This is an open letter about men who claim to be feminist and to the women who believe them. This letter is directed at women who — without any analysis or criteria — believe men who claim to be feminist. This letter is not directed at anybody else, so please ensure that you are indeed a member of the intended audience before replying. This letter has been written with the cooperation of 28 radical feminists, all of whom should be familiar to those who frequent radical feminist spaces. We are rather serious today, about a rather serious harm being committed with impunity.
First, you need to know why we have a valid reason for being concerned about the behavior of self-identified feminist men within feminist spaces, and our answer is simple: We have identified the subtle mechanisms utilized by pro-feminist men to “divide and conquer”, to erase the commonality from all women within feminist spaces and whose cumulative effect results in a gross marginalization of the radical feminist position. Nor are we are the only women to notice a problem.
So why should an erasure of the commonality inherent to all women matter to anyone besides radical feminists? Lucky Nickel makes the relevant connection for us:
Self-naming and self-identified labels mean nothing. There must be substance to the label they identify with and substance to who they claim to be. Otherwise folks can insist on calling a mouse a giraffe or claim rape is really love.
What I do think important to note is that liberals, lesbian separatists and radical feminists are all flying the radfem flag these days. The problem being, they are 3 separate and distinct political groups and ideologies, 2 of whom are inappropriately waving the radfem flag. It can get a bit tricky tho with lesbian separatists as radical feminists can also be lesbian separatists. But not all lesbians are radfems and not all radfems are lesbian separatists, or even lesbian for that matter. But in Julian Real’s case, that would be irrelevant. The dude is not a lesbian or radical feminist.
What the dude is, is liberal. And what he is attempting to do is appropriate the radical feminist label in order to inject liberal ideology. Equality politics are liberal politics, not radical feminist politics. Radical feminists seek liberation from men and their system, not equality. Liberals focus on differences between women. Radical feminists focus on the commonality of women. Needless to say, these 2 different ideologies conflict and clash. Which delights men like Julian Real to no end. Cuz if he keeps liberal women pitted against radical feminist women, it keeps women from unifying, which in turn keeps the heat off of pricks like him and men in general. Slick, no?
In talking to each other privately, we have decided to collectively communicate the following message regarding Julian Real, Hugo Schwyzer, and other men like them who claim to be feminist allies. These men do not speak for women as well as we can speak for ourselves and we ask that you give radical feminist bloggers the respect of reading our words, joining the discussion in comments on our blogs, and contributing to our own community rather than giving energy to men like Julian & Hugo who seek to divide us on points which all feminists have in common. Men exhibiting these behaviors have inserted themselves into discussions among women when their participation was insidiously harmful in nature, and we ask that you not support that behavior nor make excuses for it.
Yep, that about sums it up. As an analogy, we basically have a bunch of grocers mislabeling all the cans in the grocery store. They’re slapping corn labels not only on cans of corn, but on cans of green beans, peas, carrots and beans as well. So you pick up a can of corn, only to find green beans inside. But when you try to return it to the grocer, he protests and insists it is corn – see the label?
What ensues is chaos. Because the purpose of language is to communicate. But in order to verbally communicate, we must all be on the same page in terms of what words mean. So when I say “duck,” everyone knows what I’m talking about. A duck, not a tree.
Well liberals (postmodernists included) are the chump grocers who decided to mislabel all the cans in the store as corn and created a Tower of Babel effect. When words mean whatever folks want them to, communication gets shut down because no one is on the same page or speaks the same language, and folks spend all their time arguing what words mean.
Who does this benefit? Men, of course. Because in our culture, men have the power of naming and defining, which is denied to women. So men’s words carry much more weight than women’s words do. So whatever men decide words mean at any given moment, it will be recognized as such. Men, of course, know this, and are having a field day causing strife in the women’s movement. Even going so far as to claim that women don’t even exist!
Many pro-feminist men ask what they can do to help women. Well in the words of Mary Daly, “You can get the hell out of our way.” So Hugo? Julian? Kindly sit down, STFU and get the hell out of our way. The whole point of Women’s Lib is to liberate ourselves from your kind, not to serve your lame, sorry asses.
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