Thursday, September 3, 2009

Carefully Listening To Radical Feminist Women, For A Change

[image is from here, where this button is also for sale]

[There's a recommended profeminist reading list put together by me and a radical feminist colleague, Celie's Revenge, located at the end of this piece.]

I am a U.S.-born radical activist and writer who strives toward the realization of women's full human rights. I support radical feminists' humanitarian struggles to end all manifestations of white, heterosexual, and male supremacy, and have done so for the last twenty-plus years. Most of my closest friends during that time have been women systematically harmed by what I not-so-affectionately call Corporate Racist Atrocious Patriarchy (CRAP):

incested, molested, and raped women; women in systems of prostitution; women who have been physically, mentally, and emotionally abused by men; economically impoverished women; women who have endured countless damaging and hurtful experiences—interpersonal and institutional—of racism; women who have endured socially ubiquitous anti-Semitism and governmental and media-fueled virulent anti-Muslim hatred and discrimination, and every other kind of systemic bigotry that exists; women who have suffered from or do currently suffer with eating disorders and post-traumatic stress-related conditions; women with low to no self-esteem, who sometimes feel dead, who compulsively do life-threatening things to bring them back to reality, like slicing up their own flesh; women who are fighting to empower and liberate themselves and other women from having to be only girls and women as men tyrannically define and maintain those terms against women's bodies and minds. Some of these women are lesbian, but not in ways that pro-patriarchal societies find sexually entertaining. The women I know and love work to create a life that is not in service to men's expectations of women. My work is to responsibly support radical feminist (activist) efforts while being fully accountable to these women who are bravely battling against patriarchal men's thousands year-old war against women. Where and when I can, I try my best to compost CRAP.

I know many white heterosexual and gay middle class and working class men. Beyond superficially white conservative to liberal understandings of "equality," they don't get it about how women of every ethnicity do not have basic human rights—to freedom from terrorism in the forms of rape and battery, for example. The reason they don't know is because they are too busy playing Ultimate Frisbee, poker, and spending exorbitant amounts of time each week in competitive fun in front of videogames. They pay attention to some sports on TV (not women's), especially, most recently, the men's World Cup. They don't do their dishes very often, which sometimes, in typical sexist fashion, defaults the task to the women of the household. Some of the heterosexuals among the men I know, who are sexually active, have intercourse with women without using condoms: they think it is acceptable to not take responsibility for spreading their STDs and STIs, nor for birth control. Again, these tasks then default to women, for whom birth control, for example, is not always safe. With few exceptions, all the heterosexual men I know don't recognize when they are being sexist, or even understand the definition of sexism. (I will recommend a book later that will help, if you or anyone you know is confused about what sexism and racism is.) And I love all these men. These are the men I am closest with interpersonally, because they are dear and sweet men. Also and importantly, they are not misogynistic, virulently racist, overtly anti-lesbian or anti-gay, nor are they ethnically bigoted men. They are politically and socially liberal to progressive gentle-men, have good hearts, and wondrous souls. And they are clueless. Utterly clueless about the atrocities—the standardized and ritualized abuses happening to womankind, that is to say, humankind.

Before describing some of these abuses, I will, from the same humanitarian perspective I use to understand the struggles of women in CRAP, tell you what else I know about us, men. We were not born with a gender, even while most of us were born with so-called "male-looking" genitalia. We were born with a various range of enlarged, urethra'ed clitorises, and usually lowered gonads surrounded by fused labia. (Men have given these body parts other names.) We have different proportions of the all the same hormones women have, coursing though us. Some of us are very shy and withdrawn; some are very brazen and arrogant. Some of us wouldn't hurt a fly; some of us are sadistic serial rapists and child molesters. Most of us fall somewhere in between those two extremes of nonviolence/violence.

Some of us were abused, neglected, or abandoned by our fathers, some by our mothers, and far too many of us were physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by older males, primarily, but also by a few women, sometimes our mothers, while ridiculed by male peers. Those of us who are gay had to hide it at some point, and those of us who are heterosexual had to learn what heterosexuality is, in the context of misogynist CRAP—religious or secular. Those of us who are bi often still maintain heterosexual male privileges but try and deny we have them. Most of us learn about sexuality from CRAP-influenced peers and racist, sexist, heterosexist pornography. Most heterosexual, bi, and gay males (that I know of) regularly masturbate to internet pornography and are incapable of simply enjoying their own bodies sexually without commercialized dehumanized beings displayed before them, called up, on demand, with their fingertips and sometimes a credit card number. This affects the way men actually view and treat women in our lives (negatively).

Men of almost every ethnic group and economic class have learned we are superior, in some ways, to women of the ethnic group and economic class we occupy, culturally, or through an identity of opposition to women made socially real through institutional, structurally-enforced support systems of misogynist harm and sexist disrespect. This shows up in interpersonal behavior, usually in many different forms of being controlling or condescending, or by not listening and not caring about how our actions effect women, especially when we feel "entitled" to our actions, and that we have "a right" to them. Especially then, I find, is when we are insensitive and sexist, and, if heterosexual and white, also heterosexist and racist. We often refuse to acknowledge that we see the world through privileged eyes, relative to women of our cultural group, and that those privileges, and the obliviousness to women's human suffering that too often accompanies them, biases us against seeing the harm that is happening in the real world of human surviving and dying. We are too quick to become defensive about things that have no humanitarian political defense.

A bit about myself: I was sexually abused by a few heterosexual men as a child, was physically and emotionally abused by misogynistic and homophobic male peers from the ages of seven to fourteen, and experienced many forms of ignorant to threatening ethnic hate and bigotry (in my case, as anti-Semitism), as well as a nauseatingly tremendous amount of heterosexism. I cannot begin to convey the damage all of this has done to me, but as a result I am functionally (and legally) disabled. I can walk and I can type, but there are many other ways to be disabled, something that non-disabled people often forget, in my experience. But, I am also white, male, and economically privileged. I am among the most privileged group of people in the world, except for rich Anglo/Christian/Gentile/Aryan white heterosexual non-disabled men. I have never experienced anti-Black racism aimed at my personal being, ever. I have never had anti-Arab and anti-Muslim ethnic and religious hate directed at me, ever. It goes without say that too many women and men do. (And one is too many.)

As a Jew, I am obligated to speak out about the Nation of "My People." The Israeli government is perpetrating gross atrocity in the name of self-defense, but it is not so simplistically only self-defense; it has been and continues to be naked racist, classist, colonialist, imperialistic—and misogynistic—aggression against Palestinian people, women and men, girls and boys, and against Israeli women and girls, and it is wrong and contemptible. And, global anti-Semitism lingers and flourishes in different parts of the world, and that is something this Jew also can never forget. I encounter anti-Semitism too often, especially in discussions about Israel, and recommend a book about this topic below.

There are other things I can never forget: women, tens of thousands perhaps, if not millions, were burned as witches in Europe, in the U.S., and in other regions of the world as well. Right now women are currently being burned with acid by men, with lit cigarette butts by men, in house fires set by men, around the world. Female infanticide and other systematic killings of girls and women by men have shifted the ratio of human females to males, globally. Some men, as men, beat women unconscious, rape them, and murder them. Some of them videotape it for private or public entertainment. Some men force objects into women's bodies and enjoy doing it, as men. Many men, mostly heterosexually identified married men, as well as men living with women as boyfriends, sexually assault children, usually girls, often their own daughters, nieces, and grand-daughters. Male priests molest children, and rape nuns. The list of atrocities that men-as-men commit is almost endless.

I love men's humanity, and I hate men's inhumanity.

I respect men who fight to end CRAP if and when they do not simultaneously use their stature and status in various pro-feminist movements to obtain sex and romance from young admirers. I am also in despair and rage about the number of men who don't and won't do shit about ending CRAP, or who make matters worse for women and girls by using and abusing them. As a political Jew reflecting upon WWII atrocities, I call these men "the good and not-so-good Germans."

And I know this: Gender was forced upon us from day one. It is necessarily traumatic experience to take vulnerable, fragile humans and turn them into patriarchally gendered beings. Boying children traumatizes and benefits us while girling children traumatizes and oppresses them. Intersex kids are lucky if they can grow up surgically unaltered and respected just as they are. Men carry our male privileges and entitlements from childhood and adolescence, with new powers acquired in adulthood, to do things to women, as men, that are wrong, plain and simple. Not wrong like "you're a bad, bad boy, now go to your room" wrong. Not wrong like "you're evil and are going to burn in hell" wrong. No. Wrong like global warming is wrong. Wrong like lynching is wrong. Wrong like rape is wrong. Exactly that kind of wrong.

It is precisely those sorts of wrongs that men I know call our "rights": our right to use pornography, to use women as pornography, to abuse prostituted women and non-prostituted women; our right to visually violate (objectify and voyeur) women, including our "right" to have visual access to women while violating women's human dignity, such as in the contemporary practice of "up-skirting"; our right to stalk women, to scare women, to control women, to beat women, to rape women and, especially, to not call it stalking, scaring, controlling, beating, and raping. That's what men claim we have the right to do. To do those things, and call them something politically benign: just looking because men are more visual, you know; just catching a quick peek, nothing wrong with that, right?; just trying to figure out when she goes to work, or to the grocery store, or outside anywhere, or inside her bedroom and bathroom which is across the street from mine; just correcting her, because she often gets the facts wrong that are important to me; just interrupting her to let her know I've heard this all before, even while I rarely listen carefully or validate her feelings and experiences as just as valid and real as my own; just threatening her because she's getting too angry; just pinning her down because she hasn't put out in far too long, and she's my wife; just smacking her around a little, because she won't listen to me, and do what I tell her to do. There's nothing "just" or benign about men's sexism.

I know men very well. I am one. I know what we do, and the political meaning of us doing it. What we do is CRAP, and the excuses we come up with for doing it are even more CRAP. CRAP-coated CRAP.

Far too many of us "good Germans" defend these degradations of women's humanity as men's rights. Radical feminist women, as well as my own heart, have shown me that these actions are, in social reality—if not (yet) in law, men's wrongs. Most of the white men I know, whether conservative, liberal, progressive, or radical, understand the violation and degradation of our male children or adult male bodies and minds as wrong. We call it wrong. What we don't call wrong is when those things, and others beyond some of our imaginations yet within our privileged locations, are done to women, because they are women, to keep them women, as patriarchal men and white male supremacist institutions define them. More often than not we won't listen to women, as if women were actual human beings. We see women as placed in the world differently but are unwilling to see that placement, by men and our institutions, as political. We also fail to see that what they experience systematically, and daily, is not what we experience remotely, or even occasionally. Men especially won't stop other men from doing it, by calling one another out, by holding ourselves and each other accountable, by ending friendships and connections to family, if necessary, by letting every woman we know that those guys who just approached you do not respect women—especially when "those guys" are our buds and bros.

Men generally don't stop men's violence towards women by reporting our fathers, male cousins, male best friends, other men we know, or ourselves, to the police for committing sexist criminal acts. We don't demand that the State recognize what happens to women, at the hands and institutions of men, as wrong: a civil rights issue, a human rights violation. We don't tell men, systematically, "You're rights are wrong." If humanitarianism means anything, those uses and abuses of women named earlier are all human rights violations of real human beings, human beings called and treated like "women." The fact that men do these things to women, for fun of it, for the cheap or expensive thrill, as sex, for orgasm, as a means of control, out of desperation and the fear of being left alone, does not make those acts, in any way, rights.

Now, needless to say, any good CRAP-worshipping man will beg to differ, or will mercilessly deride and derail those who seek to point out this glaring reality of political harm, in part by calling all feminists, and the men who love their efforts, man-haters. Funny how men don't call one another woman-haters, when man-hating, in women, is about as common as lesbian Black women owning corporations, and woman-hating, in men, is about as common as heterosexual white men using pornographized women as masturbatory aids. All the negative emotions normal men attribute to feminists are what men feel and systematically express to women, and to other men. While it is overwhelmingly obvious that women's and men's enemy is "man-unkind," delusional men pretend that "the much more serious problem" is "those feminists."

Men's routinely misogynist feelings are institutionalized—unlike women's occasional and sometimes intense negative feelings about men; antifeminism is reinforced by State and Religious power, as well as multibillion dollar-a-year industries, controlled by white men with lots of money and lots of lawyers. Radical feminists have no accurately maintained voice in this world: no access to popular media, no appearances on weekday talk shows, no representation in governments, no presence on Sunday morning political programs, little money, no multi-million dollar secular or religious funding, and no access to the most expensive attorneys rich men's money can buy. You know who has the most access to media in part by controlling that media? Anti-Semitic claims notwithstanding, the answer is: Christian or secular Gentile heterosexual, pro-corporate white conservative to liberal men. And this group of men feels "threatened" by a not-so-sexual fantasy that a group of women called radical feminists hates them. You know what that level of fallacious, paranoid thinking is called? Histeria.

Men are seriously histerical about "women's power over us" and "all the power women really have in the world that you can't see." You're right; I can't see it. I see wives and girlfriends in ERs, I see men slaughtering other men in military wars, while also raping and killing women and girls as part of the plan; I see women harassed daily on the street, called out to in sexist ways, grabbed, threatened, by men who obnoxiously and arrogantly assume women are "flattered" by that sort of attention. I know this because I listen to all the women I have had any interpersonal contact with. Nowhere on this planet, not even in Sweden, do I witness women (let alone liberal feminist women, let alone RADICAL feminist women) in humanitarian control of nation-states, religious institutions, government agencies, economic policies, civil laws, social space, sexuality, or their own bodies. Everywhere I see antifeminist dehumanized men controlling women and working to have MORE control over women, all the while complaining women have so much damn power! It's pure histeria.

Another ridiculously histerical claim men make against radical feminists is that they are "anti-sex." Nowhere can men provide me with an ounce of evidence of this. I do know feminists who have taken this stance: "If sex is sexism, I'm against it." For the record, that statement reflects principled humanitarianism; it is an appropriate stance if you care about women's human rights than you do about having an orgasm. Most men can't seem to get that, perhaps because so many men don't know what sex would be like without sexism.

One area I will focus on now is sexuality, because I hear from men so much, so often, that THIS is where women have the ACTUAL power. This is, men say to me, is the great equalizer that somehow takes the stink out of CRAP. Women have this "natural power" over men, I am told, sincerely, by nice men who claim to be for equal rights, a very politically moderate and liberal notion that would still be an improvement over what we have now.

If I ask these men: "What does it mean that we live in a world where men will pay women more to take off their clothes, to strip for men, to have sex the way men want to have sex, than to do ANYTHING else?" Do you know what happens? The men I am speaking with suddenly get quiet. If I ask men: What does it mean that so-called "naturally sexually powerful women" are mandated by society to bleach and straighten or curl and crimp their hair; to lighten or tan their skin; to shave many areas of their body, or have the hair that is naturally there ripped off, torn off, routinely; to compulsively diet; to wear tight clothing that is designed by gay and heterosexual men to attract heterosexual men, but hopefully not so much as to garner degrading and threatening male attention such as harassment and rape; to wear make-up and use age-defying "beauty" products, which bring profits to white men and our companies while draining women's resources? What does it mean that women stuff their feet into shoes that are injurious to their bodies; that women paint their real fingernails or display fake ones in order to feel better about themselves, or to feel sexy? What does it mean that women feel like they have to wear fake eyelashes, and fake breasts, and get lipo-suctioned, tummy-tucked, and face-lifted? Men usually stop me here, at this point. "But women CHOOSE to do those things" men will tell me, earnestly, as if believing it. In the sense that I chose to go to public school and be bullied by homophobes, yes. In the sense that poor, disproportionately Black men, choose to go into the U.S. military to kill Brown people for a form of "freedom" no Black person has ever known in Amerikkka, and also to get killed, yes. In the sense in which homeless people choose to eat food out of dumpsters rather than starve to death, yes. They choose it.

But men never ask: Can women NOT choose it and live without any loss of social status, cultural acceptance, and interpersonal intimacy? When I ask heterosexual men, of any Color: How many straight women would you date with DARK brown skin, or with lighter-to-pale skin and hairy legs, hairy armpits, hairy faces and lower backs, hairy thighs, who wear loose-fitting clothes and no make-up, who are not thin, who may be taller than you, and large-framed, carrying a lot of weight, and have short hair, the men are speechless. Except the one middle-aged white hippy dude, who says "I love my chicks like that." "Desirable women's sexuality" is promoted and sold by CRAP, especially the sexuality that is generated out of systems of prostitution. Even daytime TV has shows teaching class-privileged women how to pole dance for their husbands' enjoyment—and the husbands do enjoy it too! If the husbands DIDN'T enjoy it, do you think the women would still do it? Where do husbands and straight boyfriends learn to appreciate pole and lap dancing? You have one guess. These industries, including the pornography industry, are controlled by white heterosexual men—men such as the infamous corporate pimp, Larry Flynt: THE Hate Speech Hustler. Flynt is not the "free-speech hero" portrayed in the R-rated version of his seXXXist life called "The People vs. Larry Flynt." For the actual Larry Flynt, read his autobiography, where he brags about raping and killing a chicken ass his first sexual encounter, and also see: to freely view his virulently graphic hate speech. (Note: Hate speech is a harmful act.) Here is where the racist-sexist-ageist standards of superficial, commodified beauty are set. Here is the political "aesthetic" that induces CRAP-dependent orgasms. We now see this aesthetic in more mainstream media (like on Deal or No Deal and CSI), and in the advertising, cosmetics, and fashion industries.

This realm of "how things work" seems to escape most heterosexual men who talk with me, or they find this information "symptomatic" but not "causal" of the problem. Or they want "proof" that this harm exists. I say to those men: Prove to me it doesn't exist. Look into the systematically used and abused women's eyes in pornography stills and videos and tell me what you see? Are they drugged up? Are they glazed over? Are they dissociated? Look into the eyes of the strippers you see for entertainment, if your eyes trained by CRAP to "go to the breasts, go directly to the breasts" can make it up that far, and tell me what you notice? A woman working in dehumanizing conditions yet another day in all this CRAP? Do you call that look in her eyes freedom, boredom, or trauma? How about if YOU do this "liberating, freely chosen sex-work" for years and tell me how exciting it is for you to be stared at by predatory or sex-addicted men all day, and fucked by them all night. After you conduct that "scientific study" get back to me with the results, would you? I get really angry about this. Why?

Because these sincere if defensive, argumentative, and self-serving white heterosexual men never ask me to "prove" that bullying is harmful, that war is harmful, or that poverty is harmful (to white men). There are a lot of "facts" that they take for granted as "The Truth" without requiring any proof, such as that male aggression resulting in rape is natural and inevitable, and that women are the opposite sex. (How does having, on average, more fatty tissue on your chest and unfused labia make someone an "opposite" sex?) But if men are getting off to something that is politically harmful to women as a class, as well as to individual women inside and outside the pornography industry; if men are enjoying male entitlements and privileges we would rather not interrogate, let alone deal with responsibly; if men want to remain socially oblivious and politically unaccountable, we suddenly demand to see "the evidence" and need a stack of scientific studies (designed by white men) to "prove" to ourselves that it's harmful. And we need for that harm to be "the sole cause" of the larger problem, as defined, always, by academically (liberally) educated men. Men never put such demands on social scientists to prove "sole causality" on matters that bolster or maintain our unethical entitlements. Men demand proof only when those things are called out, by radical feminists, for what they are: anti-humanitarian CRAP.

What most men don't realize is that it is men in charge of the misogynist practices that most heterosexual women choose to do, and that if women didn't choose to do them, they'd be socially ostracized, not hired, fired, called "dyke," not asked out, turned down for a date, and worse. Girls learn very young that boys only "like" certain kinds of girls. Boys will only pay attention to girls with certain appearances: the thinner, lighter, and younger, the better, generally speaking. (Ask any darker-skinned thirty-five year-old Black woman who isn't a size zero.) This is racism, sexism, and ageism confused with sexuality. And there are increasingly restricted cultural variations of "sexiness," in CRAP. This is due both to pornography and advertising, and to a racist, misogynistic plastic surgery industry which narrows, shortens, and straightens some Black, Brown, Arab, Jewish, and Gentile white women's noses, and also "Westernizes" Asian women's eyes. With or without surgery, all U.S. women (at least) are measured against a terribly narrow media-hyped beauty standard: from Marilyn Monroe to Farrah Fawcett to Bo Derek to Pamela Anderson to the late Anna Nicole Smith to Paris Hilton. What "look" do all those women have? Answer: a deeply sexxxualized female Aryan look; men of many ethnicities have been masturbating to images of all of the above women, for decades; the latter three women are "known" for being in pornography or in sexxx-scenes with past boyfriends, which are now on the internet. Within each ethnic and cultural group, girls learn fast what boys want them to look like (and do), and learn that their esteem comes directly from boys liking (or using) them. So, yes, girls and women choose to do those things, the way men choose not to cry when physically hurt around a lot of other men. As if there were socially available and acceptable humanitarian options.

What heterosexual men can do to help compost CRAP:

1. Give up looking at pornography and treating women like pornography. Burn pornography (with fire, not to disc).
2. Stop commenting on women's appearances to women you don't know well, and only to those who ask you, when outside a work environment. Privately praise women you love on their spiritual-intellectual being, not on their physical beauty.
3. Stop purchasing products for women that meet your "sexxx" needs. Boycott all racist, misogynist sexxxism industries. (Victoria's secret is that she's a shill for pornographers.)
4. Stop having sex, if the sex you have requires the exploitation and abuse of women, including with the women you have sought out in bars, strip clubs, and brothels.
5. If you are gay, stop putting down women and commenting on women's appearances. Stop using pornography, because the industry that produces gay porn also harms women's human rights status.
6. Be honest about what you do to other women. Stop being evasive, defensive, and stop lying through your teeth when asked about how you have treated women and girls in the past, or are currently treating women and girls.
7. Care more about human rights for women than about the quality and quantity of your orgasms. Women can't live without human rights. You can live without your sexxxism-dependent orgasms. Really, you can.
8. Care more about being humane to women than about being "like a man," as "manhood" is politically-culturally defined and shamefully enforced.
9. Hold other men accountable to their sexism, racism, classism, and heterosexism.
10. Hold yourself accountable, by being very honest with yourself about what you're doing to women that is wrong.

11. Support and encourage men's humanity, and oppose and confront our inhumanity, in any ways you can. It's not women's work to do that; it's ours.

12. Boycott and organize boycotts of all products that portray women in degrading ways, including by not purchasing and sharing misogynist music, video games, and DVDs.

13. Stop telling sexist jokes, and misogynist or exploitive stories about what you allegedly did to a woman or to several women.

14. Never call a woman the "b" word or the "c" word, or any other derogatory, misogynist, racist, anti-lesbian term.

15. Organize together to smash cosmetics counters, tear up pornography in stores, protest in front of any business that Larry Flynt or other corporate pimps profit from, with a statement prepared for the manager and the press as to why you are doing these things (for women's civil rights to dignity and freedom from sexual exploitation and abuse).

16. Slap misogynist recording artists' CDs in stores with "Degrading women isn't cool, it's a human rights violation" stickers.
17. Stop maintaining sexist habits, customs, and other woman-hating cultural practices.
18. Do women's dishes and laundry, if they want you to. Clean their homes, for free, if you have race and class privilege. Don't call your parenting "baby-sitting" or "child-care." It's your ethical responsibility and duty, not a part-time favor we do for women.
19. If you have class privilege, financially support radical feminist campaigns and projects.
20. Practice being a humanitarian who takes women's global and local human rights status seriously. Call yourself someone who fights for women's human rights, and back it up with every action you do, including with every word you speak.

I strongly and respectfully ask men in leadership roles in feminist circles to stop the too-common practice of sleeping with sincerely admiring young people. It's exploitation, plain and simple. When Bill Clinton did it, the women I knew never called his sexual exploits "feminist." Bill was pro-pornography and used women sexually. You claim to be different. Status equals power. Unequal status means unequal power. Please practice integrity in this area of your life. I fully realize that being accountable to radical feminist (women) activists is a challenge and a struggle. But, I believe for any man, this is the way to our own deeper humanity and human integrity: to start being accountable to radical feminist women.

As Pearl Cleage says in Deals With the Devil, page 28: "Although men are allowed to call themselves 'feminists' in some of the more liberal circles, I do not endorse this practice. Men can be enlightened, but I have never met a man who did not cling to and exemplify sexist behavior from time to time in spite of himself. Letting them dub themselves 'feminists' tends to lead to smugness, self-satisfaction and the feeling that the man who is struggling to overcome his own sexism and the sexism of his brothers has somehow achieved a more exalted status, a safe conduct pass that allows him to be a little less rigorous on himself, having demonstrated his good intentions. I am reminded of my grandmother's admonition about what paves the road to hell."

Within the last few weeks, I have been repeatedly called out by several radical feminist women on some of my sexist and racist behavior. I listened, and I learned. And I had to work to understand their experiences of what I did. I apologized but only when knowing that I would do everything I could to not repeat the behaviors. These were behaviors in writing, on an email list-group of primarily radical women. They called me out for writing more than anyone else there, for siding with some women over others (thereby fueling divisiveness), for venting my anger at men's inhumanity, as if they needed to hear it from a man, as if I was "in the clear" in this regard, and, most recently, for turning their lives into an academic question. As a white man, I am telling you in all honesty, I work daily at eliminating my own sexism and racism. The struggle is worth it, because women around me are, I hope, a bit safer and treated with that much more respect, with each passing day.

Please join this struggle to create a humane world for all of us. It isn't easy, but it's better than all this CRAP.

It is my hope that men will support radical feminist activists of all ethnicities, especially women of Color taking and maintaining leadership in every area of social and political life.

Peace after patriarchy.

DVD recommendations: Killing Us Softly (1979), Still Killing Us Softly (1987), Bandit Queen (1994), Mickey Mouse Monopoly (2000) with online study guide:, and CHO Revolution (2004).

The following (obviously incomplete) booklist is meant to be read non-defensively, with mind open to new worldviews and to new understandings, and with heart open to new levels of empathy and compassion, for women, as a politically oppressed class of people.

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (1982)

In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose, by Alice Walker (1983)

Right-Wing Women, by Andrea Dworkin (1983)

Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde (1984)

Corregidora, by Gayl Jones (1987)

Letters From A War Zone, by Andrea Dworkin (1989)

Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics, by bell hooks (1990)

Deals With The Devil: And Other Reasons To Riot, by Pearl Cleage (1993)
(this is the book with the best definition of sexism I've ever seen)

Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women, edited by Abena P.A. Busia and Stanlie M. James (1993)

Civil Wars, by June Jordan (1995)

Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma, by Ana Castillo (1995)

Writing as Witness: Essay and Talk, by Beth Brant (1995)

Only Words, by Catharine A. MacKinnon (1996)

Reel to Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies, by bell hooks (1996)

Making More Waves: New Writing by Asian American Women, by Elaine Kim (1997)

Push, by Sapphire (1997)

Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice, by Patricia Hill Collins (1998)

In Search of Islamic Feminism: One Woman's Global Journey, by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea (1998)

All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life, by Winona LaDuke (1999)

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (Revised 10th Anniversary Second Edition, by Patricia Hill Collins (2000)

Homegirls: A Black Feminist Anthology, edited by Barbara Smith (1983; 2000)

Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor, by Patricia J. Williams (2001)

Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation, by Andrea Dworkin (2001)

Sisters in Spirit: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influences on Early American Feminists, by Sally Roesch Wagner (2001)

Some Of Us Did Not Die: New and Selected Essays, by June Jordan (2002)

Unpacking Queer Politics: A Lesbian Feminist Perspective, by Sheila Jeffreys (2003)

Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West, by Sheila Jeffreys (2005)

Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism, by Patricia Hill Collins (2005)

Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (2005)

Are Women Human?: And Other International Dialogues, by Catharine A. MacKinnon (2006)

The Cancer Journals, by Audre Lorde (1980; Special Edition 2006)


By Julian Real

Copyrighted 2007. All Rights Reserved. No editing or revising of this essay, or distribution or copying of it may occur, by any means, without the written permission of the author.

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