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17 April 2008 @ 04:22 pm

me starting a campaign to try and get roger's communications from selling porn--porn that is overtly racist, misogynist, pedophilic, rapist, etc.

please sign and spread the word!

in the case of pro-porners and/or pro-sadopatriarchs (pro-"bdsmers") finding this, read: http://community.livejournal.com/_feminism/59030.html, before commenting. chances are, it's already been addressed. let's save each other the hassle.
17 September 2007 @ 11:38 pm
I'm going to compile an informal listing of radfems under 35 (born post-1970) because academia (or as Mary Daly would say: academentia) thinks or hopes us folk are going the way of the dinosaur.

So if you're a rad fem born 1970 or later, could I get a comment? Just give your username, or a nickname, or your real name. And if you know any authors, singers, activists, etc. who are radfem and under 35, could you give us their name. And maybe a little bio for both categories if you like, or a wee manifesto or whatnot.  And do you/your rad fems you list identify as 2nd or 3rd wave?

This is not meant to belittle older radfems in any wany, shape, or form. They're more than welcome to comment too, but please state you're older than 35, so i don't count you as a "young" rad fem.

Also, please post this other rad fem/feminist communities, blogs, etc. Let's get this thang going!

07 March 2006 @ 11:54 pm
What really frightens me is all of the convergence or what looks like convergence. Everyday I hear lesbians talking about media pressure to become pregnant. I fear I'm not very mainstream but I do listen to my adult rock station and sure enough, it's absolutely full of IVF adds. Babies, babbies, babies. Right after that is a comedy spot which says that "Beltway" is latin for Parking Lot. I can't help but think how babies are part of the grand design to have larger traffic jams so we can tear up existing interstates and build newer larger ones to accomodate new Babies.
We know that the sexual revolution didn't work out to the benefit of women. Women still bore huge responsibilities which men never really participated in. There was increased sexual avaialbility for men and increased risks for women and the double standard has been truly resistant. Slowly but sure, many modes of birth control are being withdrawn and abortion are becoming felonies. The shrinking number of alternatives are truly frightening. Child care where I live costs $1200.00/month. It cost me $200.00/semester to be a full time maticulating student at a state university.
It's difficult to see but there's quiet silent, relentless pressure to return back to where we were in the fifties. In the last 30 years we've been positioned relative to men in a slightly more favorable light. I do not think that can maintain itself at all it there is widepsread state withdrawal of women's autonomy over our bodies. It is this pressure that I am referring to a convergence. There are increases increments in essentialism. On my radio station, gender role dimorphism is pronounce. "Girlie" is in and is being glorified by female DJs.
As much as I hate to say it, post reagan feminism seems far more moderate and less examined than the second wave.
I started to pat outselves on the back but then I take a hard look at what we accomplished. We di accomplish amazing things in the areas of rape, violence against women and especially among ourselves. We came together collectively and I believe that because of the way women are situated and positioned in this society that collectivism is a total necessity. We came together but how much did we really move society? At least where I was, Roe was a shock. It was not expected but once we recovered from the shock, it was really quite the motivator. Had we looked closer, we might have noticed that the decision had been reached by an all male court in a patriarchal system of law based in 'power-over'. What happened then and what is occurring now is exactly why radical feminists reject reform. In a system based in power-over, whatever can be reformed can also be de-reformed. In looked as if we get the ERA through. That was our bright light on the horizon but it sputtered and failed. In fact, I know of no-basic an funamental changes that we have made.
It's always easy to point at a problem an dispense a uni-dimenisonal attribution characterizing what the problems in is. It may be an incredibly neat thing to hear what women on this list would attribute to the lack of success to.
Very often my views are seen as being way out in left field and I see this as a good thing because if a radical feminist is going to be anywhere, she's going to appear to be way out in left field, so don't mind how I'm seen.
In my analysis,  beyond the backlash, patriarchy has left us ideological and contexual or epistemological poison pills in the form of individualism and materialism. Individualism is exactly the opposite of what feminism needs to flourish. All individualism can do is to keep us fragmented and apart. A few miles from where I live is a Women's collective market Farmers Market. It must be 35 years old and is in an old wooden building that truly contrasts with all the glass and chrome that surround it. It has held together because it is a COLLECTIVE. Individualism did not build it and hold it together - collectivism did. I think that for us to be successful, there needs to be a re-revolution centered around women coming together again because the collectivity of Sisterhood really is powerful. Anyway.... that's my perspective.
28 February 2006 @ 10:38 pm
Recently in a formal paper Allison Jaegger (WHOSE POLITICS? WHO’S CORRECT?), referring to gender described it as a “distinctive conceptual innovations of second wave Western feminism, which drew a theoretical distinction between sex, a set of physiological characteristics relating to biological reproduction, and gender, a variable collection of normative social identities assigned to sexed individuals.”

The early 1950s were heavily laden with both significant and non-significant events. An insignificant event was that in 1953 I began the first grade. A significant event was that the year before, John Money published his earth shifting paper on intersexed people referred to as hermaphrodites at the time. As a point of origin, I wanted to write contextually of the period between the Money’s publication and of the lessons I learned in the fourth grade. The world is full of new curiosities for fourth graders because everything is so new. We were in “language” class and our teacher was discussing nouns and verbs and she happened to mention a new word that we had never heard: Gender. In the early fifties, the word did not apply to human beings at all. It was only applied to nouns and sometimes verbs. “Goodness”, I thought… “so there are girl” nouns and verbs and boy nouns and verbs. With that brief mention of the word, the word disappear never to me be mention gain for another thirty years.

I related this to establish the ground in which Money did his research. At the time, people were thought of and categorized only in terms of their sex. But Money was researching people who were seen to have the properties of both sexes. Ostensibly his findings were that genitals didn’t establish or determine how someone manifested themselves. It was something else.

At this juncture I’d like to step back sharply and NOT consider Money’s findings. I think it’s important to look at the context in which he made his findings. Socially, this was a period of strong role dimorphism. Women were women and men were men. It was, one hand a sexless and puritanical period that had plenty of sex, it was just very much under the covers, under the covers enough that I sister and I had no idea what it was until the sixth grade. We would go to the movies and see a preview and hear the phrase, “the battle of the sexes”. We didn’t know what that meant but men and women seemed to be fighting a lot too.

The phenomenology of the time was that girls were girls and boys were boys and it wasn’t even questioned. We were girls because we were girls and boys were boys because they were. The ground for that was an assumed conservative essentialism. We are objects of nature and nature hath made us this way. That was simple enough. But deep in his laboratory, John Money was questioning all of this. Again, I want to pull away even from his questions and peer squarely at his starting point, his apriories. His research began with the assumption of differences, differences that patriarchy had constructed both socially an conceptually. Questions had always been asked about the differences between women and men and there was always the cutch and glue of essentialism to fall back on. Notice even here, there is the apriori assumption of differences. So in his figurative laboratory the neither good, nor evil doctor began his research where sex was assumed to be all determining and where this subject’s objects were anatomically ambiguous an interesting, little known and tragically stigmatized population, a human locus where essentialism would be confused and perhaps we could learn from them in this period of Joseph McCarthy, where only nouns and verbs and not people had gender.

Differences. Everyone was sure there were differences. No one questioned their origin so Money’s research was going to be interesting because he would learn about those differences, the differences that were assumed to be there, where his apriories were overlooked. What he learned was that behavior didn’t necessarily follow anatomy or biology. But he assumed, ever so important differences were there. Maintaining the idea of differences, Money ensconced in differences had to have a name for a new fragment or nosology. He must have been friends with my language teacher because he named this quality “gender” borrowing from nouns and verbs. In terms of process, assuming that there were differences but having detached them from biology he formalized a construct (noun) based upon the work of the social construction (verb) of life in gendered classes.

I agree with Allison Jaegger, that this was the cornerstone of second wave feminism and many feminists attributed this to John Money, while overlooking the work of Simone De Beauvior who published five years prior to Money but whose book did not fall on these shores in English until 1954 two years after Money’s paper. Feminism took this split and ran with it and it WAS the cornerstone of second wave feminism.

But feminists didn’t talk about gender per se. We borrowed from Marx and spoke of classes: T-Grace Atkinson’s words from 1969 stood out in bas relief:

“The analysis begins with the feminist raison d'etre that women are a class, that this class is political in nature, and that this political class is oppressed. From this point on, radical feminism separates from traditional feminism.”

Words… radical words… no words, talking alluding to difference, for radical feminists did not buy into the apriories of difference and rejected them. So yes, I want to align with Allison’s comment to the extent that rejection of essentialism was revolutionary and an absolute political necessity (I’m impressed because although there were a few older women, most of the radical thinkers of the second wave were in our twenties) The mucilage of this essentialism is the very glue which holds patriarchy together as a dynamic.

Feminism did reject the idea of inherent differences. BUT, what I must question is the statement about the “split between sex and gender” as I believe such a statement grants too credence to gender as a construct, a construct what in this we almost had a chance to watch unfold before our very eyes.

I have questions about gender. My sex used to be female but when I took my licensing exam, the application no longer had checkboxes for sex. Now we are of the female and male genders? Where did that come from? What does it mean? Where sex used to be seen as something that’s concrete…. is gender coming to be concretized? I’m openly asking here because I can’t see any purpose for this, politically or otherwise. My thinking aligns with the following two MacKinnon quotes:

“Much has been made of a supposed distinction between sex and gender. Sex is thought to be the more biological, gender the more social; the relation of each to sexuality varies. I see sexuality as fundamental to gender and as fundamentally social. Biology becomes the social meaning of biology within the system of sex inequality much as race becomes ethnicity within a system of racial inequality. Both are social and political in a system that does not rest indepen¬dently on biological differences in any respect. In this light, the sex/gender distinction looks like a nature/culture distinction in the sense criticized by Sherry Ortner in "Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?" Feminist Studies 8 (Fall 1982). I use sex and gender relatively interchangeably.”

I think it’s far more complex than you suggest. There is agreement here in part with what you say:

“The person in radical feminist thought is necessarily socially constituted, affirmatively so through an active yet critical embrace of womanhood as identity. Naturalism is at base an epistemological posture growing out of the search for a ground on which to found true reality perception, a location of constancy, a bedrock beneath social shifts, variance, and relativity. Nature is a fixed, certain, and ultimately knowable reality to which there is tangible demonstrable truth, intersubjectively communicable, regardless of perspective. The idea of naturalism, in fact, is that nature is not an idea, but an object reality, meaning that it is thing. Sex as biology, gender as physical body, occupies this place in liberal feminism. In this view, body originates independently of society or mind; then, to varying degrees but invariably and immu¬tably, it undergirds social relations, limiting change. In radical feminism, the condition of the sexes and the relevant definition of women as a group is conceived as social down to the somatic level. Only incidentally, perhaps even consequentially, is it biological.”

Towards a feminist theory of the state – p 46

Allison, I don’t know what schools of feminism you align yourself with. But that definition appeared to be liberal feminist to me.

I’m writing about this because somehow there seems to be a message here, having been born at a time when gender literally did not exist and was not distinct. For feminism to recognize a split between sex and gender seems far too generous to gender for me. Yesterday, Iris was kind enough to mention gender and the queer movement. I suggested I would not have many warm things to say about the queer movement and I really don’t.

The Queer/trans movements come from distinctively a distinctively male standpoint and a relatively privileged standpoint at that. While Butler has made her reluctance to be included by that movement clear, it’s almost devoid of a woman’s standpoint and is extraordinarily underrepresented by women.

When I observe the standpoint of the queer movement and what appears to be visible to its observers, again I am certain that it’s basically a male movement. Allison, I was also glad to see you discuss how women internalize male values and I believe that’s occurred with the women who support the queer. I’m sure they “question gender”. I’m not sure Iris, why a find that phrase so offensive. After all, gender kills. People die because of gender. Doesn’t it seem just a little effete and HIGHLY privileged to utter the statement, “I question gender?” Radical feminists want to eradicate gender. As far as I know, only the freedom of male privilege could “question gender”. In reality, I believe only can have either that privilege or luxury. As women, it’s in our faces all the time.

For women, patriarchy is a wearying dynamic full of double binds. The topic of “difference” is illustrative about how women loose either way with issues of gender. Considering the question of “Equity” when women claim there is no difference, the metaphor of resulting allotments would be razor blades and not tampons because of the implicit male standard. When women say we are different, in order to have our needs met, those differences are hierarchicalized against a male standard and we’re seen as second class. Indeed patriarchy is a two way sword which always finds ways to undermine us.

I see the same, coming from the queer movement with it’s male perspective and lack of woman-identification. Every single queer position on gender rolls downhill and onto the backs of women. “Gender is a play toy”, except for those that are dead and mutilated, that is. What was suffrage and the Salemn witch trails about if not for gender and how much of a play toy were they for women? It might be a play toy for men and radical feairies who cross dress on a weekend, go ‘gender slumming’ but will return to work on Monday morning in their coats and ties and freshly pressed shirts. But what about those who are never so situated and positioned? What respite do we have? We are the gender slum you visit. I do not believe that queer is a friend of women until it does not just question gender. I think it has to do two things. I think it must confront gender because gender has been the handle for the oppression of women. Queer has never acknowledged this because it’s been too busy abstracting women’s lives out of existence and abstractions sounding as detached from women’s lives as does “questioning gender”. Part of the friction between lesbian feminists has been where queer has discouraged the existence and integrity of women spaces.

Radical Feminism, queer and trans abstract women’s lives to varying extents. Certainly T-Grace Atkinson’s statement about women being a political category was an abstraction but at the same time, I’ve never seen a radical feminist deny that women’s lives have contents, indeed our lives have highly constructing (verb) contents. In post modernism, we become but narratives and in queer we’re a category again but seen through male lenses. The queer identity has subsumed the lesbian identity.
23 February 2006 @ 02:06 pm
My Radical Feminist Conscience and $$$Money$$$

I just received what almost seems like a Jimminy Crickett note from someone I love and respect an awful lot. She wasn’t the least bit chastising but she was pointing out things about my finances etc.

She said wise things as she always does. She said, “Let’s face it, it’s not attractive to lesbians or anyone else to be 50+ and burdened with debt.”

I’m sure this is true and I don’t have any argument with that. But being attractive isn’t the issue for me.

Are radical feminist’s allowed to have heroes? Is it ok to really admire a man or a character? Yes, Annie was my heroine in the fifties and Annie only ran for about ran years. So who was left? Well, there was Bob Denver as Manard G. Krebbs – a Beatnik! He was so atraditional! I internalized those ideas.

I’ve always believed that money was dirty. I don’t feel good about money. I don’t crave it. Actually I wish with all my heart that it didn’t exist – because money coerces. If life is precious, when we have money, we immediately have to watch out for it. That consumes life and our freedom. I believe this so strongly that in the late seventies I blew out of a human potential training on Abundance and Prosperity when then were pinning dollars bill to a woman’s dress and singing, “Money, Money, money” I just about exploded through the door.

I have no doubt that my friend is right. It is unattractive to be old and poor. But I look at the alternative. If I had had money, how would it have been? It could only have been through pouring over stocks and having budgets and making financial plans etc. In other words I would have paid for that money in terms of my life – time spent.

I’d prefer to be unattractive. I’ve met “unattractive” who live in vas at festival. Yes, they are a little crazier, and more of their own woman than me.

I’m sorry, I absolutely despise money. Work is, OK. But I totally believe money is filthy because of the parts of your life that you trade of in order to have money. I never want to have a “portfolio”. Pardon me, but I’ pooh all myself. Often I consult, and men come for computer consultations. (Keep in mind that my basement is one room and my bed is in it.) I consult on software problems and when the men leave, they lay down a fifty dollar bill. I feel like I’ve been prostituted. I feel ill. I feel soiled. As a matter of fact, I have been prostituted. I have men in my home. I don’t want men in my home. I have to talk to them. I have to take directions from them.

That’s really unattractive to me. Money is unattractive to me. Them I think about “well-to-do” lesbians and I ask, “Are they attractive to me?” The answer is, no they aren’t. I know what they had to do to be well to do. They had to have portfolios. They had to pay attention to money. They had to take precious hours of their lives any be coerced and they had to talk to REALLY dull men.

What is more valuable to me? The approval of well to do lesbians or precious moments in my life that I have no spent worrying about term life insurance? ***Sigh*** this is what I mean about capitalism. It coerces, enslaves, prostitutes. It robs us of the time in our lives.

Yeah… I hope I’m unattractive to “well to do lesbians” because I’m sure they are not attractive to me. I don’t think they’ve done much thinking about this. They were too busy checking to see if their term life insurance had expired or not. Would I want to be in a relationship with someone like that? I’m afraid I wouldn’t. I also fear that we wouldn’t have much to talk about. It’s a little bit like the “alliance” between lesbian and gay men which has sounded pretty stupid to me. What do I have in common with gay men? Next to nothing as far I am concerned. He prefers to be with men and I prefer to be with women. Fine, now that we’ve established that, what else is there to talk about? But isn’t the same thing true for well to do Lesbians? They prefer women. Ok Good. They have portfolios, term life, mortgages, financial advisors and cell phones and Godiva Chocolates. How exciting are these women to talk to? They aren’t interesting to me. How many do you see clamoring to get on this list? None.

Ooooh I’m in tears because this isn’t why I’ve spent thirty five years of my life for women. I didn’t do it so we could have term life and portfolios.

I did it so we could be FREE. AS far as I can see the well to do are and have been anything but free and it is with sadness, no tears in my eyes, that I register how uninteresting I find them to be. I’m sorry I missed the latest Olivia Cruise… well sort of, well to be honest no I’m not. I’m sort of glad I missed it because that just isn’t on my list of aspirations and I’m especially not interested in paying the costs.

To the woman who wrote me, I think you are so wonderful. It’s just that…well here I see you as … moderate in this area. Are you going to radically reject this stuff, or is it your goal to be comfortable in a corrupt society? I could never do that. I’ve been there. I’ve owned homes and was a solid citizen…..and

I HATED myself. I HATED myself for participating in this oh so fucked up society. I felt like I do when those men lay down their fifty dollars bills because backing my respectable care out of my long respectable asphalt wasn’t me. It wasn’t me at all. I felt renewed when I shed that dead skin.

I don’t like sounding like a reactionary but a couple of weeks ago I talked to the woman who brought me out. She had $145.00 to her name. NOW…. That’s MY KIND OF WOMAN and I’m really serious. What holds patriarchy together is HOW we participate. I’m poor and I hurt. But I have a good radical feminist report card.

Please know Jimminy cricket that I really do cherish you. But I feel almost haughty at the observation that I’m not attractive to well to do lesbians because I believe they’ve sold out. They’ve deserted the movement. It rather makes me question “the community” that I though so beautiful. Where are the women who spoke so eloquently? Kate Millet won’t even touch feminism these days from what I understand. How many of us really cared?

Like TruthSayer, I long for the seventies because we were real an we cared and we hadn’t sold out. I’m so tired of shutting down my conscience and not listening to my own body.

I can’t do “business”. My head just doesn’t work that way. I can do ‘technical’. That’s ok. Just not money… no, keep me away from it.

17 February 2006 @ 08:47 pm
I made an interesting observation today. I thought I might share it.

I have a firm belief in knowing all I can about a subject, if I am going to speak about it. This means I have to educate myself about things that are important to me. This often includes what I like to call "knowing thine enemy", as in knowing what is being said by people of opposing viewpoints about a subject. I am also aware that on the internet, one must be very careful about the quality of where they get their information. That being said, I went on a little hunt this evening to see some of the herstory of radical feminism. Mostly so that some of what we are talking about here makes more sense. As an anthropologist, knowing the background and how something came to be is a very important element to understanding your subject. So tonite, some of the basic information that I came away with was something that connected to an event earlier in the evening.

After work, I went to a local used bookstore that we have here in town. For those of you who don't know me, I am from Iowa City, Iowa, which is home to the University of Iowa. I wanted to take women's studies electives when I was a student here, and found a few that were combined with anthropology classes, but my main focus was physical(archaeology)and not cultural. Iowa City is about the most liberal city in Iowa and has a rich herstory and links to feminists ("Common Lives, Lesbian Lives", a strong GLBT presence, civil rights protections within city limits for GLBT people for over 20 years now).

So I am in this little used bookstore that I love, and I am perusing the women's studies section, searching for some of the author's I have seen here, for which I am not finding any. There was one book in particular, and I did not buy it, nor do I remember it's title or author, but I may have to go back tomorrow to get it. This book, on the back cover, summarized that as women develop, there is a time between age (don't quote me on this) approximately 2nd and 6th grade where they are heavily influenced by what they are seeing and being exposed to around them, and then this stops and they don't get to a true place of understanding this stuff they had been exposed to until they are adults. Like for a short time it makes sense in a big picture sort of way that we really don't have vocabulary for, and then we lose it and then get it back later in life.

One thing that I noted from my little herstory search tonite was that the most active time so far for radical feminism was in the late 60's into the mid-70's. I was born in 1969 to a mother who was 26 years old in 1969 and who was heavily influenced as a woman at Indiana University in the 60's by feminism and the women's movement. I was raised with "Free to Be, You and Me", Helen Reddy's "I am Woman" and Sesame Street). My mother was an art teacher, and always worked outside the home, but was free during summers in which we traveled all over the United States. My mother always travelled alone with us. To the outside world, she wanted people to see a strong independent woman who could take care of herself and her own. I don't think my mother has ever really sat down and analyzed feminist theory, but her sisters who wrote the famous writings and did the protesting, made it a safer world for her to do these things and she appreciated that. To me, she has always been the embodiment of feminism, because she lives a very free life, with as much equality as she can find. She surrounds herself with like-minded people and she makes decisions for herself. She has never allowed her husbands (my father and step-father) to ever demonstrate that they thought they had any control or power over her. She did not do any of these things in a threatening way. She was always loving, but insistent on her independence.

So, when I was in approximately 2nd through 6th grade, I was exposed to my mother's interest in the women's movement and my parent's support of ERA. It may not have made any sense to me at the time, but now as I am 36, I find that my desire to learn about feminism and cultural diversity is a value I hold very dear. It is something I am passionate about. So I guess now I have to go back tomorrow and find the book and buy it and read it so that I can actually post something meaningful from this interesting observation that went off like a lightbulb in my head tonite.

I will let you guys know the title and author of that book when I go back tomorrow, if I can find it again and someone hasn't bought it. I was disapointed to not find any MacKinnon, which was my ultimate goal in going in the first place, but they are going to keep eyes open for me for her books (people take books in to them and they buy them and then re-sell them. I collect antique books and have found quite a few gems there for about $4-$5 each. I want to find some of the lesbian pulp novels from the 50's but have had no luck yet.

Ok, so I will shut up now and wait for all of your wonderful responses to my meandering thought processes and look forward to seeing what you all make of this.

17 February 2006 @ 05:55 am
Given the chance, most people wouldn't choose the sex of their baby before conception, a new survey shows. (The survey was done by Harris Interactive in September 2004. )

The study, published in Fertility and Sterility, is based on an Internet survey of 1,197 men and women aged 18-45 years old. The survey has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Between 8 percent and 18 percent of participants stated that they would use medical technology described in the survey to choose whether to have a boy or girl.

"Perhaps this speaks to the fact that people still want to leave things up to chance and not rely on science for everything," researcher Tarun Jain, MD, says in a news release from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where Jain works.

Boy-Girl Preference

The survey also gauged preferences for baby boys or girls.

Participants were asked if they would rather have a boy or girl as their first child. Their answers:
• No preference: 42 percent
Boy: 39 percent
• Girl: 19 percent
17 February 2006 @ 02:18 am
FishyFem: Would you be interested in starting a post regarding what you would like the younger generation to know? Or just describing your experience of the second wave? I actually never quite caught onto what you were saying about the metaphorical bookshelf so if you want to go over that again that'd be great!

The latter is far more concrete and communicable in a short period of time than the former which needs to wait until I can dedicate quality time to a meaningful response including thinking about it.

Sometimes I am a little embarrassed by my early experience because I went to school in the South plus we were students and pretty much followers.

My initial experiences came from a concentration of about four places:

• The first was a series of WS courses and all that occurred in relation to them.

• The second was in the construction of a Lesbian Commune near the school – well within 40 miles.

• The third was a single evening at a gay and lesbian party before there was a significant lesbian culture.

• Later, in the early eighties after coming out…. Life in a local NOW chapter. They are all connected temporally and related to one another if through nothing else - contrasts.

The other thing that’s interesting is they were non-overlapping and isolated segments which speaks to the diversity of early feminist groups in the South.

At risk of being repetitious but toward putting this in a consolidated place I’ll begin again.

I was waiting for a movement like Feminism. I didn’t know what it would be but I knew of the evils of male dominance through the violence against us at home. I knew it wasn’t “natural” as it was seen then and I was waiting for something to come along to confront that.

One early evening, just as I was finishing undergraduate school, during Walter Cronkite, there was a film clip of women in jeans, tennis shoes and sweatshirts confronting men on in suits on Madison Ave.

This was so anomalous that I sat up and took instant notice. It was something called feminism. But this was the South and there was noting visible like that here. I just stored it away and this was about 1968.
Btw, I should note that I grew up in a conservative environment. Both of my sisters are Republicans. One is anti-abortion. I love them very much but there are topics we have to avoid or upset will occur. In 1968 Nixon ran against Humphrey and had I voted I would have voted for Nixon. I was “apolitical” which is really quite political because there’s not such thing as apolitical. I was also poor and lived on a porch and paid $5.00/week for rent.

Just before grad school, there was a life changing event for me called Kent State.

I was walking across campus and it changed my life forever, but it wasn’t over night. We can call it “process”. When I arrived at grad school, I was in a lab full of Californians. As soon as I settled in, since I had gone further South I sought out feminists. There were no WS departments at the time, but feminists could be found around t Psych of Women’s courses and I made that my minor.

One the first day, there were two men in the course and they immediately began talking about how patriarchy hurt them. The prof cut them off and said, “I’m sure that’s very important, but this course of about women and is for women and we need to listen to women.” You could have heard a pin drop because this was the first time I ever heard that and I LOVED it. I knew I was in the right place and I understood, we all did and we relaxed and marveled at this space – the kind of space that we’ never known in the presence of men. It’s important to understand just how gigantic this was. It was so new and the incident was so informing. It told volumes. Btw, there was little feminist literature at the time. We had the brand new edition of OBOS. I still have a copy like it. It was printed on acidic recycled paper and they are all brown now and my copy is much thinner than the version now.

**** Violence described in next paragraph***

We were eager to learn about this new way of BEING. We never challenged the prof until the end of the course and I’ll get that. We had a CR and that was wonderful. During the class, I sat across from an Back woman. She was the first lesbian I’d ever met. She wore coveralls, was big, angry and scary because of that anger but we supported her. She and I formed a gentle comfortable friendship. It was a little distant. I was white and straight. But we used to walk to school together. How bold it was to announce that she was a lesbian. During that quarter, a man blew her lover’s head off with a shot gun. We supported her through that.

We loved the course and lived for course days because it was the only place that felt safe. Through CR, I was converting to a feminist. Oddly enough, I couldn’t interest the other women in the lab into these courses. Somehow they seemed threatened. That’s always been around.

We also went to the First AWP meeting in Carbondale, Illinois, in a caravan. I think all of use slept in a Red Rooster Inn – together. The meetings were exhausting. We didn’t stay up and talk. I guess I need to talk about that.

Feminism was pretty geographical. It felt to us as if it were being run from the North – Chicago and Columbia, SUNY and NEW, Columbus and in the West it was Berkley. We definitely felt as if we were followers. This meeting was interesting because the pros came down from the North. They were solemn and serious. I made my only faux paus at this meeting. In a workshop on gender, there was the statement of NO DIFFERENCE and I piped up and said, “But there are brain differences” and the big dykes scowled at me. “We don’t talk about that.” “Oooh…….” But through these experiences, our class became cohesive. We stuck together for years. It was a time for reflection also.

There were several times that I realized that we were standing on the edge of time. We didn’t know where this was going. Roe had just been decided and it was unexpected and a shock. It took a long time to realize exactly what this meant. You see, this was a freedom we had never known. What did this freedom mean, exactly? How did it translate from gavel to our day to day lives? How could not know this was coming?

While speaking of the edge of time, I clearly remember being at an AWP meeting and talking to a woman with the most beautiful blue eyes. So many thoughts. There was the realization that we were isolated and how important these meeting were. The was the realization that we didn’t know where we were going or where this would take us and most of all there was the realization that we were doing this for our daughters. I was sure the volumes that we were writing about women and about our insights and discoveries would be our legacies and our daughter’s treasures through which they could understand us and the times. Ours was somehow a well educated generation and we were prolific analysts and writers of every aspect of women’s experiences. I was sure this would be a wide bridge across the generations and a vehicle through which we would be able to talk to each other. Few things could be further from the truth. Temporality.

There was no differentiation between liberal and radical feminists. My training seemed to be in the vein of liberal feminist.

Thread II – The Lesbian Commune

One day a tall skinny gentle man came into the lab and announced that he was a new Computer Science Prof and that he wanted to help us with our research needs. We became friends and I met his wife. They were from Columbus a hot bed of radicalism. They were Quaker and different. The made homemade butter biscuits with hand utensils and used natural honey as a sweetener and had a honey ladle. She canned. K, had a HUGE wooden bookcase, full of books on women. Where did they come from? I’d never seen so many books on women. I didn’t know they’d been written. They were all paperback, a reflection of our economic status. I spent time with them and got to know them well. At that time all middle class and college educated lesbians had big homemade books full women’s literature. It was almost automatic. We didn’t have a Womyn’s Bookstore but larger cities did. Columbus did. All lesbians were automatically feminists except butches in many parts of the country. Often they weren’t accepted by feminists.

One day, M announced that his wife had discovered she was a lesbian. They were going to separate but before they did, he would help them identify land and build a commune. GOODNESS. This was all coming so fast and furious. My head was spinning. I’d never heard of anything like this. But I helped them too. We ran land tests and “percolated” the land to see if it would drain and was suitable for sewage. They were afraid of flash floods and actually built the house on trees as pillars. There was space for grape arbors and running streams through the land. And there were BIG DYKES now in coveralls. Some had hair on their chins. They had their own culture so there were three cultures. His, mine and the lesbian culture which I had to grope my way around. I was afraid of offending as I respected the culture but did not know it.

I was concerned about their safety in this little Christian backwoods part of the world. They said they were valued members of the community and as long as they didn’t cause any problems the town folks accepted them as they were. That was the seventies.

We did get the commune together. It actually had a composting toilet, the only one I’ve ever seen and it was “loud” in announcing its presence in the summer. It was far worse than the porta-Janes at festival. I did manage to offend the lesbians once. One night I was going out on date and got dressed and put on makeup. That’ all it took. They never said anything but I could see the look on their faces. I wanted to shrink.

Thread III – A Lesbian and Gay Party

In and of itself this may not be interesting except it is. I was invited to a GLF party and I went. It was in a house and as rather amazing because it was completely gender separated. When I arrived the host hugged me hello and said, “The women are out there on the porch”, and after that we never saw the men after that. But here is where it becomes interesting.

At that time, in the South there was no shared lesbian culture. Yes, there was “Beebo Brinker”, perhaps Jane Rule and The Well of Loneliness by RadClyffe Hall. But that was it. This wasn’t true nationally. Larger cities did have a common shared lesbian culture. But I wanted to talk about us. What did I encounter at the GLF party? Perhaps the very opposite from the dykes at the commune. Everyone, including me was in skirts, everyday school attire. We weren’t, or they weren’t distinctive as lesbians, perhaps they could ill afford to be at school. Given that there was no common culture, we had to fumble to find commonalities and we discussed our studies and what departments we were in. I mention because only a few years later I would come out in the very early eighties after Olivia Records had given us Womyn’s Music. The two periods contrasted like day and night. Rita Mae Brown had published Rubyfruit Jungle, standard training for any lesbian.

There was this tiny point in time when I came out. There were two artists on Olivia. Meg Christian and Cris Williamson. They gave us our culture, two Olivia Artists and staff and Holly Near. By the time I came out we had a language. You could ask a woman if she ever heard of Meg Christian and if she said yes, you’d know she was a sister and she’d know you were one. It was a horribly white period which may not have been apparent at the time. As a separatist community the lesbian community was strong and had our own stores and events. DC had a two days Womyns Music Festival Called SisterFire which died in the mid-eighties. Gone. We had bookstores. Gone. And we had the GWA, a weekly gathering of 100 lesbians which for two dollars an evening served wine and cheese and had speakers like Sonja Jonson. It was wonderful. It was powerful and it’s disintegrated.

Just before I came out, we lost the ERA. I broke up with the man I was with and swore off men. I had succumbed to heteronormativity. But I didn’t think I was a lesbian. After all, I couldn’t see myself in coveralls, picking up women in a bar. But again there was another life event where I met this wonderful woman and we had the most beautiful summer of my life. She was patient with me and taught me so much and took me to my first Womyn’s books stores. We slept in each other’s arms all summer and were never lovers. “Never bring a woman out was one of her maxim’s”. But it was a beautiful summer of snuggling and white gowns and close friendships, champagne, Meg Christian, Holly Near, and Cris Williamson. She didn’t stay in town and parting hurt so bad…but I was soon in a long term relationship for the next eight years with a wonderful but tough lesbian and we co-mommed raising her daughter.

During that time we joined NOW, which was really disappointing. I understand why but, it was a horrible experience. The chapter was totally hierarchical and there were no open chapter business meetings. Essentially members came and heard a presentation often given by men and then we went home but not before telling us where the next abortion protest would be. Oooh, we face lots of angry male anti-abortionists and I learned early that there was no discussing these issues with them. It was IN YOUR FACE SHOUTING AND SCREAMING as were surrounded by pictures of meaty, bloody fetuses marching hour after hour.

Other than that the NOW experience had no intensity to it. The board was clustered as they were because they feared chapter takeovers by pro-lifers. Even in 1984 that struggle was going on. I have never been able to find a group of intense feminists like we had in grad school.

But my partner and I had our own wooden bookcase and our prized book was Rita Mae Brown’s Plain Brown Wrapper. By that time you could call me a Lesbian Feminist.

Thread V – Radicalizing - a Postlog

I wouldn’t have called myself an acutely schooled feminist. I came up at a time that there just wasn’t feminist literature and reading feminism wasn’t something that was a part of me. BUT, my instincts were good.

In the early nineties, I began to encounter “feminists” who condoned prostitution and pornography. All my instincts said that these hurt women but here were feminists around me advocating it. I went into crisis. If this was feminism, I had to consider saying goodbye because this just wasn’t tolerable. I knew somewhere there were feminists making good arguments who knew what they were taking about and I sought them on the net. Finally I found one. I asked her what she read and she said MacKinnon. The rest is herstory.

It’s rare that really young women become radical feminists. Normally there’s usually a bit a path. The young feminist begins liberal but then encounters issues in her own life and if she cares she begins to re-evaluate and re-evaluate. After I devoured everything of MacKinnon’s and went into standpoint theories and feminist epistemologies. I love those. They are rich in insights.

There’s more but it occurred in the last ten years and can be separated from your questions on the second wave.

But what I’m becoming aware of is how time and society reality change. Patriarchy propagates itself not through a single point in time but across generations. We lose what we learn. As individuals we come into ongoing patriarchy as a point in time. I want to begin looking at that along with other feminist philosophers because I think there’s a lot there that can’t be seen until there is a herstorical perspective in place.
16 February 2006 @ 08:08 pm
Hello, I thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves. I am new to this group but have known Radfeminista for along time. I am 36, identify as a lesbian. I live in Iowa. I hold a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Iowa in Anthropology. My background in in Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology of North American Indians. I am currently working on a M.A. in Secondary Education - Social Studies as a back injury from a horseback riding accident keeps me from doing the archaeological work that I love so much. I am learning about radical feminism and have learned a lot from Radfeminista. I am starting to read and want to read some of the great authors. A good starting point would be appreciated. I have only read one book that Radfeminista bought me and I cannot remember the title and can't find it right now, I think I loaned it to another womyn. I am kind of flaky and just starting to put some of this stuff together, so bear with me and let me learn from you. I may not post much, but I read and take all of it in and think about it a lot!

15 February 2006 @ 12:31 pm
I’ve been asked for my pov on men in feminism. I can only respond with a personal perspective. Interaction and commentary from the community is invited and encouraged.

When we ask what feminism is grounded in, the first answer is, feminism is grounded in feminism. I know that sounds circular but let’s look at the alternative which is: feminism would be grounded in patriarchy because anything that isn’t feminism, is patriarchy. This is also why radical feminists question the ideologies of liberal feminism. Liberalism has central conceptual cardinals which are patriarchal. Having visited here, I turn and ask again, what is feminism grounded in? The answer is women’s experience.

I believe some of the most interesting differences (post-social in origin) between men and women are what men DO NOT SEE that women do see. Within feminism, this is understood as epistemological privilege. In other words, oppressed people are able to see differential outcomes that privileged people cannot and do not see. I think the things that men don’t see are truly remarkable.

There are more aspects of privilege that we often do not see. When you look at the work done, one of the things that women are invisibly charged with, is to do both the emotional work for men and to do the socially educate, guide and steer them. This is role related and is a universal tax placed upon women in relation to men. In a very real way, this often continues in feminism because of what feminism is. IF feminism is grounded in the material experiences of women – men have nothing to add, but still require educating, the traditional role. Feminisms rather mandates that men educate themselves and on of the primary roles for men in feminism is to educate other men. Feminism is a movement for women to obtain full access to socio-political rewards of society, and the only way we will ever do this will be to radically change society. It will be ours to unravel society down to the fundamental oppression which is gender. When we are finished a side product will be that men are liberated too. It must be remembered that the liberation of men is a side product of feminist pursuits. Feminism is not for the liberation of all people, but it will liberate all people because it is ours to eliminate the fundamental oppression. There is sort of a quandry or koan in all of this. As soon feminism is made about the liberation of all people, it becomes – NOT Feminism and cannot and will not accomplish it’s goals.

I am not an overall Daly fan because of her essentialism, but she has taught us many wonderful things. Men in feminist spaces generally divert the space. IF men say patriarchy hurts men too (PHMT), the proper feminist response is, “We’re really sorry. Go out there and change it.” What we don’t do is to enable patriarchy by making the traditional response, “Oh you poor baby.” You always have to look whether men are in feminism because the want to benefit women or themselves. Within feminism, we shouldn’t be hearing much from men. They should be out holding anti-rape seminars, repairing domestic violence clinics and working on their own issues, instead of making their issues – ours, yet another function of privilege.

I think there are other questions that I’ve always had. What happens when push comes to shove? (The only value in feminism for hypothetical is to illustrate). But suppose, suddenly feminist were in the verge of a major victory say of the magnitude of Roe. One has to remember that ROE didn’t cost men anything. What happens when a gain does cost men? Are they going to work against themselves? Did we not receive an answer to this in terms of the ERA? What I am positing is that relying on the support of men.

For all of these reasons, I question men being in feminism in any other capacity than I’ve described.

I have a married feminist friend and over the years, she has trained her husband (let’s not make that transparent) to the point that he is a pleasure to be around. I believe he does understand what feminists need from men and I believe that’s the proper question to ask.

There’s one more really unusual narrative. There was an ostensible man on a major feminist board and then a second, third and fouth. This individual had a masculine user name, but few took him to be male. Further more, the person over time showed clearly that they were woman-centered. I became friends with him. And we really, really curious at where this person was centered. “There is at least one good man”, I decided. But then other things began to really puzzle me. After really watching this person and how they approached the world and solved problems, I thought, “this person is not epistemologically male” and I watched other board members be absolutely astounded that this was a man even with the very male username. This person went through a period of avoiding me for months. When we did interact on MSN, there was ‘hint dropping and flight’. Finally it was shared, this person was changing class and would no longer be in class man but class woman. In a way, that was really disappointing. I have yet to find my one good man…….