sisterhoodispowerful

Radical Feminist Resistance

Month: July, 2014

Tracking the TERFs

More concerns about how woman-haters undermine, humiliate and ‘expose’ (dox) online feminists simply because we believe women should be liberated

Feminists Unknown's Blog

TT

Throughout the twentieth century women (we call them feminists) fought against a system (we call it gender) which sought to deny them any interior life or right to self-define. The gender hierarchy ensured that women’s space and time was seen as the property of men. Feminists argued that this was wrong. No one could think of a way to counter the feminist argument so it was agreed, in principle, that women were individuals in their own right (even if the practical implications of this were not always followed through).

In 2014 things changed. Misogynists had finally, after years of false starts (the mummy wars, neurosexism, “masculinity in crisis”), found their ultimate backlash tool: trans women (not trans women as individuals, deserving of respect. Simply the idea of trans women, as and when it came in useful to misogynists both trans and non-trans).

In 2014 it was decreed that all non-trans…

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THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF SEXUALITY

We cannot discuss political lesbianism without, first, understanding the social construction of sexuality. The concept of political lesbianism directly flows from that understanding.

“Compulsory heterosexuality” includes sexuality as a basic tenet but compulsory heterosexuality is much broader. It defines the way in which heterosexuality is enshrined in our institutions, social structures and our conditioning to make women believe, from babyhood, that servicing men is innate, inevitable and ‘natural’.

The social construction of sexuality under male supremacy has men dominating and wielding power at its heart with women submitting, “being flexible” and conforming to the ‘idealized’ pornographic view of women as always available. All women are assessed against this social construction, no matter how far apart it is from anyone’s reality, most of all women’s.

Even if, as individuals, we’ve never been near men sexually, our cultural understanding about sexuality has soaked up this dominant/submissive dichotomy making it very difficult for women to find a sexuality completely free of power. S/m is presented as something ‘different’, a fetish that lies apart from all other sexuality, but we only have to view all-pervasive sexualized images in the social media to know this simply isn’t true.

Consciousness-raising (CR) is crucial for any feminism because CR enables us to review our whole life experience, not as isolated individuals, but as a member of a particular caste, conditioned to behave in particular ways for the benefit of men. Only when we start to develop that recognition can we begin our fight for freedom. The personal IS political. How can we fight against domestic violence if it’s something we’re experiencing, but not naming, in our own lives?

Many of us, through CR processes, have recognised that ANY relationship with men is so embedded with power imbalances that it is, or becomes, completely incompatible with our feminism. No matter how nice Nigel may be (or we need him to be), he still has power, privilege, and male status. For many of us, it becomes impossible to maintain any kind of close relationship with a man once the curtain has lifted.

At the same time, we realise through CR and our reading that, as women, we are taught to compete and be divided from one another. The intoxication we feel when we realise it’s possible to love other women, fully, in a woman-hating world is a continual joy. I do not understand the continuous argument among some ‘feminists’ that political lesbianism does not, or has not, included sexuality – as far as I am aware, it always has. It’s not a term for a celibate heterosexual. At the same time, as “Love Your Enemy” states, nor does it imply “compulsory sexual activity”. It’s simply opening up doors that compulsory heterosexuality, or the social construction of sexuality, closes by defining sexuality as fixed and ‘natural‘. “Men are abusive but I have no alternative but to be with them because my sexual feelings can’t change”

Once we understand that our sexuality is socially constructed and not ‘innate’ or ‘natural’, we can choose to redefine and re-shape it. Without that knowledge, that possibility does not exist. By this, I don’t mean just removing men from the equation and only being intimate with women, I mean everything. I mean removing the embedded idea that sex is about power and can’t exist without it; removing all the shit that is implanted deep, deep inside all females. If men want to fetishize submission then they do so by “playing with it”, they are raised with privilege and entitlement, it will never leave them, just like being raised as subordinate will never truly leave us. We can fight it though. We can fight it because sharing equality and love with women and finding new ways of being close and intimate, outside of the ugly world of domination and submission, is like discovering a new life.

We cannot fight a revolution if we are tied down and subdued in our own lives. This is not “individualism” or “life-stylism”, it’s just obviously true.

Further reading: http://www.feminist-reprise.org/docs/rian.htm

You might care about women if you ….

You might care about women if you …..

Gas Mark Six

naefearty

Here’s something I wrote when I was asked to speak alongside Sheila Jeffreys, who was speaking about her book “Gender Hurts”, about how transgenderism harms women. In the end, I didn’t say all this, but for those of you who are interested, here it is..

“For the longest of time I told no-one. It is only in the past few years that I have found the words to describe my experience. Thank you, Sheila Jeffreys, and the Radical Feminist community of bloggers for the gift of words.

I used to have an online friend (also a partner of a man who thought he was a woman) who likened the experience of being partnered to a transgender to the frog who is put into the pot of water and the heat gradually turned up till cooked – a deliberate programme of de-sensitisation as each limit is compromised or ignored, and each line…

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ARE YOU ON THEBLOCKBOT’S HIT LIST YET?

A disturbing new cultural phenomenon is hitting social media. You only become aware of it when you are its victim or its perpetrator. The main victims are feminists.  But an ever-increasing pool of twitter users are targeted, including those falling into the bracket of: feminists, radical feminists, followers of radical feminists or feminists on twitter and anyone expressing any kind of sympathy for the radical feminist position that gender is harmful.

That amounts to a large pool of women (and others) who are finding voices to describe, and oppose, patriarchy and who, consequently, are being culturally sidelined.

Here is how it is happening:

If you’re on twitter, you may have noticed there’s an account called @TheBlockBot. If you’re like me, you probably moved swiftly on, with a vague tut, and thought no more about it.

Just recently, however, I’ve been piecing together an ominous pattern of male domination and control via social media – a pattern which goes beyond the usual attacks and misogynist accusations levelled at individual women. This is a concerted and collective effort to distort and automatically block out (hence the name “TheBlockBot”) the feminist position on social media.

George Orwell’s “1984″ imagined a state-led “Big Brother”. However, the one we actually have in 2014 is a technological domination which culturally and socially induces male supremacy. The state uses legislation and policy edicts to follow, and re-enforce, those patriarchal social norms. That is why we must take TheBlockBot and the varying other forms of coercion, intimidation, and distortions of feminism, in the social media seriously. There is no doubt these are initiated by regressive libertarians presenting themselves as the new vanguard. TheBlockBot is an example of this phenomenon in action and why I am highlighting it here. Towards the end of this post, I will give a further, recent, disturbing example.

@TheBlockBot is a user-invented twitter programme where anyone can add anyone else on twitter to a list of blockees if they commit dubious twitter “crimes” or even for being plain “annoying”.  Feminists aren’t doing our job if we’re not “annoying” patriarchy so that immediately puts us in the frame. “Annoying” is also highly subjective. Anyone at all not toeing the regressive political line is vulnerable for attack. In TheBlockBot’s own words: (TheBlockBot is) “a Twitter gadget that can be used by Twitter users to silently block trolls, abusers, bigots, and other unsavoury people.”

If a twitter user subscribes, they will then automatically block everyone on the hit list. Anyone can report anyone else. This creates a platform for resistance to feminist politics but also anyone with a grudge or dislike against anyone else can lump them in with “whorephobes” or “transphobes” (see my recent post  sisterhoodispowerful.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/the-truth-about-radical-feminism/ ) and instigate mass blockings. There are different levels of severity – level 1-4. From what I can make out, however, the different levels make no difference at all to the impact on the individual targeted by this application. Everyone on the list is equally blocked by the same number of people. The levels merely reflect the severity of the judgement laid at the door of individual twitter users.

This feature is not completely open and random despite its pretence that it seeks to protect those who use it. (It will) “remove some of the harassment that is usually directed your way” (TheBlockBot, FAQ). As we shall see, I am on this list and I have never “harassed” any individuals (by which I mean personally attacked or personalised political conflict on twitter). On twitter, the word “harassed”, a bit like the word “gender”, has come to mean anything anyone wants it to mean.  The political bias embedded in the programme is described in the discussion after the FAQ guidance. We’re told that “radfems” are worse than “MRAs” (these are groups of specific male supremacists who are concerned that male privilege is under attack) “Radfems” are worse because they “are well organised and have the ability to deny trans peoples rights, currently they are working with xtian ex-gay groups to influence the law” (TheBlackBot, December 2013) (Don’t let the facts get in your way before you make assertions and block)

Looking at the lists of “administrators” /”blockers”, unsurprisingly, we see there is an over-representation of transactivists/men.  A quick glance at some of their twitter accounts shows quite a mixed politics but most lean towards the political left and/or “alternative” politics. All seem to unquestioningly subscribe to queer theory which is on the opposite spectrum of feminism, particularly radical feminism.

Concerns are raised about how the programme curtails “free speech” by people posting in the comment section. TheBlockBot argues that being blocked on twitter is not limiting “free speech”, it’s simply about ignoring those whose opinions you wish to ignore (so which is it? Is it a block for when people harass you individually? Is it a feature to block out “annoyances” or is it available to blank out those who say anything which upsets your political sensibilities?) . They entirely miss the point when they say the application does not limit “free speech”. And the point is that, by blocking en masse, they create a social construction. They create an intention to marginalise and control feminist politics by de-humanising, targeting and demonizing individuals who express those politics on twitter. And it works. I have heard from many women that they are afraid to express their gender critical views for fear of being labelled and ostracised within their communities.

If social media is merely a functional place where you are free to ignore what, and who, you want, big corporations would not spend millions on how to communicate effectively on it, the press wouldn’t be quoting twitter “moods” and reality TV shows wouldn’t call for live tweeting. Twitter is a phenomenon which has Social Capital under patriarchy.

The fact that users are manipulating twitter for any political reason at all is unsettling by itself. When we add their rationale for placing feminists on the block, it becomes disturbing.

 

They have designed a function where you can search to see who is on the blocklist and decide whether you want to add someone if they aren’t already there. I assumed, as a gender-critical radical feminist who has never launched personal attacks on individuals, I would be there. I was not prepared for the reasons given. I was “reported” twice and placed in level 2/3 (not sure which – both appear under the report against my twitter name). It also doesn’t matter which because, by appearing on the list at all, there is auto blocking by unknown numbers of twitter users.

 
My “crimes” were pointing out that men invade female-only spaces for all kinds of reasons, including to be sexually violent. I even gave a link as an example – this one: http://www.torontosun.com/2014/02/15/a-sex-predators-sick-deception (The person responding could only remark on the right-wing nature of the media outlet the report could be found in). I have googled and not found one report or post, of whatever political flavour, which argues that this was NOT a man pretending to be trans. According to stavvers and her friends, this never happens. Linking to this one example, was enough to get me auto-blocked by potentially thousands of users.

 
My second “crime” was a defiant response when observing that some transactivists were targeting feminists through using a hashtag called #TERFweek. I knew the impact of such patterns of behaviour would be to intimidate feminists from discussing gender-critical observations and analysis. I said, therefore, that by producing such a hashtag they were targeting me – meaning that I would not allow myself to be separated from other radical feminists, not that I self-identified as a “TERF” (a term which is a slur and used to label and de-humanise political opponents).

 
@invisiblechoice, the innovative feminist art project, is on the list for being “anti-sex workers”. The project reports the words of johns with no analysis. The fact that this project is on the list at all shows the true agenda of those behind it – to discredit and distort feminist activism – as opposed to identifying those with “transphobic tendencies” (sic)

 

I saw other women I am following challenge misogyny and be placed on the list. It’s not exactly unsurprising that feminists, challenging the status quo, would be circled in such a way by men and transactivists using the excuse of “bigotry”. They do so with buckets full of deception about what radical feminism actually is, who is involved and what our motivation is.

 
It became clear to me as I read the reasons why women are added to the block, that it IS a contemporary mechanism to silence feminist voices and control all women who may dare to begin to question how oppressive the gender hierarchy is. Any feminist can be labelled a “TERF” when she does so, and be blocked. Women are already marginalised and feel reluctant to express feminist politics online, or anywhere, because of our subordinate status. This phenomenon is a new layer of attack, designed to re-enforce patriarchal norms by subverting our feminist messages so profoundly that we are the ones labelled “bigots” for fighting injustices against women. We STARTED the debate about gender and we have much, much more to say now, in 2014. For that, some are prepared to go a long way to dishonestly re-frame our politics as being inhumane and without compassion.

 
Riding in tandem with this feature, are numerous lies and distortions found on twitter. A few days ago, I read that some transactivists (I use that term to mean anyone who prioritises transrights above the rights of women) were organising a social, private, informal get-together via the public medium of twitter.

http://www.twitter.com/WomenCanSee/status/490318003406254080/photo/1

Took me a while to work this out, but, from what I can see, everyone involved in the conversation, except GID Watch and Voltinavoce, are all transactivists/men. My interpretation is that the man who wrote the tweet, although seemingly gave their immediate location away publically, didn’t produce a series of tweets to “stalk” (stalking means persistent unwanted attention including following someone and monitoring their whereabouts) as the transactivists go on to state happened, over and over. It was one tweet revealing someone had informed him of their location some time earlier.

 

Whatever this incident was about, and regardless of whichever non-radical feminist tweeted what, this has absolutely nothing to do with radical feminism or radical feminists. We are concerned with the liberation of women. Yet the stigmatisation and demonizing of radical feminists surrounds the myth as it rages on, with many believing the stories unquestioningly. It is a good illustration of how demonization of women takes place under patriarchy – men do things, women are to blame for what they do. A pattern repeated over and over.

 
This incident has been blown up like a fire in a forest. Statements such as “TERFS are telling each other where we are and ‘stalking’ us” are resonating across parts of twitter. The distortion, like many others, becomes a truth.  It looks to me like manipulative stage-management. I wish we could just dismiss it as twitter animosity but we can’t. This kind of manipulation is played out and has real life consequences. Our venues, our speakers are attacked and it’s these very kind of anecdotes (or quotes taken out of context) which is used to “prove” that radical feminists “hate” transactivists. It is an effective silencing tool. It is imperative that radical feminists are not silenced about something so harmful to women as gender.

 

(edit: post updated to include new information)

THE TRUTH ABOUT RADICAL FEMINISM

Once, in my distant herstory, I tweeted “The truth about radical feminism is deliberately obscured so women don’t hear it”. I still see those words, weeks/ months later, tweeted back into my timeline.

They are the only words which make sense of a bizarre, contemporary, situation where anti-feminist mirrors are held up to long-established (radical) feminist analysis. As with distorting mirrors at a carnival, the analysis is twisted and misused by radical feminist opponents. It’s a context where the world is amuck with appalling reversals such as claiming men with power are “victims”. It provides a path for libertarianism or individualism trumping all other political concerns. This is so even in movements about “radical social change“ (sic). The language, the rhetoric of “freedom” and “choice”, masks a dangerous anti-woman and anti-feminist backlash. It enables misogynists to claim victimhood and gain support for that claim.

It is not that this is happening which is the worrying factor here. It’s not a new pattern in history – the oppressor frequently claims that he must oppress more in order to bring about “freedom” for all. It is that so many people, from such a wide spectrum of political positions, including the left, are buying into it due, in large part, to the seductive rhetoric of post-modernism. In previous decades we could, at least, rely on socialists to recognise the importance of overthrowing existing oppressive structures. Now, we see the same groupings champion the rights of individuals to defend the status quo above calls for revolutionary change.

It is painful to watch those who believe themselves to be progressive war against radical feminists based on deception. Radical feminism names the structures and institutions of male supremacy (the class of men) as the root problem. The truth about radical feminism, and its emphasis on women’s liberation, is buried in a pit of lies, distortions and myths.

I am going to give a specific example of how these reversals work. I am then going to make a brief reference to the same phenomenon elsewhere. The two examples come from seemingly different groups of people but the parallels and similarities are so compelling that it is quite clear the same right-wing, male-supremacist ideology underpins them both.

The “Invisible Men project” (the-invisible-men.tumblr.com/) was recently part of an exhibition in Glasgow. The whole exhibition was objected to by those claiming to have an interest in “choice” and “freedom”. The “Invisible Men” project was particularly targeted for condemnation. It uses reviews on “Punternet” to reveal what men really think about women. This revelation is dangerous to those who have a multi-million dollar investment in the illusion of “choice” and “freedom” for women. Unsurprisingly, there was a backlash against the exhibition.

The sex industry lobbyists, and their friends, those bastions of anti-censorship, tried to prevent the exhibition from taking place. I am going to focus on the methods and language used in a petition started by them. It is a microcosm of what is happening everywhere there is feminist, and radical feminist, resistance to male supremacy. That, and the conditioning women experience to protect men above each other and ourselves, is a more powerful silencing weapon than a specially-built prison for feminist agitators.

The title is: “Remove the whorephobic “Invisible Men” exhibit which dehumanizes sex workers”

The most noticeable part of the petition is the use of “whorephobia” (sic) as an actual word which has meaning. It attempts to reframe feminist objections to women being used as disposable male commodities as some kind of deep-seated fear of other women. Every woman is caught up in the sex industry; in the idea that women exist for men’s pleasure/entertainment, and can be bought and sold for our bodies. Our very society is built on that foundation. There is no “them” and “us”. All women need to be invested in destroying a society where this is legitimized in order to free our class. Many radical feminists are survivors of the sex industry and speak out about that experience. All women experience the dehumanization described in the Punternet “reviews” because the words are not only directed towards individual women but towards women as a class. What makes the “Invisible Men” project powerful is having it laid out, in men’s own words; the truth for all to see.

Women who are prostituted are, of course, discriminated against and stigmatized, on top of the inhumane experience of being treated like a product to be reviewed, judged (and found wanting) by the male class. The fact that prostituted women are stigmatized within wider society is used to silence ex-prostituted women, radical feminists, and others, about abuse within prostitution. If we’re presented as “whorephobics”, who merely have a deep-seated fear of prostituted women, and of the “freedom” and “choice” “sex” itself brings, then we become the problem and not the men who abuse and buy women.

This reversal achieves several goals for the right-wingers.

  • It re-frames the “problem” as being CAUSED by the very women who are naming it (instead of the true oppressors, the male class) – the problem is presented as radical feminists trying to stop other women exercising “choice“ and “freedom“. This masks the naming of the real problem where a society finds it acceptable, even desirable, for men to buy, enslave and abuse women for their gratification.
  • It casts prostituted women as victims of those who name the problem (e.g. the petition and the “Invisible Men“ project), as opposed to the men who daily and routinely abuse, rape and murder prostituted women.
  • It casts “sex workers” (sic) as being like any other workers, without acknowledging the vulnerability and danger involved in situations where the power imbalance is so strong that it would be unacceptable in most other contexts.

The title of the petition continues the theme. Instead of acknowledging that it’s the words and actions of men who dehumanize and brutalise the class of women, as shown through the Invisible Men project, they attempt to deflect this by arguing that it’s those behind the project itself who are the dehumanizers. The world of reversals is complete.

The petition goes on to reveal a right-wing, male-supremacist agenda of needing to maintain women in slavery and abusive conditions. It states: “Reviews are a part of many service industries, as workers we have our own way of dealing with them …” The sentence normalizes the selling and buying of women by calling it a “service industry”. There is an acceptance, even a condoning, of women being judged by men on the basis of their looks, their physical body and how far they convince the man that the fantasises he is buying of the ever-available, ever-willing, woman is real. It’s not coming to mind that there’s another “service industry” where women are treated this way (with the exception of the institution of marriage and compulsory heterosexuality, upon which the concept that women are men’s property to buy and sell is built).

The petition, and other similar rhetoric, attempts to re-assemble radical feminism as a politics which addresses problems in isolation. In reality, radical feminism is a holistic politics, systematically naming women’s oppression and the need to dismantle patriarchy. This careful re-arrangement is deliberate because that makes it easier to reframe radical feminism as a force which attacks, and undermines, groups of stigmatized women. It sets radical feminists up for the oppressor status. By presenting prostituted women as a separate and distinct group of women from all other women, fighting for “choice” and “freedom”, the systematic abuse in the sex industry can be ignored, hidden, glossed over and defended. Importantly, the whole argument can be presented, in 1 of many ironic reversals, as radical feminists oppressing, and attacking, prostituted women because of our “whorephobia”. These anti-feminist, pro multi-billion dollar sex industry lobbyists have found out that, if you make up a word involving “phobic”, you can stigmatise those fighting social injustice.

This whole process whereby radical feminist commentators, naming male supremacy, and its manifestations, are cast in the oppressor role is repeated in the exact same pattern, as above, in the queer/trans debate. It must be “transphobia” which makes us argue that “gender” is the platform which enables men as a class to oppress women as a class. We could go through a million and one petitions and objections to radical feminism in relation to gender, all along similar lines as the above example about the sex industry. However, shovel out all the rhetoric, the outrage, the language of the oppressed fighting for “freedom” and “choice” and what you end up with is the exact same thing – positions which justify the continuation of societies which uphold male supremacy. That is why the truth about radical feminism matters. And that is why, no matter what, there must always be radical feminists to tell it.

I can be found @rubyfruit2 on twitter

Chris Atchison – Johns Voice

no credibility for those who hide behind ‘unbiased research’ http://atrickofthetrade.wordpress.com/ especially if it masks women’s suffering #C36

A Trick Of The Trade

Meet Chris Atchison

drdick

Chris is a research associate at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

Special interest: Johns.

Chris regards himself as an expert in this area (elephant in the room) and puts himself forward as such to the media and policy makers.

Chris’ goal is to create a community identity for johns to convince the public that they are a richly diverse yet impossible-to-define tapestry of nice complex gentlemen. A community that absolutely MUST be consulted about prostitution law and policy.

To misrepresent johns as predators is to punish good men, and to criminalize those men means that WOMEN WILL DIE. 

Is that what you want?

The Justice Committee hearing – Canada

On 9 July 2014, Chris appeared before the Justice Committee examining Bill C-36, to present evidence that johns are nice and that context kills women. He drew from his two studies: Johns Voice and the Sex Safety Security project

Chris’ opening…

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