Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The White Political Spectrum: Far Right to Far Left

http://www.iagreetosee.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/political-spectrum-ideology.png
If the image doesn't appear above, it may be viewed here.

There is a myth among many along the white political spectrum that there are locations along it that are not white supremacist. Let's see...

--White Nationalists, white separatists, neo-Nazi, Klan members, or proud neofascists. Celebrated outcome: the bolstering of white male supremacy; the sexual and social subordination of women; white male led race warfare; a whites-only nation; genocide. Key concepts: Race is natural. Whites are the most advanced and supreme humans on Earth. Whites culture is seriously threatened and will soon become extinct. Patriarchy is God's plan.

--Right-wing Conservatives (Christian and secular) are against rights and equality for people of color, the weakening of patriarchal rule, meaningful democracy, 'racism' against whites, media diversification, and protect white male supremacist law and order, the maintenance of warfare against Black and Brown people globally, economic exploitation of the system by the wealthy. Maintained outcome: white supremacy, patriarchy, oligarchy, genocide, and ecocide. Key concepts: Reverse racism. Men are under attack. White women and men are in danger from Black people, immigrants, Muslims, and China.

--Libertarian Conservatives focus on government being too big, poor people getting a free ride, and advocate for the protection of private property, wealth inequality, and corporate capitalism. Desired outcome: blaming the victim (support of a bootstraps solution to economic woes); ignoring or decentering the conditions of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people across gender, white women, LGBT people; and the conservation of white, straight, and male supremacy, economic violence, and ecocide. Key concepts: Private property rights must be protected. There is no problem with racism or sexism. Government interventions into rich people's lives is worse than climate change.

--Conservative and Liberal Moderates oppose mass violence when it threatens the status quo, fair trade, the weakening of law and order, and believe white Republicans and Democrats should understand, get along, and work together, footnoting the experiences of people of color, tokenizing LGBT people, and ignoring women of color across sexuality and ethnicity. Planned outcome: the protection of corporate capitalism and warfare against Black and Brown people; poverty; and white, straight, and male supremacy. Key concepts: Reverse racism and sexism. Political correctness. Global warming exists.

--Liberals talk about the problems of bigotry and interpersonal racism, limits on women within the existing systems and institutions, the excesses of corporate capitalism, and the intensifying climate crisis. Usual outcome: the unconscious maintenance colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy. General lack of activist participation in the liberation struggles led by people of color, especially women of color. Key concepts: Optimism without practice. Individualistic solutions. Climate change is a serious problem.

--Progressives talk about the problems of oppression, militarism, white supremacy, misogyny, racist institutions, rape culture, and economic injustice. Probable outcome: modest to radical adjustments to oppressive systems which can accommodate reforms; no plan to eradicate any core humanitarian and environmental atrocities. Modest attention paid to the struggles of people of color but less so to women of color. Key concepts: Privilege, oppression, progress is inevitable and good. Climate change is caused by corporate greed."

--Left-leaning Radicals talk about the problems of white and male privilege, entitlement, advantage, power, and supremacy; the inherent violence of the status quo and capitalism, heterosexism, and gendered and raced violence including masculinist warfare and Western colonialism. Ideal outcome: Collectivist action toward the liberation of oppressed people and transformation of the status quo. Still centering white experience, theories, and history. Hopefully less actively racist, hopefully more conscious of how being white effects all social relations, but in my experience that's not the case. Anti-racist while racist. Key concepts: White and male supremacy. Structural oppression. Allies. Liberation. Ecocide.

Conclusion:
--Whites are racist, white supremacist, consciously or not, interpersonally or not. This is determined by ones location on a race hierarchy, not primarily by attitudes and thoughts. Attitudes, thoughts, and actions are shaped by ones structural position.
--Men are sexist, misogynistic, and patriarchal, consciously or not, interpersonally or not. This is determined by ones location on a race hierarchy, not primarily by attitudes and thoughts.
--White straight Christian men rule the West and have no intention of that being different--whether White Nationalists or Radical Liberationists.
--Any whites and men can choose to be anti-racist and anti-sexist but doing so doesn't shift one's location off the top of race and sex hierarchies.
--It is imperative that whites and men work against their own privileges, advantages, entitlements, and structural power, toward the liberation of all people from all systems of oppression and dehumanisation.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Original U.S. Viral Fake News Story: The Good White Man's Thanksgiving


image is from here
On this eve of Thanksgiving, I will post a link to the true story, not the Good White Man story, of Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag story.

From this website: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/11/23/what-really-happened-first-thanksgiving-wampanoag-side-tale-and-whats-done-today-145807, an excerpt:

So the Pilgrims didn’t invite the Wampanoags to sit down and eat turkey and drink some beer?
[laughs] Ah, no. Well, let’s put it this way. People did eat together [but not in what is portrayed as “the first Thanksgiving]. It was our homeland and our territory and we walked all through their villages all the time. The differences in how they behaved, how they ate, how they prepared things was a lot for both cultures to work with each other. But in those days, it was sort of like today when you go out on a boat in the open sea and you see another boat and everyone is waving and very friendly—it’s because they’re vulnerable and need to rely on each other if something happens. In those days, the English really needed to rely on us and, yes, they were polite as best they could be, but they regarded us as savages nonetheless.




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Privileged Rapist: Brock Turner

Before some assessment and analysis of this case, I'll begin with this snippet from NBCnews.com:
It was the epitome of white privilege, the narrative went — a student and star swimmer at prestigious Stanford University is arrested on rape-related charges, and after more than 16 months, he's sentenced to only six months.

And the authorities refuse to let the public see his arrest photo.
Until Monday. Here it is:

IMAGE: Brock Turner
This is attributed to the Santa Clara Sheriff's office

Prior to that we got variations on this image:

This is attributed to Stanford University

One set of questions pertains to the assumptions behind the lack of release of the mug shot. Does wearing a blazer and tie mean someone is safe to be around? Does a hoodie and unkempt hair mean someone is more likely to rape? These are typically classist and racist media and cultural inferences. 

If he were poorer and Black, he’d be called ‘a wild animal’ or ‘a vicious thug’ among other white supremacist coded language for ‘normal Black man’.

Thank goodness two Swedish male students intervened on her behalf, witnessing the rape. Thank goodness he was caught doing such vile violence to her. Here is the statement by one of them, Carl-Fredrik Arndt:

Thank goodness he was caught doing such vile violence (vile-lence) to her. Sexual violence has a long raced, classed history in Amerikkka, against women white and Black, Brown, and Indigenous. From the rape of Indigenous women being slaughtered, to the battering and rape of slaves, to the forced sterilisation of Brown poor women.

What the predator can be thankful for is his race, class, and ethnic background. And his status as a male college student at an elite school and a star athlete to boot–in a predominantly white sport at that. And a few rape culture apologists and accomplices: judge, a father, and a friend who not only have been more than willing to ignore the woman behind the dumpster, but also toss her squarely under the bus.

Brock's father, Dan A. Turner, reportedly also a former Stanford student, issued this inhumanely callous statement, completely obliterating the humanity of the assaulted woman:
“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve...” “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” 
“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” the letter says, noting that the former Olympic hopeful is now a registered sex offender.
No mention of being ashamed at what his son did ‘for 20 minutes’. No acknowledgement it was rape, even though there were witnesses. It morphs into a politically and morally neutral 'action'.

Let's replace "His" and "He" with "Her" and "She" and reread the statement.
Her life will never be the one that she dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. 
She will never be her happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile.
Here is John Pavlovitz's response to Dan Turner:
http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/06/06/to-brock-turners-father-from-another-father/

Judge Persky has acted on behalf of rapists before. Read about that here:

Most importantly, here is the statement from the victim:

As Andrea Dworkin once wrote, "the punishment for getting drunk and going in a frat boy's dorm room should be a hangover, not rape."

Or being outside. Or at home. Or being anywhere when inebriated. Or not inebriated. What patriarchal rape culture does so well is punish women for simply being.

Friday, May 20, 2016

An Introduction to the Founder of the Lavender Kitchen Sink Collective: YM Carrington



YM is a long-time radical activist. They combine analysis of patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism in nuanced and comprehensive ways better than anyone else I know. YM has influenced my own thinking and action in countless ways over the last ten years.

There will be more videos to come.
Please share widely.
Thank you.

Julian

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Single-cause Analysis in the Age of the Three-Headed Monster

King Ghidorah is a kaiju film creature, also known as the Three-Headed Monster.
The image is from here.
I grew up with an understanding that 'radical' meant 'root' and so 'radical feminism' is the feminism that seeks to expose the root cause of women's oppression. And to uproot it, eradicate it. What I grew up learning was that eliminating patriarchy is what it will take to liberate women.

I accept that as true, but only if that root is understood in its complexity. Because in the world the women I know live in, "patriarchy" isn't only "male supremacy" and "men's violence against women". Most women--if not all women--are harmed and subordinated by those forces. But so too are most women harmed and subordinated by white supremacy and capitalism and other economic systems that require poverty and other gross economic injustice.

I also grew up seeing the limits of Marxist analysis--how it traditionally holds no deep understanding of what causes the oppression of women by men. Also, analysis of white supremacy and racism too often ignores how it is entwined with male supremacy or capitalism.

If I consider any centuries-old atrocity that causes mass destruction to girls and women, it is tied directly to patriarchy (male and hetero supremacy), colonialism (white, Anglo, and Western supremacy), and capitalism (and wealth supremacy).

Trafficking disproportionately exploits and kills girls and women of color, globally. The globalised enslavement and rape of female human beings for profit for pimps and slavers, for the pleasure and dominance of men. All three heads of the beast are implicated.

Seeing patriarchy as a force that operates separately from colonialism and capitalism is an abstraction. But it isn't just abstract: it denies what is happening and to whom it is most happening.

When women and girls of color are centered, it is impossible to ignore how colonialism/white supremacy, capitalism/wealth supremacy, and patriarchy/male supremacy are always operating against the efforts of girls and women to be free.

This blog will not ignore those forces or pretend only one form of supremacy is deadly. Radically supporting the liberation of marginalised girls and women around the world necessitates naming each head of the monster.



Friday, April 22, 2016

John Stoltenberg's and Cristan Williams' The Conversations Project: Some Final Thoughts

graphic is from here
Note: When I heard Prince died earlier on Thursday, what I recalled was how much Andrea Dworkin loved his work.

The message in the above graphic was never anything 
The Conversations Project endeavored to do. 
Yet they insisted they were a radical feminist group.

I may be writing more about this, but just wanted to update you that after four months of very engaged involvement, I've been purged without notice from The Conversations Project Facebook group, started by John Stoltenberg and Cristan Williams, although John was largely absent.

Here are a few concluding thoughts:

1. The group was steadfastly anti-radical feminist, but couched this as
anti-T--F, as if those radical feminists who are against the liberalism and male supremacy in trans politics should and can be separated out from those who are or were not.

2. There was consistent refusal to admit that they were misusing and misunderstanding the early work of Andrea Dworkin while ignoring all of Dworkin's later work (like, at least 11/12ths of what Andrea wrote). The only passages of hers they ever referred to (a lot) were Dworkin's most liberal points in Woman Hating about multisexuality and androgyny. They refused to acknowledge Andrea's mid-70s discussion of androgyny was something that wasn't specific to her, and something that was of political interest during that decade, but never thereafter. (As was the case for so many white feminists in that period: Millett, Firestone, and Piercy, for example.) They refused to consider why Andrea later rejected the last section of Woman Hating as politically and intellectually problematic. They clung to a few early ideas because dealing with anything else--such as pornography, prostitution, male privilege, male power, white and male supremacy, the process of subordinating female bodies such as through intercourse, battery, and rape--would have been harder for them to embrace: it would have implicated some of their own politics as more overtly pro-patriarchal and white supremacist. The only snippets of Catharine MacKinnon's work they paid any attention to were from an grossly overly-steered interview Cristan did with Catharine. As if that's what MacKinnon's thirty plus years of radical feminist activism should be reduced to.

3. There were less than five pro-radical/pro-feminist people in the group. One person, a white trans woman, left the group only after about a week being there due to the incessant liberalism, anti-radicalism, and anti-feminism. Now there are no radical feminists in the group, although one member, Margo, a white Lesbian feminist, has consistently advocated for feminist values and sisterly approaches to dealing with the Turf War, and I respect her very much for that. And one man has been consistently affirmative of radical feminist perspectives on gender and sex. When Margo posted things that called for respect and regard for all feminists, few to no members "liked" her comments. Cristan and John never "liked" them.

4. The group was so white (how white was it?) that the only posts made about women of color, or even more generally, people of color, were exploitive: John and one other member, early on, posted links to Navajo understandings of gender, not because he ever discussed or linked to how to end white colonialist-patriarchal genocide, but, disturbingly, just because such ideas might be useful to or of interest to whites.

5. The white members of the group (the great majority) refused to center women of color (trans or not). They refused to center an examination of how their race, sex, and class privileges shaped their views, their values, and their agendas. Doing so was considered "off topic". Supporting white, class privileged trans women was always "on topic". No one white and trans in the group ever made it a point to name how they had white privilege. Let alone male privilege.

6. They always positioned some radical feminists as THE enemy. They did not critique or focus on white men (as a structurally positioned enemy class). When white men were critiqued, it was without the same disdain and derision as they demonstrated for some white radical feminists. (I call that blatant misogyny and anti-feminism.) They never, ever considered what anti-trans feminists were arguing against or for. It was always only viewed as "hatred" and "wanting us dead". As if white and male privilege and power--including theirs--doesn't result in the deaths of all kinds of women.

7. The group was never committed, even vaguely, to an anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal, or anti-colonialist agenda. Never. Ever. Ever. In this sense and others, the group was willfully and determinedly liberal, yet tossed the term "radical" into their title twice and felt being called liberal was an insult, for reasons which remain unclear. (If it is so blatantly what you are and is all you want to be, own it and be proud of it, for god's sake.) I conclude they valued the term "radical" because it allowed them to discuss liberal points of Dworkin's and MacKinnon's as if those were radical. When I linked to useful ways to understand historical radicalism (as an actual political stance against institutionalised oppression), they rejected or ignored them. There was nothing about their perspective that was radical. Nothing. And their name revealed this from the start: no group that is seriously radical (that I've ever been aware of) makes a point of stuffing the term into their title twice.

8. The group never considered what it is that causes the mass deaths of marginalised women of color. It was beyond their vision, their call to action, to do so. All they could come up with is transphobia. As if.

9. It became crystal clear to me that Cristan, and more surprisingly John, did not understood the traditional political meaning of "radical" when it comes to radical feminism. Again, John was largely absent as an active member, although he read a lot of the comments. But what became distressingly clear was that he could not articulate what Andrea's Radical Feminism meant or was. He was and is only concerned with prioritising the points of view of white and/or male-privileged people, over and against lesbian feminists. He refuses to see that Andrea never divorced "woman" (the patriarchal construction) from what actually happens, oppressively, violatingly, demeaningly, to almost all female people from birth to death. Instead, he believes that what Andrea said about "multisexuality" in 1974, or this, from 1975: "it is not true that there are two sexes that are discrete and opposite, which are polar...", were in fact radical things to say. They were radical things to read--for him, a white man. What the group seemed to mean by 'radical' was post-modernly complex or intellectually ground-breaking. Radical only addressed acts of speech, or ideas in writing, not political campaigns, or efforts at social change. (For some discussion about Andrea's later abandonment of such 'radical ideas', please see the notes in a book called Without Apology: Andrea Dworkin's Art and Politics, by Cindy Jenefsky.) I repeatedly pointed out, if these are such 'essential' points of Andrea's, why do they never again appear in her work, over the next twenty years? Crickets chirped. This was a stubbornly anti-activist group. The only [allegedly radical] action John promoted was promoting the liberal idea of multisexuality among young people. Campaigns to end violence against women? Nope. Talking to college students about being colors in a color wheel: that's where it's at for John.

10. Also, members had no interest in supporting or working towards a truce between some white radical lesbian feminists and some white liberal trans activists. Only Margo, and the trans woman who left in disgust, did explicitly welcome this as a goal. The rest were intent on demonising some feminists (not just some of their views, but their personhood), while ignoring how their own political perspective was misogynistic, racist, and anti-trans.

Over four months, the discussions there were only intended to be "Liberal White-centered Trans and pro-Trans Conversations that Ignore What is of Radical Concern to All Women". Sad. And predictable. There's this old expression, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them." Yup. Everything I first experienced in that group in January proved to remain the case in April. Lesson learned.

The Conversations Project: The Radical Inclusivity of Radical Feminism should be titled:
"John and Cristan's Project: Ignoring Radical Feminism"


Saturday, April 9, 2016

To Andrea Dworkin, With Love: 11 Years Gone (Sept. 26, 1946 - April 9, 2005)

portrait of Andrea Dworkin is from here
       GONE TOO SOON.

I wrote this exactly ten years ago, on the one-year anniversary of Andrea's sudden and shocking death.

This is the original and permanent website, with great thanks to Nikki Craft for her assistance with the graphics and layout: http://www.andreadworkin.net/memorial/toandreawithlove.html

To Andrea Dworkin, With Love

by Julian Real, April 9, 2006
Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.


How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

-- Bob Dylan, "Blowin' In The Wind", 1962



I wanted instead to write books that were fire and ice, wind sweeping the earth. I wanted to write books that, once experienced, could not be forgotten, books that would be cherished as we cherish the most exquisite light we have ever seen. I had contempt for anything less than this perfect book that I could imagine. This book that lived in my imagination was small and perfect and I wanted it to live in person after person, forever. Even in the darkest of human times, it would live. Even in the life of one person who would sustain it and be sustained by it, it would live. I wanted to write a book that would be read even by one person, but always. For the rest of human time some one person would always know that book, and think it beautiful and fine and true, and then it would be like any tree that grows, or any grain of sand. It would be, and once it was it would never not be.

In my secret longings there was another desire as well, not opposite but different, not the same but as strong. There would be a new social order in which people could live in a new way. There would be this new way of living which I could, on the edges of my mind and in the core of my being, imagine and taste. People would be free, and they would live decent lives, and those lives would not be without pain, but they would be without certain kinds of pain. They would be lives untouched by prisons and killings and hunger and bombs. I imagined that there could be a world without institutionalized murder and systematic cruelty.

I imagined that I could write a book that would make such a world possible.
--Andrea Dworkin
First Love, 1978

How can I tell you now, Andrea, on this, the one-year anniversary of your unexpected exit from this horrific world of misogyny and racism, among other atrocities, how can I tell you what your writing has meant to me, and what you, courageous author, mean to me, only one grief-filled year after you are gone?

How can I express in words of simple gratitude the gifts you have given to me, to us--the human community? These gifts, your books, contain the keys to radically, lovingly, and, (dare one think it) permanently ending the locked-door world of women's systematised suffering. Can we still dream of a humanity that does not require women and men to be less or other than fully humane?

What you did in writing no one else has done for me. No one else I have encountered has written so directly, so unflinchingly, from the body. Your books contain your particular body of knowledge, but with an insight and wisdom deeply informed by the invisibilised lives of so many others, who shudder to tell their stories, and who will never write down what happened to them. This visceral knowledge is not abstracted and intellectualised into mental concepts, which academically well-educated folk love to verbally toss back and forth over tables that never see the light of day. Education is important to me; I spent eight privileged years in undergraduate school. Learning about life is necessary, but abstracting or denying the harm and suffering real people live with is callous at best, malicious at worst, inside or outside the academy. I wish more of your work was taught, with deep understanding of what you were saying.

Your knowledge is fired directly out of a kiln of torment and tears into palpable truths, felt, experienced, known by the mind, yes, but also by the heart that bleeds until it dies. In your body, you held truths no one without unfathomable courage wanted or wants to face in this era of a lonely, desperate individualism that ignores, and perhaps cannot bear, the collective suffering of the masses.

Andrea, it is now April 9, 2006. You have been spared one whole year, dear feminist warrior, of men and women arguing for rights to do things patriarchy demands men and women do to themselves in the first place. Another year in which men, predominantly, maintain and enforce those compulsory and mandated choices through simple interpersonal methods: expressed desire, rejection, ridicule, brutality; and complex systems and industries: prostitution, pornography, cosmetic surgery.

I hope you didn't live to know that in suburbia, there are strip-aerobics classes in gyms, and U.S. talk shows discussing to what degree middle-class heterosexual women should modify their bodies so they look more like the women used by men in pornography. Is it worse that women and men with webcams make themselves into pornography because they experience it as uniquely desirable and politically empowering? What power and desire is this, to become a sexualised thing for someone else, or, as sadly, for oneself? Surely this is not the power your generation of feminists had in mind when dreaming of an end to male supremacy. Once upon a time, the promise of political self-determination assumed that women and men might dream beyond the confines and limitations of gender and race, rather than purposefully eroticising and getting defensive about those same dehumanising parameters.

Racist patriarchy has won, it seems, if women want what white male supremacy requires from them, while declaring it "meaningful feminist choice". What meaning does feminism have if it is "feminist" to be used callously or compulsively by men who trade money for sex? Whose interests are served when it is now called "feminist" to be made into a flattened, fetishised image for men's (or women's) sexual viewing pleasure? What does feminism stand for when it no longer demands an end to all forms, manifestations, and expressions of male dominance and control over women's human lives? If women have no choice but to be politically female, and call all choices to be politically female "free", then patriarchy has indeed won.

That is what I learned from you, and I won't forget it. Your books are my political life-sustaining broth in a world where most books published are the spiritual-intellectual equivalent of toxic water. My spirit is strengthened by your passionate, poetic, informed, incisive descriptions of realities people know and instantly banish from their minds. Your work is the body of knowledge that those who seek "the good life" in patriarchy must not pay close attention to if they seek uncomplicated comfort. (Not that the materially comfortable are actually at ease).

Some of us, not just a few but not nearly enough, with material means and access to resources, do not seek "the good life" in patriarchy. We know such a life depends on the ignored destruction of humanity, including of heterosexual, lesbian, and gay lives, poor white people's lives, the lives of people of Colour and others who are ethnically despised, the lives of Third World women who do more work each day than the U.S. white middle class can possibly imagine. We know a society that is not radically activist will help ensure that all women will be relegated the task of being politically female indefinitely. We know biological determinism, also called sociobiology, is one of patriarchal men's self-serving excuses for maintaining a political system no gene or hormone could possible encode or regulate.

Your books are now in my blood, Andrea, coursing through me, sustaining my rage and compassion. You taught me those can be the same spiritual force for a feminist, which is to say a humanitarian who sees men--and women--as human.

Most caring men I know don't understand that definition. They have absorbed the liberal to conservative media's distortions of feminism and feminists. And so, with regard to women's political freedom, they are complacent. I feel despair and outrage as otherwise very active and relatively patriarchally benign men become utterly impotent, passive and speechless, when challenged to confront other men who are less benign: more predatory, more misogynist. I plead with them, as a Jew and as a profeminist, about the crimes of the good people, about how any degree of passivity in the face of atrocity is perpetuating that atrocity. Men, generally, cannot (or will not) hear me. Because I speak the truths of radical feminism, my words register as a foreign language in men's ears trained to only hear what non-feminist men say. That your work infuses my speech means it, like you, will too often be misheard, or rendered incomprehensible to those who cling to the benefits of privilege and the compromises of denial. Your living speech was the language of unrepressed social reality, of undenied political truth.

Yesterday I was informed that a white male dentist has been charged with injecting his own semen onto the tongues of his female patients. (See: Former N.C. Dentist Indicted on Seven Counts of Assault.)

This past year you have also been spared the knowledge of a current Duke University sexual assault case, in which three white male students are charged with raping an African American woman they hired to dance at their party.(See: Duke University Rape Case Raises Issues of Race and Class in Durham,BlackFeminism.Org and Ferel Scholar's Duke Rape-Reprinted from Biting Beaver)

How inhumane does humanity have to get before we recognise sexist-racist atrocity as such? What remedies exist to help us out of this nightmare of myriad forms of misogynist exploitation, rape, and ethnic bigotry? The answer is blowing in the winds of your words, Andrea. The answer is blowing in those winds.


Andrea Dworkin's written work:
Non-fiction
Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant (2002)
Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation(2000)
Life and Death: Unapologetic Writings on the Continuing War Against Women (1997)
In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings (co-edited with Catharine A. MacKinnon, 1997)
Letters from a War Zone: Writings 1976-1989 (1993)
Right-Wing Women: The Politics of Domesticated Females (1991)
Pornography and Civil Rights: A New Day for Women's Equality (with Catharine A. MacKinnon, 1988)
Intercourse (1987)
Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981)
Our Blood: Prophesies and Discourses on Sexual Politics (1976)
Woman Hating: A Radical Look at Sexuality (Dutton, 1974)


Fiction and poetry
Mercy (1990)
Ice and Fire (1986)
The New Woman's Broken Heart: Short Stories (1980)
First Love (a chapter from an unfinished novel, 1978)
Morning Hair (self-published, 1968)
Child (1966) (Heraklion, Crete, 1966)


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Components of Oppression in White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy

this image, of a mural by Jim Chuchu,
inspired by the poetry of Staceyann Chin, is from here

The components of oppression in white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, or as it is known here on this blog, Corporate Racist Atrocious Patriarchy (CRAP):

Power-over/Status: The dominant group has a material interest in the system being oppressive and hegemonic. It is in the dominants' material interest to maintain the status quo. These interests include various entitlements, privileges, advantages, benefits, and forms of enfranchisement. Having power means, simply: If you want things done, they get done. If you want something to be a certain way, it is made to be that way; you have meaningful choices of action; you can choose to change political locations on one or more hierarchies. Your values are valued; your personhood is humanised; in myth and legend, in fiction and reality, your humanity is revered as great, genius, holy, or authoritative. Power-over is distinguished from power-with, such as in healthy friendship and communal action.

Subordination/Stigma: There exists a social hierarchy in which there are two main groups, one on top, one on the bottom. The bottom group is thought to exist for the top group. there is no identity for the subordinated group that is not in stigmatised relation to the statused dominant group.

Discrimination/Marginalisation/Segregation/Rejection: Sometimes, as needed, the oppressed group may be cloistered off, kept out, kicked out, removed from society, or purged. This may be done using culture, religion, and law, through uncentering or persistent decentering in theory and social experience. Examples: Jim Crow; poverty; pogroms.

Objectification: the dominant group dehumanises the subordinated one also through physical and sexual objectification. The group is turned into a thing, a commodity. Media reinforces this. Pornography makes it feel like 'sexual fulfillment'. For the oppressed group to be 'sexy', they/we must be available for the dominant group, to do what they want. (Even if they want you to be sexually dominant.)

Exploitation: The dominating group makes economic use of the subordinated group: their resources--emotional, physical, sexual--are taken/stolen or systematically used/used up, or withheld from the oppressed. The oppressed work directly for the benefit of the oppressor class in one way or more. The subordinated group is may be 'merely' used, or also impoverished, imprisoned, or enslaved.

Violence: the oppressed group, in part by being objectified, is targeted throughout their lives as appropriate to do violence to, including violation--being interpersonally abused directly or through proxy bullies and thugs. The violence and violation is coded into law; made to be natural, scientifically or socially inevitable, or God-ordained. Example: heterosexual couples must consummate their marriage--she must be penetrated at least once, by legal/cultural/religious mandate; "the rule of thumb"; lynching.

Bigotry: in addition to being stigmatised, it is common and normal to reduce the subordinated group to a negative characteristic, trait, or quality of being. (Note: bigotry against a dominant group doesn't = oppressing or dominating them.) Example: women are dirty; Black people are dangerous and criminal; gay men and lesbians are child molesters and perverts; trans women being misogynist predators.

Silence, threat, and death: The dominant group successfully silences or destroys the oppressed. Examples: femicide, genocide, systematic lack of access to medical care or refusal of the dominants to develop and distribute appropriate care (AIDS deaths), potable water, nourishing food, one's own homeland; the voices of the oppressed are not given the mic, are not allowed on the stage unless to promote the status quo. The oppressed group is seen as perpetually threatening the stability and status of the oppressor class. Humiliating the oppressor class is punishable by death. So is taking power from them. Serial murder and mass murder of the oppressed group is normal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Seeking Freedom for 15 year old human trafficking victim sentenced to prison! Petition link here.


image of Latesha Clay is from here
What follows is from Change.org.
On January 11, 2016, a date proclaimed as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, an inexcusable atrocity was committed against the human rights of a child. At the same time that government officials, law enforcement agencies, advocates, survivors and allied citizens of the United States brought attention to modern day slavery and the importance of being victim centered, our own justice system failed in the protection of a 15 year old human trafficking victim. News media stories disregarded her status as a minor and published her name, while maliciously burdening her with guilt, as our society is prone to do without consideration of facts and laws that attempt to extinguish the plague of victim blaming. Her charges of armed robbery and unlawful imprisonment are predicated entirely on her involvement as a child advertised online, to be purchased for sex. This is an act that a minor cannot be held responsible for consenting to under federal and state law. It is also not required for force, fraud or coercion to be proven in cases involving minors under federal and state law in order to prove that the minor is in fact, a human trafficking victim. This can be found in Michigan state law at:
Trafficking a Minor MCL 750.462e
Covers both sex trafficking and labor trafficking of a minor
NO Force Fraud or Coercion Required
"regardless of whether the person knows the age of the minor"
In addition, Michigan is a state that has enacted Safe Harbor laws relating to victims of human trafficking.
Safe Harbor - Safe harbor was one of the key reforms in the 2014 Michigan human trafficking legislative package.
2014 PA 336 amends MCL 750.451 to provide Safe Harbor to minor sex trafficking victims by presuming that a minor found engaging in prostitution is a victim of human trafficking and mandates law enforcement to refer the minor victims for appropriate treatment within the Department of Human Services.
2014 PA 342 amends MCL 712A.2 to provide Safe Harbor to minor sex trafficking victims by establishing probate court jurisdiction for minor human trafficking victims who are dependent and in danger of substantial harm.
2014 PA 335 amends MCL 780.621 to provide Safe Harbor by allowing victims of human trafficking to clear their criminal record of crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers.
Latesha Clay of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was used as bait for a robbery scheme which placed advertisements inviting sexual acts with a teen on Backpage so that men would respond. These were not hapless victims, but predators who arrived with the intention of sexually assaulting Latesha, the true victim. Michigan Penal Code lists Solicitation of prostitution as a crime, Prostitution and Solicitation, Sections 750.448 - 750.462 - See more at: http://statelaws.findlaw.com/michigan-law/michigan-prostitution-and-solicitation-laws.html#sthash.nH2pSng4.dpuf
Furthermore, the same human trafficking laws provide for certain penalties when solicitors attempt to purchase minors for sex:
[For the rest of the petition language, please see *here*.]

Friday, March 11, 2016

Action Alert: Justice for Berta Cáceres!

image is from CIPSES site, linked to below

Please see this, from The Nation: "Before Her Murder, Berta Cáceres Singled Out Hillary Clinton for Criticism: The presidential candidate has ignored criticism of her role in enabling the consolidation of the Honduran coup."

What follows is from here at CIPSES.

Call your representative today and tell them to join other Members of Congress in demanding justice for Berta Cáceres, security for fellow activists, an end to all training and aid for Honduran security forces, and an end to megaprojects and corporate land grabs that violate indigenous land rights.

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) is sponsoring a congressional letter to Secretary John Kerry echoing COPINH's demands. The deadline for Members of Congress to sign it is 5 PM on Monday, March 14, so please take action immediately.

Call or email your representative today!
Find your representative's name and phone number using your zip code here. If you already know who your representative is, you can call the congressional switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask to be transferred to their office.

The deadline for Members of Congress to sign it is 5 PM on Monday, March 14, so please take action immediately. Please email 
laura@cispes.org after you call to tell us how it went.
Sample Call Script:
Hello. My name is _____ and I am a constituent of Representative _____. I am calling to ask the congressman/congresswoman to take a strong position on human rights and justice in Honduras given the recent murder of Berta Cáceres, a human rights defender, indigenous leader, environmental activist and winner of the Goldman Environmental Award.

Since the 2009 military coup in Honduras, the country has been besieged by corruption, militarization, State-sponsored repression and violence, and corporate land grabs that violate indigenous land rights. Yet the United States government continues to fund and support the Honduran regime responsible for this corruption, violence and impunity. Hundreds of activists have already been murdered.

I am asking Representative ______ to take action today by signing the letter being sponsored by Representative Keith Ellison to Secretary Kerry, calling on him to take concrete and meaningful steps to support human rights and justice in Honduras. You can contact Sara Sudetic in Mr. Ellison's office to sign on or for more information. The letter will close at 5 PM on Monday, March 14, so I ask that the congressman/congresswoman please take action immediately.
You can also email your representative using this form: 
[Please click here to complete the action.]

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Images from International Women's Day 2016


All the images below are from The Guardian. Credits are beneath each photo.

I am wishing all girls and women physical safety, economic security, clean water, nutritious food, control over their own bodies and land, and power in their own lives.



Mexico City, MexicoA member of the indigenous Zapatista National Liberation 
Army (EZLN) takes part in a demonstration to mark 
International Women’s Day, outside the Palacio de 
Bellas Artes
Bhopal, IndiaTribal artists during a rally for International Women’s Day
Manila, PhilippinesA Filipino mother with her child march during 
a parade to mark International Women’s Day
Port-au-Prince, HaitiOn International Women’s Day a woman sells 
cleaning products near children playing, in Jalousie 
neighbourhood, in the commune of Petion Ville








Monday, March 7, 2016

Stop deMANd for Trafficking in Girls and Women

A few years old, this is not at all a message that is close to expiring. From the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), this short video is called:

Men's Responsibility: Ending Demand for Sex Trafficking
 oalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW)


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Pippa Fleming: a Lesbian Butch Truth-teller

photo of Pippa Fleming is from here
I will not waste your time with many of my words here today. What I just realised, in a kind of palm-to-forehead way, is this: 30 years ago I used to say I was woman-identified, and more lesbian-identified than gay-identified. That was always a statement of political allegiance and affectional affiliation, not ever a demand for others (who I structurally oppress due to male privilege) to include me in their groups as one of them.

Now, I simply want to introduce you to a wonderful person. Pippa Fleming is "a long-time Performance Artist, Actor, Poet, Writer, DJ, Vocalist, Athletic Coach, Shapeshifting Lesbian = A force to be reckoned with!"

Below I hope there appear some working links to some video posts on Facebook.

I welcome you to listen thoughtfully, to take her words to heart, and to share them as acts of honoring and respecting Lesbians, their communities, and herstories.

1. https://www.facebook.com/pippa.fleming.18/videos/10203874688811751/

2. https://www.facebook.com/pippa.fleming.18/videos/10208915234662247/

3. https://www.facebook.com/pippa.fleming.18/videos/10203874688811751/

For more, please visit Pippa's YouTube channel.





Friday, March 4, 2016

Indigenous Activist Berta Cáceres Assassinated In Honduras



From SOA Watch:

Human Rights Organizations Demand an Investigation of the Circumstances Surrounding the Assassination of Berta Cáceres, the General Coordinator of COPINH
At approximately midnight last night, the General Coordinator of COPINH, Berta Caceres was assassinated in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca. At least two individuals broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying for the evening in the Residencial La Líbano, shot and killed her. COPINH is urgently responding to this tragic situation.
Berta Cáceres is one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras. She spent her life fighting in defense of indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources.
Cáceres, a Lenca woman, grew up during the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980s. Her mother, a midwife and social activist, took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people.
Cáceres grew up to become a student activist and in 1993, she cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.
For the rest of the article, please see here at SOA Watch.

Monday, February 29, 2016

White-centrism, Profeminism, and Transgender Politics

image, of a white hand holding the world, is from here
[T]hose of us who are transsexual feminists, and especially those of us who transition as adults (I was age 22), are likewise in certain ways "younger sisters or nieces" of women who have lived their whole lives as female. The "cis/trans" binary idea is very harmful because it seeks to reverse this natural order of respect and status where newcomers honor our more experienced elder sisters. And this kind of AFAB-phobia can, in effect, recreate aspects of the patriarchy. For a women to have many years of experience in a given position, and then be asked to train a new man who gets the promotion she deserves, is a pattern women who are AFAB may feel is at least approximated when a new transsexual woman in a group who has only recently transitioned becomes an instant "expert" on the feminist movement. 
                               -- Margo Schulter

What follows is an exchange between white transsexual Lesbian and feminist, Margo Schulter, and my white self. I'll put my text in italics. It picks up from a longer exchange in the comments section of this post, "Is John Wrong? On Andrea Dworkin, Sex Difference, and Gender Dominance".


Margo begins her responses to comments in the prior post with this quote:
"Within the lesbian community I am Black, and within the Black community I am a lesbian. Any attack against Black people is a lesbian and gay issue, because I and thousands of other Black women are part of the lesbian community. Any attack against lesbians and gays is a Black issue, because thousands of lesbians and gay men are Black. There is no hierarchy of oppression." --Audre Lorde
In continuing this dialogue, I would like warmly to accept your invitation to focus more on Women on Color, intersectionality, the ethics and methodology of a woman such as Patricia Hill Collins or bell hooks, and also the need to avoid misleading racial analogies applied in either direction to the Turf Wars. There are some very powerful Indigenous and other non-European models that can be applied to the relationship between women who have lived their whole lives as females (including some intersex women), and women who for some part of their lives have experienced both a measure of male privilege and trans oppression. I'm not saying that there's any exact precedent on this that I know, although I have heard some stories about one Indigenous Nation which, if true, would much fit my sense of sisterhood and justice.

As a first step, I think that we need to follow Audre Lorde's advice on not scoring "oppression points," as you call them, in any direction. Let's not verticalize the Turf Wars, which involve horizontal hostility between sisters, into a conflict where one side has the equivalent of white privilege, and the other is in the position of Women of Color. Such an analogy, whether it's the "cis/trans" binary and "cis privilege" misconception all too popular in the trans community, or the "any transsexual woman should be suspected of expressing male privilege the rest of her life" misconception that has harmed feminism for over four decades, divides sisters and interferes with recognition of mutual vulnerability and the need for mutual aid.

So, to follow Audre Lorde, within the Lesbian community I am a transsexual, and within the trans community I am a radical Lesbian feminist. Any attack against transsexuals is a Lesbian feminist issue, because I and many other transsexuals are part of the Lesbian feminist community. Any attack on Lesbian feminists is a transsexual issue, because many Lesbian feminists are transsexual.

Let's now focus a bit on race; then on special vulnerabilities of women who are AFAB or trans; and then on feminist process and some uplifting models from Women of Color.


Hi Margo,

Thank you for your openness to engaging on these issues, Margo. :) I'll respond comment by comment, rather than posting all your comments together, to keep my responses in closer proximity to what I'm responding to.

I can't take credit for "oppression points"; it is not a term I use to point out problems with ranking oppression. But I know what you're referring to in this context.

For me, a more useful way to understand ourselves intersectionally is in terms of our structural locations and our political positions, which necessarily include what forms of institutional power we have access to and which privileges we benefit from and enjoy. See for example, this post, which informs how I understand various methods for addressing sexual slavery, trafficking, brothel-keeping, what you term sexage work, and pimping and procuring: The Life without Privilege: the Inhumane Consequences of Pro-Prostitution Politics, part 1.

When in my early twenties, a (wo)mentor, a white feminist and lesbian, pointed out that in something I wrote, I made references to two groups: "people" and also to "Black people". Her point, brought to my attention in a way that was very impactful without being shaming, was that identifying people in this way simultaneously falsely universalises and problematically invisibilises whiteness. It was one of those paradigm-shifting moments where the privilege of my whiteness to not name my race was brought suddenly to my consciousness. I have thought about that a great deal since then. The problem my mentor named has continued to exist in white writing and theory-making. Let us consider the following book titles: Sexual Politics (Kate Millett) and Black Sexual Politics (Patricia Hill Collins); Feminist Thought (Rosemary Putnam Tong) and Black Feminist Thought (Collins).

To what extent is Millett's book "White Sexual Politics", and Tong's book "White Feminist Thought"? The question is easy to answer: both books only deal with or strongly center white writers, theorists, and worldviews. Except one chapter in Feminist Thought titled "Women of Color Feminisms".

This is a critique, Margo. You wrote:
"So, to follow Audre Lorde, within the Lesbian community I am a transsexual, and within the trans community I am a radical Lesbian feminist. Any attack against transsexuals is a Lesbian feminist issue, because I and many other transsexuals are part of the Lesbian feminist community. Any attack on Lesbian feminists is a transsexual issue, because many Lesbian feminists are transsexual."
I understand and respect the point with two caveats. 

1. I'm arguing that to follow Audre Lorde you and I must not invisibilise our race when we write about ourselves. So, within Lesbian community, you are a race-privileged transsexual, and within the trans community, you are a radical white Lesbian feminist. I have thought many times about whether I should retitle my blog, "A Radical White Profeminist".

2. I want us to come to consensus about what constitutes "an attack", because we know, online, it is used to describe both shaming and derisive verbal assaults, doxxing, criminal threatening, and reasoned critique. I don't welcome the first things on that list, but militantly want to protect spaces that welcome reasoned critique, even if it 'threatens' core values and worldviews by those in the conversation. I mention this because in most white trans-friendly spaces, what is not considered friendly is digging deeply into some issues, such as the presence (or not) of male (or white) privilege and male (or white) supremacist power. As a radical, I reject making some subjects verboten, as a condition of acceptance. I agree that there are more and less appropriate spaces for some conversations, and I hope to respect those if the boundaries are set by those I structurally oppress. I hope not to respect them if set by those who structurally oppress me, or women of any color. Specifically, I see the avoidance of challenging white and male privilege as one structural form of violence against women of color. So desiring to be inclusive, if that means including women of color, must demonstrate a commitment by people with either white or male privilege, to naming and confronting each.


Margo continues:
At this point, I'd like to get into race, and explain why I often call myself a Second Wave Feminist, even while recognizing that the term does have a certain white bias. The fact that I recognize Frances M. Beale, who wrote in the late 1960's on the "double jeopardy" of being Black and female, the peerless Flo Kennedy whom you recently honored here and I once got to hear speak in San Francisco in the mid-1970's, Pauli Murray of the Harlem Renaissance tradition, Angela Davis, and the Combahee River Collective as all at the center of the Second Wave doesn't mean that it's not a white-oriented way of viewing hirstory.

The question arises: "If the First Wave ended with the gaining of the vote in the U.S.A. in 1920, what about Bessie Smith or Eleanor Roosevelt or Frances Perkins or Rosa Parks or Ella Baker? What about the Black Lesbian culture that thrived through `race records' and the like long before Olivia? Is it really fair to see the whole era of 1920-1963, if we take Betty Friedan's _The Feminine Mystique_ as the start of the Second Wave, as a vast wasteland or blank slate of patriarchy unresisted? Even from a Euro-American view, Ruth Herschberger published the radical feminist _Adam's Rib_ in 1948, and Simone de Beauvoir _The Second Sex_ in 1949."

The reason I identity as Second Wave, as parochial as it is, is to affirm that there were and are radical Lesbian feminists of this era, transsexual and also AFAB, who believe in equal sisterhood, and reject both transphobia and also what I might call AFAB-phobia (with the term "cisphobia" in air quotes tempting, because AFAB-phobia is based on the misconception of "cis privilege"). Make no mistake: either AFAB-phobia or transphobia is destructive, unsisterly, and antifeminist. So is for someone inside or outside the women's community to propose that this or that sister be "decentered" because of her birth assignment.

Many trans people, AFAB as well as AMAB, assume that the 1970's, at least among white feminists, were an era of universal transphobia. I'm delighted when I can change some minds. And the erasure of transsexual Lesbian feminists from some Lesbian feminist accounts of those years by women who rightly resist AFAB-phobia but not the other side of the equation, is something I want to do my part to correct in fighting AFAB-phobia.

But let's get into Women of Color and better ethics and models for feminism.


I continue:
I'll admit this right off, although many who have engaged with me at length already know this: I'm annoyingly, compulsively picky about how language is used. So "let's get into Women of Color" is, for me, a very problematic way to introduce a discussion of the meaning--the reality--of our whiteness and how to center the experiences of Women of Color.

I prefer to identify myself in terms of my politics, rather than when I came into the movement for women's liberation. So, I'm anti-colonialist, pro-Indigenist, and I believe in challenging and eradicating all expressions of male and white supremacy and privilege, including my own. Identifying how and in what ways white and male supremacy are structurally, behaviorally, or philosophically 'active' in a social or interpersonal space is very important to me. 

To respond further to your comment, I think the terms "AFAB" and "AMAB" are problematic and participate in a liberal, post-modern, pro-colonialist, patriarchal discourse. How?

One of the themes of liberalism and post-modernism, in white male supremacist societies, is to reduce matters of structural power and violence to matters of discourse, terminology, and identity. So, the issue of being treated as male, targeted as female, or stigmatised as intersex is replaced with the matter of being identified or assigned male, female, or intersex. This is, for me, linguistic slight of hand, not the Radical Feminist kind.

Does acknowledging the reality of intersex experience mean we must give up a radical and profeminist analysis of Liberalism and Postmodernism (and Modernism)? I hope not. Can we acknowledge the experiences of intersex people and also center a critique of whiteness and male supremacy? I have yet to see that work done. So, that is before us (collectively).

As for white or male supremacy, some of its power comes from its [Modernist] reliance on the Objectivity of Western science to authenticate Truthful Reality. This is called "Essentialism" by Radical Feminists, and by Postmodernists, and by a small group of trans* activists. However, most trans* and queer activists, in my experience, rely heavily on 'essentialism' to even make their arguments. How is it not essentialist to state, "I am a man because I feel like a man"? A radical and profeminist view would interrogate this as follows:

To prioritise the state of being a man to a feeling or internal condition, to a seemingly asocial psychic subjectivity, is to do something radically different than locating manhood as a structured, institutionalised reality that is constructed through coercion and force, not feelings and choice. 

A radical and profeminist view would be, "We are men if we are empowered and encouraged to be sexually dominant and get social status from such dominance." So, if I oppress women and it is considered either natural or appropriate for me to do so (within male supremacist ideology and history), that is what makes me 'a man'. If I do not oppress women, I am not, behaviorally speaking, 'a man'. However, being 'a man' isn't only a matter of behavior. It is a matter also of social-structural meaning. If I am experienced as a man in a parking garage and am also following a woman, that woman will feel less safe than if I appear to be and am a woman.

So, does her subjective experience of me matter as much or less than mine? The Radical and Feminist answer ought to be: hers. And if I'm a transwoman who is still experienced as a man, that ought not disqualify her feelings for consideration. In the real world I live in, if a nontrans woman experiences the actions of a transwoman as male supremacist, that is considered transphobia or transmisogyny: end of consideration. I have *never* experienced a white transwoman, transsexual or not, own and name her male privileges or entitlements, to whatever extent each exist, from whatever portion of life they were obtained. And as refusing to own or name white privilege is one form of white supremacy, refusal to name male privilege is a male supremacist act.

There is a call by pro-trans activists to de-prioritise what nontrans girls and women experience (and why), and instead respond and engage based only on the trans person's subjective identity. This requires major dissociation from radical and feminist knowledge of patriarchy and how it works. This is what I see validated, among other things, in the quote of yours I open this post with.

To call on all profeminist activists to prioritise the eradication men's violence against girls and women, to disappear rape culture, is to make room for people to be male, female, or intersex without the abusive and terrifying overlay of male supremacy and female subordination. To call on radicals and profeminists to be silent about white or male supremacy's presence in trans*-inclusive spaces is to be anti-radical and anti-feminist. I'm wondering if you agree with that.


Margo continues:
There's a powerful story from the Haudenosaunee or Six Nations, literally the "Longhouse" with the different Nations as the "hearths" of that larger confederation joined under the Great Law of Peace. Women play a central role in the life and governance of the Haudenosaunee, and women coming from lives either of African slavery or oppressive sex servitude within the Euro-American community have found refuge in the Haudenosaunee. The Euro-American feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage was in the later 19th century adopted into the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) Nation, in recognition of her faithful allyship.

Originally the Five Nations, the Haudenosaunee in 1722 accepted a new member: the Tuscarora Nation, which had suffered much harm because of the European invasions and Turtle Island genocide, and sought inclusion. In keeping with the Great Law of Peace, they indeed were accepted, but as the "younger nephews" (or should we say "younger nieces" also?) of the Haudenosaunee. The Great Law of Peace itself cautioned that those who had not grown up under this Constitution would not be fully familiar with it, and so should enjoy full acceptance and inclusion, but also a certain juniority, one might say.

In my view, those of us who are transsexual feminists, and especially those of us who transition as adults (I was age 22), are likewise in certain ways "younger sisters or nieces" of women who have lived their whole lives as female. The "cis/trans" binary idea is very harmful because it seeks to reverse this natural order of respect and status where newcomers honor our more experienced elder sisters. And this kind of AFAB-phobia can, in effect, recreate aspects of the patriarchy. For a women to have many years of experience in a given position, and then be asked to train a new man who gets the promotion she deserves, is a pattern women who are AFAB may feel is at least approximated when a new transsexual woman in a group who has only recently transitioned becomes an instant "expert" on the feminist movement.

Respect for seniority-juniority among sisters can often be implicit, and transsexual women can bear it in mind even if our trans history is not known in a given group. It can function as a kind of self-restraint, a desire to keep feminist process balanced (of which more a bit later).


I love the commitment to visibility and respect for historically subordinated and oppressed people implicitly and explicitly stated here.

I also want us--and whites generally--to engage in the effort necessary to understand how our whiteness and colonialist patriarchy impacts Indigenous people in and beyond our home regions, today. 


Another story involving the Haudenosaunee, and more specifically the Kanienkehaka Nation, may give a clue as to how Indigenous values may help to resolve the AFAB/trans question within radical feminism in groups which do wish to include both types of women.

A story I learned some 25 years ago tells how a European women served as a domestic servant in the colonies, sometime around the middle 18th century, and suffered much abuse. She managed to seek refuge with the Kanienkehaka Nation, and due course was made an adoptive member. There the idea of abusing a woman was unknown, with 19th-century feminists like Lydia Maria Child noting how rape was likewise unknown in many Indigenous Nations. This assimilated woman had the right to own her own property, in the context of a communal as opposed to predatory and capitalist society, and so found safety and happiness in her new community.

However, the Great Law of Peace suggests that as an acculturated rather than natal member of the Kanienkehaka, she may have been excluded from some constitutional responsibilities, since she had not grown up under this Constitution and had an opportunity to learn its different aspects through lifelong experience. For example, she may not have shared in the responsibility of women to choose and sometimes impeach male leaders or diplomats. However, she was embraced as a woman of her new people, and expected to follow the Great Law of Peace to which she had given her allegiance.

Is not this Indigenous wisdom a beautiful parable for how women who have lived their entire lives as women, and transsexual women who seek refuge with our elder sisters, should relate in sex-class solidarity? The relationship is one of mutual caring, of all for one and one for all, which at the same time recognizes that women who are AFAB have a perspective from which transsexual women should learn as younger sisters.


I am called to find out how such caring is impacted by colonialist white male supremacy: how does the trauma and terrorism faced by specific groups of women shape a capacity for mutual care? How much does economic advantage matter? Margo, what I hear is that the contempt and marginalisation that is enforced and maintained against Black women is fierce; how does white, pro-radical profeminism address this or take this into account? Where does misogynoir live in white radical profeminist movements? Are we able to identify it, or is it left to Black women to name it? Can we name our anti-Indigenism, or is that left to Indigenous people?

I am again drawn to wonder how that hirstory plays out today. And, rather than seeing Indigenist and Aboriginal societies as being good examples of how to do feminism, for whites, how can whites fight for an end to genocide of Indigenous People? How can whites centralise and actively support Indigenist, Black, and Brown women's agendas for their own liberation? And, which whites will choose this as a priority? Which white trans* women? As is the case with white gay men, will white trans* people also prioritise ignoring their whiteness and male privilege over naming and being responsible with it? 


Another aspect of feminist culture in the late 1960's and early 1970's which has had great influence in peace and other social movements since also has Indigenous roots, borrowed by mainly white feminists to deal with a problem that arose between women who were AFAB, although transsexual women are susceptible to this also. That is the problem of unequal participation, when one, two, or a few women (often with white, class, and academic privilege) can mostly dominate the conversations and decision-making process of a group.

This occurred in the early years of radical feminism, both in larger organizations and in the small consciousness-raising groups that were at the heart of the movement. Feminist process borrowed from the traditions of various Indigenous people, to encourage less privileged or articulate women to speak and be heard. An object might be passed from speaker to speaker, and a self-awareness cultivated of how many times one had spoken, as compared to others in the group (and especially the quieter ones!).

Feminist process can be an especially important self-discipline for those of us women, AFAB or trans, who have been fortunate enough to escape or overcome the usual "female disempowerment training" that anyone raised a girl is likely to endure in patriarchy. Jo Freeman or "Joreen," one of the founding members of Radical Women of New York, nicely draws a portrait in 1968 of what we may call an empowered woman that fit some AFAB feminists then and now, as well as many trans women who are spared AFAB disempowerment training:
https://www.uic.edu/orgs/cwluherstory/jofreeman/joreen/bitch.htm">

Around this same era, Martha Shelley of Radicalesbians wrote her "Confessions of a Pseudo-Male Chauvinist," and I recall that her description of her experience as a Butch Lesbian, and elements of internalized sexism, often fit my experience as a transsexual Femme Lesbian. So feminist process is a tool that keeps balance in a group where some women are by socialization, experience, white privilege, academic advantage, or temperament "empowered" in ways that might lead to imbalance or unequal participation. And, as Joreen suggests, women with this kind of style (whether we are AFAB or trans) might also form affinity groups where we can learn from each other.


I am uncomfortable with whites incorporating what we wish, what we need, or what we desire, from Indigenous societies, without that being mutual and reciprocal. Unless such 'borrowing' is both, it is colonialist and patriarchal: it is part of the genocide, not part of honoring Native people. Also, how does dominant [white, male supremacist, colonialist] trans* discourse and activism exploit and distort Indigenist understandings of gender for its own ends? This is an important question for me. I've seen whites post things in white-dominant groups about Indigenist people--for the use and alleged betterment of whites. Never as a way to draw attention to what we do that is problematic and racist; but only as white supremacist action to benefit whites by further exploiting Native ethnic groups.

There is a good critique of the liberalism of Jo Freeman in the book, [Mostly White] Feminist Thought. Perhaps we can pursue that in a later exchange.


To move beyond aberrations such as the misconceived "cis/trans" binary, and also the idea that when women who are AFAB and trans harmoniously cooperate (as in the Olivia Collectives during the mid-1970's) the AFAB members of a group are somehow "caring for men" rather than for their transsexual sisters, Indigenous tradition can again help in moving us beyond an "Oppression Olympics" mentality in either direction.

An Indigenous woman in a discussion on the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (Michfest or MWMF) pointed out that a tradition like those she knew would look at circumstance and need in a situation where newcomers desired to share a group's territory, for example as refugees from some natural disaster. Here I should emphasize that for me, attending Michfest (2000 miles away) was not Andrea Dworkin's "primary emergency," nor even a 100th-rate emergency, so to speak! But this woman explained how the Indigenous approach she knew would look compassionately at the needs and intentions of newcomers.

An important factor favoring the inclusion of transsexual women in the women's and Lesbian communities in general -- as opposed to every women's or Lesbian group! -- is that transsexual women make up less than 1% of women, and also face great oppression from patriarchal society while often sharing many of the same ongoing oppressions as other women, although not the special oppressions of AFAB socialization, and also the reproductive vulnerabilities of most AFAB women through much of their lives. If the number of women who are AFAB or trans were about equal, the political and ethical questions might be a bit different.

To say that transsexual women need feminism, and need to make our contribution to feminism in a way which takes advantage of the special perspectives we can bring but also our relationship of juniority to women who have lived their entire lives as female, does not mean that we or any other women need to be present in all women's and Lesbian spaces at all times! No woman can rightly make that demand. Rather, we can look to the wisdom of Lisa Vogel, founder of Michfest, in 2006, who reaffirmed Michfest as an AFAB-only space while affirming the value of "spaces that welcome all who define themselves as female." She declared that "we stand shoulder to shoulder as women," with women who are AFAB or trans being alike "part of the larger diversity of the womyn's community." That is the unity in diversity that can help end the Turf Wars.

It strikes me that if 1% of women are transsexual, the privileging and centering of their subjectivity over that of nontrans women could scarcely be called anything but male privilege or 'trans guilt'. I'm wondering what your response to that is.

Also, overall, a critique of some of the above is that we whites still see Indigenous women in terms of how they may be of benefit to us. Put another way, does that "Indigenous approach" necessitate that whites look compassionately at the needs and intentions of Indigenous people? In my experience, our colonialist entitlements and privileges are rarely examined and never decentered: this is our work. Also, to the varying extents they exist, our male privileges and power is rarely named as such, and so, in fact, is rarely named period. Not only that, but pro-trans* people argue it is transphobic to do so. I have experienced this so many times from white trans women and have found almost no exceptions to the rule, of whiteness.


Julian, you also raised a very important point that bell hooks addresses in _Ain't I A Woman: black women and feminism_ (1981). I agree that it's an open question just what "primary" means in Andrea Dworkin's "primary emergency." Michael Walzer writes of "supreme emergency," meaning a threat so extreme that it might justify violating the normal laws of war, for example; maybe this is a mark of Eurocentric discourse. And to me, "emergency" is quite enough, or, as bell hooks puts it elsewhere, "what is important at a given point in time."

But I agree with you and bell hooks that intersectionality applies in situations of great stress and danger, as she quotes Sojourner Truth, speaking in New York in 1867: "[T]here is a great stir about colored men getting their rights, but not a word about the colored woman; and if colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs, you see the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before." (_Ain't I A Woman_, p. 4). Interestingly Truth, an activist for Black Liberation and Women's Liberation and the abolition of the death penalty, spoke a century before the founding of Radical Women of New York in 1967 which marked a landmark moment in the modern radical feminist movement.

One larger message of Sojourner Truth is that we can and must recognize each other's emergencies and needs, even while joining in solidarity. Thus if a women, AFAB or transsexual, is expressing patriarchal attitudes or exercising "power over" rather than "power with" in a women's group, feminist process should call this out. If a nonbinary person like Cerien is having their needs neglected, every radical feminist should consider this "our" issue and priority also. The current abortion situation in the State of Texas, USA, is likewise a rightful priority for every feminist woman, whether or not she has herself experienced menstruation or pregnancy.

It is possible to appreciate Andrea Dworkin's powerful insights while also applying the wisdom of Sojourner Truth, bell hooks, and also Audre Lorde: emergencies of different groups or subgroups, like oppressions, do not have any hierarchy. But cooperation, solidarity, and mindfulness of vulnerabilities and immunities can promote the feminist ideal of mutual aid, as opposed to the patriarchal pattern of privilege and servitude.

You have done a nice job of noting some significant contributions made by some women of color to euro-white feminist practice. What is needed here is the writings that call on those of us who are white to examine and check our whiteness. Audre Lorde and bell hooks have both written about this quite a bit. It is common for whites to quote Audre when it suits us, but rarely to do so when it makes us uncomfortable--when she is calling us out on our racism. What must end is the perception of ourselves as somehow unraced or unaffected (whether negatively or positively) by colonialist white supremacy.