Imitation, Infiltration, and Invasion at Radfem Rise Up! 2013

I am writing this as an attendee of Radfem Rise Up! 2013 held in Toronto, Ontario. These are my observations as an attendee, and not an organizer.

This past weekend I attended RadFem Rise Up! in Toronto. The scheduled speakers included a survivor of prostitution and domestic violence, a presentation on reproductive justice, and a discussion regarding the case of rape and suicide victim Rehtaeh Parsons, among other topics.

This conference was held as woman only because under patriarchy, women are uniquely targeted with violence and rape. Many attendees have been victims of incest, male violence, and rape, and wanted to discuss these experiences as women together. We believe we have a right to female-only safe space for such purposes. We also believe in the rights of trans people to organize and hold their own conferences if they so choose, but we expect them to respect our right to do the same.

The conference went ahead and was powerful despite ongoing attacks from trans and their allies who do not believe women who have shared girlhoods have a right to meet together.

The first trans activist attack came in the form of imitation. The official website for the radical feminist event was located at radfemriseup.wordpress.com. However, trans activists and their allies created a cloned version of the website at radfemSriseup.wordpress.com and allege that their website is in fact the correct one. Their website goes on to claim that the purpose of the conference is to discuss exterminating trans people, and even uses surgical porn language when it states, “we will also be doing some group activities that will allow us to get to know each other better in ways trans can’t possibly do. Speculums will be provided.” That such a website would be set up to undermine us by imitating us and saying outrageous things goes to show how difficult it is to discredit us based on our actual positions. It also tells us that these trans activists and their allies are liars without integrity.

In order to discover our venue, at least one trans activist/ally signed up and paid for conference entry with the intention to infiltrate and prevent us from meeting.

Thus, this/these persons received an email stating the location of the venue and released this information on the internet. Trans activists mobilized their allies via social media to contact the venue and request that they cancel the booking.

Conference organizers were told that the venue received over 200 emails requesting that they drop the booking. Venue staff revealed to conference organizers that some of these emails contained threats, and that they were afraid for themselves and their children.

This is the reason conference organizers were given by the venue for cancelling the booking.

Given this cancellation, conference organizers moved the venue to the location where some attendees were staying.

On the first day of the conference, trans activists and allies sent an infiltrator ally to the new event location. This person sat among us as we discussed radical feminist politics, and shared intimate stories in our ostensibly safe space. This violation of our safe space affected all of the attendees, including those of us who are survivors of the sex industry, domestic violence, and rape.

This trans ally infiltrator leaked the second venue to trans activists. This exposed the fact that our space had been violated– the space where many of us were sleeping (including one ten month old infant).

Trans activists and allies then organized a protest of our event ~200 m from the venue location. transpark The original venue that cancelled the booking had told conference organizers that the reason they cancelled was because they felt unsafe. Given the boundary violations exhibited by these trans activists and allies on the previous day, as well as the long list of violent threats previously made by trans activists towards radical feminists, it is clear that this invasion was done in order to intimidate us.

The conference went ahead as planned despite these imitations, infiltrations and invasions.

If you support trans activism, please consider whether the above noted violations are appropriate methods to use in trans activism, or whether they did in fact cross the line as I am alleging here. The people targeted by these attacks are women– many of whom have already had their boundaries violated by men in the past before. Disagreement is appropriate– intimidation through imitation, infiltration, and invasion is not.

how do I know if my husband watches porn?

Every day, women find my blog by searching some variety of the question:

how do I know if my husband watches porn?

I imagine most of the women who google this are being sent to this post I wrote nearly a year ago entitled On Pornsick Bastards.

I doubt many of these women call themselves feminists, but they do know intuitively that there is something wrong with the man who claims to love them getting off to images of other women being f’ked and degraded.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure the post is exactly what women are looking for. They probably would like some advice about how to check their husband’s browser or download history in order to catch him.

But the unfortunate truth I share in that post is that nearly every man who can access porn is a porn user.

This is a sad state of affairs for women attempting to date men, or even for women trying to function in the world along with men. This porn- and misogyny-soaked culture is what leads men to “joke” to women at a Microsoft conference in front of an audience, “Just let it happen; it will all be over soon.”

It’s what leads men to believe that this statement is not sexual harassment:

ck

It’s part of the anti-woman propaganda that leads men to believe that their getting off is more important than our human rights:

rts

[For more information on so-called “feminist porn”, please check here, here, and here.]

In her book Pornography: Men Possessing Women Andrea Dworkin distills the core message of pornography in these simple words:

[Pornography] means the graphic depiction of women as vile whores.

The answer to your question, women, is yes.

If you suspect he watches pornography, he is very, very likely to watch it.

I am so sorry to tell you this. But it is the truth. He gets off on depictions of women as vile whores.

We are here for you. Many of us have been there. Tell us how we can help you out.

Shared Girlhood

There’s an article hopping around the blogosphere called The Myth of Shared Female Experience and How It Perpetuates Inequality by Mia McKenzie.

Many of us object to the article’s claim that shared female experience is a myth or perpetuates inequality.

What is shared girlhood?

Shared girlhood is the idea that girls growing up under patriarchy are all oppressed based on their being treated as girls when they were younger.

For example, we’re told we exist to please men and be pretty, or we experience unwanted sexual harassment or contact, or we’re told to be small and eat less than boys.

There are obviously huge differences based on race, class, nationality, etc. But there is shared oppression based on sex.

When we grow up and become women, our experience as women is shaped by the way we were oppressed growing up.

Thus, growing up as girls is an important part of being a woman.

Some of us are on twitter today sharing our experiences of shared girlhood on the tag I created #sharedgirlhood. Join us in sharing stories from your girlhood, or just read our stories there.

Womyn of the World, Unite!

Nice work, Canadian radical feminists! Love the graphic too🙂.

RadFem Rise Up!

Please note: this is the original, authentic website for the RadFem Rise Up! conference that took place in Toronto from July 5th – 7th. A mock website, called RadFems Rise Up!  [note the ‘S’] has been set up by our detractors. It is full of vicious slander [for example, alleging that we wish to exterminate trans people] and incorrect information. The mock website reveals a lot about the psychology of people who clearly have nothing better to do with their time, but it has nothing to with the actual conference or its organizers.

 

Welcome to RadFem Rise Up!

The radical feminist conference for womyn who want to get active and smash  the patriarchy.

rfriseuppostercolor1

View original post

On Male Entitlement to Women or “Whose Fault is Patriarchy?”

Men as a class believe that they deserve access to women.

When women reject men, they get angry. They think are being denied some*thing* that they believe they are owed.

Given this context, I’d like to evaluate something I’ve heard said, which is:

If women withdrew their energy from men, the patriarchy would collapse.

I don’t believe this to be true, and I’d like to evaluate it in the context of male entitlement to women.

To begin with, the statement presumes that women are free to choose to leave men.

Are they?

In many cases, there are economic considerations to think of when freeing women from men. Many women are currently financially unable, due to children, or disability, or life circumstances, to leave the men in their lives.

Furthermore, women are conditioned to reject one another in favor of male attention, and to pursue male attention as a primary life goal. Those very few women who find themselves able to become female-centric are rare, because the conditioning we receive to hate other women is so pervasive and insidious (see The Exceptional Woman ). At least in my case, I am not the perfect radical feminist, and am not always certain that I place women first in my life in every circumstance, though I *try* to. Undoing this conditioning and pursuing sisterhood can be a lifelong process.

Additionally, compulsory heterosexuality coupled with Societal Stockholm Syndrome make it very difficult for women who are in love (or “in love”) with men in their lives to leave them.

(And of course, perhaps there are a very small number of truly pro-feminist unicorns men who do not stomp on women’s liberation, but I am not getting into exceptionalism here.)

Now none of this means that all women are unable to withdraw their energy from all men. It simply illustrates the various difficulties women might encounter when attempting to do so.

But even if women are able to withdraw their energy from men, that will not change men’s behavior, or their sense of entitlement to women.

If there are not enough women willing to give men energy, men will take women’s energy for themselves.*

We see this in porn and prostitution already. In the ForeverAlone subreddit, for example, a man who has been “unsuccessful” at wooing women to be his f’khole and maid thinks it is funny to suggest that he should just buy a wife, aka trafficked woman. He feels he deserves a woman so much that if she won’t consent on her own, he’ll simply purchase that consent for himself. Either way, he’s getting his.

This happens all the time, and everywhere. Men laugh about their entitlement to women.

We can easily see this entitlement illustrated by a New York Times story that came out yesterday.

In the article, we read that Williston, North Dakota is a recently booming oil town where there are at least 1.6 men for every woman.

Men do not like this ratio, because it means there are not enough f’hole maids women for their liking. They feel entitled to a certain type of object (that is, women), so they get very angry when they don’t get the toy they want to play with and take care of them.

Notice how resident Jon Kenworthy discusses the lack-of-women situation in Williston. His response illustrates his entitlement to women, and describes them as if they are dehumanized objects to be “imported”.

“It’s bad, dude,” said Jon Kenworthy, 22, who moved to Williston from Indiana in early December. “I was talking to my buddy here. I told him I was going to import from Indiana because there’s nothing here.”

What do men do when their entitlement to women is not met?

Men in Williston harass women in the grocery store and at the bars. They frequent prostituted women, and strip clubs. They attempt to carry women off in the middle of the afternoon. Men in Williston take their entitlement to women, and force themselves upon them. Either way, they’re getting theirs.

This is why women in Williston are afraid to leave their homes.

If women as a group withdraw our energy from men, then men will forcibly take us. Boundaries they find inconvenient will be violated by force.

We are, in a very real sense, their hostages.

This is why slutwalk marches don’t work. As I said in another blog post,

“By publicly dressing up in panties and duct tape, these women seem to me to be placating the men, saying, “I’ll consent, so you don’t need to rape me! See, sex is on the table, so no need to go forcing anyone.”

How disgusting that we live in a world where a popular protest against male sexual violence “works” by placating men with the offer of sex. How repulsive and infuriating that this is what men demand of women.

Now. All that having been said.

Please don’t think this post means that we shouldn’t focus on women, and withdraw our energy from men. We can and should do whatever we can to manage under patriarchy.

The point of my post is to state clearly that men are responsible for upholding patriarchy.

The point of my post is to state clearly that women are not responsible for upholding patriarchy.

*The short story Wives by Lisa Tuttle illustrates this.
** Thanks to Winnie for discussing these issues with me.

Ruled Over by a Male Figure (RObaMF)

I cooked the holiday meal yesterday. It was a lot of work, but it was fun.

This was my first time hosting Xmas. For various reasons, Mom was invited to the festivities this year, but dad was not.

As we sat down to enjoy the meal I had just made, Mom addressed my partner.

“[smash’s nigel], why don’t you come over here and sit at the head of the table.”

Whoa.

Mom knows I’m a feminist, but this came so naturally to her that she said it anyway.

I informed her that we don’t do “head of the table” at my house, and that she herself might as well sit where she had been indicating, since there is nothing special in my house about plopping oneself in one part of the rectangular table versus another.

But, even if we did do “head of the table” bullsh*t at my house, one might think that the person who had cooked the meal should sit at the “head”—not the dude who is dating the person who cooked the entire meal.

It’s clear to me that Mom didn’t mean to offend me by offering the head/dominant seat to nigel. It was simply natural to her. If we had had the event at her house, dad would have taken the head seat. If dad had been invited to my place, he would have taken the head seat. Since the big ‘P’ Patriarch was absent, the little ‘p’ patriarch would have to do.

In Mom’s mind, she can’t imagine a world where the meal was not Ruled Over by a Male Figure. In Xmases past, she’s cooked the meal many times before, but still, the meal she cooked was Ruled Over by a Male Figure. She bought the presents, the groceries, and decorated the house; still, the event was Ruled Over by a Male Figure.

It’s not just my Mother for whom all big events must be RObaMF.

My grandpa was a preacher, and he often officiated weddings. He passed away several years ago. Grandma bore four children—the first two are my aunts, my dad is the third child, and my uncle is the fourth.

This year, my male cousin married a woman. Since grandpa has died, my cousin had a special request for my dad. Would he, as the new capital ‘P’ Patriarch, officiate the wedding? Even though dad was the THIRD born child, behind two Wonderful Women? Behind cousin’s Mother?

To my cousin, it was very important that this family event be RObaMF.

Why?

Perhaps because cousin hoped to someday become the big ‘P’ Patriarch. After all, that’s one big reason why dudes get married– this is a privilege they have been promised since birth. Perhaps it was because he was taught, as my Mom was taught, that DUDES rule the family, and events don’t really count unless they are RObaMF. Whatever the case may be, he didn’t ask his own Mother (the second born aunt)—he asked my dad.

Radical feminists know that the male domination of the family is exceptionally dangerous and we wish to eliminate the cult of masculinity. We recognize that choosing a man to sit at the “head” of the table, or officiate a wedding is a *symbolic* act that is used to convey to the family, and the world, that HE is in charge, and that we are subordinate to him. Sitting in a certain order at the table is a small “traditional” act, but it is an act that is symbolic of male domination, which is of course enacted through male violence.

It is important to notice this. We must open our eyes to the way patriarchy operates in every aspect of our lives.

Let’s remind each other that our analysis may take us to critical places we don’t want to go, but that we must go to in order to determine the truth about our lives as women, and the forces that suppress us.

Let’s support one another throughout this process, rather than condemn.

I know my mother didn’t mean harm by her statement; it was an instant reaction based on the patriarchal brainwashing she’s been soaked in since birth. At the same time, I can love my Mother without pretending away the harm.

When I was young, I asked my Mom, “What happens when you and dad disagree? Why is his word the Final Say on the Matter?”

At the time, she replied to me, “Because someone has to have the final say, or we’d continue to argue forever about it.”

Her answer hides the true nature of heteromarriage; it is built on RObaMF.

My response, as a child, was “Why don’t you get to have the final say, instead of him? Why is it always HIM?”

I was told, “Because, that is just the way it is.”

No thank you. I’ll pass.

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

barrettes don’t matter, because boys have a what?

The following passage does a good job of teaching children the difference between males and females. I applaud the efforts these parents have made to teach their children the difference between boys and girls (hint: it isn’t gender). (Click on the documents to make them larger):


From Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender, page 214-216.