Women Who Care About Women Don’t Bat For Team Patriarchy
By Jacqueline S. Homan
A feminist scolded her sisters for being righteously indignant about the capo-like behavior of patriarchy’s handmaidens and honorary men, saying that being critical of women who deliberately throw their sisters under the wheels of patriarchy’s shit train distracts from the primary focus of feminism. She says that discrediting these capos doesn’t do anything to help women as a class.
Well, I have a LOT to say about that.
Although it’s true that women didn’t initiate patriarchy, and although it’s also true that some women’s bad behavior is not the same as men’s behavior under male supremacy because of the undeniable power differential, failing to publicly discredit honorary men does a far greater disservice to feminism and to women as a class by giving these handmaidens a free pass just because “they’re women, too.”
Women who use their relative, albeit male-bequeathed, privileges to slam the glass ceiling’s trap door shut on all their other sisters, hurting disempowered and marginalized women the most, and who are NOT challenged for it by feminists, isolate and silence women whom they are consciously and deliberately helping the patriarchy to oppress and crush underfoot. It is women like that, especially if they claim to be feminists (which is supposed to be about liberating ALL women from male oppression) who are harming the feminist mission of women’s liberation — far more so than the het women and libfems who are fighting in the trenches for women’s liberation from male-imposed PIV and childbirth chattel slavery.
What would a poor, homeless teen girl think about “feminists” and feminism in general if women like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Sharron Angle, or Kathleen Passidomo are given a free pass by feminists for using their positions of power and privilege within patriarchy to force her to give birth to her rapist’s progeny because these successful, highly educated and politically well-positioned women acting as honorary men were defended by those who claim to be all about ending women’s oppression?
Would that woman or girl who is forced to go through pregnancy and childbirth against her will, no matter the physical and psychological harm to her, feel included as part of the very same oppressed group that feminists claim to be trying to liberate?
The Rosetta Stone of women’s oppression by men as a class IS forced pregnancy/childbirth, whether a woman is het or lesbian. And just because a woman is het, does that mean that forced childbirth is something she “deserves?”
When a 13-year-old girl asked Sharron Angle, a Nevada Republican Congressional candidate and retired public school teacher, if she would bend her “pro-life” stance to make an exception for rape and asked what she would say to a 13 yr old rape victim who got pregnant, Angle told the girl that the victim should be forced to carry that pregnancy to term and “just learn how to make lemonade out of the lemons life handed her.” What kind of message about feminism and feminists is being sent to women and girls when some feminists silently defend (or excuse) women like Sharron Angle for “being a victim of patriarchy, too?”
What message does it send to the average woman or underage girl who doesn’t want to be forced to give birth against her will when the liberators of women won’t speak out against women using their administrative, judicial or legislative (or even their basic voting power) to pass laws to force childbirth on her, when the liberators don’t even pretend to fight for HER human rights — namely the right to NOT be conscripted into forced organ donation (which is what forced pregnancy/childbirth really is). The right to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity form the first pillar of bioethics, and also form the basis of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and are outlined the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In fact, the legal language in the UN Convention Against Torture defines “torture” to include “rape, sexual assault, and forced pregnancy.”
When former vice presidential candidate and Alaskan governor Sarah Palin passed a law in her state forcing rape victims to pay for their own rape kits at about $1,200 a clip and signed other laws that put access to birth control and safe legal abortion out of reach for underage girls and poor and working class women, what kind of message to the majority of women — who are far more socio-economically class-oppressed than Sarah Palin on top of being sex-oppressed — are feminists sending when they say that Sarah Palin isn’t to blame for using her office to strip the majority of our sisters of basic human rights, including her own daughter’s, just to further her political career in patriarchy?
How is defending women who are enemies of women helpful to feminism’s goal of ending male oppression of women? How many “average Janes” is it acceptable to sacrifice so as to not hurt the feelings of a few honorary men and handmaidens who sacrificed their own daughters on the patriarchal altar of this phallocracy?
Most women and girls don’t have a fraction of the privileges and power (even if it is male-assigned) that Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Michele Bachmann, and Kathleen Passidomo (who publicly called 11-year-old gang rape victims “prostitutes”) have. How is throwing the majority of women and girls under the bus consistent with the core tenets and principles of feminism? In order to stay focused on liberating women as a class from the oppression by men as a class, feminists cannot excuse or defend the harm inflicted by these honorary men by saying that “they are not like men.” That defeats the whole purpose of feminism. Putting it bluntly: It’s pissing up a crooked rope.
You cannot help women as a class by throwing the majority of women and girls under the bus for the sake of a few handmaidens who don’t want to be liberated (and who don’t want the rest of us to be liberated either) because they’re more than happy to serve in the ranks of patriarchy’s phalanx of Stepford capos because they’ve sold their souls for some lentil soup in exchange for doing men’s dirty work.
That “feminists can’t criticize other women” crap is precisely what helped cause the 30+ year erosion of the few hard-won rights for ALL women to have access to birth control and safe legal abortion (which are major life-savers for women) to the point where we’re at today where not only are America’s poorest women (who number in the tens of millions) without access to birth control and safe legal abortion, but rape victims are being FORCED to give birth against their will while lawmakers and others in positions or privilege and power have denied America’s poorest women food, cash support, and medical care on top of legalizing rape [e.g., Pennsylvania House Bill No. 2718] by making it practically impossible for a woman to prove she was raped — in a society that says she “asked for it”; a society that threw 300+ women in prison to date for the “crime” of having a stillbirth or miscarriage. A society that supports rapists over victims, and tells junior high and high school girls that they must share their locker room, shower and sauna with someone who has a penis in the name of “transgendered rights.” A society in which women suffering fatal pregnancy complications are left to suffer and die and “bleed out” in 1 out of 6 US hospital emergency rooms as a matter of policy because some hospital administrators’/executives’/doctors’ right to “freedom of religion” trumps pregnant women’s human rights to life, bodily autonomy, and bodily integrity — contravening the federal law that was supposed to prevent these abuses ( the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA), as well as the United Nations Convention against Torture, which the United States ratified in 1994.
The War on Women was not launched by a couple of fringe crackpots in the Republican Party without a huge groundswell of entrenched misogyny and self-centeredness of a whole society of accomplices — including women with a significant degree of political clout, and social and financial capital who, in the name of feminism, defend the enemies of feminism and in doing so, silence the very people whom feminism is supposed to be helping: the overwhelming majority of women who are stuck between the shit and the stink of having to make choiceless choices within the dictates of patriarchy just to be able to survive.
And what are these choiceless choices? Answer: Survival sex (the sex trade). Or attaching themselves to male partners and breadwinners under male terms and conditions in order to survive. Compulsory PIV sex without condoms. Mandatory childbirth (for lack of access to birth control and abortion), which even reduces what few low-paying job opportunities within the pink-collar ghetto that are available to most women which in turn forces economic dependence on abusive, selfish males or the practically non-existent and grossly inadequate welfare benefits (which poor women are begrudged).
Why defend the female enemies of women who are the willing and eager tools of patriarchy when they could have chosen NOT to be, in the name of an abstract ideology that is not being put into real down-to-earth practice to help ALL women? How does that extinguish the inferno of patriarchy when it silences the victims of it, leaving the majority of women behind to fend for themselves while telling them in so many words, “Sorry sister, you’re on your own to liberate yourself” — just because the delicate sensibilities of a few faux feminists, handmaidens and honorary men are more important than ending patriarchy by attacking the oppressor (men) AND the oppressor’s willing agents?
Women who care about women don’t bat for Team Patriarchy, or defend those who do — even though women are not like men.
One other comment – when you argue with women who uphold regressive ideas, sometimes they come around – and we welcome them. Change comes in many forms.
This is very true. We are very colonized by male supremacy. But the sad truth is that most don’t come around. But those who do give cause for celebration. 🙂
ok. I feel like Jacqueline S. Homan has read a different original article to me – or maybe we’re taking the article in a different context or something – i don’t know.
ehungerford’s post talks about how women can be destructive (though this is always in the context of being oppressed herself). It also says that women can have social power despite being a woman – but due to economic class, race, professional position, etc. Almost all of the women mentioned in this article – Sarah Palin and the like – have economic class power or professional class priveleges – and therefore have social power despite being women (and because capitalism and patriarchy depend on each other, the women who have economic power are most likely to be unsupportive of women’s liberation – and even if they do try to act in the interest of women they will struggle to change things).
I don’t see anything in ehungerford’s article that suggests that she thinks that you shouldn’t be critical of those women who have social power – but only that this should be based on their economic position not because they are women. I read the ehungerford article as being against the kind of blamefests that we often indulge in as feminists where we spend too much energy criticising other ordinary women for their own internalised misogyny rather than putting the blame square at men and patriarchal capitalism.
“Feminists who want to help women as a class must not become preoccupied with the failings of individual women; we must not spend our time condemning and making examples of women we perceive as handmaidens. When we spend our energy hunting down handmaidens and being self-righteously indignant about the awful behavior of handmaidens, we are distracted from our primary purpose as feminists.Because when all the Bad Women have finally been defanged and their wreckage cleared away, what are we left with? What have we accomplished as feminists? What have we accomplished for women? If institutionalized male supremacy rages on unfazed and we are still swimming upstream against the tide of inherently unequal sexualized politics, I don’t think we have accomplished much more than putting out one of a million tiny forest fires. We have not touched the inferno of patriarchy itself.”
That sounds like you shouldn’t be critical of women, regardless of social/economic power/participation in institutionalized male supremacy. Thoughts?
That’s EXACTLY how I read it, Cathy.
I was not referring to all the “ordinary women” struggling with their own “internalized misogyny, like so many impoverished women in Appalachia or in rural economically depressed Rust Belt towns (like Erie, PA where the nearest Planned Parenthood is over 2 hrs drive away across the Ohio state line). I was referring to those who stand on the shoulders of every radfem that ever fought for women to be able to become lawmakers and judges and whatnot, who then turn around and use their power to pass laws and enforce laws that hurt the majority of women. I also did not mention this in my article, but I think even some “ordinary” honorary men ought to be criticized instead of defended — women like Dinah Taylor, a she-pimp from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who hated other women, and who, over the course of several years, deliberately HELPED serial killer Robert Pickton kill the poorest and most marginal women by trolling the streets for victims for him and luring them back to Pickton’s pig farm and salvage yard where the victims were butchered, put through a chipper or meat grinder and fed to Pickton’s pigs. Is patriarchy to be blamed for ALL of this? You bet. But women who choose to serve as honorary men to harm (and even torture and kill) other women are NOT beyond reproach.
” I read the ehungerford article as being against the kind of blamefests that we often indulge in as feminists where we spend too much energy criticising other ordinary women for their own internalised misogyny…”
I was not referring to all the “ordinary” handmaidens, like the impoverished, isolated women in Appalachia or in the economically depressed Rust Belt towns like Erie, PA (where the nearest Planned Parenthood is over 100 miles away, and the nearest abortion clinic is in the next state).
I was specifically referring to those honorary men and handmaidens with significant political power, women who stand on the shoulders of every radfem that ever fought for women to have the right to go to college, including law school and med school, and become lawmakers and judges, who then turn around and use their power to harm the majority of other women for personal gain.
And let’s also think about some of those “ordinary” honorary men for a minute. Women like Dinah Tayler, a woman-hating she-pimp from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that trolled the streets for victims on behalf of her friend — serial killer Robert Pickton — luring those women back to Pickton’s salvage yard/pig farm where they were butchered and put through a chipper/meat grinder and fed to Pickton’s pigs. Dinah Taylor helped Pickton over the course of several YEARS. The DNA (including a couple of severed heads, hands and feet) of over 50 women were found at Pickton’s pig farm.
Is patriarchy to blame for this? You bet. But there are honorary men who KNOW better and yet consciously and deliberately choose to aid men in the harm and murders of other women because they identify more with the Ted Bundies and Robert Picktons and Gary Leon Ridgeways of the world than they do with their own sisters. I don’t believe such women should be above reproach. Do you?
I think backstabbing handmaidens should be called out. Constantly making excuses for them and not challenging their stupidity and arrogance seems hypocritical. I don’t think spending every waking moment doing it is productive but it needs to be done. Most of those morons never think of themselves as handmaidens though they’re all still too bust trying to please daddy.
It is not made clear neither here nor at Revolutionary Combustion, but I think Revolutionary Combustion meant more direct acts of man-pleasing than the acts Homan here is referring to. A different *sort* of act.
The decision that Sarah Palin made with regard to women’s lives is a decision made from a large distance, a very indirect decision. What I mean is that she doesn’t know the persons it affects, and can sleep easily because she will never have to watch the consequences herself (I believe humans have a limit for caring up to 70 people they know). A decision from such a large “distance” is often strategic, and furthermore lacks emotion (the more layers of people needed to carry out the act, the less emotion). But such a decision is also very powerful and affecting lots of women. It seems very justified to criticize such women. Their decisions are pretty much rational and free. (Btw criticize those anti-feminist female politicians always, if only just to make clear that just having a random woman in your political party will not make all women think you’re a more feminist party – really, so many people believe that).
However, Palin probably wouldn’t do something as direct as abusing (as in: hitting into the hospital) somebody she knew personally that had an abortion, or was a lesbian. Yet you have women who do those direct things. For those cases, it is indeed pretty senseless to citicize them, because you know the women do it because of the men in their lives. It are very direct, and thus more emotional, acts. These are what Revolutionary Combustion is referring to (rape, abuse family members, etc.). Criticizing will hardly help because we’re at brainwashing and male pressure level here (sometimes survival level). These women have so little power, and are often not free enough to better their acts. But even if so, men will easily take their place anyway. Thus in such a case only the men deserve criticism, because it’s like a million times more effective.
Maybe somebody can phrase this better than I do, there is probably a term for the “distance” of an action/decision (I believe have read some psychology stuff about this but if so, I don’t remember it). But I would say that this is pretty clear and also common sense, despute my crappy English.
Perhaps it would be better to say at the end of the 3rd paragraph, instead of “only the men deserve criticism”, that the men deserve criticism a million times more. Because, everyone who does such things deserves to be called out… but e.g. dividing the criticism 50/50 over women and men, would be very wrong.
Ypp I think you are not cynical enoguh. Communists merely desire to be a King, and a King in the Eastern mode, an absolute tyrant. A Darius or a Xerxes. Not say, a Louis Phillipe. Or even a Holy Roman emperor, forced to parade around in the snow after ticking off the Pope.Thus women who proclaim “all men are rapists” don’t mean that, exactly, since they have plenty of sex just the way Castro has plenty of private property, his landed estate the Island of Cuba and the people his slaves. The merely wish as a political aim to destroy any and all social mores that restrict them from being Paris Hilton. That’s who they want to be. Without a taint of restriction. Just as all communists just want to hold the whip (and profit from it).Jacksonsvillepat I am very wary of endorsing Chesteron’s view. Both Omar Abdel Rahman (the Blind Sheik) and Ayman al-Zawahari have written extensively (no surprise, they are heavily influenced by Sayyid Qutb who wrote it first) that Western Freedom is an abomination since it prevents people from being properly as they understand it, the slaves of God. For them, “real freedom” is to be exactly like them, the “slave of God” doing exactly what he tells them to do in the Koran. Whereas for them, individual freedom in the Western Context puts human made laws above God. Both Rahman and al-Zawahari (you can read Wright’s “The Looming Tower” yourself to confirm this) believe Western Freedom to be a Tyranny for this reason. I am opposed to this view.To my mind, Feminism is an utterly cynical game, played by utter cynics. Look at them: Gloria Steinem, Patricia Ireland, Germaine Greer. As utterly corrupt as Fidel Castro, lord and master of the People’s Landed Republic Estate of Cuba.I think the strength of Western Civilization compared to others has always come down to it’s women. Who could largely walk free and unafraid, pursuing lives largely of their own choosing, with husbands they largely chose for love rather than being forced into some loveless bondage.What has been broken is a combination of utter, total cynicism, among elites, along with total, vacuous consumerism in a profoundly invidualistic, socially isolated, lonely age. Compounded by anoymous urbanization. [As a practical matter, feminists don’t have much influence in the US, where military demands and the sheer size of the nation have meant they just aren’t listened too much, while paradoxically, women like Oprah wield the influence of king-makers.]
“The decision that Sarah Palin made with regard to women’s lives is a decision made from a large distance, a very indirect decision. What I mean is that she doesn’t know the persons it affects, and can sleep easily because she will never have to watch the consequences herself…”
I see what you’re saying Elin, and you have a very valid point. But was Sarah Palin also that distanced from her own daughter, Bristol, who got pregnant as a result of rape (she was passed out drunk) while on a camping trip with her boyfriend? Obviously, Bristol did not have access to birth control OR safe legal abortion given her status as a minor at the time and given her staunchly “pro-life” mom seeking to advance her own political career in the patriarchy at her daughter’s expense. The main fault lies with men and patriarchy, no doubt. But some fault does also lie with Sarah Palin for forcing her own daughter to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term no matter the harm to her, just so she (Sarah) could be upheld by the woman-hating male Right as a shining example of what the “proper” female is in the “proper” family in a “moral” society. And the equally repugnant male Left used Bristol’s misfortune to ridicule her and defend Bristol’s rapist: Levi Johnson. When Bill Maher used poor Bristol as fodder for his “comedy” show, I wanted to reach right through the TV and deck him.
I think we have to be careful in our criticism, but clear in our condemnation of women who sell out completely and utterly to patriarchy.
We know the irony and hurt within the success of the feminist movement, created large groups of women who benefited from the revolution (all those women in law school now e.g.) and then had to watch these women turn their backs on other women. We have two groups of women– the ones who were the revolutionaries, and the ones born way later who lived in a state of total backlash.
We know patriarchy uses women against women, that it is as adaptable as the global virus it is. It rewards tokens, it sets up fake feminism etc.
But we can state clearly that there are a lot of women who aid and abet the class enemies of women. We also know that we have to focus on the agents, and know the distinctions. This is complex within sisterhood but necessary. We have to be clear and do both, and that is very hard work. And sometimes, some of us are much further away from the center of the system, and it can be hard to understand abortion issues or PIV or anything heterosexual at all. A different post perhaps.
The more power a person has, the more they should be questioned on their given beliefs and/or actions. Public figures can sway many people, and affect public policy, so it’s very important to call them out on important issues, whether they’re male or female. In the realm of the average citizen, certainly a well timed question or discussion can potentially be very useful to both people. I tend to be in favor of consciousness raising, but there are probably times when it’s better to refrain, so discretion is needed.
I think it’s a shame to begin a feminist post by describing a feminist as “scolding”, due to its anti-woman connotations.
More substantively, I think the intro –
“A feminist scolded her sisters for being righteously indignant about the capo-like behavior of patriarchy’s handmaidens and honorary men, saying that being critical of women who deliberately throw their sisters under the wheels of patriarchy’s shit train distracts from the primary focus of feminism. She says that discrediting these capos doesn’t do anything to help women as a class.”
is a very inaccurate description of the criticised article, which explains:
“Women can be horribly destructive. Women can destroy other women. Individual women may accumulate certain kinds of social power on the basis of economic class, race, culture, or professional standing. Individual women can even destroy individual men. But women, as individuals, can only do so much damage.”
“To believe that certain women are just as bad as men is to have misunderstood the entire basis of feminism as a form of class-based political analysis [….] From a feminist perspective, then, the power dynamics between males and females are qualitatively, significantly different than the power dynamics between females. Between females, the cross-sex hierarchy of sexualized politics simply does not exist. Yet between males and females, the politics of sex is always present. It is present regardless of financial status, race, culture, and/or sexuality. So even when women mimic the behavior of men under patriarchy, women are not like men and cannot achieve the same results.”
The central complaint of the guest author, Jacqueline S. Homan, is thus *inaccurate* – ehungerford’s comments on “handmaidens” are not particularly about those women who possess especial political and/or financial power. Nor does she attempt to defend them.
I agree with ehungerford that “Feminists who want to help women as a class must not become preoccupied with the failings of individual women; we must not spend our time condemning and making examples of women we perceive as handmaidens.”
This is a good point. We *will* need to criticise individual women, like Hillary Clinton, who suckers some women into thinking they can support this system so long as they also support women like her. In our daily lives and in the feminist struggle, we may need to deal with the obstacles placed by individual women who are supporting the status quo. But none of that means that this is how most of our time should be spent.
Furthermore, it’s been my observation that the reluctance by some feminists to criticise the actions of right-wing politician women isn’t due to a belief that women should never be criticised, but due to failing to analyse the inherent characteristics and political interests of the individual economic/ production classes, including, in this case, the capitalist class.
I believe Homan repeats this mistake when she points to causes of the War on Women (WoW) as being a product of the ideologies and psychologies (misogyny and self-centredness) of various, vaguely-referred to social sectors, rather than analysing the current needs of the capitalist class. Without a doubt, those ideological/ psychological motives (and material interests) exist for those other sectors supporting the WoW, but that fails to explain the current level of capitalist and state support for the particular attacks.
The primary consideration of the capitalist class worldwide since about 2007 has been how it could get itself through the GFC by forcing austerity measures onto the working class.
That’s much easier for it when the working class and oppressed sectors are less focussed on uniting against the capitalists, and more focussed on viewing radical struggles against oppression – and any assertion of rights by the oppressed (eg women or migrants) – as an attack on themselves. On blaming other oppressed groups for their woes, rather than the capitalist system. (Because of the ways various types of oppression work, men who are copping it from the capitalists are already fairly susceptible to taking out their frustrations on, or directly blaming, women, and whites already accustomed to blaming other ethnic groups for their perceived problems.) And attacking women’s rights to access abortion, and hence have much control at all over our reproduction and hence our lives, sends a very clear message that women as a group should expect few rights, and hence that those who demand them are troublemakers/ unnatural.
The capitalist class also needs to minimise still further any pressure on it to provide basic welfare and care, including healthcare. So in that context, the more this kind of care can be seen as a private matter, especially as the responsibility of women via the hetero domestic unit, the better for it. Which means that any ideological base or movement which amps up the ‘motherhood as divine/natural’ rhetoric, suits it fine.
In this context, the political representatives of the ruling class have less motivation to try buying off and demobilising radical opposition by offering tokenistic support for women’s rights, as they tend to do in boom periods, and more incentive to go along with the inclinations of the conservative religious and misogynist interests.
Looking at the individual women who are helping implement this WoW, we could describe them as “handmaidens” or “capo-like” and criticise (or “discredit”) them, and that has its role. We should be honest about their politics. But it would be more useful still to build consciousness about and opposition to the class whose interests those women are supporting. About the economic system – capitalism – responsible for most women being so poor. This is a systemic and structural problem, not one which will be resolved by “discrediting” the bad people. The system will create more bad people.
[As a marxist, I also note that you’re either a capitalist – someone who holds significant ownership over the means of production – or you’re not. “Capo-like behaviour”, as a concept, is unclear. Among various potential confusions, it can discourage analysis about the difference between the economic power wielded by capitalists (which is so strong that it is effectively political power) and the *political representatives of capital in government* (elected politicians). Who, in many countries, *are* minor capitalists, but who do their damage/ wield their power *primarily via their position in government and/or parliament*, by creating official state policies and laws, so long as their general support remains tied to the capitalist class. If this general support wavers, they find that economic might ignores, even removes, those who are held up as democratically-elected representatives of the people.]
“I believe Homan repeats this mistake when she points to causes of the War on Women (WoW) as being a product of the ideologies and psychologies (misogyny and self-centredness) of various, vaguely-referred to social sectors, rather than analyzing the current needs of the capitalist class.”
The “current capitalist class” has a male face. 98% of those in that top 1% of both the national and the global bourgeois class, or the corporate elite class (or whatever you want to call it) are MEN. When Marx and Engels (neither whom were members of the proletariat, mind you) wrote their treatises, women were not included in their views, women were merely secondary. Things had to be made right for the MEN first, then they’d get around to taking care of the sexism and the misogyny. Maybe. Care to wager a guess how well that turned out?
I am not interested in LESS oppression of women, I want ZERO oppression.
Capitalism is only a few hundred years old. Before capitalism there was colonialism, imperialism, and feudalism. And women were denied basic human rights, basic citizenship rights, and basic civil rights under ALL those systems. Rich women and poor women.
The common denominator is that ALL of those socio-economic constructs were male-centric, male dominated, and male enforced and reinforced. They are patriarchal — i.e. male supremacist, whereas men were/are the only “real” human beings and as such, the only people who matter. Women’s needs and rights were always back-benched as “side issues” that are always somehow far less important than the male-dictated, phallocratic “big picture.”
And just because poor men suffer at the hands of rich ones under the current male system of capitalism, that does NOT mean that men and women are oppressed equally by the oppressor (rich men). In any male-centric system, women get nothing but shit and shoved in it. Don’t think that by exchanging one male-dominated political and economic system for another male-dominated one that this will bring “equality” and social justice for women and girls. That rarely, if ever, happens.
Even in abject poverty, men fare better than women. And working class men as a demographic DO oppress and abuse working class women as a demographic and male-dominated communist and socialist governments did not tackle the very real issue of misogyny and sexism and unearned male privilege at women’s expense.
Stalin was no friend to women, and neither was the ex-Romanian Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, whose laws of forced childbirth resulted in untold numbers of traumatized, injured, maimed and dead women (yes, even with access to health care women DO die in childbirth) who were forced to be brood mares for the state. Romania’s main export for close to 30 years was unwanted babies that were left to languish in orphanages. So even under socialism and communism, men as a class oppressed and enslaved women and abuse women as a class. So much for “social equality” in those nation-states.
At Occupy camps across the US and Canada, women were sexually assaulted and raped by male “comrades.” Their needs and basic human rights were back-benched and suppressed as they were coerced into NOT reporting it to the police (which most women don’t anyway, because in our male supremacist world, women are treated as nothing but meatpuppets that men are entitled to “have”) and in some cases, were prevented from leaving Occupy camps to go hunt down Plan B to prevent unwanted pregnancy as a result of those rapes. Women were expected to just “take one for the team” in lieu of the “more important” male-centric big picture.
It wasn’t class-privileged women who sexually assaulted and raped those proletariat women at Occupy and exposed them to unwanted and/or medically risky pregnancies — it was MEN. It wasn’t class-privileged women who held a gun to those men’s heads: they had a choice. They could have chosen NOT to rape. But they didn’t. And why did they do it? They did it because they can in our culture of impunity, because they feel entitled to women’s bodies without any regard for how we feel about it and what it might do to us.
No law exists anywhere in the US or in other countries in our neoliberal capitalistic world that compel men to undergo mandatory organ donation for some greater social moral imperative such as the “life of a child”, and made to suffer pain, trauma, disfigurement, permanent side effects and risks including long-term disability or death with the iron fist of the law (any law is only as good as those in the courts who uphold it). Only women are being sacrificed thusly — women and girls from across all racial, ethnic, and social class lines.
None of the “chemical endangerment” laws and “fetal homicide” laws, which elevate the ‘rights’ of a fetus over the rights of the woman gestating it, are aimed at punishing MEN whose sperm might be defective due to drug and alcohol abuse which potentially contributes to stillbirths and miscarriages. Only women are singled out and targeted for punishment for “fetal endangerment/homicide” by these paternalistic laws. To date, over 300 women nationwide are either in prison or are in jail pending and adjudication for the “crime” of having a miscarriage or stillbirth even as access to birth control and safe legal abortion are taken away from women who don’t want to become mothers in a global patriarchy that insists that we must become mothers anyway whether we want to or not. [See: Rennie Gibbs]
Communism and socialism as we know it were patriarchal, and although women were oppressed somewhat less economically under those systems, women as a class were still denied both individual and collective agency by men as a class;oppressed and exploited and sexually and reproductively abused by men as a class under every single one of those systems throughout the past 6,000 years of patriarchy.
“As a marxist, I also note that you’re either a capitalist – someone who holds significant ownership over the means of production – or you’re not.”
Women comprise 70% of the world’s poor. We do 66% of the necessary work (much of it unpaid) to ensure societies’ survival, yet women receive only 10% of the world’s income and own/control less than 1% of all the world’s wealth and natural resources.
It is MEN who hold significant ownership and control over not only the means of production, but also the means of reproduction — and everyone assumes that this is somehow OK, that women somehow don’t deserve the same human rights to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity and self-determination that men get handed to them just for showing up in the world with a penis. Women are the world’s disposable class. We’re not viewed as being human enough for any harm against us to matter.
Robin Morgan wrote The Demon Lover which is a study of the link between terrorism in the home (“domestic violence” or more accurately, MALE violence against women in the home) and global terrorism. Terrorism, (MALE violence against women) both in the home and in ALL the societies of the world, supports patriarchy and is a necessary component.
Morgan said, “The majority of the population in virtually all nation states is female and is forced by patriarchy to obey, be silent, and acquiesce-which means that ‘democracy’ does not yet exist anywhere.”
The necessary foundation for the creation of democracy is universal human rights for women. This cannot be achieved unless global MALE violence against women is eradicated.
As a radical feminist, I am primarily concerned with the human rights of women and girls and I note that you’re either a misogynist or you’re not — there is no “Other” box.
I’m glad you finally acknowledged the real enemy in your comments. The way I read the original post, is that there are all these traitorous women out there, and ehungerford is obviously one of them too, or supportive of them. I disagree, I didn’t see anything in ehungerfords article that supports that view.
Every political movement has had its collaborators, its share of horizontal hostility, its traitors and sell-outs, Unfortunately these folks, always come with the territory of political movements, they are not unique to women’s liberation movements. eg in anti-slavery activism there were ‘Uncle Toms’, there have been slaves who struggled hard against ending their own slavery, scabs in labour movements, Jewish and other minority groups who were fascist collaborators during WW2 etc. While these people as individuals and even in small groups, can be terribly destructive in their horizontally-hostile activity – as a class, they do not wield political class power.
I would suggest Andrea Dworkin’s “Right-Wing Women” for an analysis of why women collaborate with patriarchy. There are other good sources around on the psychology and ideology of political collaboration. A whole load of reasons, from brute force and coercion, socialised cultural conditioning, to plain old common garden-variety personal self-interest – (eg my personal oppressors are giving me a better deal, than you and your freedom-fighters ever will – I’m all right Jack, bugger the rest of you etc)
Even in broader scenarios of collaboration, such as in the aftermath of WW2 in Europe – there is a strong sex-class oppression still operating. Male collaborators were given a private “honorable” death, with a bullet through the head. Female collaborators had their heads shaved, and dragged naked through the streets tied or chained behind vehicles to be subjected to hours of mob violence before dying horrifically.
In the case of women-as-a-class politically speaking, for myself only — I also like Mary Daly’s political analysis of the ‘fembots’ – the POLITICAL function they serve, she described them as “cannon-fodder” being set up front by men-as-a-class, or the patriarchal “system” — designed to waste our energy – designed to ensure we distrust each other – calling “betrayal” on each other on the slightest pretext, running the risk of calling-out many women in error, including many of our strongest allies, so we often injure and kill each other for no reason at all — fembots are designed to use up all our ammunition, to side-track resistors and dissidents from the real enemy – to burn us out to exhaustion, reduce our effectiveness through injuries and casualties – its designed to burn us out in spending our rage uselessly on women targets, which patriarchy doesn’t give a flying fuck whether we can or do bring them down or not. They are 100% expendable lowly pawns in the men’s war games – easily replaced. The class-of-men will still win, without ever having to lift a finger. This tactic is also known as Divide-and-Conquer.
[…] is — i am just not going to get that excited about a woman who stumps for right-wing men by “covering” mens anti-abortion platform. in fact, i am willing to give right-wing women the benefit of the doubt that when they say it, […]
“I also note that you’re either a capitalist – someone who holds significant ownership over the means of production – or you’re not. ”
True, but the working class can either work for their own interests or not. Scabs are demonized as much as the capitalists, and rightly so, since the capitalists wouldn’t survive without the scabs.
Coincidentally, I just happen to be reading an article about how hijab-wearing women in Egypt are assaulting and cutting off hair of women who are “indencently” exposing their faces on subways:
Also coincidentally, some of the people commenting favorably on bess hungerford’s article–in which she states that women “can only do so much damage–are the same women who enthusiastically (and successfully) promoted a smear campaign whose stated goal was to see the radical feminist collective off our backs go “up in smoke.”
Women can only do so much damage, but this group of “feminist” women (along with Julian Fake) did more damage oob than any anti-feminist man could ever do.
Reblogged this on Feminism — The Other "F" Word and commented:
Women who came of age during Reaganomics, de-industrialization, globalization, and feminist backlash from men were adolescents when the ERA was shot down but they remember that. We lived under the specter of the Hyde Amendment while a full-blown war on “welfare queens” — this nation’s poorest women — was well underway. And all the while, Pell grants and Guaranteed Student Loans were cut (courtesy of the Gramm-Rudman bill passed under the Bush I administration) as a college and grad school education became necessary for women to have ANY hope at all of getting good jobs. Amidst this backlash against women with poor women bearing the brunt, past-president of NOW parroted garbage straight from the MRA handbook on “men’s rights to choose parenthood” saying that men should be absolved from paternity suits, given that “women have the right to choose parenthood” — while ignoring the fact that not all women have that right thanks to the Hyde Amendment. Poor women and the women who came of age after the Baby Boomers were sold out — mainstream feminism and the nation’s largest women’s rights group, NOW, had been male-hijacked. What lunacy it is to hear talk of “men’s rights” when women still don’t have equal rights, and when all women do not enjoy the right to birth control and safe legal abortion so as to have control over their own bodies and lives. Andrea Dworkin explains why there are right-wing women acting against the interests of other women, including their own daughters. But what is often not asked is if the male-hijacking of what people know as the mainstream feminist movement also played a role. How else did we get a sharp, bright lawyer and past NOW president that ignored the reality of most women’s lives while worrying about whether or not men had rights. Men always had rights; it’s women who do not. Men’s “right” to abort paternity suits end when they refused to wear a condom, or when they conned some babe into bearing their progeny only to bail on them long past the legal time limit where early term abortion is allowed (provided the women can afford it and access a clinic to begin with). This is the result of men hijacking the feminist movement; something that Mary Daly knew would happen if men were allowed into the same Women’s Studies classes as her female students.
, you can’t just make yourself gay. (Also, I think it would be iiulstnng to turn to women if you’re not actually attracted to them, like they’re just the backup option.)I also felt like you did when I was younger, uncomfortable and leery of the popular construction of true love without really knowing why. Privileging the narrative of (heterosexual) monogamy > marriage > kids is a perfect way of maintaining the status quo of the gender hierarchy, even though it’s disguised as something for women (because men don’t like that icky romance stuff). Let’s not even start on the idea that we must have a boyfriend to be happy.I’m lucky enough that, not only is my boyfriend pro-feminist, we actually started dating before I came to feminism, and he followed me through that transformation instead of fleeing in terror. (What are the odds?) Sometimes he is less sexist or at least better about being educated about it than some women I know. Of course this doesn’t contradict the fact that most women are smarter about sexism than most men. But if I had judged all men according to that trend, then I would have missed out on my boyfriend. This is partly what I wanted to say in that post of mine that you linked you can’t always judge individuals according to the broad trends displayed by the group. You just have to hold out for the good ones, few as they may be.