Sunday, December 13, 2009

What If Women Ruled? (The Way Men Do)

[image is from here]
21 March 2010ECD UPDATE: at the suggestion of a radical feminist reader, I'm adding this caption to the above image:
"The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House" -- Audre Lorde

I have heard in the last several years a great deal about the suffering of men over sexism. Of course, I have heard a great deal about the suffering of men all my life. Needless to say, I have read Hamlet. I have read King Lear. I am an educated woman. I know that men suffer. This is a new wrinkle. Implicit in the idea that this is a different kind of suffering is the claim, I think, that in part you are actually suffering because of something that you know happens to someone else. That would indeed be new.

But mostly your guilt, your suffering, reduces to: gee, we really feel so bad. Everything makes men feel so bad: what you do, what you don't do, what you want to do, what you don't want to want to do but are going to do anyway. I think most of your distress is: gee, we really feel so bad. And I'm sorry that you feel so bad--so uselessly and stupidly bad--because there is a way in which this really is your tragedy. And I don't mean because you can't cry. And I don't mean because there is no real intimacy in your lives. And I don't mean because the armor that you have to live with as men is stultifying: and I don't doubt that it is. But I don't mean any of that.

I mean that there is a relationship between the way that women are raped and your socialization to rape and the war machine that grinds you up and spits you out: the war machine that you go through just like that woman went through Larry Flynt's meat grinder on the cover of Hustler. You damn well better believe that you're involved in this tragedy and that it's your tragedy too. Because you're turned into little soldier boys from the day that you are born and everything that you learn about how to avoid the humanity of women becomes part of the militarism of the country in which you live and the world in which you live. It is also part of the economy that you frequently claim to protest.

And the problem is that you think it's out there: and it's not out there. It's in you. The pimps and the warmongers speak for you. Rape and war are not so different. And what the pimps and the warmongers do is that they make you so proud of being men who can get it up and give it hard. And they take that acculturated sexuality and they put you in little uniforms and they send you out to kill and to die. Now, I am not going to suggest to you that I think that's more important than what you do to women, because I don't.

But I think that if you want to look at what this system does to you, then that is where you should start looking: the sexual politics of aggression; the sexual politics of militarism. I think that men are very afraid of other men. That is something that you sometimes try to address in your small groups, as if if you changed your attitudes towards each other, you wouldn't be afraid of each other.

But as long as your sexuality has to do with aggression and your sense of entitlement to humanity has to do with being superior to other people, and there is so much contempt and hostility in your attitudes towards women and children, how could you not be afraid of each other? I think that you rightly perceive--without being willing to face it politically--that men are very dangerous: because you are. -- Andrea Dworkin
[What follows now has an additional section added to what was originally posted. The additions were put in twice on 14 December 2009, ECD.]
Two white men talking...

M: So my frustrations with feminism are that many of its most popular spokespeople, you know, such as Dworkin and MacKinnon, Mary Daly, Susan Brownmiller, Robin Morgan, were so hostile about men, and expressed this in their work, and some still do. And so many people have been shaped by their work, have taken it for gospel, and follow it as if it were gospel.

T: And you identify hostility against of a group of people by what phenomena?

M: With repeated statements, like in books, that make all men seem like rapists, for example. With comments about women not being able to be free until manhood is dead. You know, basically calls for the genocide of men.

T: So you take "women won't be free until manhood is dead" to mean a requisite genocide against men by women?

M: Well, obviously it is inferring that all men will have to die before women are free. What else could it mean?

T: It could mean that manhood, not men, needs to die.

M: In what sense isn't that basically saying men need to die?

T: Are you your manhood? Is that what makes you you? Is that what defines who you are as a person?

M: I am a man. So my being is "manhood".

T: Why isn't your being "human"?

M: Well being a man is being human.

T: So taking away your manhood, for you, means taking away your humanity, or your life?

M: Yes. Of course.

T: I think what you  are telling me is that you believe men cannot stop the violence men do to women. I think it means that oppressive manhood, sexist manhood, racist manhood are so central to your understanding of what "men" are, that you, yourself, believe that for women to be free there would have to be a genocide against men. And that you are projecting that onto many women writers and activists, who, in case you haven't noticed, aren't calling for a genocide against men. It's men who kill each other daily; women don't kill men daily, rape men hourly, punishingly batter men into terrified people in the course of minutes. I've always wondered why men aren't furious with men for how men treat one another, individually and internationally--as men, not only as representatives of a nation or a state. What's the male angst about feminism all about? After all, it is and always has been about liberating people from dehumanisation and desperation. That work has always included a critique, not a tragic defense of the systematic training that children get, in so many ways, to be human in patriarchal and racist ways.

M: Men I know are concerned and upset by what some women write about us. We are NOT all rapists!!

T: And so if two or twelve or two hundred--or even two thousand, or even two hundred thousand--out of, say, a few BILLION women worldwide say, in writing or in speeches or in prayers, something that sounds like they believe all men are rapists, or that men must die for women to be free, how precisely does that impact your life--materially and substantively? How does it impact men as a class, the billions of men who actually believe women are inferior to men, or that women exist to serve men, and that men should have legal and unlimited sexual access to women and girls? I get you and your pals are upset by it. But how are men as a class impacted by these writings you keep mentioning, as if they were irreversable orders from a god that has never existed for women?

M: You are really minimising how their writings, those overgeneralising statements, threaten our existence.

T: You mean the one's you don't understand the meaning of? The ones you won't ever address in a political context in which women are raped and murdered by men, daily? Those few writings that never get posted and shared along with all the quotes by radical feminists that you won't highlight because they speak, passionately and earnestly, about how much women want men to be humane, and want men to take responsibility for that happening? A few women's written words threaten your existence? Really? You actually believe that, huh?

M: Yes.

T: So then literature and media must seem mighty powerful to you. I mean if a few books have that effect, can you even imagine the effect, say, sexist and racist media playing 24/7 on several hundred cable television networks might do?

M: If that's what women were saying in it 24/7 it would be terrible.

T: But things are not that bad now, for women? You think that forty years ago, say, that men were living humane lives, treating women with respect, not producing television commercials for airlines that had mostly blond white women dressed in tight flight attendant uniforms say into the camera "Come on and fly me."

M: I remember that series of commercials. They were harmless and fun, until radical feminists made them seem dangerous.

T: Have you been an airline flight attendant who has had ads like that portraying you as someone who welcomes people, humorously, to have sex with you, to be gawked at, commented on, and groped by your passengers--that you don't welcome or want while you're working because that's what NOT what you're there for? Have you, sir, had to measure up to ridiculously irrelevent standards for what it means to be a flight attendant by wearing slacks that show the contour of your buttocks and the size of your genitals?

M: Well, it's not a crime for men to enjoy looking at an attractive woman, is it?

T: If only that were the outer limit of what men do to women. If only. And do you realise that women aren't working in public places SO THAT YOU CAN LOOK AT THEM--or don't you? You get that they are there to do a critical service job, they are there to earn money which requires, in that job, to be knowledgeable about how to keep passengers--female and male--safe, and reasonably comfortable in their seats. And that the female staff also get to feel and be safe, right? And not like they are sexxx things for hetero men to stare at and visually violate as the women do their work? They're not there to stimulate your eyes and mind sexually, you know. They're not moving targets for your patriarchal gaze.

M: Some women like that attention, you know, and don't get all freaked out when a man appreciates her beauty.

T: I'm not talking about you appreciating a person. I'm talking about you visually violating a person based on ways she must, according to her contract, present herself in ways not offensive to heterosexual men who think gawking at and occasionally groping women is recreational fun. If you think those two acts are one and the same, that tells me a whole lot about you and how far your humanity extends to women striving to get though another day doing their work.

M: Take Hooters. Women like working there, and they wear tight outfits, and don't seem to mind.

T: And you know they don't have any choice about the outfits they wear, right, just like back in the day when flight attendants wore short skirts, don't you? They wear those outfits or they won't be hired. If they stop wearing them they'll be fired.

M: But some women knowingly take those jobs.

T: Yes, because women need jobs to earn money in a capitalist system. You know that at Hooters, for example--since you brought that sexist and racist restaurant into the conversation, women, in order to work there, have to sign away their rights to legally charge any customer with sexual harassment, regardless of whether or how often they are harassed by men with a few beers or a few chicken wings in them?

M: That's not true.

T: Go look it up. There have been appeals in courtrooms made to overturn the Hooters' management from requiring women to give up that right. You get that this means that the U.S. social and legal systems value and privilege men's right to visually, verbally, and physically violate women, over women's right to take legal action against men who sexually harass them.

M: I still don't believe you about women having to sign that kind of form in order to be hired.

T: Go read the Hooters hiring and employment policies on the subject.

M: I will!

T: And in the mean time, consider how those ads and those policies and men's entitlements to have various kinds of access to women's bodies puts women in danger, but doesn't put men in any danger from women. I'd say that alone is infinitely worse that  a few dozen lines of text in books that are, in many cases, out of print, that are interpreted by some men to mean that a few feminists want male human beings to disappear off the face of the Earth. I'm just curious. Do you think taking away whiteness and eliminating all forms of white supremacy, eliminating all the values, policies, and practices that shape and in various ways constitute the social systems that generate and reinforce whiteness and white supremacy would require killing all white people, or, even, any white people?

M: I think those that speak of doing away with whiteness mean for that to happen.

T: Because you think behaving like a man who objectifies or degrades women--the women who are fully free to name it and say it is degrading, that is--and a white person who discriminates against and disrespects people of color, behave the way they do because it's natural to do so?

M: Basically that's true.

T: The feminist writings I read don't believe that's true, and quite reasonably argue why that isn't true, simply by comparing white supremacist and male supremacist behaviors, customs, and laws from era to era and region to region. Is it possible that you simply aren't understanding what's being said because you assume patriarchal manhood and racist whiteness are somehow natural and inevitable?

M: I don't think manhood is going anywhere any time soon, unless those feminists take over, that is!

T: It likely won't change significantly as long as most men feel the way you do, interpret women's writings the way you do, defend oppressive manhood the way you do, and project onto women ideas about yourselves that you carry far more deeply that feminists do--even those few dozen radical writers you seem so especially concerned about.

M: Look. I've read so a lot of that sort of stuff by radical feminists, stuff that they say that paints all men with one brush--there are lists of them, dozens of passages or quotes... they all say basically the same thing. All men are evil or worthless. Women bloggers of many colors write this.

T: Apparently the ways white male supremacists want to paint all women with one airbrush, or use one tool in Photoshop to turn images of actual women into images of women who don't really exist doesn't concern you quite so much.

M: I know what I've read, and it's especially dangerous stuff.

T: I will tell you that I don't think you are comprehending most of what those women are saying because you're not reading most of what they're writing--you don't understand the perspective from which they are speaking, and you are too caught in white conservative or liberal worldviews and value systems, and entitlements to "not get it", to be genuinely and respectfully engaged by what they are saying. And you are, quite remarkably and notably, unbothered by all the men who have written, in books, in magazines online and offline, that women are evil or worthless and that women must die. Your political radar and record books don't seem to pick up that men have ACTUALLY--not in fantasy--killed millions of women because they thought women were evil, or worthless. No such occurrence has ever happened in the entire history of recorded human activity by women against men for being men. You get that, right?

M: Well, not that we know of. But that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

T: Yes, well, given that men controlled all the old presses that mass recorded white men's history, as well as the stories that make up that history, chances are some of those men would report something like that, don't you think?

M: I suppose so.

T: I mean if men form whole networks devoted to misrepresenting what a few radical feminist women have the audacity to put down in writing, chances are men would probably want to keep tally on the deaths of men who were killed by women.

M: Well, there was Aileen Wuornos--the woman serial killer of men.

T: "the woman" is right. Can you list two more? Now, can you go online and look up "serial killers" on the Internet, such as to a place like Wikipedia, known for misrepresenting what radical feminists do, because it is a place controlled by men, not by women of any color. And when you go there tell me how many male serial killers they list, note that almost all have been white, and that not a single mass-murdering man was retaliating against women for how they raped and grossly sexually assaulted and exploited him. Which is to say, we ought not take her murders out of a context in which her few victims WERE some of the men who raped her. Is what Aileen did comparable, statistically or politically, to all the serial murders of Black women in Boston a few decades ago--none of whom raped their killer? And is what she did comparable statistically and politically to the murders--and rapes and other acts of political terrorism--committed by all the male serial killers of women of all colors? Does it concern you as much as one woman's actions do, that hundreds of men  misogynistically and not so magically make women "disappear" due to what women do to them? Do you even track how many Mexican women "disappear" due to men's capture and lethal violence against them, near the border between that country and the U.S.? Aileen's existence is, in your mind, is actually comparable on your moral, ethical, and political alarm to crimes against humanity to, say, the millions of women destroyed by witch hunts in Europe and the U.S., among other places? How many dead women  = one dead man, sir? How many dead women of color  = one dead white man?

M: I'm just saying that the case of Aileen Wuornos shows that women are not any better than men. That women are not superior to men.

T: I'm not sure you got this newest millennium's memo, but nothing much has shifted globally in terms of which of the two mandated genders in the West, and beyond, is valued more and believes itself to be superior. That would still be men. And that men believe this and act on it with entitlements, discrimination, subordination, and myriad forms of violence against women, reads just like the millennial memos in the past: only this memo points out how the Internet and other new technologies create even more ways to violate women.

I think the Wuornos case actually shows, if her whole story is told, is that men as a class, cannot morally or politically make any claims to being any better than the worst crimes against women men perpetrate that, generally, are not even prosecuted as crimes. Because the men who don't do the direct harm individually, in groups, and en masse, pretend and promote women as being one of three things, none of which is the case: inferior to men, equal to men, or superior to men. Women are not that. Women are treated as inferior while men proclaim that women are ought to be equal to men, or somehow, in ways no social science can measure and conclude, already have structurally superiority and greater social status than do men.

I think what you and so many men bringing up what a tiny percentage of women do to harm men, while minimising or denying the seriousness and degree of what men do to women that his harmful... I think that tendency in men, acted out in so many ways, shows that men are what misogynist men say women are and what women want: men are the one's without noticeable souls who just want to fuck. Men are the ones who want rape--and they want it to be legal, where it isn't already.

I think this pattern of denial and distancing, shown by you in this discussion repeatedly, shows that men are invested, in so many ways, in the mass denigration and mass murder of women and also of some groups of men such as gay men of all colors and heterosexual men of color. Why some of you keep the focus on what a few women say that virtually no woman acts on, is a sign there's something else going you'd rather NOT focus on--that men are doing to women inside the motel rooms, in living rooms, and inside the institutions and industries white men control. I think you'd rather NOT focus on the policies and practices you and your brethren enjoy that harms women, and instead pretend that what Aileen Wuornos did, only as a survivor of men's rape and gross exploitation of her, is, in some bizarre convoluted way comparable. What one woman does is comparable to what millions of men do shows how distorted men's perceptions of women's power is, and demonstrates the extraordinary levels of denial men participate in, together, to support one another believing that those few men Aileen did kill is actually comparable to all the women killed by men--the male serial killers, mostly white, the male rapers and batterers of women--almost always targeting women of their own ethnic group, the male pimps and procurers of women, the facilitators, the overseers, the defenders and deniers of all the human rights crimes against women that men have perpetrated and protect, forty years ago and to this day. I think for a raced gender known to be intelligent and logical, you sir, as one representative of this class of men, reveal your logic and your intelligence to be entirely and egregiously self-serving.

I'm going to try something here. Let's assume that is what all those women that men don't understand actually HAVE been calling for: for men to be wiped off the face of the Earth. Let's say that one or two dozen women, over forty years, have been writing book after book calling for exactly that, and only that.

M: They have been.

T: No, actually, they haven't. Have you read all of Alice Walker's work? Or that of Patricia Hill Collins? Have you read Audre Lorde's essay about her hopes for her son? Have you read what Andrea Dworkin says about her father and brother and life partner in her book Life and Death and to 500 men at a men's conference? Have you noticed Catharine MacKinnon isn't and never has been a serial sexual assaulter of men? Have you noticed that Mary Daly and her followers don't band together or act individually and find classrooms of men or groups of boys to shoot to death because they are men and boys? I'm just wanted to check out reality with you. Bear with me.

What is more serious to you, as a person, as a moral being--what is more dangerous, more lethal, more terrible: things that are written in books that might incite violence against one gender by the other, or violence that is done against actual people, not just written as an action by a fictional character in a novel, not expressed as rage in an essay. I'm talking about the the actions of one gender, with power, that really do threaten the lives and end the lives of thousands of people precisely because they are one gender and not another?

Which is morally or politically worse, more dangerous, more of a social concern: what several white feminists write or have written forty years ago about men, or what men have been doing to women of all colors for the last forty years, not only in writing? Which is worse, to you? Which is more of a danger to society? That pornographers make material that teaches boys and reinforces in men that women like to be abused by men? Or a few books by women who are pissed that pornography teaches boys and men how to be aroused by racism and misogyny? What do you think makes more sense: That men, as individuals or in organisations, discredit and demean several feminist radical feminists--Black writers and white writers and other writers of color--who directly critique men's misogynist behavior? Or that some women wonder why the hell men don't protest and boycott the pornography industry for telling lies about women and men's sexuality?

M: Well, since pornography doesn't "teach" anything, and basically just causes arousal, and feminist books incite hatred of men by women, I'd say feminist books are worse and more politically dangerous.

T: Even though "the feminist book industry" is not and never has been a million dollar a year industry, but pornography--which certainly sells hateful ideas about and actions against women--is a multi-billion dollar a year industry? You see the former as more powerful and dangerous than the latter?

M: I know men who use pornography and they respect the women they are with. I know feminists who have read all those women and say hateful things about men. And with pornography, in many cases women DO like to do that stuff. So it's sex for women too. And some women make pornography now too. So I think what women write about men is more dangerous.

T: So, let's say we reverse this, OK? Let's say about two dozen men write that at least since capitalism began, and even before that, women have believed they are superior to men, and have behaved as it they are, naturally and because a female God says so. And for a long time all laws were written only by women. And for centuries judges were all women. And for centuries politicians were all women.  And women did and still do health studies only based on populations of women, and assume the results will apply to men too. And women teach women's history as the only history. And women teach children that only women are heroes, and great thinkers, and great people. And make God into a woman only. And don't allow men to be priests, because they aren't in the image of God. And all the stories in the Bible were written by women, and any stories that had been written by men or that talked about men as being just as close to God as women are, were thrown out because at the time the book was being put together, men actually did have some power and women wanted to put an end to that. So they made all the stories about women, and pretended men never did anything spiritually miraculous and amazing.

And also in that forty years, with women in charge of governments and police forces, legal institutions and educational systems, with women in charge of media, advertising, and "adult entertainment", hundreds, not dozens, make and distribute material that makes men seem like they are dirty, and need to be or want to be degraded and raped. And they have many billions of dollars to spend on doing this, and these sorts of images and themes find their way into advertisements and TV shows, like CSI: every week a woman has murdered another man in some gruesome way, and the grim, gross details are shown, and people enjoy this, they watch it and like it--it's entertaining.

And women consume the pornography and like it and find it entertaining. Which would you be more concerned about: men having written some books, or women having control of every major institution and also producing material that said "men exist to be degraded and raped"? And, away from media and the public spotlight, women are beating the shit out of men in their homes, and are raping men in their homes, crawling into windows at night and raping elderly men, taking boys off the street, pulling them into cars, and raping and killing those boys. Women teaching boys how to have sex with women who pay for the opportunity to do so. Walking into a college and shooting fourteen male students, because they are male. All that is happening or has happened, for centuries. Making men "disappear", often one woman making many men disappear over a few years or a few months.

M: That would be totally unfair, and horrible. That would need to stop.

T: Which is worse in what I just laid out:

What men might do because of some writings forty and thirty year old writings by men, in books that are in many cases out of print--saying that womanhood needs to end, that what women are actually doing to men, privately and institutionally, is using sex as a weapon. That women are making, marketing, distributing, en masse, images of women hurting men, abusing men, insulting men, degrading men, shoving things into men's bodies and making it seem both painful and pleasurable at the same time. And women not only producing that stuff, but women consumers taking in those images of sex being used as a weapon against men. And watching those images in order to relax, to unwind after a long day at work, or to get aroused. And also to get their husbands and boyfriends to do that stuff, because women like it and women pornographers, some of whom are millionaires many times over, make it appear in the videos and photos that men like it all the time.

That many men, but not most, are being influenced by a couple dozen books by men which state in various ways that women are harmers of men, are sadists against men and boys, are perpetrators of atrocities against men, about how "women are all rapists", and how women have too much control over institutions in society, and how that harms men's self-worth and human rights. And these couple of dozen male writers name the abuses done by women in their lives. They tell their stories. And many of them are horrific. Which would be worse?

M: Well, clearly women having all that power and control, and all those resources and methods to tell women what men are for would be worse than a few men writing about how much they hate that. Clearly, what the men would be writing about and wanting to happen would be in response to what the women ARE doing. I mean if women are harming men all the time, every day, and make that into entertainment for women, and are also in charge of media, then I don't think a few books by men being pissed off about that would be comparable, really.

T: Because you'd understand there's a connection between being in charge of social, economic, and political institutions, and media, and pornography--that men are being harmed by all of that, and are also being harmed directly and often by women, at home, on the streets, at work if it is outside the home, when men are out just going for a walk at night, or are playing sports during the day, or asleep in their beds. You'd understand that the material displaying the men as things to be harmed, and women having that much social control, and women harming men wouldn't be separate and totally unrelated experiences for you?

M: No. Obviously not. If women had THAT much power... it would be terrifying.

T: Well, M., men DO have THAT much power, and do all those harmful things to women and have for centuries, and if a couple of dozen women are really pissed at men for that not ending and actually write that down, express that anger in writing, that's NOT worse than what men do to women. That's not even "dangerous". That's not institutional and interpersonal "harm". That's freedom of expression. That's responding to being in danger, REALLY in danger. That's fighting for human rights, not taking away human rights.

M: Oh, I see the point that's being made. OK, I get it.

T: Good. Now please pass it on to all the men who don't.

M: That won't be easy.

T: Well, will you do your best and tell every man to do his best too?

M: OK.

T: Thanks. Really. Thank you for doing that and thank you for getting that.
Men who want to support women in our struggle for freedom and justice should understand that it is not terrifically important to us that they learn to cry; it is important to us that they stop the crimes of violence against us. -- Andrea Dworkin


  1. Very interesting dialogue, and I love the ending quote!

  2. Hi Felicia!

    Thanks for the comment! Yes, I adore that ending quote as well.

    Please pass along the URL to this post to any man you know who might be humanised by reading it.

  3. I'll certainly be forwarding on this article because as always when certain words like man and woman are reversed then suddenly it is not just about 'men being subjected to "man-hating" by a bunch of stereotypical radical feminists' (as the media consistently claims)- suddenly it becomes personal.

    Reminds me of that oft used phrase 'elephant in the room' we just don't see it because we are densitised to the many acts of violence men have committed and continue to commit against women of all colours in the name of 'manhood.'

    The title of John Stoltenburg's book 'Refusing to Be A Man' was also misunderstood because many men presumed Stoltenburg was 'refusing to be a "real man."

    Stoltenburg was saying he is first human and then male. But too many men equate 'male with human' and 'female with sub-human or non-human.'

  4. That white men, as a raced gendered class, refuse to get this, refuse to acknowledge and be responsible for this, refuse to collectively accept politically and personally meaningful consequences named by women politically and personally injured by oppressive men, refuse accountability to radical feminist women who accurately name oppressive men's crimes as such, the harm as such, and the human rights violations as such... that oppressive men refuse to be at the mercy or the justice of women so harmed, means that patriarchies are what we are dealing with here. NOT matriarchies, much as men might fear them coming into existence. And without exception, when a white man imagines a matriarchy, their minds are so patriarchal that all they can imagine is what any oppressor class fears most: that the day will come when the oppressed will rise up and enact precisely the same terrible behaviors, customs, laws, and civilisations--the unfathomable levels of inhumanity constructed and protected by men and whites, held firmly in hand hegemonically by men and whites.

    That this has never been radical feminist women's agenda, or campaign, or "final solution" to ending white and patriarchal oppression only means what Andrea Dworkin once said:

    "A commitment to sexual equality with males is a commitment to becoming the rich instead of the poor, the rapist instead of the raped, the murderer instead of the murdered."

    All the radical feminist women I know and have ever known, want a better standard of what it means to be human than that, for everyone.

  5. Wow I absolutely love this. Some great arguments

  6. Hi Louise,

    And welcome.

    Please send this webpage's address/URL to anyone who you think will benefit from reading what's written here, particularly to men who make the same arguments "M." makes above.

    I appreciate your comment! :)

  7. Cor, this line: "And watching those images in order to relax, to unwind after a long day at work, or to get aroused." so chilling... It really hits the inequity home... That one 'class' relaxes/unwinds or gets aroused by images of the 'other' class being sexually tortured. Its happening every day .. but those who point this out are seen as anti-sex or anti-men..
    You've put the stark reality of this brilliantly!

  8. Welcome The Bug,

    The one thing that seems ceaselessly and disturbingly true to me about men as a class, as I have experienced men--and every woman I know has--is that when an atrocity happens primarily or particularly to women, men don't register it as such in their minds or bodies. This is due not only to a lack of empathy that comes with being on the top of a social hierarchy, but, more awfully, with usually unowned concern for maintaining privileges and entitlements to participate in the misogynists' horror. Men do not see patriarchal violence as something THEY ought to do anything to end, unless it is attached to a program that ends some dimension of their own suffering.

    As if men are not responsible for it. If not men, who are responsible for this nightmare? I shudder to think about how men even approach answering this question.

  9. 'As if men are not responsible for it. If not men, who are responsible for this nightmare? I shudder to think about how men even approach answering this question.'

    As we know and are often told it is always women's fault or else it is women who are responsible for supposedly causing innumerable men to commit violence against them. Easier to scapegoat women rather than address issues which men have created and maintained.

    Yes I know this is blatantly not the case but then patriarchy has never been logical but instead is solely concerned with maintaining a hierarchal system wherein it is to varying degrees men as a group who continue to have social and economic power over all women.

    Radical feminists have never demanded a matriarchy replace patriarchy but they have certainly demanded a radical societal change and the ending of male-centered interests and power. Radical feminists as a group have never demanded the elimination of men, because if we did, this would mean we, like patriarchy, believe male violence is innate and therefore cannot be changed.

    Instead we demand more from men both individually and as a group - taking responsibility for men's violence against women and holding those men accountable for their crimes against women, girls and boys.

    But this in itself would mean men individually and as a group undertaking some serious work in respect of even beginning to understand how our patriarchal society operates. It is daunting and challenging to many men because it means refusing to blindly accept what it means to be a 'man' in our misogynistic and male-dominated society.

    Far easier to claim radical feminists are 'man-haters' than face the truth. That is why radical feminists are demonised because they go to the root of the problem, rather than focusing on just one or two aspects which means our hierarchal society remains unchanging, since apparently the world does indeed revolve around men and women are always in relation to men.

  10. I read your blog following a link you recently posted on 43things. I really enjoyed the information, although I wasn't thrilled about the image at the top. My rule of thumb is to reverse the roles and see if it's ok, and a man slapping a woman with a caption like "men rule" is definitely not good. I wish you would replace it with something else. It took away from the wonderful message that you are sending out.

    As far as participation, do you have any info on your blog on local groups. I searched the net about pro-feminist groups in San Diego, but couldn't find any. Thanks for the help.

  11. Hi Omar,

    This is the first part of what I think will be a two-part reply.

    I read your blog following a link you recently posted on 43things. I really enjoyed the information, although I wasn't thrilled about the image at the top. My rule of thumb is to reverse the roles and see if it's ok, and a man slapping a woman with a caption like "men rule" is definitely not good.

    The point I hope I make is that men ruling women (including knocking women's heads over with men's fists) isn't something we need to imagine or place in mind as a reversal: it is the reality we live in. We only need pay attention to witness it.

    The image as is demonstrates that in cartoonish form, is meant to show that if women did what men do, that's what it would look like: it would look like women using force to achieve dominance. Physical and sexual force. Gendered violence from women against men, with the intention of traumatically terrorising and breaking the spirits and bodies of men.

    The whole premise of the piece is that's NOT what feminists are calling for: feminists aren't using the methods of achieving justice that men use to achieve dominance. This is related to Audre Lorde's famous essay, "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master's House".

    When women seek justice, antifeminist men imagine that women want dominance over men, because that's the male supremacist model and method.

    Any agitation from an oppressed group, any action that is not in the service of the oppressors' needs, desires, wants, entitlements, that doesn't cater to and support men's political obliviousness, willful ignorance, and unearned privileges, is called "uppity" by the oppressor.


    Consider this: when is the last time you heard whites in a racist society called "uppity"? Or men relative to women? Or heterosexuals relative to lesbians? The reason those groups can't be "uppity" is because they are already structurally positioned on the top. They are up.

    Only people, as a group, who are down, beneath, below, subordinate to, submissive to, deferential, pleasing, attentive, and accommodating to the oppressors can be seen by oppressors as "wanting too much power" by demanding to not be in lesser-than place.

    "Uppity" is supposed to be a shaming term, meant to denigrate and deride the efforts of oppressed people to stop being oppressed.

    Uppity means striving to be above the position of subordination or submission.

    For whites and for men, those they systematically oppress must not be anything other than structurally beneath the dominants. To even be equal to them is to have too much power, to have lessened the control dominants have.

  12. I wish you would replace it with something else. It took away from the wonderful message that you are sending out.

    Can you explain more to me about that? Are you saying that the image of women doing to men what men actually do to women is disturbing? Because the point of this post is to ask: why is a book, a speech, an image, that isn't in service to male supremacy but isn't at all systemically real, scary and threatening to those who have and are not willing to relinquish structural, systemic, institutional and interpersonal brutal and callous power over others?

    Why, in other words, does the image bother you? It's not structurally real. It's an image of something that doesn't happen. There are no social institutions that demand that women knock men in the head, with anything. There's no mandate for women to physically assault men, sexually assault men, crush men's bones with objects requiring great force.

    But I may be mishearing you or missing something you are expressing, so please help me understand what is unsettling or upsetting to you about the image, and what would you prefer to see in its place?

    As far as participation, do you have any info on your blog on local groups. I searched the net about pro-feminist groups in San Diego, but couldn't find any. Thanks for the help.

    Any groups I'm aware of are linked to on the far right side of my blog. So scroll through those websites and blogs, for more. Try, as a networking instrument. They are based in Australia, but plenty of the contributors are from North America, and some may well be in Southern California. I did a search there on San Diego and this is what I found.

    I also recommend contacting this social service agency:

    The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency's Office of Violence Protection.

    See also:

    I should think that those contacts ought to lead to others.

    I hope if you don't find an antisexism men's group in San Diego, that you'll start one.

    Good luck to you.

  13. Just read your response on the blog. I'll post here and there.

    I understand what you are saying now that you've clarified the intent behind the image's meaning.

    All I was saying is that there was room for interpretation here. If you google that image and see how it was used in other contexts, you will quickly notice that the intent is not always the same. Whoever created the original image I guarantee had the wrong idea about feminism.

    What bothered me about the picture is that no men should be hitting women, women hitting men, men hitting men, or women hitting women. humans hitting animals, or anything hitting anything etc... I'm a profeminist not because I am consciously taking up that particular cause, but because I am against any violence, domination, inequality period. I don't think we should dominate animals either and eat them, so I am a raw vegan. I don't think people should dominate the environment and consume it, so I'm now worrking on minimizing my impact on nature. I am a pantheist because I don't believe in religious domination. I think you get the gist of where I'm coming from.

    I'm basically against any form of violence, domination, hypocrisy and double standards as it applies to anyone, anything. And I'm not afraid to point this out to women who do understand the true intention of feminism. Just as I am not afraid to point it out to anyone of any gender, age, race, social standing etc...

  14. What follows is a comment sent to Julian via email, posted here in its entirety:

    Hiya Julian,
    I see you've been asked about the picture you're using for "What If
    Women Ruled? (The Way Men Do)". I was going to register to join the
    discussion, but it seems I have to create a Google-account, and I won't
    do that. Is there another way to participate? (You could send me a PM
    via 43T, if you like.)

    There's much to say. In very short: why not add a caption to the pic,
    eg. "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House" ? <|8)

    I like your blog so much, it will prove very helpful in a discussion I
    am having with a person who says

    "I am saying that the Women's Studies classes & books used in the years
    I was in college (95-99) reflected the most radical side, with no
    dissenting voices. In The U. S. [the South _Vetch_] - I can't speak for
    Germany or other countries.

    This radical side says all porn is objectification of women, rape, and
    sadism directed at keeping women down - even lesbian porn. This side
    says there is no such thing as consensual sex between men and women, no
    matter what particular position is used (some say there is an acceptable
    way, but that's another mind-boggler). This side says what is private -
    my bedroom - should be and is public. This side says that rape (or
    sexual assault, both terms are used) is actually any form of contact
    from anyone that is unwanted. This side says porn causes rape. This side
    says pregnancy is actually colonization of the female by the male. This
    side tears apart women who disagree with their part, no matter what the
    person thinks or believes - and they do it publicly. Nationally.
    Unrelentingly. "

    I have quoted this in the hope that s/o (erm, Julian?) has a tip for me
    how to answer that. My problem is that I haven't read Dworking nor
    MacKinnon (both are mentioned); and I remember no such sexual stuff trom
    Gyn/ecology. My initial reaction is to moan and wail and say "is that
    all you remember from those evil fem-books? I am sick and tired of this
    blah. There are deadly structures in the here and now, I'd like to talk
    about those. Instead I am forced to waste time and energy to explain a
    minor fracture (about sex, of course) of feminist theory. And yes, I do
    oppose porn. Be it lesbian, homo or het.

    And English not my native language, which makes it even harder (as can
    be seen here.)

    Gah. Sorry. I was ranting.

  15. What follows is a comment that was sent to me but wouldn't post easily, so I'm posting it here, where the commenter wanted it to go. --Julian

    Hiya Julian,
    I see you've been asked about the picture you're using for "What If
    Women Ruled? (The Way Men Do)". I was going to register to join the
    discussion, but it seems I have to create a Google-account, and I won't
    do that. Is there another way to participate? (You could send me a PM
    via 43T, if you like.)

    There's much to say. In very short: why not add a caption to the pic,
    eg. "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House" ? <|8)

    I love your suggestion and consider it done! Because, um, it is done. :)

    I like your blog so much,

    Thank you so much. I'm genuinely happy you like it!!

    it will prove very helpful in a discussion I am having with a person who says

    "I am saying that the Women's Studies classes & books used in the years I was in college (95-99) reflected the most radical side, with no dissenting voices. In The U. S. [the South _Vetch_] - I can't speak for Germany or other countries.

    This radical side says [...]

    [See above this reply, folks, for what the rest of that is. I didn't even want to repeat it in my reply. -- JR]

    I have quoted this in the hope that s/o (erm, Julian?) has a tip for me how to answer that. My problem is that I haven't read Dworkin nor MacKinnon (both are mentioned); and I remember no such sexual stuff from Gyn/ecology. My initial reaction is to moan and wail and say "is that all you remember from those evil fem-books? I am sick and tired of this blah. There are deadly structures in the here and now, I'd like to talk about those. Instead I am forced to waste time and energy to explain a minor fracture (about sex, of course) of feminist theory. And yes, I do
    oppose porn. Be it lesbian, homo or het.

    And English not my native language, which makes it even harder (as can be seen here.)

    Gah. Sorry. I was ranting.

    No apology is necessary. Thank you for expressing yourself so well, especially with English not being your first language! What is your first or preferred language?

  16. I wonder, first of all, what she'd say in response to reading this very post! Because it is meant to address a lot of that category of critics of some areas of focus for some U.S. and UK radical feminists, such as what is called "sex". So feel free to send her the link, unless you don't want her to know we're corresponding this way via blog comments on this very thread!

    I always felt and feel that what radical feminists who take on "sex" are generally and usually confronting and critiquing is not really "sex" but "sexism" and how male supremacy and white supremacy shapes "sex" into something that isn't designed to give a shit about women's liberation from male or white supremacy. It is usually designed to meet men's needs, however fucked up those needs are.

    So if men want to cum on women's faces, there's a whole industry designed by pimps to tell us all that that is "hot". And pimps also construct sex to be a form of commerce wherein women's "action" in sex can only be seen to pleasure men by being either submissive or dominant, but never fully equal, socially and politically, in status and power.

    Why women and men wish to demonise radical feminists and efforts to root out the white and male supremacy from our intimate, social, and economic lives is beyond me. Well, except that we're all supposed to suck white patriarchal cock, basically. And I think women who refuse to do this, in any way--especially politically, are punished by society as a whole, and will be turned into the deliverers of bad news, the agents of harm, and the destroyers of what people delusionally think is "moral, lawful civilisation". (As if laws created and enforced by white men are designed and intended to make white men humane, responsible, and accountable!)

    As if rape and rapist society is, in any meaningful way, moral. As if white and male supremacist societies have ever cared about women as free and full human beings, each one valuable in her difference, not in her effort to approximate some slaver's or pimp's idea of what "woman" is.

    What I say to men is similar to what occurs to you to say to her: "Don't we have plenty of white male supremacists we can focus our energies on, and organise against... men who are doing unambiguous and heinous harm to girls and women before we get to the part where we need to criticise radical feminists?"

    I very much liked reading this part of your comment... well, along with the rest of it:

    There are deadly structures in the here and now, I'd like to talk
    about those. Instead I am forced to waste time and energy to explain a minor fracture (about sex, of course) of feminist theory. And yes, I do oppose porn. Be it lesbian, homo or het.

    I hope you never feel you need to apologise or elaborately explain to ANYONE for being against material that makes racism, heterosexism, and misogyny appear and be experienced as "sexy" by millions of consumers.

  17. Deadly structures. Precisely. Women are dying the world over, in every corner, and some privileged people want to take time to debate the "value" of pornography and pimp-constructed and enforced "sex"???

    Women are being poisoned by uranium and made fatally sick with polluted water; are being starved and are starving themselves; are being brutalised by debt, poverty, and genocidal policies; are being traumatised and given lethal STDs through rape and coerced sex; are being traumatised and burned and bloodied by men's wars against men that harm women, children, and the Earth and its other Beings disproportionately (men's wars that aren't specifically against women always harm more women than men, but it is dead men we care to remember... for "giving their lives"... what about all the women in systems of prostitution and inside the institution of marriage and in other relationships with men, and near or on toxic waste dumps, who gave their lives???).

    Women the world over are enduring or are not surviving so much that men do the world over, that one has to ask: do we REALLY have time to debate Dworkin??? Or to pretend she's "the enemy" of men, or women???

    It's so fucked up. So very fucked up.

    If anything thinks Andrea Dworkin is their enemy, they have lived an incredibly charmed and privileged life, or they have lived a very brutal one at the hands of men, and are in total denial about the actual forces that seek to maim or kill them, their mothers, their sisters, and their woman lovers and daughters. One of those forces of destruction was NEVER Andrea Dworkin, or, for that matter, any radical feminist of any color or region.

    What I hope you can do is to take good care of yourself while letting her know what you do and don't wish to discuss. Honor your own sense of what you are and are not willing to debate.

    I was just in a discussion with someone about bisexuality and realised, "Why am I talking about this?!!!????" Women are dying after being raped, or are living after being raped, in the U.S., in Europe, across Asia, in Haiti, and in most other parts of the world, by men in their communities and by white men who travel predatorially into their communities, and I'm talking about bisexuality????

    So I'm trying to conserve my energies by not talking with people about stuff they really only want to discuss in order to piss me off or deflect from the deadly structures you mention.

    I'd ask her, "What is worse: what pimps do to women or what radical feminists do to women?" And if she will acknowledge that what pimps do is worse, then the next question is "Why are you taking time out of your life to critique women who fought and fight pimps?"

    Were I you, I might also quote MacKinnon to her:

    '[T]hose who point out that women are being victimized are said to victimize women. Those who resist the reduction of women to sex are said to reduce women to sex. Subordinating women harms no one when pornographers do it, but when feminists see women being subordinated in pornography and say so, they are harming women. Words do nothing except when feminists use them. Go figure.' -- Catharine A. MacKinnon, Women's Lives, Men's Laws, page 350.

    Please let me know how else I can support you. I'm here. Not going anywhere, even while the antifeminists and other misogynists, racists, genocidalists, and gynocidalists around the whiter parts of the world would love for me and anyone who speaks out against white het male privileges and power to shut up once and for all. ;)

    Again, welcome! Keep speaking out, but on your own terms.

  18. Welcome back, Omar.

    I appreciate you taking the time to clarify where you were coming from and to share more of your own beliefs with me, and here, for other readers.

    I try never to pretend that "all things are equal" such that "an ethic" can be applied "equally" to circumstances that are never, in reality, equal.

    So I tend not to hold views about "all [fill in the blank] being, across-the-board wrong, and certainly don't see it as my place to tell people of color, or Indigenous folks, or women, how best to resist and challenge the forces which seek their destruction.

    In my life I am a pacifist, and probably always will be. I have never intentionally hit anyone, except when little, hitting my big brother back--believe me, he always deserved it!!! lol

    I am against "hitting", as are you. I'm against "domestic violence" but I'm all for it being totally legal and not at all criminal for a woman married to a battering man, a man who threatens her life with violence or with verbal threats, to find ways to kill him while he sleeps.

    I'm totally fine with prostitutes killing their pimps, and think that should not be a crime.

    I'm totally fine with rape and child molestation survivors killing their sexual assaulters and think it should be legal to do so, and not at all a crime.

    I think Indigenous people should legally be able to shoot any white man who sets foot on Reservation land, on Indigenous land, and on land once stolen. I do not think this should be a crime.

    I think people of color can and must decide for themselves, without white input, what is the best way to survive white supremacy, and if it is found to be necessary to take out some white men to secure freedom, so be it.

    Basically, we can note that the military can do anything it wants and it has the social standing that "legal use of force" has. And so white men can travel around the world killing Black and Brown people, Arab and Muslim people, at the will of white male supremacist governments and generals, and be considered heroic for doing so.

    I believe the resisters of oppression, of white het male supremacy, using whatever means necessary, are heroic for resisting.

    But I am against hitting.

    I hope that clarifies where you and I agree and differ.

  19. I really think these guys who feign deep worry over "radical feminisim" are just trying to confuse and distort this issue for those reading them who are almost-intellectual.

    Their specious "arguements" would only convince someone who's already comfortable with the male domination of women--or someone who's intellect doesn't go all the way to the top floor.

    Your points were excellently made--just wonderful!

  20. Thanks for the compliment, Barbara. :)

    In my experience, the intellectual workings of men who argue that men are the victims in male supremacist societies leads me to conclude there's no functioning elevator at all. Just holes these guys keep digging themselves into. And those pits get deeper and deeper the more they try and argue their patriarchal points.

  21. I can’t help making a connection to Zed when you use the analogy of someone digging themselves into a mental pit—anyone familiar with his earlier message board posts (pre 2005) has had the dubious pleasure of seeing the real Zed—he fairly frequently mentioned that he felt dead inside, wondered what on earth could possibly make life worth living, and was worried about dying alone—he sounded like an extremely depressed person. One of the symptoms of heavy pornography use is an emotionally dead feeling inside—it’s always right up there at the top when the psychological damages are listed.

    Apparently, as smart as Zed is, the correlation of his pornography use with this level of emotional decimation has never been made, and he goes around and around like a paper boat stuck in a mental whirlpool trying to make the case for why women must be the ones to blame for his abject misery. This blaming of women for almost anything, with anger, is also right up there on the list of pornography’s psychological damages, because for some reason the object of lust becomes gradually vilified—he and his buddy’s irresolvable emotional problems with women are probably 80% due to their own reckless involvement with pornography and the psychological damage that it causes—but it’s a shame that those who are the sickest are usually the last to know.

    Zed is the superficially “smart guy” that the rest of these emotional cripples who are gathered around him can point to as their guru, as the one who’s got the whole picture—except that this picture only looks like it makes any sense to those who are also damaged by the over-use of pornography. Have you ever seen him go on about how women are trying to take pornography away from men, as in trying restrict its use? Huh??? In a lame attempt to try to make some kind of point with, what is today, a completely imaginary non-issue, he has to pull out some old, almost totally forgotten figure like Andrea Dworkin to “prove” that women are just trying to ruin men’s good, wholesome fun with pornography (and by default, sex—too bad these guys can’t separate the two) by connecting it to rape (and of course, like you so deftly pointed out, he deliberately misquotes her to begin with).

    It’s a pity that someone who seems otherwise intelligent is so profoundly degraded mentally and emotionally from viewing pornography that this dedicated twisting of reality into a synthetic “truth” makes some kind of actual sense to him, and to his almost-intellectual-but-not-quite followers who are just naïve enough to be unable to recognize misery wanting company when they see it.

    There is no free lunch—viewing thousands and thousands of sex acts doesn’t enrich ones life, it only makes it more and more difficult to keep one’s emotional and mental balance when it comes to relations with, and respect for, the opposite sex—and unfortunately, paying the piper appears to be a real bitch.

  22. Thank you for your analysis and insights, Barbara.

    Someone ought to reach out to Zed to fill him in on reality, but it won't be me.

    Regarding this: "viewing thousands and thousands of sex acts doesn’t enrich ones life, it only makes it more and more difficult to keep one’s emotional and mental balance when it comes to relations with, and respect for, the opposite sex"

    I think about this: What does it mean that a whole class of people (het men who consume het pornography) view videotaped or photographed rape only as "sex"? What does this say about their capacity to see into the beings of the people so absolutely used? What does it mean that these men cannot fathom that the conditions women in pornography survive--namely, serial rape, pimping, trafficking, sexual terrorism, necessary levels of significant dissocation, depression, physical trauma including battery, and on and on--are so far beyond what most het men experience in their lifetime that it emotionally, viscerally, and politically does not exist to the het male consumers? When het men learn from their depressions and other forms of suffering how to recognise the same in women, I'll be impressed.

  23. I will not be telling the alcoholic Zed this, either—but I will be praying for him, because he really, really needs it.

    Does anyone ever wonder why the “powers that be” do very little to control the vast amount of pornography that is being viewed on a daily basis in this country? Does it make anyone wonder why, for instance, a “conservative” president like Bush didn’t do anything about it? I’ve heard that if the basic obscenity laws were enforced, that the amount of pornography would be much less.

    I think I know why—it’s because pornography weakens and eventually kills family bonding. Young men who look at pornography are less likely to marry while young, and less likely to have a steady girlfriend—this makes them more likely to go into the army, and go to war. Pornography is our government’s way of getting the maximum amount of warm bodies to throw their lives away for unjust wars, and it works.

    It’s easy to train the average person to de-humanize another—it can be done with a variety of methods, and most people will not be able to recognize afterwards that they’ve been messed with in this way. Years of pornography viewing deadens the heart’s response to the opposite sex, and coarsens the emotions—eventually, if you look at enough pornography, you will effectively separate yourself from the heart of humanity itself. In this parallel universe, your ability to care about others, and yourself, becomes harder and harder to accomplish, and some who look at pornography will eventually cut themselves off from interacting with others to the point that they kill themselves. Instead of the sexual liberation they thought they would receive, they get a “wedding” involving themselves and a spiritual death. Smarter and more sensitive people will realize that something is wrong, re-trace their steps, and know that they’ve gone the wrong way, doing whatever it takes to regain their humanity—the rest will go by the wayside, with divorce, alcoholism and anger. Sexual addicts are really not happy people.

    Pornography destroys society by destroying the family. Pornography destroys love, and what people will do for those that they love. Anyone who spends their days defending pornography defends moral death, both individually and society-wide. This culture struggles with enough problems already without having the 5,000 lb. brick of pornography hung around it’s neck.

    I truly feel sorry for those addicted to pornography. They have made themselves a bed that is extremely hard to wrest yourself out of, but it can be done—if you’re still alive, then there is definitely hope.

  24. Hi Barbara,

    I believe corporate pornographers destroy girls and women's lives and esteem, and the possibility of liberation for women far more than pornography destroys boys' and men's lives, although it surely does that, to varying degrees. The use of it also bolsters men's male entitlements to use and abuse women and not feel like they're doing anything wrong.

    But it is the girls and women, predominantly, who are used, abused, and drug-addicted, raped, and who commit suicide or are killed by pimps and procerers, not men who view pornography. This does nothing to assist girls and women being part of society in ways that regard female human beings as actual human beings.

    I recommend reading these two posts, and the book referenced. I think you might like the book a whole lot.