comment on julian real’s blog

seriously, i ❤ julian, but i couldn’t resist sticking my nose in and calling out crap as I saw it

in reference to julian posting a pearl cleage essay on violence, rape, and sex.

warning: i go into personal details of my sex life. you have been warned 😉

^run awaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyy time^

Hi Julian, I second Jennifer’s words, and would add, that personally, numbers 3, 7, and 8, combined with her heterosexist, coitus-centred, and frankly male supremacist definition of sex, is what had me freaking pissed off at her. (eg “Sex is a powerful and basic drive meant to insure the survival of the species.” HA! Men being raised from babyhood by other men to think that does not make it so)

Her proscriptions would proclude me from being sexual at all with males, because she appears to define sex as piv intercourse, and although I’ve had awful to wonderful noncoital experiences of sex with males, I’ve never, nor do I ever want to have piv sex. I’ve flirted, engaged in sexually charged conversations, read books like the Hite Report (which, by the way is excellent in debunking the “sex drive” myths that Cleage and many others engage in) as well as sexually graphic novels aloud together, “made out,” engaged in various types of frattage, mutual masturbation, oral sex, etc with males before or during which I’ve stated my declarative no to piv sex. I’ve even had discussions about my brand of radical feminism, as well as the pain that accompanies being etered with “large things” in general for me, with several of them. She is saying that since I don’t want piv sex, I shouldn’t even be sexual with them, and while I would agree with about that about some of them in retrospect, about 60% of them? aww, hells, nah, I wouldn’t change it.

My two cents.

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Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm  Comments (11)  

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  1. Hey Demonista,

    Yeah, her stuff is generally heterosexist. And she’s speaking to the girls and young women she knows who are at risk with guys. She’s addressing exactly that: being at risk when around guys and in a world of guys. Obviously her concern is not with lesbians coming out of the woodwork to rape women, and so she doesn’t speak to girls and young women as if that’s the major concern they should have. The context of the piece is life in patriarchy… with patriarchal males.

    But I agree with Jennifer Drew that the phrasing is potentially too victim-blaming, and with you that it is too heterosexist. And I’d also be pissed if she did the “queer studies” liberal-ass thing and “ungendered” the perps and those who are perped. Like “DV”ing “Men Beating the Shit Out of Women at Home”. And, seriously, why don’t you post that over to the blog??? Comments are welcome. You’re not an MRA! lol

    Speaking only for myself, if I know a straight-identified Black woman is addressing an audience about the dangers of the world, and she talks about men’s violence against women, it’s not a huge concern for me if she doesn’t say “straight men”. I know who she’s talking about.

    Speaking not just for me, the white-centeredness of most white “radical” feminists, the sheer focus on matters that only impact white women–as if white women = all women, goes so unchecked–most of the time, that it’s a bit strange (er, racist?) to me that radical feminist WoC are held to such account for heterosexism. You know what I mean?

  2. Hi Julian, I thought I did? It said it was in moderation *scratches head*

    I was referring to how she defined sex, not her focus on who the perpetrators (men) and victims (women and girls) were. Not to mention said definition (ie strong bio urge to reproduce) leaves out many, probably most, forms of men’s rape of women and girls (eg oral and anal rape, rape by objects or hands, rape of prepubescent children, rape of menopausal women, rape of women on birth control, etc, etc). Additionally, if rape is all about violence and not sex, why several warnings about not being sexual in the presence of men? (ie if it is all about violence for men, wouldn’t women being violent towards them get them riled up to rape?)

    Racist “radfems” don’t get a pass with me. (Seriously, if the extent of one’s politics is anti-porn, you’re not a radical feminist, simply anti-porn.) Even Angie and Karla from oob has pointed me out by name (real name) as siding with Jenn in their “blow up.” I’ve also talked with Nikki, asking her to call off her targetting of Jenn. I’ve done posts these past couple months on web order brides, criticizing pomo feminists for ‘de-victimizing’ the women used in these schemes, included a post by vegans of color, a No One Is Illegal Petition, and about Canada, Australia, Amerika, and New Zealand’s histories of colonialism and their refusal to sign the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. An article on queer radical feminism I linked to also included racism and white privilege. I also changed a blog post on Sheila Jeffreys to reflect Jenn’s criticisms of her. Not to mention, most of the activism I do is cemented in indigenous solidarity, including the risking arrest type.

    Oh, Julian, guess what? Last Friday, Andrea Smith came to speak at my university for a conference I co-coordinated 😀 She was awesomesauce.

  3. And yes, some of her phrasing infers that there’s some neanderthality to men’s sex drives, as if men’s sex drives aren’t produced, test driven, and put on the road, defects and all, by capitalist, white supremacist patriarchal imperatives.

    Re: “I don’t want piv sex”

    Me neither. Or vop sex. Or pia sex. Or aop sex. No penetrative sex for me, period. But what does that have to do with what she’s talking about? She’s warning women and girls generally–not radical feminists, btw, not radical profeminists either, wink wink–about what’s going down. You want her to speak as if her audience is primarily white class-privileged, college-educated “been through the third wave and came out believing gender isn’t primarily political” queer women?

    My female cousins wouldn’t even understand what you wrote above about “sex”. They know this, though: men want sex with women and sometimes they take it without asking. And all the theories in the world about the lack of hormonal, genetic causality don’t mean shit to them. That’s their world: men are arrogant, sexist rapists and rape apologists, except when they’re not, which is too rare. In their world, you pick among the rapers for who apologises nicest and most often. Our sexual sphere is, well, a bit queer.

  4. And I would LOVE some deets on Andrea’s visit!!!!! “Awesomesauce” does give me a good sense of the overall experience, but are ya doin’ a write up about her visit? Or is anyone else? I’d love to read it, whoever does it. But especially if you do. 😉

  5. And when did you discover Scarleteen? I missed that memo!! (Jennifer Drew just told me about her last week!!!) Let’s discuss her some time. You got an critiques of her work? And what do you like best about her work?

  6. Yes it does, and this theorizing of sexuality (as bio urge, “uncivilized” and so forth) has been used against women and men of colour as having uncontrollable, whorish or rapist sexualities based in their raced biologies (eg black, latino, and native men as savage rapists, asian men and women as naturally submissive sexually, women of all nonwhite (and often white) races as “hot,” “cougars,” unrapeable, chicks, “bitches in heat,” reduced to their genitalia, etc, etc) Not to mention, the view sex exists for reproduction, does as I said above, exclude most forms of rape that women and girls experience (eg why would a man or boy want to ejaculate onto a woman or girl’s face if his sexuality is there in order to want to reproduce?)

    Additionally, her separation of sex from rape, then going on to warn against being sexual with men unless you plan on sex with them (presumably piv intercourse) is paradoxical. If rape was about violence, not sex, shouldn’t she be warning about not being violent with men, as it may incite them to rape?

    “No penetrative sex for me, period.” Same Julian, but decided to spare ya a bit 😉 I mentioned it because of her warnings about being sexual with men, saying don’t be unless you plan on having sex with them (again, piv sex), but that flies in the face of my sexual experiences. She is saying don’t do the things I do with men unless I plan on having coital sex with them, and yet I have, and ^shock^ have not been raped! And I will continue to do so. I mentioned some things i’ve done specifically because they going even further than what she mentions in her warnings.

    “She’s warning women and girls generally–not radical feminists, btw, not radical profeminists either, wink wink–about what’s going down.” Which is part of why, conversely, her 5, 6 and 10 are pretty good advice, and should be followed when it’s safe of women and girls to do so (eg in a gang rape situation or when there’s a weapon, physically fighting back is probably not a good idea), and those do engage with and encourage women’s independence, strength, etc. and those are also ones i try to have in my life, along with others like communicating my position and wants (as mentioned in the initial comment).

    “You want her to speak as if her audience is primarily white class-privileged, college-educated “been through the third wave and came out believing gender isn’t primarily political” queer women?” Nope, oh hells nah. I get all too much of that at university as it is (disclaimer: i.d. as second wave, white, welfare poor but still in uni, want to ultimately get rid of gender not play around with it, sometimes id as queer, often pansexual, female) 😉 But the way she speaks is closer to how the above description women should be spoken to–they need a dose of reality–than the way pomos talk to them. Works like this need to be read, and they need to risk their lives to understand, by them. The world is a warzone for women, whether or not you decide to try and distance yourself from your sisters with privilege. ahem, getting off topic.

    Imagine a man being told that if he does 3, 7, or 8 in reference to being sexual with women, that he should have known better, or could have avoided it (eg being forced to perform oral sex on a woman), if he simply didn’t lead her on by flirting and getting her aroused. Or a man being told that in reference to being sexual with men. That if a man wanted to cuddle with a man, forced anal intercourse could very well happen because he wanted to cuddle (or hell, that it could happen because he willingly engaged in manual or oral sex).

    “My female cousins wouldn’t even understand what you wrote above about “sex”. ” And that’s part of the tradegy of it. Girls are kept so incredibly ignorant of their bodies, sexuality, etc as theirs, as pleasurable for them, etc. sexuality is turned into looking a certain way to be looked at by boys and men as a sexual object, and sex is defined as, essentially, pleasing the penis. It’s not about what makes them feel good, what makes them want to come, what does make them come, how they want to touch their partners and be touched by them, what and who they want to rub against, where they want his mouth to go, etc, etc.

    The solution to the above is not to only discuss sexuality in the terms of “They know this, though: men want sex with women and sometimes they take it without asking. And all the theories in the world about the lack of hormonal, genetic causality don’t mean shit to them. That’s their world: men are arrogant, sexist rapists and rape apologists, except when they’re not, which is too rare. In their world, you pick among the rapers for who apologises nicest and most often. Our sexual sphere is, well, a bit queer.” I feel a bit torn on this, as I don’t want to come across as “if only you found the right boy/man” crap, so I want to think on this point more and get back to you.

  7. “And I would LOVE some deets on Andrea’s visit!!!!! “Awesomesauce” does give me a good sense of the overall experience, but are ya doin’ a write up about her visit? Or is anyone else? I’d love to read it, whoever does it. But especially if you do. ;)”

    OK, here’s the spiel to describe her talk:

    “Beyond the Academic Industrial Complex: Indigenous Feminism and Social Justice

    “This talk will explore the importance of an indigenous feminist analysis that goes beyond the ethnographic entrapment Native women face in the academy to deconstructing the intersecting logics of settler col…(tharr be more)onialism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy as they impact the world. This talk will further explore the political organizing projects that are emerging from such an analysis in both the academy and in social justice movements.”

    She was awesome–smart, funny, critical, engaging.

    Aww, thanks to wanting me to do a write up! I don’t know if there will be an official write up. The Cord (my uni’s newspaper) covered Carlos Andrez Gomez here: http://thecord.ca/articles/25273 but i couldn’t find an article about smith’s talk, there or elsewhere 😦

    I didn’t take notes, so I question the usefulness of said write up by me. I could talk about it with friends that went, and write a little piece based on reception to her talk?

    I’ll also link you to any write up on it i do find 🙂

  8. “And when did you discover Scarleteen? I missed that memo!! (Jennifer Drew just told me about her last week!!!) Let’s discuss her some time. You got an critiques of her work? And what do you like best about her work?”

    I first head of Heather years ago, like around 5 years ago maybe? her other website is http://www.femmerotic.com/ it’s more “adult” but there shouldn’t be anything triggering or visually explicit there (from what I’ve seen–she does a lot of amazing photography, much of herself, and her friends, altho i am a bit perturbed at the lack of armpit hair :P–it’s sexual and there is nudity, but it’s not pornographic or even graphic) and her blog http://www.femmerotic.com/journal/ she writes erotic fiction too, and i thought it was ok, altho i like her photography and nonfiction writings better politically 🙂 Not to mention, TMI AHEAD but I’ve been aroused just by reading some of her stuff on scarleteen 😉 She has a flair for a wide range of the erotic (altho it could be wider, but i think that could be said of virtually anyone).

    Scarleteen, for me has been the best sexuality resource directed at teens that i’ve come across. which is both saying a lot and not a lot at the same time–both that hers is actually good, and that a lot of the others are crap in comparison–the others like sexualityanu.ca is essentially reproductionandu.ca 😉 corinna actually deals with informed consent, pleasure, considers non-coital sex to be sex, has differing views from the mainstream, etc. It even has a sexual politics section! http://www.scarleteen.com/article/politics

    Her work seems to straddle between radical feminism and “sex-positive” feminism, as in, a number of people on both sides like her. Sometimes, in articles, she oversimplifies radfem politics around sex, but that’s more to do with word constraints than how she actually regards them (eg in her journal). She feels ambivalence about both sides, and feels tension in her work between both sides. I remember reading a post of hers about porn, saying that, overall she’s against it, and questioning whether her work is pornographic, and if so, how? (eg by what definition). She also speaks of Audre Lorde’s theory of the erotic, and regards that as a staple of her own work.

    If you wanted to talk more about her, sure we could! 🙂

  9. Hi Demonista!

    Finally, a reply to your most recent comments and responses. I’ll try and put your text in italics, with my responses not in italics underneath the passage.

    Hi Julian, I thought I did? It said it was in moderation *scratches head*

    If you’re saying your comment is in the context of a blog response, this is still a public space, and so we can’t know who will be reading this. (Hey, let’s hope a lot of people!) But my point is that it is part of white privilege to publicly/freely critique the writings of women of color. The assumption that their words are there to be critiqued by whites is part of how white supremacy works.

    In posting Pearl Cleage’s work, I didn’t initially wish to have that be a dynamic. I wanted people to take from it what was useful. But when Jennifer Drew commented, I realised it was problematic for me to not respond and address her, and your own concerns with what she wrote. But I can’t speak for Pearl, and it gets awkward for me, because I’m wanting people–all men, and all whites–to see the value of what she’s saying, not to pick apart what isn’t cool about it to the reader. I didn’t post it for it to be picked at by white people. Maybe I should have been clear about that. In white spaces, which you blog and my blog are, I find it problematic to criticise radical feminist women of color’s writings to women and girls. Because I don’t have the experience or knowledge that any WoC has, and so can’t fully know the context in which she is speaking as she does. So I assume there are contextual elements I’m simply not aware of, and assume that Cleage’s readers will find what is of value in her words.

    I was referring to how she defined sex, not her focus on who the perpetrators (men) and victims (women and girls) were. Not to mention said definition (ie strong bio urge to reproduce) leaves out many, probably most, forms of men’s rape of women and girls (eg oral and anal rape, rape by objects or hands, rape of prepubescent children, rape of menopausal women, rape of women on birth control, etc, etc).

    Do you think she doesn’t know how rape works? That’s the impression I get from your comment. I suspect, but can’t know, that Pearl knows full well all the many ways women and girls are violated and disrespected–by whites and by men. She doesn’t address every form of rape, no. Nor could she. Because men are inventing new ways to rape women all the time. She’s (necessarily) dealing with a part of a horrible reality. And that’s fine by me.

    Additionally, if rape is all about violence and not sex, why several warnings about not being sexual in the presence of men? (ie if it is all about violence for men, wouldn’t women being violent towards them get them riled up to rape?)

    I don’t see it as appropriate for me to answer your questions, because it puts me in the position of speaking for Pearl, which I cannot do. So I’ll offer only “my read”. But do you see how your some of your questions are phrased as if I could or should speak for Pearl Cleage?

    So here’s what I think about this: as Catharine MacKinnon noted, rape is often sex for men, and it is violation and violence for women. I never accepted that “rape is violence not sex” argument unless referring only to how some women experience it. Most rape “is sex” for both people. It’s violating sex for women, and “hot” sex for men. It is often aggressive and disrespectful sex for women I know. It is often violence. It is often humiliation. That’s what women who have been raped tell me. And they also tell me it was “sex” too. “Sex” for him where she couldn’t hold a boundary and so “the sex” kept happening. And the crossing of the boundary of respect and regard for her as a person is what also made the sex “a rape”. There are some rapes that are more explicitly about force, aggression, and brutality. And most women I know who have survived those assaults don’t tend to speak about them as “bad sexual experiences”, which is how many, many girls and women I have known define “rape”. I may say “That sounds like a rape to me.” And later some of those women may agree with me. And some won’t. I hear Pearl addressing the reality that for men, the lines between not-rape sex and rape-sex are not clear or distinguishable, far too often. In my view, if rape were only violence, it wouldn’t be called a form of “sexual assault”. It would be called “assault”, or perhaps “gendered assault” like battery usually is.

    Racist “radfems” don’t get a pass with me.

    They do with me, if I don’t recognise the racism as such. I don’t trust myself to catch every manifestation of white privilege, due to being white. Which is why I make sure everything I write is directly accountable to radical feminist women of color. And that’s why I don’t write on white blogs much, because I can’t always know if there’s a radical feminist of color/womanist audience.

    (Seriously, if the extent of one’s politics is anti-porn, you’re not a radical feminist, simply anti-porn.)

    Well, it sure stands as a marker of “radical feminism” (or profeminism) in many white circles. Whereas knowing what white privilege looks like is not on the list of things one must be aware of to consider oneself “radical”, among whites, in my experience. And I’m including Lefty whiteboys here.

    There’s some stuff I won’t speak about in your comment. So I’ll move on…

    I’ve done posts these past couple months on web order brides, criticizing pomo feminists for ‘de-victimizing’ the women used in these schemes, included a post by vegans of color, a No One Is Illegal Petition, and about Canada, Australia, Amerika, and New Zealand’s histories of colonialism and their refusal to sign the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. […] most of the activism I do is cemented in indigenous solidarity, including the risking arrest type.

    I, as one profeminist white person (um, a dude), am so glad you do this work. I have felt for a long time–in part due to being called out on my own white privileges, analysis, and structural position of indifference and denial–that the experiences, analysis, and perspectives of radical feminist women of color and womanists, not only from the US, UK, and Australia, ought to be centralised in any profeminist stance and action. I find that the struggle I see Indigenous women engaging in are often not centered on pornography, for example. But for many years my own work was centered on pornography.

    I wish I had broadened my scope, to more overtly and clearly make the connections between pornography, trafficking, slavery, poverty, colonialism, capitalism, racism, heterosexism, misogyny, the abuses of non-human animals, and ecocide. As it is, I often miss many of those obvious connections. But again, I make sure my work is directly accountable and hopefully responsive to radical women of color around the world.

    I am always so glad to know about the work you do. And I’m so, so glad that there is anyone under the age of thirty who “get it” about white het male supremacist violence and domination. I hear from contacts in the UK that feminism is burgeoning there. And from other women that it has been very strong all along, in Asia, for example, but not in ways that tend to reach the white press or white blogs.

  10. Hi Julian sorry it took me so long to respond.

    “But my point is that it is part of white privilege to publicly/freely critique the writings of women of color. The assumption that their words are there to be critiqued by whites is part of how white supremacy works.”

    Oh, yes, and I didn’t mean to single Cleage out; I responded because what we’re talking about is a common theme in a lot of people’s writings, hence my also bringing up how what Cleage engages in has been used against women and other “Others”. I didn’t mean to “pick on” her and go “LOOKIT! BAD FEMINIST OF COLOUR!” and am sorry I came across as so critical of her.

    “In white spaces, which you blog and my blog are, I find it problematic to criticise radical feminist women of color’s writings to women and girls. Because I don’t have the experience or knowledge that any WoC has, and so can’t fully know the context in which she is speaking as she does. So I assume there are contextual elements I’m simply not aware of, and assume that Cleage’s readers will find what is of value in her words.”

    Touche. And really, it’s not my place to be spending an inornate amount of time calling her out on my perception of her writing, the power dynamics being as they are.

    “Do you think she doesn’t know how rape works? That’s the impression I get from your comment. I suspect, but can’t know, that Pearl knows full well all the many ways women and girls are violated and disrespected–by whites and by men. She doesn’t address every form of rape, no. Nor could she. Because men are inventing new ways to rape women all the time. She’s (necessarily) dealing with a part of a horrible reality. And that’s fine by me.”

    But the way she worded how she was discussing rape was such that it did exclude other types. For example, she could have given an expansive definition, then said she was focusing on _____ and _____ forms. Perhaps she has done this in other work, in which case, apologies because of course one cannot say all one wants to in a couple thousand word piece. And it sticks in my craw when folks criticise feminists like Dworkin for supposedly not being inclusive enough, so addressing it in another instance is more than sufficient.

    “I don’t see it as appropriate for me to answer your questions, because it puts me in the position of speaking for Pearl, which I cannot do. So I’ll offer only “my read”. But do you see how your some of your questions are phrased as if I could or should speak for Pearl Cleage?”

    Rhetorical questions to show inconsistency in her argument because you are in agreement with it.

    And yes! to your next paragraph re: rape being about both sex and power.

    “They do with me, if I don’t recognise the racism as such. I don’t trust myself to catch every manifestation of white privilege, due to being white.”

    Good point, and I sometimes feel that feminists are held to a higher standard than are say, anarchists or anti-war activists in regards to both racism and sexism. I would say many white radical feminists while not racist, do take advantage of white privilege, whether it’s in being published, being heard, what’s taken for granted re “sisterhood,” etc. For example, Nikki Craft isn’t racist, but she does sure as shit have white privilege, and part of that privilege (for all of us whities) is the privilege to “forget” one’s whiteness.

    Certainly anti-porn is a marker, I was simply stating it shouldn’t be the only one. “Whereas knowing what white privilege looks like is not on the list of things one must be aware of to consider oneself “radical”, among whites, in my experience. And I’m including Lefty whiteboys here.” Part of what I’m saying here too 🙂 In my experience radfems do recognise that racism and white privilege exist but categorically believe that women cannot be oppressors based on their whiteness (and other privilege markers), whereas radical women of colour, and crackers like us ;), certainly disagree. eg, white radfems often blame a homogeneous “men” for racism, capitalism, etc when I really doubt that men of colour had a hand in instituting or creating systemic discrimination, hatred, oppression, etc against themselves.

    re: your last three paragraphs. yes, it boggles my mind how white feminism, and most other leftist movements, are and continue to be. and it also has a lot to do with who can get published and mainstream (or alternative) press, and those are mostly white, academic, middle and upper class, from the West, etc. I mean, every leftist and their (insert family member here) has read Derrick Jensen, but how many of them have read Andrea Smith, Audre Lorde, or Ward Churchill? And oy-vay, don’t get me started on the romanticization and appropriation of indigenous people’s (mostly lost) means of hunting to justify white consumption of farmed animals by “post-vegetarians” and “sustainable farmers,” which for one thing, erases vegetarian and vegan indigenous folks. but i digress.

    re: focus on porn. That is something to meditate on the meaning of. Prior to radical feminism, my focuses were racism (think MLK), heterosexism, abortion, animal welfare, pacifism, etc. Then it became misogyny, sexual violence and exploitation, animal rights, abortion as a sign of the problem of women’s lack of control over sexuality and reproduction, etc. Then indigenous solidarity, anarchism, animal liberation, etc. came to be added. For myself, I became so focused on porn because it really had a huge impact on myself and my sexuality; I was initially pro-porn and consumed it, and came to see it as more destructive to my sexuality than sexual abuse I’d gone through. And I was reading A LOT of Dworkin. Within porn, every inequality is eroticised and furthered, from sexism, to racism, to ableism, to speciesism, to ageism. It is a major way to teach inequality, and it eroticises it to boot. I was raised by a liberal, feminist-y, anti-racist-ish, pro-indigenous sovereignty, anti-porn, pro-animal welfare mom, and most of the shit I learned in regards to racial, sexual, etc stereotypes were from porn.* I learned to eroticise rape, stereotype black men as dangerous, women as masochists, esp Asian women, etc in porn. Frankly, things I claimed to be against in nonsexual situations were whack off stash for me in sexual ones. In porn we are told that the oppressed enjoy it, that they want it that way–I used to enjoy and want my oppression in sexuality (at the time, it was through viewing pornography, fantasies, and masturbation)

    *Seriously, my mom raised me to refuse to stand up for the national anthem because of the oppression of indigenous peoples, pro-war sentiments, references to god, etc. She also let me watch movies about child sexual abuse, slavery, racism, etc when I was a wee young’un.

  11. No worries about taking a while. As you can see, I’ve been a bit lethargic in getting back to you also!

    I hear now where you were coming from on commenting on Pearl’s work. 🙂

    And really, it’s not my place to be spending an inornate amount of time calling her out on my perception of her writing, the power dynamics being as they are.

    Yeah, that’s one of my struggles. To remember my place!! And I’ve got to learn to shut up a whole hell of a lot, given the circles I’m often circulating in.

    […] because of course one cannot say all one wants to in a couple thousand word piece. And it sticks in my craw when folks criticise feminists like Dworkin for supposedly not being inclusive enough, so addressing it in another instance is more than sufficient.

    Yeah, that’s my experience… that white het guys can write whatever the fuck they want, and no one calls them on ignoring, oh, say, most of humanity! But womanist and feminist writings are scrutinised so much! (Usually by people who haven’t read their work!)

    Good point, and I sometimes feel that feminists are held to a higher standard than are say, anarchists or anti-war activists in regards to both racism and sexism.

    I agree with you. And so often feminists (and, er, this one profeminist) get the “why do you focus so much on GENDER?! As if those lefty whiteboys aren’t a tad obsessed with economic structures.

    I would say many white radical feminists while not racist, do take advantage of white privilege, whether it’s in being published, being heard, what’s taken for granted re “sisterhood,” etc.

    To me, taking advantage of white privilege is one of many ways to BE racist. And I’m not for white people declaring who is and isn’t racist. Or for men declaring which men are and are not sexist. As I see it, all whites are racist, and all men are sexist. So anyone white person who claims not to be racist, well, is being racist. And any man who has the nerve to say “I’m not sexist”, well, is deluded.

    Part of what I’m saying here too 🙂 In my experience radfems do recognise that racism and white privilege exist but categorically believe that women cannot be oppressors based on their whiteness (and other privilege markers), whereas radical women of colour, and crackers like us 😉 , certainly disagree.

    Yup. Just talk to any woman of color about ANY white person’s capacity and ability to be racist!

    eg, white radfems often blame a homogeneous “men” for racism, capitalism, etc when I really doubt that men of colour had a hand in instituting or creating systemic discrimination, hatred, oppression, etc against themselves.

    Yeah, that bugs me too. “All the men are whites” theories. As if slaves in the U.S. had the same power as the slavers. As if First Nations and other Indigenous North Americans have had the power white doods have had and still have.

    re: your last three paragraphs. yes, it boggles my mind how white feminism, and most other leftist movements, are and continue to be. and it also has a lot to do with who can get published and mainstream (or alternative) press, and those are mostly white, academic, middle and upper class, from the West, etc. I mean, every leftist and their (insert family member here) has read Derrick Jensen, but how many of them have read Andrea Smith, Audre Lorde, or Ward Churchill?

    Ah, we can discuss ol’ Ward some time! I’m calling him white, and since finding out he has been a batterer of American Indian women–at least one–he’s off my list as men to admire, although I still find many of his writings amazing.

    And oy-vay, don’t get me started on the romanticization and appropriation of indigenous people’s (mostly lost) means of hunting to justify white consumption of farmed animals by “post-vegetarians” and “sustainable farmers,” which for one thing, erases vegetarian and vegan indigenous folks. but i digress.

    Yes. Good point. For me the issue is for whites to stop using Indigenous people’s culture and social ways of being to legitimise anything that whites do. Claiming, as a whitey, that “I do this because Indigenous people do it” (which ones??), is fucked up and racist, and perpetuates white genocidal tendencies to view Indigenous ways of being as “for whites”, whereas whites, collectively, don’t view justice, sovereignty, and land for Indigenous people as “for Indigenous people”. Implicit in either view, whites get to name what’s what and who it’s for.

    re: focus on porn. That is something to meditate on the meaning of. Prior to radical feminism,

    To WHITE radical feminists’ focus on pornography. Let us not forget the founding mothers of radical feminism who were not white and didn’t focus on pornography. And the radical feminists of color who did are already eraced/erased from that movement. Norma Ramos, for example. Anyone remember her work?

    my focuses were racism (think MLK), heterosexism, abortion, animal welfare, pacifism, etc. Then it became misogyny, sexual violence and exploitation, animal rights, abortion as a sign of the problem of women’s lack of control over sexuality and reproduction, etc. Then indigenous solidarity, anarchism, animal liberation, etc. came to be added. For myself, I became so focused on porn because it really had a huge impact on myself and my sexuality;

    Yeah, and that’s important, I think. For us to own and know why certain issues take our time and focus. And why others, that negatively impact far more women, do not. I mean I do think it’s important to address the matters that are close to us due to experience, but on the other hand, what makes me nuts about white het guys, is that if all they do is focus on what most impacts them… well, you know the rest of that story.

    I was initially pro-porn and consumed it, and came to see it as more destructive to my sexuality than sexual abuse I’d gone through.

    That’s very heavy. 😦

    And I was reading A LOT of Dworkin. Within porn, every inequality is eroticised and furthered, from sexism, to racism, to ableism, to speciesism, to ageism. It is a major way to teach inequality, and it eroticises it to boot.

    The thing that I think is unfortunately lost, is WHY Dworkin focused on pornography when she did. It’s not because her life was more impacted by that than sexual violence from men, directly and systemically.

    It’s because it was a strategy, a way to make the case, in the 1970s, that while there was a Women’s Liberation Movement, men were not getting it, and were, instead, mass producing woman-hate. The point was to show how “things weren’t all better”.

    But Andrea’s work, as you note, always dealt with class and race, starting with the intro to Woman Hating, where she states clearly that Women’s Liberation will fail if white and class privilege is not addressed and overcome. And that Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman are the prototypal radical feminists: not Susan Brownmiller and Robin Morgan!

    I was raised by a liberal, feminist-y, anti-racist-ish, pro-indigenous sovereignty, anti-porn, pro-animal welfare mom,

    That always helps, eh!?

    and most of the shit I learned in regards to racial, sexual, etc stereotypes were from porn.* I learned to eroticise rape, stereotype black men as dangerous, women as masochists, esp Asian women, etc in porn. Frankly, things I claimed to be against in nonsexual situations were whack off stash for me in sexual ones.

    I think that’s so true for so many of us, in our histories and in our present lives, and I appreciate your honesty in stating that. I learned weird shit about race from pornography, and was oddly turned away from racist porn when young, but I’m not convinced that’s due to anything honorable on my part.

    In porn we are told that the oppressed enjoy it, that they want it that way–I used to enjoy and want my oppression in sexuality (at the time, it was through viewing pornography, fantasies, and masturbation)

    Yeah, and that’s sort of what I’ve realised is a white thing: to experience racism via pornography. I mean, let’s face it, women of color who live among whites, don’t need to ever encounter pornography to encounter white supremacy.

    *Seriously, my mom raised me to refuse to stand up for the national anthem because of the oppression of indigenous peoples, pro-war sentiments, references to god, etc.

    That’s so cool. I love stories like that.

    She also let me watch movies about child sexual abuse, slavery, racism, etc when I was a wee young’un.

    Eeeh. The stuff about child sexual abuse: how did that impact you. I was just in discussion with someone about the pros and cons of discussing child sexual abuse with children. I’m sort of for it, and of course the issue is HOW to do it, not WHETHER to do it, but, that is such a tricky thing for me.

    The latest incarnation of this conversation takes place here:

    http://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2010/03/child-molestation-how-to-help-prevent.html

    I just don’t know to what extent parents talking to their kids about the REALITY of most child sexual abuse does to a child. I mean, statistically, it’s going to be daddy, or mom’s boyfriend, or uncle so and so, or grandpa, or the older brother or male cousin who rapes a girl, right?

    So what does mom say: “Watch out for your father and don’t let him touch you in your bathing suit area?” To do this would mean women have to confront how at risk they and their children are around men-folks. And I don’t know many people who can deal with it to that degree, let alone find the right words to share with their kids about it.

    I’m eager to know how and what your mom said to you about this issue, and what sorts of materials she shared with you, had you watch, etc.


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