Friday, January 29, 2016

Update on "The Conversations Project: The Radical Inclusivity of Radical Feminism"

upper image is from here; lower image is from here 

To me an important breakthrough, I felt, in my work and that of others was the call to use the term white supremacy, over racism because racism in and of itself did not really allow for a discourse of colonization and decolonization, the recognition of the internalized racism within people of color and it was always in a sense keeping things at the level at which whiteness and white people remained at the center of the discussion.  — bell hooks
Quote, p. 68, Critical Foundations in Young Adult Literature (author: Antero Garcia)

[M]y vehicle was going to be truth: not a global, self-deluded truth, not a truth that only I knew and that I wanted other people to follow, but the truth that came from not lying.  Andrea Dworkin
Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant, page 21

There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference. 
— June Jordan
Quote, p. 220, Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (author: Urvashi Vaid)

To the leaders and moderators of The Conversations Project:

It appears as though you disappeared a lot of my writing from the Facebook group without any direct notice or personally delivered warning that this would occur. For the record, I do not consider myself as having left the group, nor have I received any notification that I am barred. So I think appropriately, I consider myself a part of it. I'll steer clear of any presumptions, as I have been welcomed, quite recently, to continue to post there. But I feel like I'm getting mixed messages. As I think you know, from the start of my involvement, I stated that I will utilise my blog to process or expand upon things I have mentioned there. So this post is simply the latest, and is not intended to be the final analysis.

My last comment, for the record, was to share a link* as an addition to a relevant discussion within the group. This is, in fact, a five-part conversation on trans and feminist issues, which I'd entirely forgotten about. Here is the full series of conversations with Sara, which occurred in late 2010:

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
*Part 4:
Part 5:

To the readers of this blog:

At this point, I've been in the group a full three weeks. A couple of days ago I thought there was a breakthrough in finally acknowledging what that group is and isn't designed to be or prepared to do. I saw that one of the creators might move forward with radical honesty--I appreciated her so much for this indication, but that got immediately thwarted by another member.

What the group cannot as yet do is deeply interrogate key aspects of gender because triggering occurs when several topics and phrases get raised. It also can't, as yet, get far because it doesn't seem committed to looking beyond white norms except to appropriate concepts, experiences, and cultural understandings of those we whites work so diligently to destroy. Sadly, racist appropriation of things like "inclusivity" and "intersectionality" are among many colonial white norms.

As one feature of The Conversations Project, there is a series of interviews with feminists or queer theorists. Some of those have been posted. At last glance, all the experts are white. The principal authors of the project are also white. (And the most vocal members of the group are white-identified.) The project itself is tethered to work and perspectives that cannot be anything but white-centric and so it loses all possibility of radical contribution to Feminist and Queer theory, unless you think more white supremacist theory is radical. But, for whom could that be true?

Gender, there, has appeared to me to be understood as social and psychological, with political meaning as well. And also scientific, using the work of some neurobiologists to note there are not two 'discreet' genders. But that has never been claimed among radical feminists I have known for decades. The dimensions of gender not well-addressed there are the economic, racial, and patriarchally sexual.

Making room for some marginalised voices is identified as radical--and marginalised voices should certainly be heard. But bringing in usually excluded perspectives while not challenging the oppressive norms or exclusionary practices in the center of the room is also designated as radical. I have disagreed.

To date, the group has refused so much of the depth and dimension of Radical Feminist herstory, such as the more radical theories and activist efforts by white women and women of color; it has created an unfortunately narrow breadth of inquiry, even within an already stifling white discourse. An interview with Catharine A. MacKinnon avoided addressing the core issues in MacKinnon's work, such as the maintenance of sex inequality through harassment, degradation, and speech acts. All of Andrea Dworkin's insights on battery and rape, on occupation and subordination, have been ignored.

So it shouldn't come as any surprise that if a group doesn't, together, welcome dealing substantively with such sharp white activists' work, the work of brilliant women of color would be completely occluded. Beyond marginalised. Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Gloria Anzaldúa, bell hooks, Winona LaDuke, Patricia Hill Collins, Vandana Shiva--all radically feminist writers of theory and art, practitioners of activism, have not been welcomed and are viewed as off topic, too tangential in focus. Have we not heard precisely this excuse during half a century of feminist discourse--and for many centuries?

The Facebook group pays lots of liberal lip service, however sincerely, to the problem of racism and the value of women of color. But the group, as a whole, or through its leadership, will not acknowledge the degree to which it is a white supremacist space. (If you have not as yet, I invite you to read the first quote that introduces this post.) If anyone from that group, or beyond it, wants more detail, just ask, in a comment here, and I'll explicate several points of critique.

Sadly for me, and as mentioned above, it appears someone there has already removed chunks of those critiques, while giving me no notice of that occurring and no opportunity to collect my work before deletion. This speaks to a problem with ethics and process. And smacks of passive-aggressive censure. I welcome whoever did it to own up to that, in a blog comment, or to otherwise explain their reasoning below. They have endeavored to communicate clearly in the past, so I hold out hope for this occurring here in this case.

My perseverance in seeking to address several limitations within the group was seen as distracting from a stated purpose. But to even believe such a direction amounts to a distraction, means one is willfully committed to a lack of knowledge about gender politics in colonial patriarchies. I'm arguing that not even the most privileged of us can afford to ignore how white manhood and capitalism combine with misogynoir and anti-Indigenism to create patriarchal rape culture. And to grasp it, those of us who are white have to learn about others and ourselves from writers like hooks and Collins. As another white member stated there, to my cheers, white people cannot lead us.

I am reminded daily of the refusal to acknowledge the meaning and force of our whiteness. The refusal was tangible there. Blatantly visible in a number of ways. But denied, which is often enough the first line of defense. (And hopefully the only line.)

In short, the group has not been radically feminist, or radically inclusive, if being either means centering voices and theories of women of color and non-binary POC. Nor has it been one that could go far or deep with its conversations. Here's one example: To ask what is patriarchal about the majority-white conflict between what is termed T--Fs and liberal trans activists, was effectively verboten. To ask which of the dynamics and practices participate in rape culture: forget it. No go. Not even a dead end: nothing paved to even get to a dead end. Partly, the reason had to do with triggering, but not by being triggered by men's violence, per se.

Fundamentally, I think it is a support and education group for a few white trans* people who are trauma survivors. I fully support traumatised people gathering in spaces where they, themselves, define and determine the parameters of their own safety. But the only trauma discussed was committed by white natal women. When the most harm you've experienced as a white person is from a few white Radical Lesbian Feminists, one could argue you've somehow managed to avoid the brunt of what patriarchy forces on people. When the harm is interpersonal to the point that the perpetrators have names (and just a few names), I'd argue we are in the realm of a kind of abuse that is not what attempts to kill most women. Most harm is structural, systemic, institutional, including the interpersonal or intimate expressions of it. To the extent the harm named there shows up in institutions, it is due to its application by white men, not white women. Or it is directly caused and controlled by men across ethnicity.

We were not discussing PTSD as arising from misogynist, institutionalised rapist violence. Or as emanating from racism alone, or from misogynoir. The forms of dissociation and denial I personally witnessed in that minority group have been raced white and were not assigned female at birth. (That is meant to be a deeply political, not an anatomical, point.)

Thus far, the group's efforts have had limited applicability to the actual world of oppression. This is partly due to mining only a few bits of some white radical feminists' work. Then combining that with liberally inclusive elements of white-dominated Queer theory. To be clear: the bits are veridical; the elements are estimable. But anti-feminism--the willed erasure of most women and the sources of their subordination and injury, ought not permeate radical pro-feminist conversations. It especially ought not delineate them.

Monday, January 25, 2016

femicidio, woman-killing, femicide

image of Mexco's disappeared and murdered women and girls is from here

The murder of women is but one course of action in the maintenance of globalised colonial male supremacy.


A video about the atrocities.


The numbers are staggering: Six women killed every day, according to one organization. Over the past two decades, reports Brooke Binkowski in Mexicali, Mexico, the killing or disappearance of women has become so frequent, a new term has entered the country’s lexicon: femicidio

For more of the news story, please go to this website:


From one year ago today, from Censored News, with thanks to Brenda Norrell, link included below:

More Femicide Victims Identified from Border Graveyard
By Frontera NorteSur
Censored News
January 25, 2015

Women's/Human Rights News
The parents of Esmeralda Castillo Rincon recently heard sad news about their long-disappeared daughter. The 14-year-old had been missing from her Ciudad Juarez home since 2009, and the parents had waged a long campaign demanding her safe return.

On January 16, however, the Chihuahua state prosecutor's office (FGECH) notified Jose Luis Castillo and his wife, Martha Rincon, that Esmeralda's remains were among those of other female murder victims recovered from the Navajo Arroyo in the Juarez Valley bordering the United States in 2012 and 2013. [Read the rest of this news story here:]

What will the story be in another year?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Moving Beyond the Turf Wars, by Margo Schulter Mini Peace Sign Cutouts (10/Pkg): Kitchen & Dining
peace symbol image is from here
What follows is another note from the Turf War Zone of majority-white Radical Feminist and Trans Activist conflict. A few updates: I consider Tee Eee Rr eFF--just the four initials together, to be hostile language, antifeminist, divisive, and whitemale supremacist. I won't use the term here. Margo doesn't spell it out either, as you'll see. I have been and remain committed to supporting women's space. Including, Radical Lesbian Feminist space, as RLF's define and need it. Trans spaces, as trans* people define it. Nonbinary people's spaces. Intersex people's spaces. In a rapist patriarchy, I support any group of women or any group of marginalised people defining and defending their spaces of safety and sustenance.

This is a guest post, written by one of the women in "Radically Inclusive Radical Feminism" The Conversations Project facebook group: RIRFTCPFG? I need a good acronym, bad. Her name is Margo Schulter. She has been part of Lesbian Feminist community and movement for a long time. Decades.

Moving Beyond the Feminist "Turf Wars"

Julian, having read the "Turf War Zone" statement again, and assuming that this was written by one or more women who, like me, have white privilege, I'd say that we have the same problem on both or all sides: where is the visible and indeed liberating co-leadership of Women of Color, AFAB or trans and/or intersex?

What I'd ask especially my sisters on both or all sides of this "Turf War" with white privilege is this: "Hasn't this four decades of Cold War between sisters, with all of its turning of horizontal differences, tensions, and conflicts into ideologies that verticalize the oppression in the best patriarchal style, really been an exercise in ersatz white-male politics?" All while the promises and demands of the Combahee River Collective go unsupported or `benignly neglected' while we use racism, the Maafa (African/African-American Slave Holocaust), and intersectionality (a term that belongs to Kimberlé Crenshaw and Women of Color, and the rest of us need to share with great humility and respect) mostly as tokens and metaphors.

To make it clear, "verticalizing" here means turning some kind of difference or conflict between women, sisters who are targets of different forms of patriarchal oppression, into a vertical or hierarchical issue where one side represents more "real" or more "oppressed" women, and the other some kind of hierarchal "privilege" that makes them not quite women or not quite human.

Let's quickly sum up this white-male style of verticalizing horizontal differences among feminist and often Lesbian feminist women, AFAB and trans, and intersex too. The Gender Critical Feminist (GCF) school as I've seen it practiced has a woman/trans-"woman" binary in which "transwomen are not women" is a polite version, and "transwomen are men" a less nuanced version. In this approach, there's no need to sort out the often complicated questions of trans women as newcomers to the women's community who've had past male privilege and like newcomers generally need acculturation and resocialization and reeducation. Rather, trans women are by definition either nonwomen or actual men, inherent lifelong oppressors and invaders. That's one version of "us vs. them," which we'd expect in a Cold War based on an ersatz white-male style.

And another white-male approach is the "cis/trans" binary, which holds actually that trans women, here let's say specifically those of us who transition as adults, and are newcomers to the women's and Lesbian communities, actually have and deserve seniority because survivors of lifelong AFAB oppression in fact have "cis privilege." And AFAB Butch Lesbians who every day may face all kinds of risks and oppressions while I enjoy not only white privilege but Femme invisibility -- not to speak of Butch Women of Color like Sakia Gunn who was murdered in 2003 at the age of 15 -- also supposedly have "cis privilege."

What would happen if they gave a Turf War, and lots of women came instead to talk about sex class consciousness, the seniority of AFAB women who have endured female oppression their entire lives, the validity and juniority of trans women, the need for female and more specifically feminist resocialization and reeducation as a lifelong process for those of us with past male privilege as an ongoing experience -- and also the validity of autonomous affinity groups, events, and spaces within the larger women's and Lesbian communities which can draw their own boundaries however they choose?

Quickly, I'd add that just as the Cold War had its nuclear arms race, the term T**F itself has become a weapon that I'm sad to say some of my sisters feel somehow provides safety or strength or protection. The women in 2008 or so who invented the term weren't seeking to dehumanize or degrade, just to distinguish between radical feminist views, just as Lise Meitner in 1938 wasn't seeking to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki or put the world at risk for a genocidal nuclear winter or autumn when she and her colleagues discovered nuclear fission. But weaponization is what happened, and Greenham Common is the place to be for feminist women with sex-class consciousness: it's time to "Ban the Bomb!" And I'd add that the T**F missile is absolutely *not" some magical Star Wars system that will "defend" against some equally ugly rhetorical missiles, or at least missives using the delivery system of the social media, targeted against trans bodies that, through fully consensual surgery for example, don't conform to the patriarchal sex binary that "Gender Critical" theory is all too happy to wrap around itself.

And as Cary Gabriel Costello has eloquently written, intersex people are "collateral damage" (his term) in these weaponized Turf Wars. Intersex gets treated as a rhetorical token or talking point rather than a community and movement of people who have faced horrible infant and childhood medical abuse, all for being born under patriarchy with bodies that don't fit the sex binary. The unique reality of intersex oppression raises issues distinct from those of dyadic (nonintersex) people, including dyadic AFAB or trans people, but how many of us who are dyadic women, AFAB or trans, have really become the allies that we can and should be?

There are also nonbinary/genderqueer/intergender people, some also intersex like Hida Viloria, who get neglected or even derided in these "Turf Wars" as the contest as to "Who's the most oppressed binary woman?" (in the white privilege division of the Oppression Olympics) goes on. And nonbinary activists like Cerien are calling us on our binary privilege, a rant I hope that enough of us will be feminist enough to welcome.

But, indeed, where in all this is the co-leadership of Women of Color, that could help liberate us all from these crazy white-male games of horizontal aggression between sisters in the name of feminism? Where is the common sense of Flo Kennedy, Jeanne Cordova (who as a Lesbian Woman of Color in 2013 offered a sane solution to the Michfest controversy), or bell hooks? Maybe if those of us with white privilege really, really owned it and did a bit of self-impeachment of ourselves as "leaders" in the best Indigenous tradition, then we -- the "we" emphatically including Women of Color -- could come to grips with the AFAB/trans thing also and emerge as sisters and allies in women's and Lesbian communities with many autonomous niches.

Any theory or ideology that tells us that a given woman belongs either in no women's spaces or in all women's spaces is inherently suspect as ersatz white-male verticalization of one kind of another. But having Women of Color more prominently and tellingly present in lots more of those spaces just might help end not only the AFAB/trans "Turf Wars" of the last four decades and a bit more between feminist and often Lesbian women, but the larger "Turf Wars" waged by European and Euro-American racism since the mid-15th century against Indigenous Nations and People of Color around the world.

Monday, January 18, 2016

RadFem. Check. LibTrans. Check. RadTrans? Checking.

The title of this post may be seen as mildly cheeky. But it is also deadly serious.

Life circumstances have kept me offline in the last while. A good friend died of metastatic uterine cancer. She was like a sister to me. And then there were other health issues in her family. The cancer and the treatment was brutal and she was increasingly brave with each passing month. The battle ended two and a half years after diagnosis. I know there are so many people fighting or coping with cancer in some regard. Most along with poverty and additional insults and insecurities of marginalisation and invisibility.

But I'm here today to speak to a few things that have been off my radar, more or less, during that period. For example, I have found that a lot more people across a much wider age bracket use the term 'radfem'.

Due partly to my age, I don't experience 'radfem' and 'radical feminist' as synonyms. I grew up before tweeting and texting when feminist terms being shortened was not usually a sign of respect. Such as when Women's Liberation was turned into Women's Lib.

So in my ancient mind, shortening means going from this: [Content Warning: the second image is stupidly sexist.]

women's liberation movement photo is from here
to this:

blatantly sexist visual is from here

So, no disrespect intended to anyone who identifies as radfem or who uses both terms. Lorde knows I'd have more time on my hands if I'd written radfem every time I wrote out the longer version.

Anyway, I realise that in the last couple of years, the shorter term has taken root more widely. And that's not all. What also seems to have amped up are distressing and awfully bitter battles over terrain and terms, land and language.

Whose land comprises the U.S. of Amerikkka? Will the Federal government or individual States or citizens ever hand back significant tracts and regions of Indigenous land, or does the government remain a land-hoarder and destroyer? Will whites ever concede, en masse, that the Confederate flag is a symbol of white supremacy? That people from Mexico aren't aliens. That Muslims aren't terrorists. Will the xenophobic CRAP that spills out of Dumpty Trumpty ever cease? Will Black Lives Matter?

Does it register that some of us don't have clean water to drink, or reliable access to water?

Will Bernie Sanders become the DNC candidate for president: how would he rule, and make reparations regarding government-stolen land and colonialist-dependent wealth? Will Hilary Clinton be the first white woman to be U.S. president?

Hey: If you want great political leadership in this country, I think Winona LaDuke and Alicia Garza are as good as you get. LaDuke/Garza 2020!!!

Winona, a revolutionary feminist, has pointed out how a curiosity, to me anyway, regarding Anglo uses of the term 'radical', relative to many Indigenist traditional values. That is, from an Indigenist point of view, one may see U.S. government policies as radical, extreme, militant, for decades, for centuries. Genocidal. Seen this way, we can concur that Indigenist feminism is deeply Conservative, but not using the term in at all the same way the U.S. Republicrats do. I read that perspective for the first time many years ago in Talking About a Revolution. We're still waiting for that and are literally dying for it to arrive. Too often, though, it is just liberal talk about terms. Here I go with that.

Digging down and scraping the bottom of the barrel of this blog's archives, from 2008, I found this:

What does 'Radical' mean here? It holds up for me.

What I bring with me as a way to understand any form of oppression are lessons taught to me by radical feminists across race, region, and ethnicity. There are many who deeply inform my thinking and feeling. Among the earliest and most significant are Audre Lorde and Andrea Dworkin. But there more contemporary voices of wisdom and radical knowledge on the scene.

I will bring radical feminist theory and agendas, of color and white, with me as I go, never settling into any perspective or practice with colonial patriarchal Certainty. Andrea Dworkin, for one, never advocated for theory being mistaken for truth. She knew theory could be made into reality--to look, feel, taste, sound, and smell like CRAP. And like everything. And like the core of who I am, which may be why so many people feel like CRAP. And the danger to us, in part, is not knowing whose theories we are living inside, which ones we benefit from and protect, and which we are under and must continue to rise up against.

The more liberal academic side of the sometimes-termed RadFem vs. LibTrans turf war is a contest over theory--issues of gender, essentialism, and privilege. But the social and legal side of it is about spaces of safety and struggle. As noted above, it is clear who is fighting for land and language. In some sense we all are. But not equally.


When I approach any conversation about gender, I first center this question: Whose bodies are marked for terrorism and destruction? What I see is that the bodies, the souls, of those who are identified as female, Indigenous, Black, and Brown, especially, are being terrorised. As they have been for centuries, at least. More recently, it is also Black trans bodies that are marked and murdered.

Corporate media would rather tell us of these horrors as individual tragedies perpetrated by one, two, six, or a hundred 'bad men' or 'rogue cops'. Mainstream media will not report the violence as systematic: patriarchal, colonial. Most white people I know are willing to settle for dimensions of mass media's truth. As are most men. I wonder how many other excuses white folk can conjure to excuse a cop's murder of someone not threatening them. I wonder how many rapes have to occur before it is seen as something men do normally, whether or not most men normally do it. In some sense it should not be surprising that rape happens, even while it should always be understood as part of a complex, involving entitlement and the requirement patriarchies have for some people to be femaled, 24/7/365. It is, tragically, an arrogant and desperate need of too many people for access and accommodation; for violence as violation. For land and language.

I am speaking of a need imposed on others, by human beings who are maled, who are always complex and nuanced in their hirstories and their lives, located in positions of privilege and marginalisation, as most of us are. But the color and sex of normal brutality must be noticed and named. I am mindful, heartful, of the violent disappearance of trans and nontrans Black women, murder after murder. And of the reality of rape culture, and how it is tethered both to patriarchy and to colonialism.

Within white spaces, also always complex and multifaceted, the only L  G  B  T movement I've ever seen as being radical was the L. I have looked to white Lesbian Feminist theorists for keen analysis of heteropatriarchy for over thirty years. Among my fav of those philosophers is Marilyn Frye. But there are many. My most fav, however, is not white. She is, as noted above, Audre Lorde.

The _GBT+ organisations and campaigns which are white-led or coloniser-centered, that claim to be radical, do not appear to me to be revolutionary in theory or practice. This has been brought to my attention in detail quite recently.

In some of the next posts, I will endeavor to carefully and respectfully identify what I find to be politically problematic with a facebook group I have been in as a commenter. It is called "The Conversations Project: Radically Inclusive Radical Feminism". It is welcoming and not supportive of flame wars--that alone is rare online. It has tolerated my very privileged presence for almost two weeks: we'll see who exhausts the other first. Hopefully amicable relationships will be nourished. But unowned intellectual liberalism is toxic to me. And denial of any form of privilege by anyone, as a way of life, is atrocity-supporting. When I see it, I endeavor to call it out, hopefully respectfully and with increasing sensitivity to how my own places of privilege effect the reception of the critique.

The two founders are well known in some progressive circles that contend with gender and privilege. Cristan Williams with Trans/Gender politics. John Stoltenberg with what used to be called Sexual Politics. With the doubly radical title as my guide, I presumed they are doing something radically feminist. In at least two senses, I believe they are using the term, well, liberally.

I have already written to them about my concerns, within the closed facebook group. Projects termed radical that are, in theory and reality, liberal, are nothing new. But the name of the project did direct me to a set of expectations and I was intrigued. I am attempting, in many ways wrongly, to hold them to my expectations. It's an unfair thing to do and I can be a pest about it. They have been kind, and I do well with kindness, so I'm working diligently at keeping my critiques clear of passive-aggression and void of shaming under- and over-tones. That in and of itself is good work for me to be doing in an online or offline community setting.


I will update you, here, on my own issues by noting that I've been continuing to search for terms to locate my sense of myself relative to gender. Given that I believe (I think in a radical feminist tradition) that the subjectivity of the oppressed matters more than the subjectivity of the oppressor, how women experience me is, first and foremost, what my gender is. That means I don't get to control it: the naming. The best I can do, subjectively, personally, non-essentially, while using the English language is "a maled adult". (And, being a good Amerikkkan, I only speak one language.) I'm a white maled adult, nonbinary, with more economic security than most people, which increasingly doesn't have to be a whole hell of a lot; but I have a kind of stability few people have: I can pay my bills on time and have no debt. And, while gay (in this case: maled, attracted to men--very few, but men), I do not engage in romantic or sexual relationships. That means the ways I can harm people interpersonally are dramatically reduced. And, yes, the ways I can be hurt and misunderstood: but that's what the internet is for. Or not.

If we're talking about dominant gender--CRAP-loaded gender--then using a term like 'anti-gender' works well for me. I have been identifying as 'intergender' but as a fierce white Feminist Lesbian called out, doing so locates me, affirmatively, between the poles of a gender binary that's also a hierarchy. That is, such a term, applied to me, reinforces the hierarchy linguistically (her point). I agree. It also pretends that by being 'in between', I may have less male privilege or sense of entitlement than others who ID as men. So, as either trans and cis, or neither trans and cis, and while I don't have heterosexual privilege, and while I'm not of Northern European gentile stock, I am afforded most male supremacist advantages and benefits. No doubt about it. No denial about it. Please.

I yearn for social spaces which share and practice community-enriching, humane values that I learned from radical feminism. Values like listening, self-awareness, accountability, mutuality, humor, and assertiveness. One especially important ethic is radical honesty: digging for the truth of one's feelings and experience, not settling for the views and interpretations of others just because they appear to be mandatory or popular. And not forgetting: we live inside the theories of others--most of whom are long gone, who may not ever have had any living creature's best interests at heart. I leave you for now, with this:
The purpose of theory is to clarify the world in which we live, how it works, why things happen as they do. The purpose of theory is understanding. Understanding is energizing. It energizes to action. When theory becomes an impediment to action, it is time to discard the theory and return naked, that is, without theory, to the world of reality. People become slaves to theory because people are used to meeting expectations they have not originated—to doing what they are told, to having everything mapped out, to having reality prepackaged. People can have an antiauthoritarian intention and yet function in a way totally consonant with the demands of authority. The deepest struggle is to root out of us and the institutions in which we participate the requirement that we slavishly conform. But an adherence to ideology, to any ideology, can give us the grand illusion of freedom when in fact we are being manipulated and used by those whom the theory serves. The struggle for freedom has to be a struggle toward integrity defined in every possible sphere of reality—sexual integrity, economic integrity, psychological integrity, integrity of expression, integrity of faith and loyalty and heart. Anything that shortcuts us away from viewing integrity as an essential goal or anything that diverts our attention from integrity as a revolutionary value serves only to reinforce the authoritarian values of the world in which we live.  —  Andrea Dworkin, Letters from a War Zone, U.S. edition, pages 127-128

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Rape + Consent = Rape. "Rape Redefined" by Catharine A. MacKinnon

image is from here
This is being reprinted here as an act of Fair Use, to clarify what rape is in oppressive societies such as the U.S., Canada, and the UK.

What follows is from here:

Toward ending rape altogether. -- Julian

Rape Redefined
© Catharine A. MacKinnon, 2014
Nordiskt Forum, Malmö, June 2014
1.  Rape is recognized in international law as a “gender crime,” meaning it happens to women because they are women. It is a crime of gender inequality.
2. This analysis, partly operationalized in international law, e.g. by the International Criminal Court, is not implemented in any country’s domestic law.
3. So, What would a rape definition governed by sex equality principles look like?
4. Rape is generally defined in Western countries as sexual intercourse by force or without consent or both. It is only without consent in the UK. It is only by force or violence in France. Most US jurisdictions require both: by force and without consent.
5. None of these has a good track record even for reported rapes, which are a small percentage of actual rapes. The conviction rate for reported rape in the UK is around 6%.[1] In France, it is a breathtaking 2.6%.[2] The conviction rate for reported rapes in the US, where most states require some version of both force and nonconsent, is between 12% and 25%. Given that in the United States about one out of every ten acts of rape or attempted rape is reported that essentially fit the legal definition, this is pretty appalling.
6. Consent definitions – in which the prosecution has to prove nonconsent – require a woman be believed concerning a sexual fact that is by its nature subjective. This is why it puts the victim on trial. Essentially, it attributes victimization to the victimized. It makes the case be about what she was thinking, or what he thought she was thinking, rather than about what he did. It makes rape occur in someone’s mind, not by his body on her body.
7. It is therefore no surprise that, in legal application, consent has been found when women are married, drunk or drugged, repeatedly said no, were asleep, comatose, just seen to be raped by several other men, threatened with deportation or false criminal charges or loss of her job. In legal operation, consent to sex is routinely found in situations of despairing acquiescence, frozen fright, terror, absence of realistic options, socially situated vulnerability, and even death. Prostituted sex is regarded as consensual because it is paid. All this is what consent actually means legally, not mistakes in what it legally means.
The often accompanying standard of mistaken belief in consent means that if the accused is found to have believed she consented, whether she did or not, it is not rape. In societies saturated with pornography, a lead pipe over the head can sincerely be believed to produce consent to sex. Further no surprise that “rough sex” is such an increasingly effective consent defense.
In other words, consent is often found in situations where considerable force was used, building into law the misogynistic assumption that women want to be forced into sex. This is the real meaning of requiring a showing of both force and nonconsent, as prevails in US state laws. The same assumptions tend to be attributed to a gay man when he claims another man raped him. He is feminized, reduced on a gendered basis.
If sex occurred, her consent is essentially presumed on the most minimal of acquaintance between the parties; the survivor has to disprove it. Socially speaking, if sex happened, or if a woman had ever had sex before, especially with the accused, consent is effectively assumed. She has to disprove it. It’s a social burden of proof women enter the law burdened by. Consent in law is consistent with economic, psychological, and hierarchical threats, so long as physical injury or life are not threatened (for which purpose rape itself is generally not considered a physical injury).
8.  Consent as a concept was never designed to apply between two people in civil society. It was given its current meaning in Western liberal philosophy, hence Western law, as the basis for legitimizing the obligation to obey the laws of the state. Even as a fiction[3] it never envisioned equal parties. It exists to rationalize the exercise of dominant power (ie the state) over its subordinates (the governed). This is what it is for. Applied to sex, he is the government, she is the governed. Its purpose is to attribute and justify the requisite obedience of the powerless to the rule of the powerful. It is about compliance. One is regarded as tacitly consenting, for example, to whatever one does not leave,[4] ie you consent because you are there, whether leaving is a realistic option or not. Silence in sex, as in governing, is deemed consent, not dissent. These assumptions, along with the presumption that the two parties involved are somehow axiomatic equals—an assumption never articulated far less sought to be justified in theory or law—operate powerfully in sex- unequal circumstances, contrary to its realities, and remain invisible as assumptions under even the best of consent standards.[5]
9. Attempts to correct for this social burden of proof, the assumption of YES, women being walking consent—attempts  women are often seduced by—involves adding additional words to make consent mean anything at all, such as positive, chosen, affirmative, autonomous, unequivocal, freely-willed, etc. These can be helpful, but they cannot be relied upon to overcome what consent fundamentally means. Requiring a woman say yes – and there is a lot of not-yes-saying out there – is not enough. If you can get a woman to suck an employer’s penis weekly to keep her job or to have sex with a dog, I would suppose you can get her to say yes. Pornography is full of yes. Consensual is a fall-back stand-in for “it wasn’t so bad” in societies like ours, in which sex by definition fulfills you, it doesn’t violate you, because sex is what women are for.
10. Fundamentally, it needs to be faced that consent is not an equal concept. It is an intrinsically unequal one that presupposes an actor and an acted-upon — the purported form of power of the acted-upon being acceding to the actor’s actions, doing what you are told to do — with no guarantee of equality of circumstance. That it might make sense in a society of actual social equality does not mean that it will get us there, because it silently presupposes that the parties are equals whether they are or not. It relies on an illusory image of a woman’s “agency” under conditions of inequality, as if one can be free without being equal. The corresponding fantasy—one that well-intended, strong progressive women often accept politically and argue for, not knowing what it has actually meant legally—is that if consent is the legal standard, what the woman says, even what she actually felt she wanted whether she said it or not, will be believed and will be carry the day, determining in a criminal trial whether sex was rape.
Apart from the problem of relying for incarceration on a victim’s subjective state of mind, including when unexpressed, the concept of consent relies for its social appeal on the assumption that it stands in for desire. This is its credibility cover, but nothing limits it to that. In social discourse, the crucible of its meaning, sex that is actually desired or wanted or welcomed is never termed “consensual,” because it does not need to be. Its mutuality is written all over it. Sex women want is never described by them or anyone else as consensual, as in, “I had a great hot night last night, I consented.” 
11.  Although the European Court of Human Rights (in M.C. v. Bulgaria[6]) and the CEDAW Committee (in Vertido v. Philippines[7]) has said that consent is the core of an equality approach, for these reasons of principle and practicality, it is not. Far from it. These cases unintentionally endorse the active/passive model of sex and social conditioning to trauma and the acquiescence that goes with it, and call that equality. Under unequal conditions, many women acquiesce in or tolerate sex they cannot as a practical matter avoid. That does not make the sex wanted. It certainly does not make it equal. It does make it legally consensual in most jurisdictions. This is the wrong road. Consent is a pathetic standard of equal sex for a free people.
12. Force definitions have also been problematic. The main problem has been that they have been largely confined to physical force, and typically require an excessive and unrealistic amount of such force, often with weapons, in a standard that seems to have in mind a fight between two men. In addition, it tends to require proof of resistance as evidence that force existed, even if the law has eliminated the resistance requirement.
13. On the view that a rape is about what (usually) a man did, mostly to women and children, sometimes to other men, a useful legal starting point is the Akayesu decision (ICTR): rape is defined as a “physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive.” The notable features here are the absence of nonconsent, seen as essentially redundant – coercion is present because consent is absent – and the exclusive use of coercion, which can be circumstantial as well as physical. The definition is on the force side but is not limited to physical force. In international criminal law, when a nexus with war or genocide or campaigns of crimes against humanity is established for a sex act, such that sexual assault is weaponized, those circumstances of coercion make it arguably unequal, vitiating consent of any operative meaning. Which is why it isn’t there. In settings outside recognized zones of armed conflict or genocide, “circumstances” adapted to domestic settings of so-called peacetime could include psychological, economic, and hierarchical forms of coercion – which, in limited ways, some jurisdictions already recognize in the sexual assault context.
14. Survivors of prostitution often cogently describe it as serial rape, let’s say sex unwanted for itself that is coerced by multiple circumstances of inequality. With this in mind, consider the international definition of sex trafficking, the destination of which is prostitution, from the Palermo Protocol (2000). It prohibits the use or threat of use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power or a position of vulnerability for purposes of sexual exploitation. And, where any of these means is used, the consent of a victim “shall be irrelevant.”
15. The proposal for rape redefined: Suppose we combine the best of the international definitions to redefine rape domestically as “ a physical invasion of a sexual nature under circumstances of threat or use of force, fraud, coercion, abduction, or of the abuse of power, trust, or a position of dependency or vulnerability.”
16. It would be essential to explicitly recognize that psychological, economic, and other hierarchical forms of force are coercive, including age, mental and physical disability, and other inequalities, including sex and gender, and that states like drunkenness and unconsciousness are positions of vulnerability. Inequalities would be recognized as a form of coercion when mobilized to force sex in a specific interactions. As in the international context with war and genocide, for a criminal conviction, it would be necessary to show the exploitation of inequalities, their direct use, not merely the fact of them.
17. And, where any of the listed means is used, the consent of the victim would be irrelevant.
18.  Apparently it is difficult to think about sexuality in equal terms. The Swedish model of prostitution is educating the world that paid sex is forced sex, engaging in world leadership by setting a standard for what violence against women includes. This proposed definition of sexual assault in terms of circumstances of coercion could do the same. Let’s think together about it. “It all starts somewhere.”[8]
[1] Liz Kelly, Jo Lovett, & Linda Regan, A Gap or a Chasm? Attrition in Reported Rape Cases, Home Office Research Study 293 (2005), available at the study by Harris & Grace on p. 28 with this figure, among others.
[2] European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics 169 (4th ed, 2010). The same rate is cited by J.M. Jehle. Attrition and Conviction Rates of Sexual Offences in Europe: Definitions and Criminal Justice Responses, European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 18,145-161 (2012). An updated edition of European Sourcebook is due out this year.
[3] David Hume was vividly clear on this, see “On Civil Liberty,” II.XII.20.
[4] See John Locke, Two Treatises on Government 224-25, ¶ 121 (5th ed. 1728). For a distinct but related doctrine, see Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: Or, the Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiasticall and Civill 521-22 (A. R. Waller ed., Cambridge University Press 1904).
[5] Another use of consent in law is to allow medical intrusions to be inflicted upon a person that are injurious, but are being allowed for some other benefit. Does this sound like sex to you? Apparently, it doesn’t sound foreign to women’s situation in sex to a lot of men.
[6] M.C. v. Bulgaria, Eur. Ct. H. R. 39272/98 (2003). This opinion contains the statement regarding a U.S. case, Berkowitz, that “Pennsylvania courts held that the victim’s repeated expressions of “no” were sufficient to prove her non-consent.” As to rape, this is not the case. The appeals court held that her statements of “no” would be relevant to the issue of non-consent, but were not relevant to the issue of forcible compulsion, the requirement for rape in Pennsylvania. The jury conviction for rape was accordingly overturned. Commonwealth v. Berkowitz, 609 A2d 1338 (1992). The case was remanded for retrial on “indecent assault,” which requires nonconsent, a conviction the appeals court upheld. Commonwealth v. Berkowitz, 415 Pa. Super. 505, 641 A.2d 1161 (Pa., 1994). No discussion of equality occurred in the case.
[7] Vertido v. The Philippines, CEDAW/C/46/D/18/2008 contains excellent equality analysis of rape myths and misogynistic stereotypes. However, it does not consider inequality as a form of coercion, but challenges the force-only law in the Philippines as lacking the “essential element” of rape law: “lack of consent,” which it redefines to mean “unequivocal and voluntary agreement.”
[8]Ane Brun, It All Starts With One (2011).

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Seven Deadly SINS of the Anglo Turf Wars

Africa-centering global map image is from here

A work in anti-progress.
Constructive radical feedback welcomed.

The most dangerous and deadly seven political realities (SINS) within CRAP, aka The Anglo Turf Wars

1. Genocide of Indigenous Peoples
2. Gynecide/Femicide
3. Misogynoir/misogyny
4. Sexual Trafficking of children and adults
5. Militarised cultural colonialism, particularly white USUK-led
6. Global West and North's hoarding of natural, capital, and human resources; accomplished through sexual, chattel, and wage slavery
7. Ecocide



Amerikkka: The United States of America.

1. racially despised, diasporic African people. (Within Africa, people generally have various national and ethnic identities.)
2. Aboriginal People in Australia.

1. Corporate Racist Atrocious Patriarchy: the increasingly globalised governing political and philosophical paradigm of the West.
2. Enforcement of capitalist white male supremacy.
3. Portrait of USUK cultures and ideas as 'progressive' pinnacles of human evolution, maintaining English as a primary language.

1. the mass extinction of plant and animal species and ecosystems.
2. the murder of Gaia.

Eroticism: See Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, by Audre Lorde.

Femaled (adjective, verb): [referring to humans] made sexually vulnerable, accessible, and compliant.
--In this usage, it does not refer to anatomical or physiological features, in or beyond humans.

Genocide: the eradication or destruction of a people--their culture, economy, and sexuality--through mass murder, enslavement, incarceration, cooptation, possession, removal or denigration of identity, theft of land, and banishing of languages.

1. a combination of agendas and actions that subordinate, enslave, and mass murder femaled people, by intention or effect, individually, culturally, and regionally.
2. The physical and psychological possession and control of people deemed dangerous and threatening to male supremacist rule and authority.
3. Also termed Femicide.

Indigenous Peoples:
1. the Native, Aboriginal, or First Nations people of any region.
2. The people whose homeland (or region) was established without the use of genocide and land theft.
3. The people of color who have faced imperialist, colonialist, and capitalist extinction for 500 years.

Maled (adjective, verb):
1. people structurally positioned to oppress patriarchally femaled people.
2. human beings who, unnaturally, make it their practice to render others sexually vulnerable, accessible, and compliant.
3. as applied to a group, the people who unconsciously or not, by intention or effect, actively co-maintain male supremacist systems and institutions; they do so as the primary beneficiaries, as those atop that particular sexed hierarchy.
--In this usage, it does not refer to human anatomy or physiology.
See also, "white-maled".

Misogynoir (noun):
1. misogyny specifically directed at Black women and nonbinary people who are seen as femme or feminine.
2. Assumptions and agendas, in theory and practice, that decenter or eliminate Black women and girls to the benefit of CRAP and USUK.
3. Antiwomanism.

Misogyny (noun):
1. hatred of and toward women.
2. contempt for anyone who femaled, and who is seen, by men, as femme, effeminate, or too feminine.
3. It is also directed at women for being too masculine, butch, or not feminine enough--with each of those three categories being distinct.
4. Antifeminism.

Sexual Trafficking: owning, selling, and renting human beings in ways that female them, usually across territories.

Sexuality: the economic, cultural, social, and psychological means through which people are maled and femaled.

SINS: social, institutional, naturalised subordinations.

USUK: the combined colonial force of white British and white Amerikkkan people.

White-maled (verb):
1. Socialised and structurally positioned to oppress white women and people of color.
2. Reflecting or enforcing white male supremacy, as in white-maled literature. (Accomplished by narrowly and unconsciously or uncritically operating within USUKian or CRAPpy paradigms and philosophies to the detriment of everyone oppressed by USUK.)


Understood this way, many social conflicts are interlocking and overlapping. Most anti-status quo campaigns reinforce some of these political projects, even while they may also intend to challenge them. We are called to compassion, accountability, and responsibility for being caught up, without natural cause, in each other's oppression while we seek liberation. On their own, liberal reforms to CRAP are deadly for the global majority of girls and women who live with fewer privileges and access to resources than do most whites and men.


Parenthetical points:
There are no revolutions in CRAP or USUK without the centering of radical activism led by women of color globally.

Not addressing the core paradigm problem is deadly, as identified by Vandana Shiva here:

Intersex and nonbinary people ought not have to be conceptualised as intermediate, in between, or in need of alteration, whether surgically or psychiatrically. We are who we are.

The term gender, masculinity, femininity are so widely naturalised and misunderstood in CRAP. Indigenous and less colonialised people, at least historically and sometimes presently, have economically, culturally, spiritually richer traditions. USUK forces reduce those terms to something that is understood to be primarily personal, God-given, natural, beyond science, and not born of politics and economics.

We are dangerously, epistemically limited by the English language.

Cis and trans, re: gender, become deeply politically problematic in the view of this blogger.
See, for understanding of the terms:

Racial bigotry, prejudice, intolerance are mistaken as comprising the problem of racism in a white liberal State. The problem is colonial white supremacy. As described so well and so radically by Ta-Nehisi Coates, racism creates race, not the other way around.

As was argued most recently in a group I am in, John Stoltenberg noted the same is true with sex and sexism. Many feminists have made this point over the decades.

In this view, whiteness, non-whiteness, maleness, and femaleness, are systematised, policed and self-policing actions-in-being more than they are anything else. To take offense to being termed 'white' and 'maled', for example, is to have ego-personified concepts that are structural, not natural. I see anti-racist, anticolonialist, Indigenist, Feminist, Womanist, and nonbinary people's activism as the resistance and challenge to those actions.

Partial Reading list:
Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse; Letters from a War Zone
Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider
bell hooks, all titles
Catharine A. MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State; Are Women Human?
Marimba Ani, Yurugu: An African-centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior
Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought; Black Sexual Politics
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States
Vandana Shiva, all titles
Winona LaDuke, all titles

Further reading and viewing:
Cleansing ourselves of european concepts, Marimba Ani:

Indigenous Feminism Without Apology:
(With this link about the controversy over Andea Smith's claim of Cherokee heritage:

Geoengineering, paradigm challenge by Vandana Shiva:

Indigenist Feminist Reading list:

Radical Women of Color reading list:

Science as Mythology: