Women – hear me roar


by Kate Belgrave    
12:30 pm - June 20th 2010

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Right. Frothing a bit here, people.

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.

I can’t tell you how furious this stupendously male vision of the female state makes me.

The young woman in the piece tells us that she’s had the good fortune of an excellent education, health, and choice and opportunity (which, in my opinion, should pretty much be where the article ends):

“I am twenty-one years old. Female. British. Middle class, and agnostic. I attended a good university, and came out with an arts degree. If I want to make money, I can, and if I don’t, I can borrow it without impediment. I don’t feel the need to compulsively buy things. I’m healthy, and I don’t hate myself.

No one will stop me if I want to leave my country, stay in my country, sleep in until midday, go out and not come home, get a boyfriend, get a girlfriend, study, drop out, claim benefits, get married, or do none of the above.

Am I the freest woman in the world?”

The answer to that question is ‘Yes – on the strength of your description of yourself, you are among the freest women in the world, by about the length of the Gobi,’ but that doesn’t stop our heroine embracing the liberal left’s cherished notion that educated women who choose how to live their lives and control their fertility, etc, are forever doomed, by virtue of their genitalia, to a life sucking on the hind tit (a tit, by-the-by, that will always be half empty):

“Except that I’m not. I can’t walk home at night alone without looking over my shoulder. I will never fight on the front line for my country. I will statistically earn less than my male peers for doing the same job, and if I stop to have children my career will almost inevitably suffer.

I am bound by social conventions, those barriers we place in our own minds, received from others. I wouldn’t dream of never shaving (and neither would most British men and women). I was desperate to pluck my eyebrows and wear a bra by the age of 12. If I don’t exercise, I feel guilty.

Every accomplishment is a second-long thrill, followed by the question: “what now?” If I went into politics, I would have to spend my life lying and smiling and caressing egos before I got anywhere near to power.”

The writer makes an attempt to weave religion into the piece – I think she’s trying to argue that liberation from God ought to liberate women from social constraint – which indeed it does, but of course – no female writer today is allowed to think or imply that this liberation is genuine. All statements women make about liberation must, by today’s misogynist definitions, acknowledge that for women, there is always a catch – that even if we have degrees, good jobs, and control over our fertility, we are still small, scared, and on the receiving end of one throbbing cock or other.

I put this comment the article. I was pissed off at the time, but hell – why not? A girl is surely allowed to tell blogworld where it’s gone wrong:

“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?

This article is fucking offensive and I’m keen to know why its type is continually solicited, by both the blogworld and the mainstream media. Anorexics, bulimics, depressives, girls who are too scared to walk down the street – talk about falling over yourselves to reinforce male stereotypes of women as sad, weak little creatures. I’m a woman and a feminist and I’m sick to the teeth of this whining, middle class shit. Stop talking about your minor worries for Christ’s sake. Your personal experiences are neither representative, nor important. Neither are mine. Nobody cares. Start writing about people other than yourselves and get a sense of perspective. Use your advantages to help people who haven’t been as lucky as you. Women are smart, strong and capable. Stop insisting that we’re all just creeping around quietly, waiting for a good raping.

Jesus Christ, but this fucks me off.

And while we’re at it – if we’re all so concerned about women as equals, and we’re all such great feminists and so in tune with the female mind, why are there two pictures of gorgeous young birds in their underpants on the homepage?

I’ve cooled down a bit now, but you get the general drift.

As I say, I’ll come back to this soon. I will write something that is substantiated, and speaks a little more of maturity (although I enjoyed writing the above hugely). I hope the liberal left will join me.

PS – Jennifer: you write very well and this is not a personal attack. FYI – I am a menopausal old giffer.

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About the author
Kate Belgrave is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a New Zealander who moved to the UK eight years ago. She was a columnist and journalist at the New Zealand Herald and is now a web editor. She writes on issues like public sector cuts, workplace disputes and related topics. She is also interested in abortion rights, and finding fault with religion. Also at: Hangbitching.com and @hangbitch
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Feminism ,Liberal Conspiracy

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Reader comments


‘I will never fight on the frontline for my country’.

That is something to be grateful for, surely?

I agree with Kate’s critique of the victim role adopted by many women in the media. My analysis of why this happens may be different as I think the fault lies as much with contemporary feminism as it does with the media and men. Maybe even moreso. But I am a bit of a tired old git aswell and can’t put my views across clearly here today. My blog http://www.quietgirlriot.wordpress.com is somewhere I challenge ‘conventional wisdom’ of feminism and have recently written on cis gender privilege, ‘rape culture’ and the focus by feminists on ‘objectification’. Hope to chat further with you Kate.

@Quiet Riot Girl – That’s because you have a black and white view of feminism. Feminism is a movement which is as non-homogeneous as ‘woman’ is.

Good stuff Kate. I don’t totally agree, but the blogosphere would be a much better place if a more varied range of ages and views were represented.

@earwicga like I said, not at my most lucid today. But I think there is a strand of feminist discourse that gets more airplay in the media than others, and is more dominant in general. It is this dominant version that I take issue with.

I’m still not any clearer what your actual problem with the original article was. It wanted to challenge traditional views of what it meant to be free, and said that social constraints placed on women still mean they’re not as “free” as they like to be…. social norms like feeling the need to shave, keeping thin etc etc. And you’re cussing that as an anti-feminist piece? I’m lost for words.

nd this is not a personal attack. FYI

Erm really? Here is what you say above:

but that doesn’t stop our heroine…
and
publishing this type of whinge…
and
This article is fucking offensive
and
I’m sick to the teeth of this whining, middle class shit

sounds pretty personal to me.

So I guess I shouldn’t be publishing anything by anyone suffering from anorexia either because that would just be some middle-class whinge?

Lastly:
why are there two pictures of gorgeous young birds in their underpants on the homepage?

Because they’re relevant to the story in question? One of them quite directly.

Sunny – there is a definate bias towards a certain age/class of feminist discourse on the internet which is usually childless. While it is very much needed and more vital in my view than perhaps it is in Kate’s view, it can be irritating.

Jennifer is absolutely correct to highlight rape for example, as her age is within the most risky age to be female with respect to the chances of being raped.

Kate is absolutely correct to highlight other things – when did you last read anything on a feminist site about menopause for example?

I like both pieces.

I agree with some of this Kate, in that sometimes it does seem as though there’s some wanky contest on to see who can identify as the most oppressed victim in the history of the world ever, but I also think you’re being overly harsh in some of your criticism.

For instance, I’m not convinced it’s your intention, but some of your piece does come across as though you’re telling women that they should just put up and shut up, which when you’re talking about women who have been subjected to rape, other forms of male violence, or other gender specific discriminations, does seem a tad insensitive, and also a bit lacking in political analysis.

Personal experiences can be and often are important, especially when they can be combined with other peoples to show that actually they’re part of a much bigger picture. That actually the personal is political, and the specific experience under discussion is not just limited to the person telling the story.

You’re also coming across here as a bit “So what? You think you have it bad, there are loads of people worse off than you” ish, which like I said, I agree with to an extent (especially re the original piece which provoked this), but which I’m pretty sure wouldn’t be your reaction if it was a piece from a public sector worker complaining about low pay for example, where from reading this I’d almost expect you to react with “So what if you’re low paid. Be grateful you’ve got a fucking job you whining loser.”, but which I know would definitely not be your response….

Hiya Sunny,

I think you know exactly what I’m saying. I’ve had a lot of response to this piece already, and everyone gets it.

The press is just full of this terrible whinging crap – real women as victims stuff. Women as anorexics, bulimics, scared to walk the street, taking back the night, etc, and almost exclusively from women who have nothing to complain about in the greater scheme of things – women who have had an education, have choice, can control their fertility and so on. It’s all about them, and middle class obsessions – looks, advertising, weight, blah blah blah. Basically – who cares how the educated, well-off middle class suffers? How does one’s own hangups about looks and weight inform the wider debate? I’ve got quite serious problems in my personal life, but I don’t blog about them. How would doing so achieve anything for anyone apart from myself? At the very least, I have the resources to deal with problems, and can see that that gives me an enormous advantage. Feminism is about getting access to all aspects of society, and handling them like an adult.

The great majority of women (and men) around the world have little chance at education, decent employment, health, and even regular meals on the table. It’s obscene for women of privilege to complain that they have somehow missed out and that despite it all, they are on the receiving end. Simple as that. I don’t even know if the numbers some argue stack up. Feminism has achieved great things for many of us and given us substantial tools for success and affirmation. A lot of us use those tools and are grateful for them. We’ve been having this discussion on twitter for a while.

Regarding what people should or shouldn’t commission, or write about – as you know, I have absolutely no time for censorship in any form. We’ve argued about that before. People can write and publish whatever the hell they want, and I’d personally go to prison to make sure they continued to have that right. At the same time, I have the right to criticise and comment freely. I don’t have to like what people write or commission, but it’ll be a very cold day in hell before you hear me argue that something should not be done. I don’t like this women as victims stuff and was observing that another peddler of it had been found. I have the right to say that. I’m a feminist and a contributor to the debate. Others take a different view of definitions of feminism. Fair enough. It’s all part of the discussion.

Re: your point about me pretending I wasn’t being personal – LOL, fair comment. I was very pissed off and went in like a dribbling bitch.

I would argue that being a young man has just as many pressures as being a young woman in contemporary society. Especially if we factor in ethnicity, class, gender identity and sexuality. The original article was a personal piece but I think the way it was written did lead to it being read as a generalised picture emphasising the difficulty of being ‘a woman’ in society, which I don’t think is that helpful.

“As I say, I’ll come back to this soon. I will write something that is substantiated, and speaks a little more of maturity (although I enjoyed writing the above hugely).”

That is exactly what you should have done. Honestly, I’ve no idea what you are trying to say here. You object to the previous article, but provide no real counterpoint. What’s more, most of the article was made up by your comment on the previous article – who the hell thought what amounts to a c&p of a comment with a few extra sentences tacked on justified a whole new article?

Yes, it’s true that compared to women in many other countries we are free, as well as extremely lucky, & many would be envious to have such problems as women in this country have. Does that mean the problems are invalid? No. Does that mean we shouldn’t continue the fight against sexism & inequality? No.

Oh, & nice touch, dismissing some women was “birds”. Oh but they were posing in their underwear, so why bother to respect them right?

@CathElliott – thanks for the response.

The point about the original post is that is it by someone who freely admits that she’s never come up against a barrier.

There’s absolutely no doubt that women are raped, overwhelmingly the victims of domestic violence, still fighting for pay equality, and so on, and I take those issues, and the fighting of them and publicising of them, very seriously. I’ve worked for Rape Crisis and as a TU rep for a long time, which, as you know, is more often than not about representing women on low incomes who are trying to juggle childcare and work, often with very little support or sympathy. Those issues are most certainly issues and I continue to publish on them and talk directly to those involved.

But that is the point. They’re issues, and it’s my view that if you have resources (ie education, reasonable income, your health, control over your fertility) that you ought to be getting to the point where you prioritise issues ahead of self.

As I said to Sunny above, I would never argue for censorship – people can write whatever the hell they like, and we’ve actually argued about that before (I wasn’t a supporter of the Liddle campaign for that reason). I’m arguing that I don’t like this middle class confessional stuff that seems to have pushed itself into the middle of socialist feminism. I’m allowed to make that point. I’m saying that there is something obscene about writing that you’ve had a great education, a supportive family, a happy ride thus far through life – and then wrapping things up by saying boo-hoo – things haven’t shaken out quite right for poor old me. It’s lazy and a slap in the face for feminism and women. The implication is that feminism hasn’t delivered a thing and that the reason it will never deliver is that women are born, and die, victims.

I freely concede the OP is a bit of a rant, so will follow up with something more substantial. The sentiment stands, though.

@Red – disagree, my friend. Totally disagree.

Firstly – writing a short blog post that raises an issue, points to another post that inspired it, and using it to kick things off is entirely justified. People do it on this site all the time, and their own sites. You seem to be of the view that the blog/original post is all that counts – that’s a very old media view. In fact, a blog is usually the first comment in a series of comments, and the original post/following comments make up the entity. You can follow up with something more in depth – bloggers and journalists do that all the time, as I do.

I think you do understand what I’m saying, because you have argued my themes back at me very clearly:

“Yes, it’s true that compared to women in many other countries we are free, as well as extremely lucky, & many would be envious to have such problems as women in this country have.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself (clearly).

You also say:

“Does that mean the problems are invalid? No. Does that mean we shouldn’t continue the fight against sexism & inequality? No.”

Agreed. See the points Cath Elliott made above, and my response to her. Like I say, blogs carry on below the line, which is where you get people really drawing their thoughts out.

Cheers, Kate.

Basically – who cares how the educated, well-off middle class suffers?

Kate, as you know, middle-class women have a much stronger voice than working-class women. Much feminism action has come from M/C women and the results have obviously benefited W/C women (and men). I think you dislike the balance between views shown, but I equally dislike the writing off of a class of women and their experiences. For example, depression and VAW aren’t class related phenomenas.

As Cath says at 6, it is important to hear from all women and not dismiss individual experiences. The concept and reality of ‘rape culture’ for example has been enormously helpful to me and many others. Wouldn’t have happened if M/C women has shut up and sucked it up would it?

I look forward to your next article on this theme.

I’ll regret getting involved, but still…

FWIW I read the original piece in a similar vein to Friedman’s “The Femine Mystique” and Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth”. ie: life is better, granted, if you’re middle-class and well-educated etc but there are still fundamental problems with society that affect everyone. Isn’t the personal supposed to be the political? So if Jennifer O’Mahony is using her own life experiences to frame her political views what’s wrong with that?

14. Ryhs Williams

Cue
Sexist PMT joke.
Why does it take 3 women to change a light bulb.

Because it FUCKING does.

I Thank you

Hi earwicga,

As I said in my response to Cath, the issue particularly was that the piece in question referenced none of those issues. It was a young, privileged woman saying she’d had a great life, and experienced nothing but opened doors, etc – but she was still a victim. Nothing had happened to her, but she was still a victim. She was a victim by virtue of her gender.

That is what I think of as ‘victim feminism’ and that is what I dislike. That is the middle class ‘reportage’ that I am more than prepared to dismiss. All that it does – ALL it does – is reinforce the view that women, even with the advantages most people on the planet only get to dream of, are victims. I dismiss out of hand any argument that such a woman’s experiences ought to be written about with the same sensitivity (or afforded the same priority) as the experience of someone who has been bashed, raped, impregnated against her will, etc. I am a middle class tourist of the poor, if you like – the bulk of my reporting work is done with people who are low earners, but believe that’s a step up from writing about my own issues.

Here’s a very good piece on rape culture and ‘victim feminism’:

http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/further-adventures-in-rape-culture/

Feminism to me is about an awful lot more than embracing the notion that all women are oppressed, all of the time, everywhere. Lindsay German takes that line – it’s inappropriate and inward-looking in the extreme. I take the view that every time you write about yourself, you miss the opportunity to learn something.

Rhys: I prefer this version:

‘How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?’
‘One. And it is NOT funny’.

Sometimes we do well to laugh at ourselves a bit more.

I agree with the menopausal old bag.

Kath – I read the linked piece, I didn’t comment for not wanting to be referred to, again, as a misogynist, that is another word that will be over-used to oblivion, but still. When I read the original piece I felt how lucky the person was to have all those wonderful choices. But then I began to think about the women, who I feel, who seems to been left behind – and mostly by the ‘liberal-left’. I don’t expect ConDems or Tories to give a flying fuck about them, yet I would have thought that the left would.

Good response.

But a young, working-class, single mum who lives in total poverty and doesn’t have access to the internet other than the library to look for workfare jobs – woman who is vilified for lack of education because the inner-London school has had all funding ripped out of it, if she was to rise to a school assistant people would fawn over her for taking her opportunity. After all, she is on the first rung in becoming middle-class.

Which of you would like to go out and get a regular writer on here who is a real oppressed woman living in filth and in poverty at the hand of those who can do what they want because money is no object? Help her to write if she should need that help? Give her the space that so many middle-class women have to harp on about the diversity of feminism and how it has empowered them to wealth. Give her the help by looking after her child(ren) so she has time to write up a nice piece?

In London there must be many-a-place that you could go.

/rant

Will Rhodes – why would ‘a young, working-class, single mum who lives in total poverty’ be ‘ living in filth’? In fact, why would she be living in ‘total’ poverty. It is two parent families who are in paid work who suffer the highest rates of poverty in the UK.

This woman of your example would have the same welfare benefits available to her that all single parents have. The housing available to her is dependent on where she and her child/ren live (i.e. in Burnley there is social housing available within weeks and on Anglesey it is available after about ten years.)

Do you think you have the stereotype of Waynetta in mind when you talk about single parents? Why don’t you go find a specimen of single motherhood and repeat your comment above? It’s sure to find a great reception…

20. Charlieman

@19 earwicga:”Will Rhodes – why would ‘a young, working-class, single mum who lives in total poverty’ be ‘ living in filth’?”

I think that you have misunderstood Will Rhodes. The most poor people in the UK cannot scramble up the system and thus live in places where others defecate in the lift or stairwell. They do not seek to live in filth and I think that you are wrong to suggest that Will proposes that this is “choice”. Please read harder.

Sexism and misogyny happen to all women whether they are upper, middle or working class, whether they are black or white, whether they live here in the west or in the rest of the world. That’s feminism 101.

What’s your point? – that if you’re a middle class woman who is raped or discriminated against at work it doesn’t matter? Your argument is stupid. Feminism is for all women, to fight against sexism which is used against all women. You can’t complain against discrimination against one group of women but argue that it’s OK for another group to experience it and they should just STFU and stop complaining about men (it’s the complaining about men that does it really I think).

Why aren’t you directing your ire against middle and upper class white men (bet there are *plenty* of them on this site) and berate them for their sexism and male privilege? Or is it just so much more fun to attack women? You could start with Will Rhodes – a couple of middle class boys lecturing women because they know it takes the heat off of them.

Don’t know what your problem is Kate.

Seems an ok piece to me. She notes what freedom she has, and then points out a few things that are still not right.

Can’t for the life of me work out why you would get so worked up about it. Save youe energy for scum like Mad Mel who really hates her own sex.

@ Charlieman – How dare you tell me to ‘Please read harder.’ Why don’t you and your mate just fuck off and content yourself with your stupid stereotype of feckless, passive, filth seeking, poverty ridden single parents, and let working class single parents exist in our own myriad ways without your colonial type concern for our welfare.

Sarah – that’s part of Feminism 101. Another part is to empower women.

Charlieman and Will have probably never met any working class women.

Jeez that’s a bit picky earwigca. I didn’t say it was the whole of feminism 101.

Ear –

This woman of your example would have the same welfare benefits available to her that all single parents have. The housing available to her is dependent on where she and her child/ren live (i.e. in Burnley there is social housing available within weeks and on Anglesey it is available after about ten years.)

Thanks for making my rant stick. The disparity for those who who live in the UK is disgusting – fighting for those in Anglesey to have access to social housing should be a priority, it seems Burnley has it right.

Sarah –

Charlieman and Will have probably never met any working class women.

I did giggle at that.

Hi, sorry, I was out today ‘being a victim’. You know, like i always do.

Kate:

“Use your advantages to help people who haven’t been as lucky as you.”

What is the final line of my piece?

“Do it yourself, because no one will do it for you. Do it for all the other women who don’t have the choice.”

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

I feel like I am being criticised for something I DIDN’T write. I said, among women out there, I’m one of the freest, yet I, and my peers, still aren’t ‘free’. Why? I KNEW because I didn’t frame it in a very feminist way people would attack me, and my point was basically “If I can’t be free, who can?” Women like me should be forging ahead to help others, not getting bogged down in why we hate ourselves. OBVIOUSLY I want to reject that Daily Mail bias…

Jennifer

I can’t understand why Kate has got so worked up about this.

32. Charlieman

@23 earwicga: “How dare you tell me to ‘Please read harder.’”

It isn’t about daring. I argued that families are obliged to live in accommodation that is abused by others living around them, and that their home choices are, at best, limited. Can you address that argument, rather then me?

@25 sarah: “Charlieman and Will have probably never met any working class women.”

Perhaps I don’t spend much time with working class women today, but I know my upbringing. Six kids in a council house three hundred yards away from the council refuse burner. Please don’t assume anything about anyone. If you ask a polite question, most people will talk a bit.

Sally, my friend – forgive me if I LMFAO when I read that you, of all of us, tell me that you don’t think someone should get worked up.

Jennifer – thanks for your response.

I think the main point to make is that you’ve been lucky enough to be the latest in a long line of women who’ve written what I – and a number of us here in the UK at the moment – have been criticising as ‘victim feminism.’ You happened to roll into frame as I was about to burst a valve over the whole thing anyway.

I feel that there is a real trend here for some feminists to describe women as victims, whether directly, or by writing confessional pieces about the likes of anorexia, beauty-industry pressure, their flirtations with sex work, fear of walking alone at night, fear of publishing in public online forums, fear of being attacked online, fear of politics and political life, and so on. Pop culture is pored over for examples of negative presentations of women and analysed long after they’re interesting. Negative descriptions of women as looks-obsessed, spineless twits are reinforced and reinfoced. A number of writers here have been debating this issue on twitter especially.

Point is, your piece hit all the right (wrong) notes with me – educated, plenty of opportunities, a free admission that nothing particularly had gone wrong for you, and yet there was still this ‘but things are still wrong and I’m still at the mercy of various societal forces’ note to it. Granted, you said women needed to get over that, but that wasn’t the leitmotif of the thing. It did my friggn head in.

I feel the feminist movement is divided along a line at the moment – those who feel that women are still very much oppressed and victims of the patriarchy, and those who take what I would describe as a libertarian view – that the job has been done for those of us who have benefited greatly from the feminist movement thus far, and wish to move on from discussions about self and the notion of woman as victim of a the patriarchy that second-wave feminists fought to hard to join. I hope to see more from you as we continue to describe this division.
That’s the context. I plan to write in more detail on it, though, and hope others will, too.

Kate

I have nothing against anyone getting worked up, but I can’t understand why this got you so pissed off.

Save it for Mad Mel and people who hate woman.

@ Jennifer

Women like me should be forging ahead to help others, not getting bogged down in why we hate ourselves.

So, instead of indulging in self piteous diatribes, why don’t you do some forging?

Ignore the trolls.

Sally – no sale, sister.

This isn’t about hating women – don’t be so dismissive.

It’s about discussing the feminist movement at this point in history. I’m part of that movement and have every right to discuss it, as does every other member of it. Mad Mel is, frankly, beyond ridiculous and too easy a target. This is an altogether more challenging conversation.

38. Charlieman

@33 Kate Belgrave: “I feel the feminist movement is divided along a line at the moment – those who feel that women are still very much oppressed and victims of the patriarchy, and those who take what I would describe as a libertarian view – that the job has been done for those of us who have benefited greatly from the feminist movement thus far, and wish to move on from discussions about self and the notion of woman as victim of a the patriarchy that second-wave feminists fought to hard to join.”

Sorry, Kate, but that is not a sentence.

Well, it is only you who is making it challenging because you see to have taken offence to a staw man. (or should that be straw woman?)

I repeat, what is the problem with this piece? She talks about the freedoms she enjoys, but points out that there are still things to do. Like wages.

What is wrong with that?

40. RegularCommenter

I think Kate’s point is sound – there’s something poisonous about the relentless focus on women as perpetual, passive victims rather than as free individuals with agency of their own.

Speaking from personal experience, this kind of thing… http://tinyurl.com/29hu7a9 …isn’t very helpful. I’ve seen leaflets from the same org condemning the justice system as effectively a male conspiracy to degrade women and protect rapists. That’s really unfortunate, because these kinds of organisations can be really helpful to victims of sexual violence in an advisory capacity or in a campaigning lobbying capacity. When the latter bleeds into the former, there’s a real danger that this could cause more harm than good.

Briefly, it’s difficult enough to prepare witnesses to give evidence in court about sexual crimes without campaigning groups convincing them that the whole process is a brutal conspiracy aimed at helping rapists and violating and degrading victims all over again. Some Chinese walls would be very helpful.

“I feel the feminist movement is divided along a line at the moment – those who feel that women are still very much oppressed and victims of the patriarchy, and those who take what I would describe as a libertarian view”

Yeah, libertarianism isn’t feminism. Maybe you’ve got yourself a bit confused Kate.

@Charlieman LOL – I thought it was beautiful!

I don’t think Jennifer is a victim, and I don’t read her post as a victim rant.

You are adding 2+2 and making 7

Have written reply (extended). Hopefully Sunny will publish it when he checks his email…

Kate – BASICALLY centres around this patriarchy point…

46. Shatterface

I’m going to sit this one out except to say I thought Laurie was spot on in her criticisms of John Gray’s rather selective science fiction canon in the New Statesman.

Engaging in a subject constructively rather than simply dismissing it out of hand (cf football) is far more productive.

47. Charlieman

@42 Kate Belgrave: “I thought it was beautiful!”

Ulysses is allegedly beautiful too. Do you know anyone who has read it?

Hemingway taught us how to deliver a brief narrative, backed up with snappy debatable points. Good journalism is delivered in sharp arguments — nail points that go straight through the brain.

Nail points.

@ Sarah – no confusion at all. What I mean is that there are feminists who err towards a libertarian mindset – freedom from state, freedom from censorship, freedom from socialism’s natural tendency to want to enforce rules and bans.

Prostitution is a good subject example – a lot of socialist feminists argued recently in favour of New Labour legislation to make kerb-crawling and pimping, etc, illegal. I did not condone that at all – I don’t believe bans, particularly in the case of sex work (which I have done), have been remotely effective.

I take the liberal view that it is not for us to pass what is essentially a moral judgement on prostitution and ban it. Apart from anything else, banning achieves very little, but it is not for the state to pass a moral judgement. I do feel that elements of socialist feminism pass sweeping moral judgements and expect policy to be formed as a result.

I took the same sort of view over the argument re: Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time. People wanted him banned. I don’t believe censorship achieves anything (and think that was proved right, because Griffin was hammered in the recent elections, despite his raised profile).

Do you see what I mean? You will be very confused if you say simply that Libertarianism is Feminism. That’s not what I’m saying. Who the hell would? I’m saying that some feminists like myself hold a lot of liberal views (in the liberty-is-key sense) which conflict directly with some of the views of feminists who are hardline socialists. The movement splits along those lines at the moment.

49. Shatterface

‘Ulysses is allegedly beautiful too. Do you know anyone who has read it?’

- coughs modestly -

@Charlieman breathe thru yr nose, honey. I can’t nail you AND watch the football. I’m running out of hands.

@Shatterface LOL you rock.

52. Shatterface

‘@ Sarah – no confusion at all. What I mean is that there are feminists who err towards a libertarian mindset – freedom from state, freedom from censorship, freedom from socialism’s natural tendency to want to enforce rules and bans.’

Damn, don’t want to get drawn into this – watching Lewis with Joanna Lumley – but I’d have to namecheck Emma Goldman here…

But Kate, feminism has always had some fundamental divisions along certain ideological lines. It’s not as straightforward as socialist feminism v libertarian feminism though – I’m thinking here of radical feminism v socialist feminism v libertarian feminism v anarcha feminism v liberal feminism v green feminism and all points in between.

Feminism’s a broad church (no pun intended), and I think I’m inclined to agree with Sally in that while I think debate between and about the different strands is to be welcomed (and trust me, I could happily debate the different feminisms until the cows come home), other feminists are not the enemy (apart from the libertarian ones obviously ;)), so your anger at Jennifer’s piece does come across as a bit OTT.

I’ll be interested to see where this discussion ends up going though (and happy to be a part of it) – although if you think it’ll end with us all holding hands round the camp-fire together I fear you’re going to be disappointed…..

Hi Cath,

Yes, of course we’ve always had those divisions. What I meant was that the divisions seem to be particularly keen at the moment – probably because a lot of people are writing. I don’t particularly feel feminists are either socialists or liberals – I think most of us hold a variety of views. I’m a liberal in some senses, and a socialist in others. I believe passionately in workplace collectivism and trade unionism, for example.

Re: OTT – I don’t really agree that the passion I feel on this one is excessive. Women can give and take strong feelings and opinions – we’re up to that. Doesn’t mean that we hate each other, or that we’re trying to take each other down. It just means we can take it as well as the next man, and emerge as robust as ever. I would say that I’ve been building up a head of steam over this one for a while, but I don’t feel the need to apologise for that. People are welcome to tear strips off me, which they have, and likely will continue to do. That, to me, is liberty.

55. Charlieman

@49 Kate Belgrave: “breathe thru yr nose, honey. I can’t nail you AND watch the football. I’m running out of hands.”

Conventional English spelling of the expression “breathe thru yr nose, honey” uses a few more letters in different places.

This exchange of words is embarrassing to you and awkward for me.

“Women can give and take strong feelings and opinions – we’re up to that. ”

So what is the problem?

You have not given any kind of answer that makes sense.

57. Just Visiting

I’m with 100% Kate on this one.

I have been surprised for a while that with all the feminists on LC – it seems like Not Even Once, has one of them kicked off a serious thread to talk specifically about women under Islam.

Jennifers piece confirms that the vocal feminists on LC appear less interested in considering the issue of the suffering of a large bunch of women… than they are in pitching themselves as victims.

Sunny, I think you are under the spotlight when Kate writes:

> This article is fucking offensive and I’m keen to know why its type is continually solicited, by both the blogworld….

Why have you not got a feminist to raise the issue of Women under islam – but instead have allowed pieces like Jennifer’s?

Kate

I feel the feminist movement is divided along a line at the moment – those who feel that women are still very much oppressed and victims of the patriarchy, and those who take what I would describe as a libertarian view – that the job has been done for those of us who have benefited greatly from the feminist movement thus far, and wish to move on from discussions about self and the notion of woman as victim of a the patriarchy that second-wave feminists fought to hard to join

I don’t think it’s necessarily either/or though. For example (and yes, apologies, I’m going to do the ‘personal is political’ thing here), I’m well aware of my privilege and of the rights I’ve been able to enjoy and that my mother/grandmothers were denied. However, I’m also aware of the oppressions I’ve suffered as a woman, and that I have suffered specifically <i.because I am a woman. What I’m trying (really badly) to explain is that while on the one hand I know I’m a liberated, better-off than my foremothers, and certainly much better off than many many other women the world over, woman, on the other hand I have also been a victim, and know that I could potentially be one again.

Being liberated and free and privileged in comparison with others does not mean that I will never be subjected to any more gender based discrimination. Obviously it doesn’t mean I should live my life waiting for it to happen either, or that I can’t now enjoy what I’ve got and try to do what I can to ensure others enjoy the same, but it also doesn’t negate what I have been through, or make any of that irrelevant or any discussion of issues that have affected my life meaningless and ‘whiny’.

Re the OTT comment – I take your point, and I’d be the last one to tell another woman to ‘calm down dear’ or any other such patronising shit. I think I was just surprised to see you get so heated about this specific issue, when there’s so much else out there to make us fucking angry. But yeah, angry’s good, so vent away sister :)

59. Just Visiting

Sally 55

Why do you miss Kate’s obvious point?
To spell it out:
* 90% of your own postings on LC are anger-fueled diatribes
* it is therefore hypocritical of you to suggest that others should calm down.

“I’m with 100% Kate on this one.”

Fine,but no one on here cares what you think.

@Charlieman u r an old giffer, rnt u & dont do txt. dont keep cumming back if youre emberresed that i cunt write im guessing u cum bak becoz it turns u on in yr penus

@Sally – what’s what problem?

@JustVisiting – good man/woman. I’d be more than happy to write about Islam, which I dislike as I do all faiths.

@Cath – of course, and I also have experienced a lot of bias because of my gender. The thing is – I feel to focus on that bias exclusively is to paint a picture that isn’t accurate. You say at the end of your comment that there is so much to be angry about and that we should focus on that. I agree with you – except that I feel this obsession with self and confession distracts us from the fights we should be having. If we spend our lives combing the popular culture for instances of insults to women, for example, we’re not thinking in an original way. We’re being directed onto subjects set by others. It’s that sort of thing I’m getting at.

@Sally and nobody particularly cares what you think, either, doll – not least because it’s hard to work out.

@Sally – what’s what problem?

I give up.

You have yet to explain why you have a problem with the article.

61
Kate

glad you are happy being of the same opinion as a right wing troll. Kind of makes my point for me.

Kate, I don’t think you know much about feminism which is a shame when you’re making pronouncements about it on this site. The anti-male violence, anti sex industry branch of feminism is radical feminism, not socialist feminism. There are plenty of socialist feminists who support the sex industry unfortunately. They think it’s a form of work and they want to organise women in prostitution as if turning pimps into managers could solve the problem of industrial rape. None of these are specifically feminist issues freedom from state, freedom from

It sounds to me as if you’re a libertarian and just want to stick a feminist label on it. Why, I’m not quite sure. Maybe so you get to “roar” at women perhaps. All I can see you arguing for is that feminists should ignore instances when women are being discriminated against or harmed particularly by men (hence your support for men paying to use women’s bodies in prostitution). If feminists don’t stand up for women who will? And if you don’t want to stand up for women and don’t like women who stand up for women don’t call yourself a feminist. Stick with the liberatarian badge – it suits.

Ooops, missed a bit off that sentence:

“None of these are specifically feminist issues – freedom from state, freedom from freedom from censorship, freedom from socialism’s natural tendency to want to enforce rules and bans.”

Oooh, harsh, Sarah. Handbags!

You seem to be a bit of a label girl – and isn’t that bad? Plenty of radical feminists see themselves as socialist feminists. Plenty of socialist feminists see themselves as radical feminists. And plenty of liberal feminists see themselves as both. Who cares? Nobody gets to decide who is who, or who is allowed to belong – especially girls like you, who seem to have rather strict, and exclusive, criteria.

A feminist is someone who believes women are entitled to exactly the same access to life as men. Not all women fit into that category. Women may block that access – think Thatcher. Do you really like to imagine her in your coven?

And are you arguing that feminists should not be able to robustly discuss the shape of feminism with each other? Let’s not forget either (as those of us who have read deeply on the subject are unlikely to) – the shape of feminism changes, like all social movements. Radical feminists of the 70s made the arguments that I am making in a way – that women needed access to the patriarchy, and meaningful work, and pay. Now, it appears that making that argument is like spitting in the altar wine – or libertarian, as you put it.

If you want to insult me, you’re probably better off calling me hairy. I don’t find the word ‘liberal’ insulting – certainly not as insulting as you do.

Look, someone who has a go at women who point out discrimination and who stand up for women isn’t a feminist. Words do have meanings you know. Political movements aren’t just what you happen to have decided what they are that day.

What specifically feminist point have you made either in that post or on this thread? The answer is not one.

“Do you really like to imagine her in your coven?”

Calling women witches. The misogyny is really on display now isn’t it?

“that women needed access to the patriarchy,”

OK this is where I sign off. Is this really the standard of debate and knowledge on this site? Feminists in the seventies, and some of us now want to smash the patriarchy. Where *on* *earth* do you get the idea that women wanted access to it. Crackers. Patriarchy is the system that oppresses women.

“Now, it appears that making that argument is like spitting in the altar wine – or libertarian, as you put it.”

Erm you called yourself a libertarian. Read your posts. I just said to leave the feminist label alone because you obviously haven’t got a clue about feminism and are displaying some very anti-feminist views. But then not having a clue about feminism never stopped a single anti-feminist either claiming the label for themselves, or trying to attack other women who are actually on the side of women.

No, Sarah – I’m displaying views that don’t coincide with yours. I am a feminist – and a better informed one than you by the sounds of it. Women wanted access to meaningful work, and economic independence (Friedan? French? Come on. You must have done some reading) and now many of them have it.

I am one of those women and I refuse to play the victim to suit you. It’d be disgusting. It is interesting that women like you feel you’re in a position to refuse to grant access to a movement to women like me, who take the inclusive approach.

You might feel better if you read the other thread on this – I’m being accused of anti-patriarchy socialist feminism over on that one.

No Kate, you’re displaying anti-feminist libertarian views and for some reason calling it feminism.

If you really think that the only point of feminism was economic independence for women (which we don’t have – women are systematically discriminated against in the workplace, and make up the majority of the poor) then once again you clearly don’t know anything about feminism.

I don’t even know what you mean “playing the victim to suit me”.. I’d have thought this post was you playing the bully given the stuff you were directing at Jennifer.

I can hardly refuse access to the movement to you, but I can certainly point out misogyny and anti-feminism when I see it.

71. Just Visiting

Kate 60

> I’d be more than happy to write about Islam, which I dislike as I do all faiths.

Cool, it’ll be a feminist first on LC! (no matter what flavour of feminist or un-feminist that Sarah wishes to label you!)

I can’t tell you how furious this stupendously male vision of the female state makes me.

Wasn’t it written by a female? If so wouldn’t this make it a female vision?

Jennifer’s article might not be the most mind blowing thing ever written- but many people (men and women) of Jennifer and I’s age (I’m 22) don’t see feminism as being relevant in their lives. If I’m honest, I am fairly lost in feminist discussions. I have never read any feminist writing. I don’t know what the long academic terms mean. What I do know is that there can be a perception among many young people that feminism is no longer necessary in western society. It is. I associate as a feminist because I think we have not yet achieved gender equality. I could have missed the point though, all I know is what I see.

I have regularly observed casual sexism among my peers (and older people). Most of the time the people who express some kind of sexist view don’t mean to do so and would deffinately not think of themselves as misogynists.
Though we all every now and then read articles about the pay disparity between men and women, most people I know are either living on a crappy hourly rate, or unemployed, so that can seems pretty irrelevant to us. That’s pretty much the only mainstream discussion of gender inequality I’ve come across.

When I read Jennifer’s article I thought it’s easily the sort of thing I have told my friends before. Many of my friends don’t view feminism as relevant because they have come to accept things as normal that should not be normal. Maybe a ‘whinge’ can get them to realise that we still have some way to go, that feminism can’t be over yet, that we don’t have to accept that. If we still accepted those things then we wouldn’t challenge people when they express their accidental misogenist views. I think by making individuals question their views loads and loads we might eventually have a gender equal society. You need discussion of that, but not just among feminist accademics. Among normal people who struggle to see what relevance the word has to their lives.
(obviously the context of this is the day to day lives of people in western society)

74. Mjr Barkington-Smythe (retd)

Well I agree with the original piece. It’s foolish to pretend that you ladies are anything other than the vulnerable and fragile little creatures you are.

I just hope that Jennifer (lovely name) finds a nice young man to look after her so she doesn’t have to worry about being ravished or thrown into the poor house.


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