding self-righteous on the internet, is education), and adherence to traditionalism of the variety you find sustaining all manner of nonsense. “Male supremacy” does not seem to come into it.

What you are doing is using suffering as a means towards your end: instead of analysing this stuff as an atrocity in its own right, you are approaching it with an ideological disposition towards stitching it into a far broader set of patterns, connecting it somehow with thoroughly remote cultures which have never performed any form of genital disfigurement at all (such as most of mainland Europe, although sadly not Britain).

Even if this ends up with absolute absurdities like claiming mutilation advocated and performed by women upon girls is “men’s sexual violence to women”, despite this demonstrably not being the case. Never mind what is in front of your lying eyes, my grand structuralist model will inform you what is going on in that situation, and indeed trans-culturally, across the entire world. Ignore reality, let Lacan be your guide.

Stop being such a rampant reductionist, start analying things for what they are rather than what it suits your ideology for them to represent.

Don’t lecture me about male sexual violence against women James. You think because you’ve watched one TV programme your an expert. Pathetic. Once again, women are genitally mutilated in these cultures because *men* like it. Women don’t have power in these cultures, this is male led and male desired. Women are unmarriagable if they haven’t been mutilated. Men refuse to marry women who have not been mutilated. They find the mutilation erotic.

As for ideology, you’re attached to the oldest – male supremacy. You couldn’t even read Quiet Riot Girl’s story without thinking it was sex, even though the whole story was based on the fantasy that this man might cut her up with a razor. (How erotic) But to male supremacists violence against women does equal sex, they find it sexy. They can’t see the difference.

And I’ll ask you once again, because you still seem to be completely unable to answer a direct question. Is the right response to male sexual violence against women and women’s fear of it to write wank stories about it?

I bet you’ll respond with another six inches of nonsense to avoid answering.

Well, Sunny – I presume you are talking to me, although you haven’t bothered using my name. Perhaps you blew a dog whistle?

Let’s get a few things straight. I will absolutely dismiss middle class whining as whining if I feel justified.

Personal experience has absolutely nothing to do with it. You have no idea whatsoever what issues I may have suffered as a women and as a person, and that’s because I never write about them. I don’t write about them, because I know they’re not important in the greater scheme. By Christ, I have not had an easy time, especially in the last few years, but you know diddly about it, because I almost never discuss myself. Journalism and blogging are not about me, and that’s that. A journalist should never refer to herself, or imagine her issues count, or that her experience is relevant or interesting. I don’t try to capitalise on my issues. I don’t try and score a sensationalist, emotional point with them, as you’ve tried to in your comment above. I never look to join the middle class at the confessional, because I know there’s more to it than me.

Your implication seems to be that those of us who don’t bare all, or who feel there ought to be more to the human condition that baring all, ought somehow to be excluded from dialogue – and feminist dialogue. You’re suggesting that there is a heartlessness to me which excludes me from claims to femininity.

If your objection to my original post is personal and based in your own experiences, as it seems to be, then say so and say so at the start. Be man enough to say so. Don’t try and tell me that you’re making an editorial call. I’ve read vicious things on this site, both in postings and in comments – things that have been at least as vicious as you’ve accused me of being here – particularly on issues like Israel, etc.

If this has touched a nerve with you, because of your personal experience – then you treat me like the equal I am and say so. You say to me Kate – I had an experience which means that I find issues like eating disorders upsetting. You say to me Kate – the dismissal of illnesses like anorexia agonises me and I don’t react as I normally do when the topic is raised. It is beneath you to try and pull rank, and it’s not like you at all.

Let’s just recap on Jennifer’s article. She began by listing her various good fortunes – and there were plenty of them. Then, she went on to say But, none of that really matters. I can’t walk the streets at night. I care too much about the way that I look. I should have it all, but I haven’t. It’s not right. It’s not how it should be.

That’s whining. That’s complaining. That’s navel-gazing. I can’t tell you how many people I know who’d die for Jennifer’s advantages. I can’t tell you how furious I am made every week by the column inches set aside for middle class female confessionals. I’m not the only one – various people on twitter described Jennifer’s piece as ‘whining’ and ‘naff’ – see the retweets for yourself. I described the piece as ‘whining’. I describe the piece again as ‘whining.’ Other people on this, and the other, threads on the topic, have agreed. Some haven’t – some have disagreed passionately. A good discussion about the definition of feminism has been had.

I do indeed think I’ve had a reasonable response here and on twitter – a mixture of good and bad. In the normal run of things, you as editor – seeing as you’re speaking to me as such – would just describe this as all part of the debate. We’ve had furious rows on LC about the appropriateness and standard of some pieces, and you have generally taken the line that it’s all about debate, and if something is below par, it’ll be sorted out below the line. Which it has inevitably been. Comments on unpopular pieces have been very much to the point, and left no doubt about the general feeling in anyone’s mind.

If you look in this thread, you’ll see that Jennifer herself said that she was pleased with the turn things had taken – she said she’d read my piece with ‘glee’ and couldn’t wait to get stuck in. She tweeted to you that the controversy meant that she ‘must have arrived!’ It’s certainly been interesting, and we all seem to have been up for it. You’re the only one who has really responded violently.
Personal upset is something I indeed understand, as I believe most people do. To accuse me of lacking human empathy, Sunny, is to not have read anything I’ve written on this site in the last three years, or however long it’s been. Something motivates you in your very strong views of feminism and women – and it isn’t my anger, or my views.

Well thank you for that string of assertions, sarah. Now give me some evidence. Otherwise I’m convinced you’ve not even watched a single programme, but have just let your Lacanic structural model do your legwork for you. Especially given how you persist in claiming that acts performed by women are acts performed by men.

As for your preposterous allegation regarding my own ideological inclinations (the only part of your comment where you attempt to provide evidence):

“You couldn’t even read Quiet Riot Girl’s story without thinking it was sex, even though the whole story was based on the fantasy that this man might cut her up with a razor. (How erotic) But to male supremacists violence against women does equal sex, they find it sexy. They can’t see the difference.”

While earlier you said (and here’s what I was responding to):

“Quiet Riot, looking at the stories you write on the blog, advising anybody else to stay classy should probably be at the bottom of your list of things to do.”

Ergo, thanks to that little singular-plural switcheroo, I am a male supremacist! Horrors.

@ sarah

“Are you serious earwicga? You think that the richest, whitest men are at risk of rape and domestic violence. You do understand that they are the rapists and the perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual abuse and the beneficiaries of sexual stereotyping that places them above women.”

Well, it’s not impossible that men can get raped, even if they are rich and “the whitest”. It does happen, and whether “they” are rapists is irrelevant to that (my guess is that a relatively small proportion of those men, and men generally, are rapists by any reasonable definition). So clearly they are at risk, even if the risk is small, or smaller than that of women. Why do you think they are immune?

While I do agree with you that men on balance do better out of patriarchy than women, it seems fairly obvious that a male who has a tendency towards fey and effeminate behaviour or traits will not really appreciate the benefit of being stereotyped as masculine, or punished from deviating from that norm.

I genuinely think it would be helpful for feminism to take Kate’s advice when she says “The point of feminism becomes very clear when you place it in a genuine context like that. It’s when you make sweeping statements to do with the uninterrupted oppression of women that you lose real people.” When you imply that any male is somehow responsible for rape that they don’t commit, then almost anyone who isn’t a committed feminist will stop listening to you, as they know men who they value and who don’t fit in to the “oppressor” mold. It is just a presentational issue. It is all very well saying you want to smash patriarchy, but if you alienate everyone who isn’t already committed with careless language then the movement will never grow.

I knew you couldn’t answer the question James and you’d just practice avoidance with more blether. For the fourth time:

“Is the right response to male sexual violence against women and women’s fear of it to write wank stories about it?”

No, that is the wrong response.

It is also not what QRG was doing.

88. Just Visiting

Sarah

if you insist on folks answering the questions here… errr..could you answer the one I put to you ??

In 44, where I quoted an academic source that shoots up your claim that 100% of men benefit from male power:

“Although more unequal societies are more male dominated and the position of women deteriorates relative to men, mens’ death rates are even more adversely affected by inequality than womens….social relations between men are even more damaged than social relations between women.”

@ sarah

I have to agree with James on the FGM issue as well – you are just saying “it is men’s fault, they find it erotic, women in these cultures are helpless and have no agency” without offering any evidence at all to back it up. It is plainly the case that in at least some cases women perpetuate FGM and think it is a good thing, and this is a pertinent fact. If you want to deal with it, you have to deal with these people. Saying “it is all men and that’s that” just obscures the problem more than it illuminates the problem. I have no doubt that the practice is patriarchal and probably stems from male power, but there is clearly more to it than that.

@sarah

What follows is not an attempt to justify or defend any sort of mutilation of anyone. Just thought I’d say that loud and clear now.

1) Do you realise that (according to the WHO), 30% of men in the world are also victims of genital mutilation? Just sayin’, because it’s something that I rarely hear mentioned as an issue in the same way that FGM (rightly) is…

2) James has given a specific example of a culture when mutilation of female genitals happens for what appears to be un-sexist reasons. Needless to say that this culture is highly different to our own, and I am willing to bet (haven’t seen the programme) that they have numerous other rituals etc which are bizarre or offensive to us. I’d also bet that parts of our culture would be similarly repulsive to them.

The point is that our culture is clearly very different to the culture of the tribe in that programme. It seems to me that it is a bad idea to judge the behaviour of people in one culture by the standards of the other. Just because something happens a certain way in one place, doesn’t mean it’ll happen the same way in another. I’d also question what right we have to barge in somewhere and say “no no no you’re doing it all wrong, that’s disgusting”, but that’s a different debate…

I think it’s a flawed analysis to say that women are equally oppressed in every society in the world – that the same things occur in every culture and women are always the victims – because that simply isn’t the case (even if it may be true in a majority of instances). Indeed, there are even some examples of matriarchal cultures; or are you going to argue that Minoan women (for instance) were victims of the patriarchy, that those women were powerful because it turned the men on or whatever? Hmm.

It’s also nice that asking for evidence and pointing out the demonstrably false nature of an accusation is “blether”.

Dickie – Re: 1), as someone who’s seen a lot of this sort of debate, that kind of point needs to be raised carefully. There’s reasonably sound foundation for comparing male circumcision to what health professionals categorise as FGM I (the removal of the clitoral prepuce, as compared to the removal of the penile prepuce), while FGM II and FGM III are entirely more extreme.

Unless you raise this issue very carefully people will instantly accuse you of conflating a sexually damaging procedure with a sexually crippling one. Personally I’m vehemently against male circumcision & all three strains of FGM, and would prefer it were they all abandoned entirely, but comparing them on blog threads almost invariably generates more heat than light.

@ James

Hah, fair point. Of course my intention in mentioning that wasn’t to imply that men on the whole have it as bad/worse than women, because as you point out there are some forms of FGM which are horrible, and pretty incomparable to anything that happens to men.

In fact, I can understand why some people would feel strongly about comparing the two at all, because I get the point that women are more often victimised than men. But it massively annoys me when people try to make out that some men aren’t victimised too, whether it be from this or in other ways. Men and women don’t (on the whole) live in worlds which are completely insulated from one another, so it seems foolish to me to try to pretend that the same sort of issues don’t occasionally affect both.

Your implication seems to be that those of us who don’t bare all, or who feel there ought to be more to the human condition that baring all, ought somehow to be excluded from dialogue – and feminist dialogue.

Not at all. I’m saying that if you dismiss those who DO speak from personal experience as whining, then you’re rejecting a large part of the reason why lefties get involved in politics.

You’re suggesting that there is a heartlessness to me which excludes me from claims to femininity.

Where did I say that?

If your objection to my original post is personal and based in your own experiences, as it seems to be, then say so and say so at the start.

My main objection was laid out from the beginning. You said your attack wasn’t personal. I showed how it was. You said it was about dialogue, I said that it overtly dismissive. I suspect your issue is more with me – that I’m the one who’s commissioning all this ‘look at me, I’m a female victim’ pieces – than with jennifer. Because she has a right to write what she wants. Your objection is more that these voices get too much space. Including on blogs like LC. Ergo, I’m at fault for publishing it. So I would have preferred that accusation made from the start rather than roundabout way it’s being made.

Editorially, I have no problems with people criticising each other. I just find the tone very disconcerting. I thought it was very patronising, and it was highly personal. Your objections didn’t need to be. It’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that the media fetishes a certain kind of feminist discourse and ignores others. But you made it personal and as a result lost your message in a hail of ad hominems that was just a variation of: ‘why are you complaining about your job less when there are people starving in the world you ungrateful git!‘. Hey, we could go around whole day doing that. that argument could be levelled at every pretty much every single article on this blog. We could have class warfare whole day long with middle class people being accused of being whiners and working class people accused of being ‘lazy chavs’. I’m not sure it actually gets us anywhere other than lots of arguments and back-biting and bad blood.

Well in this country, the genitals of male infants/children receive far less protection than those of women. A pin-prick counts as a crime when targetting female genitals, whereas the entire prepuce of male infants/children can legally be removed by those without any formal medical training.

Indeed there was a recent case, reported upon by the BBC, where an untrained man performing these procedures escaped the justice system unscathed despire being responsible for the death of a child for this very reason. That he was performing an act considered required by some interpretations of Islam was enough for him to avoid time in jail for manslaughter.

Which is an outrage, clearly. But things should be considered for what they are before they are compared. As tempting as the question: “What would be said if these were girls being sliced apart by those devoid of formal training?” may prove.

Here is some information about S and M (some people use the term BDSM).
It is a major part of many people’s sexuality and nothing to do with condoning or practising actual violence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BDSM

I am going to write more about the role of ‘fantasy’ in our sex lives and our imaginations, as I am realising a lot of people are unclear about this most basic of aspects of sexuality and the psyche.

Thanks for raising this issue. I didn’t want my mention of my blog to send the thread careering into a heated discussion about extreme pornography, even though that is a subject very dear to my perverted heart.

Best wishes
QRG

Sunny – did you actually read my original post?

You say:

“I suspect your issue is more with me – that I’m the one who’s commissioning all this ‘look at me, I’m a female victim’ pieces… Your objection is more that these voices get too much space. Including on blogs like LC. Ergo, I’m at fault for publishing it. So I would have preferred that accusation made from the start rather than roundabout way it’s being made.”

So – what do you make of this sentence – the one that appears at the very top of my post?:

“Liberal Conspiracy – a site I generally love with a passion – has managed to find yet another educated, well-off woman to write a ‘women are victims and sad fannies’ piece.”

And then I say:

“Is there actually an active campaign here now to find as many women as possible who will paint themselves as victims in 600 words? Am I the only women of the liberal left’s acquaintance who feels this obsession with publishing this type of whinge is sexist in the extreme? Why not just replace half the site with a nice pic of a Stepford wife?”

I don’t think I could have been clearer on my views on the choices made by a male-dominated press and blogosphere. Good lord, man. That point is my opening line.

We come down then to a question of taste and tone, as I said somewhere above. You take issue with a heavy critique of another writer’s view on a political site – a critique that as many people have responded positively to as not.

You argue that the personal must be allowed to flourish, but dismiss me for having a personal response. I can only conclude that you feel that I’ve had the wrong sort of personal response.

Perhaps you also feel there should be different rules for women – that we shouldn’t attack each other politically, or that we should play a little more nicely than the fellas. I’ve certainly read stinging personal pieces by men on this site – I remember Conor Foley hacking into Dave Semple on the legitimacy of the Iraq war with a personal invective that made me wince at the time. Conor’s piece was as biting as it was personal (he referenced Kurdish friends), and, I thought, dismissive in the extreme and way out of order in its tone, but there we were. Men accept viciousness on the political scene and they fight. Women, on the other hand, must be allowed to whine incessantly on personal themes without fear of reproach by women who hate that whining tone. If they are reproached, they’ll be protected by a man – in this case, a man who tells us that his views of female expression are motivated at least in part by a personal experience.

You say that you suspect my issue is with you. I suspect your issue is with me. I bet if I put a post up here or elsewhere yabbering on about the tragedy of ageing in a looks-obsessed society, or about the agonies of life with a fluffy bikini line or some such crap I’d be lauded. Instead, I’ve written an adult piece which assumed – wrongly, clearly – that women are more than capable of taking each other one and fighting it out on a political site. It assumes that us girls aren’t special cases. As I say, Jennifer’s response here and on twitter to me would indicate that she IS more than capable of fighting it out. It’s only you who thinks that she isn’t.
As for my point being lost – you’re dreaming there. People have got the point, and responded to it at length.

You certainly got it.

Quite Riot Girl, you do know that the sadism in BDSM is named after the Marquis de Sade, the serial rapist of poor French women? Is that really something you want to support in aid of your “fantasies”?

James, it’s the right question and you’ve been dodging round it ever since (hence “blether”) because it’s a direct question and you can’t answer it.

Are you a BDSMer too?

Hi Sarah
I do know where the term sadism comes from yes, but I believe that BDSM fantasy and practice are much older than the Marquis. It is a very primeval thing.

As for James, I don’t think he is bound to answer personal questions about his sexuality on a political blog comments thread. But if he wants to share I am all ears!

Kate said:
Perhaps you also feel there should be different rules for women – that we shouldn’t attack each other politically, or that we should play a little more nicely than the fellas.

I think this is a really interesting point and resonates strongly with my experience of contributing to blogs. I think it deserves some serious reflection (not just by women) about choosing topics/writers for blogposts and also the debates that follow on comments threads and how they are moderated. I won’t jump to any conclusions now, but I really appreciate Kate raising the issue. Thanks.

Just Visiting

This is THE FIRST TIME I have written about myself as a woman. Not sure I’ll be repeating the experience.

Previously, I have written about:

The ‘journée sans immigrés’ in France: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/03/10/the-day-without-immigrants/

Celebrating the first female Best Director Oscar winner: http://jaomahony.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/kathryn-bigelow-does-us-proud/

And the war in Gaza:

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/46282,news-comment,news-politics,why-we-need-war-correspondents-gaza-israel

My extreme navel gazing is, I agree, troubling…

Are you a BDSMer too?

Yes let’s have a witch-hunt and out all the disgusting perverts.

“This is THE FIRST TIME I have written about myself as a woman. Not sure I’ll be repeating the experience.”

Why not? Your piece was well-written and expressed a view. It also provoked a very strong response – some in support of your view, and some, like me, rabidly against. You should take a look at some of the shit people have thrown at me over the years – and I mean literally. One particularly charming editor picked up a story I’d written (we typed them out in NZ then), tore it up in front of the whole newsroom and threw it at me screaming ‘THIS IS FUCKING FUCKING FUCKING SHIT!!!. FUCKING FUCKING FUCKING.’ (He was probably right, but still). I was about 22. But that hasn’t done me any harm. I’m still here, and still completely charming.

Maybe we should write a piece together – have a conversation in it or something. You put your view and I’ll put mine. I’m writing a followup piece to this anyway. You’re welcome to join in to describe me as an old cunt. Or whatever. Tweet me if yr keen. Cheers, Kate.

sarah – I’ve answered the question. Now get off your Lacanic, structuralist high horse and enter the discussion.

Perhaps you also feel there should be different rules for women – that we shouldn’t attack each other politically, or that we should play a little more nicely than the fellas.

Bollocks. Now you’re trying to play victim card. Your response was poorly written, very patronising and contradictory (I’m not being personal about this, honest!).

And secondly, I don’t commission pieces. I run with the ones I get that I like. If I got more on the alternative types of feminism, I’d run them too.

Look, I don’t have a fucking budget. I also don’t have all day long to try and commission a range so I’m balanced. Mostly, I pick from what the regular bloggers have written or what I get sent (though I reject half for being badly written or not being relevant).

Really, I’m not buying your accusation. And it rather sounds like the Libdems coming here and complaining they don’t get a fair hearing and everything is dominated by socialists.
FFS how am I supposed to encourage more women to write if the response they get to their feminism is someone accusing them of whining excessively?

I’ve certainly read stinging personal pieces by men on this site – I remember Conor Foley hacking into Dave Semple on the legitimacy of the Iraq war with a personal invective that made me wince at the time

It didn’t dismiss him as patronising neither was it an ad hominem attack. It attacked his argument, though strongly. And again, I didn’t have control over it going up – he published it directly.

I’m not going to bother contributing to this discussion any more. It’s just infuriating me even more.

Hi Sunny
I am quite new to this forum. But I think in general, political blogs and the people who contribute to them and the comments threads, are very gendered. I don’t know your blog well enough to make a judgement on it, but I think we should all think about how men, women and gender non-conforming people are represented on political blogs online. Just because it’s not mainstream media and is ‘left/liberal’ doesn’t mean there won’t be gender cultures emerging that exclude some voices. Even with this thread I have had comments in private and on twitter about it, by women who decided for whatever reason not to comment here.

As you know I recently submitted an article via pickled politics that covers a topical gender issue that is a hot topic amongst feminists at the moment. If it is good enough maybe you could post it here instead?

I appreciate you trying to give feminism some ‘airplay’ on Libcon. It is up to feminists as well to encourage other feminists to join in the discussions.

Take care
QRG/Elly/descendant of Marquis de Sade

If anyone wants to read up a bit about kink/BDSM this post by @remittancegirl is brilliant. It was in part inspired by my conversation with her after I came off here feeling my sexuality had been let’s say, not treated with the greatest of respect.

http://remittancegirl.com/discussions/the-uncomfortable-truth-about-kink/

It even mentions feminism!

Take care everyone.

“sarah – I’ve answered the question. Now get off your Lacanic, structuralist high horse and enter the discussion.”

You didn’t answer the question, you side-stepped it because it’s obviously not possible for you to be direct.

I’m not on a Lacanic structualist high horse, I’m driving a radical feminist tank. Jacques Lacan and radical feminism having nothing to do with one another apart from the fact that radical feminists stand in opposition to a lot of his postmodern disciples. You need to work a bit harder on your political analysis.

“I came off here feeling my sexuality had been let’s say, not treated with the greatest of respect.”

Because you were obviously displaying a great deal of respect to people’s politics with your “stay classy, feminism” aren’t you QRG. Why should “kink” be respected anyway? Eroticised male violence to women is harmful to women.

@108

James did answer your question, @87. He also pointed out that your question was basically wrong with regards to QRG and her stories.
Now let’s all get off our high horses and tanks and calm the bejesus down. *sips tea, has biscuit*

You didn’t answer the question, you side-stepped it because it’s obviously not possible for you to be direct.

I very much answered the question. I said “no”.

I’m not on a Lacanic structualist high horse, I’m driving a radical feminist tank. Jacques Lacan and radical feminism having nothing to do with one another apart from the fact that radical feminists stand in opposition to a lot of his postmodern disciples. You need to work a bit harder on your political analysis.

If radical feminism isn’t about banging on about the patriarchy ad nauseum then what exactly is it about?

I don’t know what else to add. I checked back and it wasn’t me that first brought my sexuality into this debate. I didn’t think it was relevant but obviously it is.

I can’t respect a feminism that doesn’t respect minority groups. And kinky people (the ones who are open about it anyway: I’d suggest that we are all a little kinky in some way or another) are a minority. When I get challenged on my ‘privilege’ I go away and talk to people and read. I educate myself. But then I’m a bit weird.

Radical feminism talks about male supremacy and analyses its structures. That analysis has nothing to do with Jacques Lacan and I don’t understand why you keep trying to make that claim. Please explain your reasoning.

I can’t respect people who support male sexual sadism towards women. Guess it takes all sorts, QRG.

Just to be clear about Lacan (if that’s possible), I’m not aware that he ever undertook any analysis of illegitimate male power over women and men’s use of violence in particular sexual violence, to maintain that power and their systems of power. As far as I know for Lacan, everything existed in signs, not reality, but that is a laywoman’s reading. Then again maybe James will point us to some of Lacan’s radical feminist analysis and his plans to defeat male supremacy. Should be interesting.

You seem to be using “Lacanian structuralism” as a form of intellectual posturing James. Is it something you learned about in a university seminar?

Sarah I’d suggest the difference between my argument and yours is that I am criticising ‘feminism’ and you are judging me and my sexuality. Luckily both are big and strong and can take it. But some people are less assertive than me and I stand up for everyone who feels judged and discriminated against on the grounds of their sexual preferences.

Quiet Riot Girl – your posts (that you widely publicise) don’t just criticise feminism, they are offensive to the max. Especially your posts about rape. You think you are ‘big and strong enough’ but actually you are misinformed and vile.

QuietRiotGirl

Even with this thread I have had comments in private and on twitter about it, by women who decided for whatever reason not to comment here.

90% of readers don’t comment. Your point is?

I appreciate you trying to give feminism some ‘airplay’ on Libcon. It is up to feminists as well to encourage other feminists to join in the discussions.

Which posts exactly on the front page of LibCon have nothing to do with feminism? Do you think feminism is only involved when it specifically says feminism within the OP?

“Sarah I’d suggest the difference between my argument and yours is that I am criticising ‘feminism’ ”

Oh, come off it. You think because you say “stay classy feminism” instead of “stay classy feminists” that you’re not being insulting to people?

Also I’m not “judging” you, I object to BDSM because its harmful to women. It’s not a moral judgement (that one again) it’s a political one. You writing erotic stories about the fear of male violence (sexual mutilation) towards women is harmful to women. Stop pretending this is about your hurt feelings. I’m worried about women’s hurt bodies and the culture that encourages that harm.

Here’s a link to a site that supports feminists who practice BDSM, just in case anyone reads this who would value that support, or who would like to learn more:

http://sm-feminist.blogspot.com/

also if anyone has any queries I am available on email quietriotgirltwitter@gmail.com

I don’t want to take up any more of the moderators’ time with this discussion. I’d be happy to do a separate post about feminism and kink if there was any interest.

Best wishes

QRG

120. Finisterre

Re the comments about sexual hierarchy vs gender binary.

It’s not an either/or situation. There is a gender binary that is oppressive to both men and women, in that it forces them into strictly defined roles and those who do not conform are punished. So men do suffer as a result.

However, a sexual hierarchy also exists and within in, men are dominant and women are oppressed. Sure, there are greater and lesser degrees of oppression, but it is oppression nonetheless, and it is women that bear the brunt of it.

So yeah, Patriarchy Hurts Men Too. It’s just a LOT worse for women.

121. Just Visiting

Jenifer 101

Your 3 examples kind of make my (Kates) point – none are focused on some issue of geunine women’s suffering somewhere.

But actually, my criticism was more that on LC, there has been a notable dearth of feminists raising issues of women’s suffering outside of the West.

But please do write here again.

Maybe make a name for yourself ! as the first feminist on LC to pose the tricky questions about women under Islam – or more importantly get the issues on the table and have a meaningful debate.

Hey, it’s just me wittering on again on my hobby-horse I know.
But one day LC _will_host this discussion, I just know it!

earwicga

Quiet Riot Girl – your posts (that you widely publicise) don’t just criticise feminism, they are offensive to the max. Especially your posts about rape.

<<This

Thanks for saying it like it is earwicga.


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