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:


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


[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.


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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.”


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.


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.

Radical Feminist Mini-Retreat

I was fortunate to have been able to attend a regional radical feminist mini-retreat the first weekend in November. We did a lot of brainstorming, networking, sharing, and discussing. It was truly awesome to be in person with my sisters, and I am so grateful to have been a part. Sorry for the length of the post– feel free to jump ahead to the sub-topics if you don’t have time for the whole thing.

Topics to Cover
On Friday night we decided what topics we were going to cover. We agreed to talk about what projects we are working on in our own lives, how to navigate the queering of our cities, and how to deal with disagreements within our radical feminist community. We also agreed to watch Water Lilies, Andrea Dworkin’s Anti-Pornography, and the BBC documentary Angry Wimmin.

Film: Water Lilies
We watched a lovely lesbian film called Water Lilies. It depicted the difficulties of falling in love with a friend, as well as the predatory nature of most teen males. That aspect reminded me of my own youth, and made me wish I had known better that most young men are only after sex. It was melancholy, but also lovely, and I was really grateful to have gotten the opportunity to see it.

Discussion: Feminist Projects

The next morning we drank coffee and tea and discussed what our feminist projects are. Several projects were discussed, including the need for a radical feminist blog for teens, ways to get our message across in cities, podcasts, working in domestic violence shelters, getting porn out of libraries through employee rights, etc. It was a really productive discussion, and we were able to brainstorm together good ways of working towards helping women in “real life” as well as on the internet.

Next we took a lovely walk by the lake. It was so beautiful! It is really nice to be out in nature with sisters. One of us spotted a longhaired cat, and this absurd upturned chair:

Film: Against Pornography and Discussion
After lunch, we watched Against Pornography: The Feminism of Andrea Dworkin. You can find the documentary here. Dworkin explained that she always starts out her talks by describing what actually occurs in pornography, since folks may not be familiar with it. It isn’t just naked women’s bodies these days– it is violent, aggressive, and abusive. She says the message of porn is that no matter what happens to a woman in porn, she will enjoy it. This teaches men that women enjoy abuse, which makes it a very dangerous instruction manual. I really enjoyed this phrasing of the point, “Porn is the war room where strategies of sexual abuse are planned.” Porn ties orgasms to inequality, and it is an institution that socializes men to rape. She ended by reminding us that if you know what needs to be torn down, tear it down.

The film led to a very interesting discussion. We pointed out that many don’t address the problem of porn in our society, because many men don’t want to give up their porn, and many women don’t want to give up their men. So our society fails to address the issue because we are afraid of the changes we might need to make if we did. We also talked about BDSM and the consent ritual. Under patriarchy, women really have two options: consent to be hurt, or be hurt without consent. The thought is, perhaps if we consent to it, it won’t be as bad. We also discussed the phrase “consent is sexy”, which is often found on “feminist” placards and t- shirts. One woman pointed out that the reason rape is wrong is NOT because rape is “unsexy”. The “consent is sexy” campaign targets the wrong objection to rape. Furthermore, since women are told that sexy is a good thing, they are thereby coerced by this message, and encouraged to “consent”.

Film: Angry Wimmin

Next we watched Angry Wimmin which was an awesome documentary on the beginning of radical feminism in Brittan. It was interesting to see the ways in which our movement overlaps with theirs. For example, the movie talked about how radical feminists sometimes try to make sure in conversation to replace certain words with others. For example, to say “oh goddess!” instead of “oh god!” when frustrated or amazed, or to say “herstory” instead of “history”, etc. I have found myself afraid of bringing my patriarchal framings into discussions with other radical feminists by using these words, so I could totally relate. At the same time, I have also found that we shouldn’t be ashamed if we decide not to make simple word replacements like the above and focus our efforts on working to free women. It was also inspiring to see the first Reclaim the Night marches in this film. I saw a poster that said “all men benefit from rape”, and I thought that was right on. Non-rapist males benefit from a terrorized underclass of women who are afraid to go out at night (we all know that doesn’t mean all men rape). Of course, I was inspired by the movie, and I also hope we can avoid some of the pitfalls of what they went through. There was some discussion of racial tensions at the feminist publication Spare Rib. It was a good reminder that we keep in mind class and race issues while working towards women’s liberation.

Discussion: Queer Culture and Radical Feminism
After this documentary we discussed the ways that queer culture works against women’s liberation, and what to do about it. One woman pointed out that queer culture is often saturated by pornography. Some famous trans folk speak about and “star” in pornography, and many are highly resistant to radical feminist critiques of prostitution and pornography. This is the first clue that queer ideology may not be liberatory for women. Another clue is the lesbian erasure that occurs in queer communities. Many women have begun to identify as “queer” or “trans” rather than lesbian. Also, queer culture ignores the boundaries between men and women, and aggressively insists that women who would like to maintain their own private spaces are transphobic. Clearly, if women are not allowed to organize without MAAB (male assigned at birth) folk present, that is a problem for our liberation. We also discussed how to begin bringing the radical feminist message to folks within the queer-ified cities and towns we live in.

Discussion: Conflict within Radical Feminist Communities
Finally, we discussed what to do about conflicts within the radical feminist community. We all agreed that women must step in when we see others being abused– even if this makes us worried of being personally ostracized ourselves. We agreed that resolving conflict involves standing up for each other, meeting women where they are at, and supporting women who have been attacked, We agreed that when we disagree with a woman, it is best to either discuss the issue with her via private message, or in the comment section of her blog. It is not sisterly to, as a first strike, publicly denounce a woman on facebook or on your own blog. Clarification can sometimes dissolve conflict. We also recognized that sometimes resolution is not possible, and that in those cases it is best to disengage with one another, rather than dredging up old issues on a frequent basis. We are human, and we all make mistakes– sometimes huge mistakes. Sometimes there is abuse. But we are also a community with common goals.

I am fired up about finding more radical feminists in my community, and engaging in political action. I am so excited to be a part of this movement at this moment in time– despite how difficult it can be. We are attacked by MRAs (men’s rights activists), queer culture, the right wing, and the pornographers. We are often hated and many times deliberately misunderstood. But we are empathetic to the struggles of women’s lives, and we can provide a truthful analysis of life under patriarchy. We are here, we are organizing, and we are not going away.


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