Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How about we keep our hands to ourselves -- for starters

I have only been casually observing the latest go-round between the rad-fems and fun-fems (frankly, it's all too much for my pretty little head to really give a fuck about -- arguing with people on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics: even if you win, you're still retarded -- unless I agree with you, of course.) But the entire thing has gotten me thinking about something that I think about a lot, and this entry has been brewing for about a week now.
I have a huge problem with adversarial philosophical models. Like, Donald Trump's hair huge. "Us" versus "them". "Good" versus "evil". "Feminists" versus "patriarchy".

Everyone, for some reason, has to have an enemy. Even on Myspace surveys, "do you hate anyone?" "Who's your enemy?" (Although, to be fair, Myspace surveys are more likely to as "wh00z ur enemy".) My problem here is that having enemies, hating people, making something like a patriarchal structure with a history of favoring (white) men to the detriment of women (and people of color) into something that can be personified defeats the purpose of things such as feminism. The other problem with this divisive approach is that you end up alienating people who could otherwise be allies.

Not all feminists and feminist theory does this, and that's wonderful. But some feminists promulgate some forms of feminist theory that actually ends up doing more harm to women than good. Feminist theory that embraces this idea that all sex workers are unwilling, and if sex work were just illegal it would end and no wimminz would be subjugated by teh patriarchyz. Feminist theory that embraces the idea that if women would just refuse to give in to the "arbitrary beauty standards of the patriarchy" (like shaving, wearing make up, wearing skirts/dresses/high heels/other uncomfortable shoes) and be natural, the subjugation of women would end (or something). Feminist theory that embraces the idea that men are the enemy because by their very existence they prop up the patriarchy.

These theories alienate sex workers, women who like make up/skirts/dresses/uncomfortable-yet-super-hot shoes, men, and pretty much anyone who doesn't agree with these standards of what I like to call "exclusionary feminism" -- in other words, if you're not part of our club, you're not a real feminist. Well, thanks exclusionary feminists, but I'm pretty sure that I am a feminist. I'm not only a feminist, but I'm a good, well-educated, not-naive, not-secretly-subjugated-by-my-patriarchal-overlords, and I think that any woman who has the courage to stand up and call herself a feminist (or act as a feminist if she's not comfortable with the title -- or any title), or even any man who stands up for the rights of women -- they can be feminists too. That basically your feminism is whatever you want it to be.

You see, the thing is, an "Us" versus "Them" mentality is a patriarchal structure in and of itself. My friend WitchUponAStar once left this quote from a Women's Studies text book in an online forum:

"...Only in a patriarchal society would the inclusion of women be interpreted as a potential threat or loss of men's power. It is a reflection of the fact that we live in a competitive patriarchal society that it is assumed that the feminist agenda is one that seeks to have power over men. And only in an androcentric society where men and their reality is center stage would it be assumed that an inclusion of one group must mean the exclusion of another. In other words, male domination encourages the idea that affirming women means hating men and interprets women's request for power sharing as a form of taking over. This projection of patriarchal mentality equates someone's gain with another's loss. ..."

In other words, by attempting to prop up adversarial philosophical models like criticizing a woman's feminism because she likes sex, or lipgloss, or eats red meat, or any other arbitrary things that have absolutely nothing to do with whether she stands up for herself or other women in asserting their rights to the same rights that people of privilege have; by doing this, radical feminists in fact perpetuate that of which they claim to seek the destruction. And that is simply something up with the likes of which I shall not put!

Using the George W. Bush model of "if you're not with us, yer agin' us" is not only foolish, but it props up the same old idea that there has to be someone on top. And, last time I checked, feminism wasn't about one person being on top (even if that person is a woman), but rather leveling the ground so that everyone has a chance to lie in the sun and get a nice privileged tan.

So, seriously, stop criticizing other women. Stop asking straight women why they sleep with men. Stop telling young girls that pretty and empowered are mutually exclusive. Stop telling sex workers that their voices only matter if they've been forced into it or abused in some manner. Stop telling submissive women that their consent is totally fake. In fact, keep your hyper-privileged-lesbian feminist-bitch-on-a-patriarch-power-trip nose out of my goddamn vagina.


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