Radical feminism: Just making it up as we go along.

Today I plan to go where many have gone before.

Answering the question: ‘What is radical feminism?’ is as easy as reading an enormous amount of radical feminist theory or as challenging as googling ‘radical feminism’. Regardless of the magnitude of work other radical feminists have done defining and writing and talking and acting and building radical feminism, as well as the convenience of Wikipedia, there continues to be a rather consistent confusion around the fact that a) radical feminism is a real thing and b) it actually means something. Radical feminism is a thing. It’s true. We didn’t just make it up. Or did we?

Radical feminism is not extremism, as many believe, nor is it simply employing radical methods of everyday resistance‘, though I certainly support that kind of action. Radical feminism is, of course, focused on addressing the roots of oppression and for women, that root often is patriarchy. While there are most certainly other forms of oppression that work to prevent women from gaining freedom and equality, such as race and class, patriarchy is very much there. Always. At the root.

So the difference between radical feminists and, say, liberal feminists is that we don’t believe that we can just work with what we’ve got. This means that, for example, to argue that some women profit financially off of making pornography does not mean that all women are empowered. Nor does it, actually, mean that even they, as individuals are empowered. It means they will be able to pay the rent that month. Which is wonderful. But not the same thing as freedom from patriarchal oppression.

Now, misunderstandings of radical feminism are expansive. Mostly they consist of angry, hateful folks calling radical feminists nazi man/sex haters. These misunderstandings are, yes, dangerous and frustrating but I want to look at today is somewhat of an opposite problem. Just as  Sarah Palin is not a feminist, regardless of how many times she claims to be, “because if anti-feminists get to be feminists too, then the word has no real meaning and we’ll have to come up with a new one.” One does not get to simply change the definition of radical feminist to one that suits their behaviour or beliefs simply because they like the sound of it. I am going to use one particular example in this post, in order to discuss and, hopefully, stave off further cloudiness around radical feminism that might well perpetuate misunderstandings and misrepresentations of this particular nature.

Now I do think that this (re)definition, by Lori Adorable, is actually due to confusion rather than a malicious attempt to confuse the pants off anyone who doesn’t already have a solid understanding of feminism and its various strands, so I’m going to explain what exactly is wrong with her confused definition of radical feminism while simultaneously giving her the benefit of the doubt. Lori identifies as a radical feminist based on the following definition:

“I’m a radical feminist because I’m a woman who came to recognize the structural inequality amongst people and the specific injustices in the world through the feminist analysis of my personal experiences with abuse.  Also, I believe that the only way to eradicate these problems on both a small and large scale is by employing radical methods of everyday resistance.  I use ‘radical’ here in both the original sense of ‘addressing the root’ and the newer, no doubt related sense of being ‘extreme.’ In other words, I’m a radical feminist in the purest sense, not in the sense of belonging to the radical feminist movement, which has been thoroughly co-opted by the most privileged women, women who also happen to be anti-kink and anti-sex work and, all too often, transphobic and racist.  I have this desire to take the term ‘radical’ back from them, because, well, it’s my term too.”

Source: magazine.goodvibes.com (http://s.tt/12SDv)

'Male Privilege: A Portrait'

So. A couple of problems here. First of all, you simply can’t have a definition of radical feminism that doesn’t include the word patriarchy. Recognizing ‘the structural inequality amongst people and the specific injustices in the world’ is super, but it isn’t radical feminism. These ‘people’ you speak of are women and men. And the specific injustice you speak of is patriarchal oppression. Patriarchy provides men with what is commonly referred to as ‘male privilege’, which exists at the expense of women and has a direct impact on the experiences of women. There are many people in the world who believe that there is no such thing as gendered oppression and that women are not oppressed any differently than men are. But those people aren’t radical feminists. What Lori believes is that her own personal way of resisting oppression empowers her in a way that identifies her as feminist. Which is fine. But that is both not political, nor is it radical feminism. Rather it firmly plants her within a tradition of liberal feminism in that she sees her own personal choices and actions as empowering for her as an individual. And I don’t necessarily doubt that she does indeed feel personally empowered by her choices, but the lack of connection to a larger context, to a larger politics of feminism, to an analysis of the systems of power which have impacted her experience and her ‘choice’ to become a sex worker, as well as her superficial understanding of what will, in fact, create radical change, is what clearly aligns her feminism with the liberal feminist tradition.

‘Addressing the root’ is, indeed, key to radical feminist politics, so she got that part right. But it is certainly not ‘new’ to view radical feminism as extreme. Radical feminists have been painted as extremists from the get go. It would appear as though criticizing the very systems of power that make those in power so very happy is unpopular. People who do that sort of thing are often viewed as ‘extremists’.

The ‘purest sense‘ of the term ‘radical feminism’ is….radical feminism. It’s not plugging together the words radical and feminism and assigning a new meaning to an already defined ideology. Anyone else out there want to redefine Marxism while we’re at it? Maybe instead it could mean capitalism. Or anarchism. Radical feminism recognizes patriarchy as a primary source of women’s oppression and sees women’s experiences as women in a patriarchal culture as a primary factor in their lived experiences and in their experiences of subordination. In order to alter this experience, we must end patriarchal oppression. So while everyday acts of resistance are, indeed, valid, in terms of, potentially, challenging dominant norms and dominant ideology, they don’t necessarily constitute radical feminism. Particularly not when those acts buy into, support, perpetuate and profit (or facilitate and encourage others to [further] profit) off of those norms/systems/ideologies. While Lori may well desire and deserve to make her own personal choices about her life, this is not, in and of itself, what constitutes radical feminist politics. Me me me me me / my life my life my life my life is not radical feminism.

The reason we have definitions and ideology that are universally understood to imply a certain set of beliefs and/or politics is so that we are able to actually have coherent conversations. Calling yourself a radical feminist implies certain beliefs and politics. And let’s be clear – politics are absolutely key here, this isn’t just about me making choices that make me feel good. It is about addressing very serious inequity, abuse, exploitation, and oppression that impact women, in particular, within a patriarchal culture.

Redefining radical feminism based on absolute ignorance and disregard for the history, activism, arguments, ideology, and theory that found and define radical feminism, alongside nonsensical attacks on radical feminists which aim to shut down conversation (such as accusing them of being ‘whorephobic’ or ‘sexworkphobic’; meaningless terms which demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of radical feminist arguments and, in fact, of the word ‘phobic’) and invalidate feminist arguments, places one about as far away from radical feminism as you can get without actually going the ‘y’all are just a bunch of misandrists’ route.

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85 Comments on “Radical feminism: Just making it up as we go along.”

  • Michael H.A. Biggs

    Your argument is very logical.

    What is your response to Lori Adorable’s remark that women who are (among other things) transphobic have been “co-opting” radical feminism? I knew very little about transexuals until recently discovering radical feminist blogs which seem bizarrely obsessed about the evils of transexuals – in fact, almost more hostile to them than they are to me as a man.

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    • Michael H.A. Biggs

      To clarify – I’m not referring to ALL radical feminist blogs, and certainly not this one.

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    • Meghan Murphy

      Again, I simply think she isn’t familiar with the arguments. I don’t think radical feminists are ‘obsessed with the evils of transexuals’, I think that radical feminists work to challenge gender / gender binaries and that these arguments and theories have been applied to transgenderism. Sheila Jeffreys has a lot to say on this. I certainly don’t think she would argue that ‘transexuals’ are ‘evil’ though. She talks about it a little in this interview I did with her a while back: http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/f-word/2011/04/where-have-all-radicals-gone-when-feminism-gets-moderate and here, at Radfem Hub: http://radicalhub.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/guest-post-sheila-jeffreys/

      Radical feminists can’t ‘co-opt’ radical feminism. Radical feminism is radical feminism. Honestly, I just think Lori needs to do some background reading. Her claim that radical feminism has been co-opted by ‘privileged women, women who also happen to be anti-kink and anti-sex work and, all too often, transphobic and racist’ only goes to show that she is totally out of her league her. She needs to do the background research before making these kinds of sweeping and (completely untrue) statements.

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      • Michael H.A. Biggs

        Thanks for the references. In relation to transexuals Sheila Jeffreys is clearly not liberal nor kind. When she talks about the “harmful practice of trangenderism”, such victimisation makes me feel an urge to protect transexuals from such hostility and tyranny, in the same way as most of us feel about protecting gays and lesbians from homophobes. She may have a point about the need to be cautious about children (I don’t know enough about that) but it took a lot of reading to find a point that made sense. And it occurred to me that maybe she was being disingenuous in her expressions of concern about the damage of transgenderism to the people living it; so many other radical feminists(seperatists?) on that site seems to vent hatred to transexuals more from the standpoint of their political/sexual ideology, in which everything is viewed through a “gender power” lens rather than an understanding/caring lens.

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        • Meghan Murphy

          No, no she is certainly not liberal. Sorry was I unclear about that? She is a radical feminist through and through and she is a very kind woman.

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          • Michael H.A. Biggs

            I can tell from the way you say that, that I should have known that radical feminism is incompatible with liberalism. And I have no justification for assuming that to be liberal is necessarily to be kinder than any other particular political philosophy – although a lot of the other “isms” have a pretty poor record in regard to acceptance of others and caring for others.

            But I had fun looking at “dictionary.com” which started with the following synonyms for liberal: “progressive, broad-minded, unprejudiced, beneficent, charitable, openhanded”. I’m happy to identify with that! And the only antonyms for liberal that were listed are: “reactionary, intolerant, niggardly”.

            So now with new-found delight in my natural liberalism, I declare that I need to stand up for all varieties of gender-identity and sexual preference (even though I think the range of them is rather broader than I’m aware of). I need to stand up for them against the Moslems, the Christians, the bigots, the bullies, the rednecks, the conservatives…and now the radical feminists?

            No, I’m being too cute, it should be SOME radical feminists. I haven’t seen any of this horridness on your blog. Much of what you’ve written has challenged my assumptions, making me think about the harm done to others – eg women in the sex industry, and teenage girls being brainwashed and exploited. So I haven’t really understood yet the connection between this kind of radical feminism and the type that reviles transexuals and bandies around words like “hate”. I’ve always made fun of people who put down feminists as “man-haters”. But reading the second blog you linked me to above, there’s clearly a very wide spectrum.

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      • Lady, I am familiar. I know you don’t believe me, but treating me as an ignorant child is not the proper way to have an argument.

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  • Abby Fetch

    god that whole “make sex for moneys to be teh feminist for realz” business really cheeses me. let me throw lori’s “my life” stuff back at her just a little. i work in an office where everyone’s real nice and everything but all the admin staff is women and all the bosses are men which is pretty normal in my experience. i wear makeup and flattering clothes like armor because i feel as if the whole world is sneering at me “you’re not a real woman” if i don’t. but i also i never wear a skirt that hits above the knee because i don’t want to feel like people are taking me for a slut. i’m radically feminist (by your definition) intellectually but my day to day life is a big bundle of nerves that somehow in the way i move or speak, if i’m not submissive yet peppy and pretty yet modest in just the right way, i’ll accidentally slide out of my magic center of “acceptable lady” and set off the office gossip in either the “ugly” or “bitch” or “whore” direction, or maybe all at once. in MY LIFE, the objectification of women that pornography apologists and their ilk keep trying to legitimize as “feminist” helps keep me in a constant state of paranoia, and makes me miserable that i’m not REALLY a feminist without fucking all over the place, though my education tells me that’s baloney. if some women want to be in porn, i guess that’s cool. but for christ’s sake don’t try and tell a non-sex-working office girl whose mind is already haunted by endless thoughts of “god my body is so gross have to make it so people like to look” and “did what i just say/do make me out to be a slut/bitch?” that fucking on camera so guys can masturbate to the pictures is somehow going to make things all better (especially if you admit that you’re fucking on camera because of your “sexual need to publicly relive the abuse I experienced” which not only undermines your argument by presenting yourself as a victim of misogyny capitalizing on that misogyny (and calling it feminism?) but that is just not everybody’s thing). but i’ll cop that i’m white and kinda sorta middle-class, so maybe i’m just upset because i’m “the most privileged.”

    anyway for bachmann to refuse to say she’s a feminist is just about the most refreshingly honest thing i’ve ever heard her say. the only way it could be better is if she said she is a feminist because she actually is a feminist. a girl has to dream.

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    • This just makes me sad.

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      • Joy

        Welcome to women’s lives, Lori.

        Do you recommend that we all just learn to stop worrying and love our inner slut/kink/whatever? Embrace the objectification? Because that’s a pretty *dudely* thing to think about other women.

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  • omniavanitas

    *SIGH!* Another nail on the head, Meghan! Thanks.

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  • omniavanitas

    I feel like these are the women who have really bit, hook, line and sinker, a) the corporate patriarchal disgust for radical feminists and b) the impostor parasite BRAND of false “feminsim” they have been sold in its stead. Mission: accomplished! I just picture Hugh Hefner and Larry Flint kicking back with cigars laughing their asses off, so hysterically gleeful they must be about their massive, massive success.

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  • My favorite response on the FB discussion:

    “Samantha Berg:
    I’m gonna call myself Lori Adorable from now on, because I differ from most Lori Adorables in that I don’t see labels as pre-determined, fixed, or even necessarily essential aspects of identity.
    -Lori Adorable”

    And I think that makes your point.

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    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes! This is my favorite comment too, Andrew.

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    • Good one! That’ll show me!

      I assume you read my whole post about the origins of my name, by the way.

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  • David Duriesmith

    Another great post Meghan. A very well thought out argument.

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  • martin dufresne

    I see a lot of men trying (not very efficiently) to disguise their misogyny and antifeminism use the line “Well *I* self-define as a feminist and…” before proceeding to say the most asinine things, hoping that some of their b-s will somehow stick to the actual feminists they try to discredit. It appears that they are playing to the liberal conceit that if the definition of a movement is vague and milquetoast enough and any person feels safe enough to appropriate it, then progress will somehow happen – once the radicals have been demonized.

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    • Meghan Murphy

      Yep.

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  • This is highly amusing! Let’s see how far you can take it!

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    • Meghan Murphy

      What on earth are you talking about? Take what? I’m going to need you to work at leaving comments that make sense and relate to the posts at hand if you want me to keep approving your comments, Lori.

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      • I mean that you seem to be having fun with your non-arguments. My favorite part is when you take my answer to the question, “What does radical feminism mean to you?” and spin it as an answer to “What is radical feminism?” My second favorite part is how you keep calling me confused, because I couldn’t possibly just be disagreeing with you. And the third best part? Hugh Hefner. Because the stuff I do is so much like Playboy, or something.

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        • Meghan Murphy

          Oh Lori. Again, you are missing my point. YOU don’t get to decide what radical feminism means. To you, to anyone. Radical feminism can’t simply mean something different TO YOU. The point is that this isn’t about YOU. Still confused? I’m happy to clarify further if need be, though I feel the post was pretty clear.

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          • Decius

            For not being about the opinions of a specific individual, the original post sure links to a personal blog a lot, and spams links to an interview posted elsewhere, and talks about those opinions a lot.

            If this isn’t about a person, what is it about?

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      • Oh! And then there’s the way you repeatedly ignore what I’ve actually said about my feminism, like how I pride greater social responsibility over personal empowerment.

        It’s sort of sad, actually.

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  • Decius

    So, you seem to be making the assertion that ‘patriarchy’ has only one primary effect: ‘Male privilege’, which benefits all men at the expense of all women. Is that among the assertions that you made?

    I also perceive that you think ‘radical feminism’ is primarily a description of the actions or habits, since you claim that a pattern of behavior contrary to your definition of ‘radical feminist’ “is not radical feminism”. Are my conclusions accurate?

    Finally, do you believe that radical feminism is compatible with a broader egalitarianism; can men be privileged over women, and white people privileged over black people, such that white women are both oppressed and oppressive?

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    • All of the radical feminists I know believe in white privilege, racism, classism, etc.

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    • Meghan Murphy

      Um. no. no. aaaaaaaand no.

      Patriarchy has several ‘effects’. One of which is the subordination of women. Another one of which is male privilege. Also, male power/domination/authority. The culture has been shaped by patriarchy and by male interests and desires. Men have been viewed as the beings to which every other thing must measure up to. But they can’t. Therefore they must be subordinate.

      Radical feminism is not about habits??? It is an ideology and a movement. You an Lori seem to have the exact same understanding of radical feminism and the exact same inability to read and understand arguments.

      And yes, of course white people have white privilege.

      Please read article again with use of brain and get back to us.

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      • Decius

        Oh, silly me. I don’t understand how ‘subordination of women’ and ‘male privilege’ are different things.

        And I think we need to distinguish between “Radical Feminism”, the movement, and “radical feminism”, the common noun meaning “The doctrine advocating equal right for women and men as relates to the root source”.

        I am radical feminist (common noun sense) in whole because I am radical egalitarian: No individual or group has any metaphysical privilege over any group or individual.

        Radical feminism recognizes patriarchy as a primary source of women’s oppression and sees women’s experiences as women in a patriarchal culture as a primary factor in their lived experiences and in their experiences of subordination. In order to alter this experience, we must end patriarchal oppression. So while everyday acts of resistance are, indeed, valid, in terms of, potentially, challenging dominant norms and dominant ideology, they don’t necessarily constitute radical feminism.

        (emphasis added)

        You pretty clearly paint women as oppressed, and describe that oppression as a primary result of what you call patriarchal oppression. Then you imply that ‘everyday acts of resistance’ can sometimes constitute radical feminism. Did you mean that radical feminism (among other things) can be expressed as acts of resistance against patriarchy? If radical feminism is not a pattern of behavior, what does it mean for one to “change the definition of radical feminist to one that suits their behaviour”?

        Me me me me me / my life my life my life my life is not radical feminism.

        Are radical feminists required to consider others more than equal to themselves? Is there something inherent about selfishness, that it is incompatible with the doctrine advocating equal right for women and men as relates to the root source?

        Free lesson on communication: question in the form of “Did you say…” or “Did you mean…” are typically part of perception checking, where the listener asks the speaker if what the listener heard is what the speaker intended. If I have given offense, tell me so, and explain why. I feel that you intended to insult me, because what I understood was not what you meant. I feel that what I understand is well-grounded in what I have read from you; therefore I feel that I am being blamed disproportionately for the fact that communication has not occurred. If you wish to have a discussion, refrain from direct insults.

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        • You are not a radical feminist or any kind of feminist even in the common noun sense if you don’t think women are oppressed. There is no need to have a word for wanting equality for women if women are not oppressed.

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          • Decius

            I’m sure you believe that the elimination of privilege would eliminate feminism. I disagree.

            Did you interpret “nobody is metaphysically privileged” as an observation? I intended it as a premise, which is why I had to qualify it. The portions of feminism that we agree on follow inescapably from that premise.

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        • Meghan Murphy

          Dude. This is my blog and I will insult as I see fit. Please refrain from giving I, or anyone else here, lessons on communication. Again. Keep up the trolling and you will be banned.

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          • Decius

            Refusing to talk with people who disagree with you is easier than challenging your own opinions.

            Feel free to drop me a line if you ever want to engage in critical thinking.

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            • Meghan Murphy

              You are SO right, Decius. I just wish (WISH!) that someone would PLEASE challenge my opinions. PLEASE PLEASE won’t some man explain to me how sexism and patriarchy and feminism REALLY work. That would be SO challenging. For a change. Sigh. If only you would tell me how to think critically I could be such a more well-rounded and intelligent person.
              Signed,
              Wishful

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              • Decius

                It’s not about having other people challenge one’s own opinions. It’s also not about challenging facts. It’s about finding people who have beliefs close enough to one’s own to allow for discussion, and different enough that discussion actually happens.

                Ideally, this occurs nonthreateningly in a neutral space, so that none of the participants in a discussion worry about protecting a home turf, or about being removed from the forum. It would also be acceptable for the ground rules, including who interprets the ground rules, to be determined in advance and apply equally to everybody.

                I suspect that you might have valuable insight. I’m just not willing to be anything except an equal to you to determine what it is.

                I have listened to everybody who ever approached me as an equal and told me how to think. I’ve weighed all of their input, and then determined how I think. Many times that resulted in long discussions in the loose form of “I disagree with [statement] because of [observation/conclusion] resulting from [cause/premise] via [chain of events/logic].” For example: I disagree with a narrow definition of the phrase ‘radical feminist’, because I see that the standard rules of English grammar allow the adjective ‘radical’ to modify ‘feminist’ and result in a broad definition.

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  • passerby

    What has this article got to do with anything other than in-groups fighting each other.

    I could give you another definition of radical feminism which is the one I was aware of back in the days of 70s Women’s Liberation.

    And that was that radical feminism was what you practiced and did what you actually did, empower you or other women. Feminism is not what you say or theorised about.

    So what feminist function does this article serve?

    Its intent is negative. It help create an atmosphere of competitiveness and self aggrandising rightonness.

    If you want to bicker with someone whose politics you disagree with fine.

    But dont try and say that makes you more radical than her.

    If you want to claim to be a radical feminist please write about what you are doing of any practical value to enable and empower women.

    Otherwise all you are doing is doing party tricks for men ie having public cat fights.

    This relentless inward looking, point scoring is why feminism has failed the achievements of women’s liberation. Just rats in a sinking ship scrampling over each other.

    How would this article speak out and reach out to the majority of women.

    And please stop referring to Sheila Jefferies as a radical feminist. Her and her small network of revoluntionary feminist may have taken a strategic selling decision to try and re-brand themselves as radical.

    Why not ask her why she no longer identifies as a revoluntionary feminist.

    Lets face it no self respecting feminist would think that being an accademic who presumes to preach at other has anything to do with being radical.

    Talk about being co-opted by the patriarchy.

    Current feminism seems to have about as much to do with the radical practices of Women’s Liberation as MacDonals has to home cooked food.

    What a sad way to lead your life.

    Feminism is out in the community working with other women, not participating in and prolonging ego fests.

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    • Meghan Murphy

      I never said I was ‘more radical than her’, I said that her definition of radical feminism was not radical feminism and explained why. The fact that you (and Lori) continue to desperately make this about individuals just goes to show how deeply enmeshed in liberal/neoliberal politics you are. This article isn’t about me. It is about radical feminism. The movement, the ideology. This isn’t a contest. I realize you are new to feminism based on your…uh….sexist and anti-feminist remarks and your confusion about what radical feminism is so I am trying to be patient. I don’t imagine that will last very long so long as you continue to insult women and feminists. And believe me, Jeffreys is most certainly a radical feminist. Not that it really matters whether or not you understand that. It is clear you aren’t in any way interested in the feminist movement or giving up what I only assume is your male privilege.

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    • Kee

      passerby: Thank you for summing up exactly how many feel but haven’t bothered writing here.

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      • Oh please, you’re not even a feminist.

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      • passerby

        thanks Kee

        As someone who has been involved in feminism, although luckily for me I was part of what was the Women’s Liberation Movement, its good to find at least one person who agrees with me.

        This hand me down woman hating type of article makes me understand only too well why many women are not active in or identify with feminism.

        It has just become school yard bullying of spoilt children.

        And as an unreconstructed radical feminist lesbian feminist I can assure you that Shelia Jeffries was never, and is still not a radical feminist. That is a fact. And even a breif knowledge of women’s liberation in the UK would reveal that.

        I look forward to an article about how the PRACTICE of radical feminism has actually created change.

        But that would mean logging off the internet and interacting with real women.

        PS I will be able to dine out for years to come to know that someone was so acutely off track as to accuse me of being male(!!) and not interacting with feminism. Thank you for your presumpitive arrogance of attempting to disrespect the past 40 years of my life.

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        • Meghan Murphy

          Oh give me a break. You’re not fooling anyone here, ‘passerby’. There is absolutely no ‘woman hating’ in the article. But please, tell us more ‘facts’ about who REALLY is a radical feminist and please more!more! of this ‘history of women’s liberation in the UK’ we are all so ignorant about. Thank you so much for saving us from ourselves.

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  • Tim

    A lot of assertions here, not a lot of evidence. To begin with, what do you mean by ‘the patriarchy’? You act as if this is self-evident. It is not. What is it? If you look at the top of the social hierarchy, indeed you will see mostly men. So I agree that these men are privileged. But here we part ways: I believe their privileges are earned and are therefore just rewards for stewardship and leadership.

    I think you are assuming that those privileges are unearned and unjust, and may be a result of theft. Is this what you mean? Could you please detail precisely what you mean?

    I don’t believe in equality, because I think it is the dream of a child. I have already met Russian people who view Communism as an embarrassment. One day you will also be embarrassed…by your doctrine of equalism. Do you believe in equality of outcomes or opportunity?

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    • You….don’t believe in equality? And fyi, this is a radical feminist blog. She’s not going to elaborate on the term “patriarchy” in every post since it’s assumed that the people interested in reading this blog have a basic understanding of that concept.

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      • Tim

        I believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, but I don’t believe that we all deserve equal outcomes. If you are a surgeon, for example, I believe you deserve a higher salary than a janitor. However, both people deserve to be treated with dignity.

        If you mean patriarchy to be a society that is ruled by men, my question is, is that system unjust? Men tend to perform tasks which are high-risk. High-risk behaviors are always followed by high-rewards. Is this unjust? I don’t believe so. Few women seek high-risk tasks, preferring flex and part-time time schedules to allow for more nurturing and feminine rewards. This is evidenced by the career fields women choose.

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        • Meghan Murphy

          OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU ON THIS BLOG? Please leave.

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        • Meghan Murphy

          If you don’t believe that patriarchy is an ‘unjust’ system you really need to find somewhere else to hang out.

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          • Tim

            I merely want you to point out the injustices, that is all. I cannot find them here. I find only assertions, which as anyone who has been to university knows, assertions without evidence is an opinion.

            I can be persuaded. I am not an idealogue. I am no patriarch. I favor the decriminalization of prostitution and marijuana. But before I agree to anything, I must have evidence that what I support is true. If you can convince me that the men who are in power are there illegitimately and as a result of theft, I will follow you.

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            • Meghan Murphy

              No. As anyone who has been to university or to the internet or to the outside world knows, we live in a patriarchal society. Women don’t need to convince you of male power.

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            • Decius

              The men that are in power have indeed earned their positions of power. Nobody is saying that CEOs of fortune 500 companies got there purely, or even mostly, by having a penis.

              Patriarchy is much more subtle: it is the high school guidance counselors steering boys into math and science, and steering girls into liberal arts and even women’s studies. Patriarchy is a women who sends her kids to daycare to work full-time, and misses the school play to close a deal being called a ‘bad mother’ but her husband is a ‘dedicated employee’. Patriarchy is a Wal-Mart store manager deciding that it is unlikely that any woman can be assertive enough to be assistant manager, or a thousand managers independently deciding that women are less likely to be good assistant managers. Patriarchy is the fact that it is normal to make a movie where the only female character is the love interest of the protagonist.

              In short, it’s not that the men who are in power got there by, or are currently making, active decisions to oppress women as a class (in the US; worldwide the situation IS indeed that bad). The issue in the US is that people are trained to think of women as nurturing/passive/social, and to think of men as punishing/aggressive/mental.

              Equality does not mean equal results. Equality means equal treatment, and equal treatment is lacking.

              Does that explain it better?

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              • Meghan Murphy

                You are wrong, Decius. Men have and are making active decisions to oppress women.

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              • Laura

                Decius; all the things you just described are men making active decisions that individually and collectively oppress women.

                You state, ‘Nobody is saying that CEOs of fortune 500 companies got there purely, or even mostly, by having a penis.’ The fact that they are men, and men, as you described in your examples, take collective and individual actions that oppress women, means that the fact that they are men has directly led to their overwhelming occupation of positions of power.

                They’ve earned it? Maybe partly, but they sure had a whole lot of help getting there- and it helps when half the population is prevented from taking part.

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  • Tim

    The justification for feminism in the academic and mainstream Western sphere really survives on a confusion of ‘feminisms’. The philosophy initially existed as a loose exploration of philosophical deconstructionism. As proposed by Derrida, it was a thought experiment about stripping away supposed social constructions in an attempt to understand our primordial selves. But only in the context of the self. Feminists misappropriated the context of deconstructionism to society, and then made it an absolute principle of intrinsic good. That is: they wanted to strip away all oppressive constructions of society (which they reduced to patriarchy), to get at the “natural” self without recognizing the fatal flaw of understanding why those social constructions existed in the first place.Of course the reason “why” is the matter of dissent. Non-feminists would argue biology is what directed the construction of society to be the way it is, and that is our selves at our most primordial. Feminists have extrapolated the original philosophy, misapplied it, then decided somewhere along the way thateverything is a social construction, including “biology” without offering an intellectually grounded reason based on scientific truth.They are operating on a post-facto, utopic ideal of perfect gender neutrality without factoring in any sort of factual or scientific basis. It is all based on an irrational ideology that they themselves have constructed out of a cultural illness. They are operating on an ‘ought’ distinction without an ‘is‘. And this can all be debunked rationally.Academic feminism does not deserve to be treated respectfully out of PC fear when it’s dictating legislation and other social guidelines all out of a baseless philosophy.

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    • Michael H.A. Biggs

      Tim, you and I (as non-feminists) are guests here. “The F-Word” (unlike many radical feminist blogs) allows us to interact with their discussions, and challenge them (see my worries about stigmatising of transexuals above). So we don’t have to demonstrate that we agree – but I think we should demonstrate that we are reading and seriously considering the case they make, otherwise we are simply being annoying.

      Sometimes it is suggested to people like you and I that we read a blog called “feminism 101″, which is a good start. But it is true that, like all ideologies, the propositions can be a bit circular if you are starting from a completely different philosophy. So I have found that engaging with emotionally resonant accounts of harm done to women is a better entry into these debates. I recommend the powerful (and often distressing) writing in Rebecca Mott’s blog. I don’t know how to do a link, but you can google it. When I read writing like this, and think of the women and girls I care about, I can emotionally engage in the urgency of the need to reduce the harm done to ALL women and girls. This doesn’t mean I necessarily have to jump to agreeing with all the associated political analysis. But then I can engage with the debates in good faith, albeit knowing I’m probably still annoying lots of the women who really own this blog.

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  • Great article. It’s good for those who aren’t that familiar with radical feminism. People like me unfortunately take these things so much for granted that it’s difficult to know where to begin when it comes to explaining them. Anyway, thanks for writing this: I will be spreading it around far and wide :).

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    • Meghan Murphy

      I think I take it for granted too. I supposed that’s part of the reason I feel so frustrated to have to explain something like this who actually claims to be a radical feminist…

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  • I don’t want to put words into Lori’s mouth, but there is at least one more clear interpretation of what she has to say in that interview, put within the context of more of her writing: She rejects parts of traditional radical feminism, and frames that rejection by reclaiming and redefining “radical feminist”, at least when she is asked what radical feminism means to her.

    Sure, it would have been nice if, during the interview, a deep discussion of what radical feminism has meant historically could have been had, as well as a discussion of the complex problems that lots of feminists have with radical feminist thoughts around sex work (if I may use the term here), race and trans folk. But surely folks here are aware that these things are points of contention, being discussed by feminists (here’s one: http://eminism.org/readings/pdf-rdg/whose-feminism.pdf).

    Lori clearly distances herself from traditional radical feminism, and isn’t equivocating (like Sarah Palin is)–she’s disagreeing. At least that’s an alternate interpretation.

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    • Meghan Murphy

      But her redefinition isn’t at all rooted in the actual definition. I think that what happened is that she decided that she was a feminist and that what she was doing was ‘radical’ and that therefore she was a radical feminist. But Radical feminism doesn’t work like that. It is an already existing ideology. I don’t think she was just rejected parts of radical feminism, I think she was simply inventing a new term so that she could describe herself in some way that made sense to her. Unfortunately that is very confusing because it already means something else.

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      • I think you need to stop saying what I think.

        I’m not the idiot you make me out to be.

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  • “I don’t think she was just rejected parts of radical feminism, I think she was simply inventing a new term so that she could describe herself in some way that made sense to her.”
    But she makes it clear that this is what she (at least) thinks she’s doing:
    http://loriadorable.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/what-it-means-to-be-a-kinky-radfem-part-on/

    I’m not saying that we can’t disagree with her–her use of “radical” may be misleading, etc.; but IMHO she’s not ignorant of radical feminism, but is, in using “radical feminist” as it refers to her (and explaining that in the link above), critiquing radfems. We may disagree with her interpretation of radical feminism as it exists historically, but she doesn’t appear to be ignorant of it. This is how I see the difference between what she is doing and what, say, Sarah Palin supporters do when they call her a feminist. And for what it’s worth, I think it’s an important difference.

    As far as radical feminist “already meaning something”–I think I get your frustration around this (I feel it too), but that’s what the kind of reframing she is doing (possibly) is all about, because definitions change, even within communities. “But it already means something!” seems to me a less strong response than something like, “how can she call herself a radical feminist when she buys into capitalist patriarchy?” or some such. Clinging to the definition reminds me of the folks saying “but ‘marriage’ means one man and one woman!” or, more pointedly, if we think of the (men)folks who thought that “woman” meant “chattel”.

    Anyway–I get what people are frustrated by, but I also think folks are being dismissive in a way that, while perhaps appropriate, isn’t as useful. But then, many, many, many radfems wouldn’t consider me a feminist because of my gender. :)

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    • Meghan Murphy

      I think you bring up some excellent points here, @jeffliveshere! While I stand by my critique of her definition, I think you make a good point that definitions do change BUT that her identification with radical feminism doesn’t make sense based on her ideology and her ‘buying into capitalist patriarchy’. Is that kind of what you are getting at?

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      • Kinda. Basically: Totally ok to critique her definition, but I don’t think that critique needs to be based claiming her ignorance of *actual* radical feminism, just in comparing what she calls radfem and what actually is radical. To borrow from Telesila below, of course definitional borders need to be maintained–I just think they can be reinforced/maintained without claiming somebody is ignorant, when in fact, they are cognizant and purposefully trying to use the term in a new way.

        Aaaanyway, that may not be very important in the larger scheme of things–I just think “that’s not what it means” can eventually be whittled away, the way that people using “pro-life” have whittled away what it means to be pro-choice (for instance) by using “pro-life” to mean something other than, well, pro-life. :) Just as another for-instance. We would do well to reframe “pro-life”, even though it is an established ideology, as long as we don’t pretend it doesn’t already mean something already (and I think that L.Adorable is trying to do something like that, or may be).

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        • Meghan Murphy

          Hmm. Ok I hear that. Her definition and ideology are not radical and do not align with anything near radical feminism. I think we are in agreement on this? I assumed it was because she didn’t really understand the terms, based on her definition and other statements she has made, for example this comment from her site: ‘Gender equality means you can show whatever the fuck you want on your own website. Actually, free speech means that.’, which is such a clearly liberal feminist statement that I feel like the debate over whether or not she is a radfem or not is a little bit silly at this point. Honestly she just comes off as young and trying to figure things out. Which is totally reasonable. It’s not like I always had my feminist politics in check. At all. And even now they change and mutate all the time as I read new things and have new conversations. I felt like her definition was a good opportunity to clarify radical feminism for those who might not quite understand it and assumed that Lori was one of those who just did not quite understand it. I don’t think she needs to be lynched because of this. I’m sure as she grows and learns her politics will change just as all women who are just discovering and figuring out feminism do. She’s trying to figure things out and she’s doing it publicly, which is hard. When I was figuring things out I wasn’t anywhere near a blog. Thank god. I’m super glad no one tried to interview me about my feminism 10 years ago, I’m sure I would have humiliated myself.

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  • Telesila

    This issue brings up two points for me (general points, I mean, not specifically to do with this example). One is the fact that, regardless of intentions, the co-opting of a political label by those with differing political beliefs serves to undermine the force of that political label, which is why these boundaries have to be maintained. So if I were to, say, call myself a socialist feminist (on the grounds that I am a socialist and a feminist), it would be dishonest as my arguments are not aligned with socialist feminism – particularly with their ridiculous stance on pornstitution. It would undermine their views to have feminists like me using the label.

    The second point, linked to the first, is that when one lays claim to a political label, one is also proclaiming one’s membership of a certain group with shared values. You can’t just use the label if your values do not fit with it in major ways. This is where liberal feminism makes a big mistake in its whole ‘identify however you like’ nonsense. Once you use a particular label you have a responsibility towards the other people who employ that label – you can’t just do what you want with it! Or, to put it another way, you can identify however the hell you like, but members of the group you identify with (which is what you are doing if you claim a label) are under no obligation to accept that identity of yours.

    Words mean things. Claiming to be a radical feminist, or a socialist feminist, or a liberal feminist means you accept a responsibility towards other members of that group. It is not about how the individual likes the sounds of the words on his or her tongue. It is dishonest, and pointless, to lay claim to a political ideology which you do not hold. Disagreements within a broad framework? Fine. Disagreements on basic issues, definitions, standpoints? Then pick another label that describes you better, or invent your own.

    My definition as a radical feminist depends upon other radical feminists accepting me as one because of my dedication to the same principles: patriarchy exists, women are an oppressed class, that oppression operates in hideous ways through the ‘sex industry’, putting no group before women, etc. If anyone is able to use the label, then the label loses its meaning. And anyone using a label honestly is aware of this and acts with responsibility.

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    • Meghan Murphy

      @Telesila – Yes yes yes! Exactly. Thank you.

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    • sea

      Brilliantly put, Telesila, THANK GOODNESS. Meghan, I’m amazed you have the patience to allow much of the po-mo nonsense you get on this blog. I’d much rather read your work and the positive, constructive, intelligent comments like this one.

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  • I’m having a bad day, so I apologize before hand for my language.

    I’ve been involved in the feminist blogosphere for 5 years. I’ve been blogging myself for 4. And I can count with the fingers of one hand the times that other feminists linked to by blog and engaged with what I say.

    And why the heck am I bringing this thing up? Because I am sick and tired of attention seeking so-called “feminists” who want to rise to fame by singing the praises for “pr0n”. But I am even more tired of other feminists engaging with their… words. It’s all stoopid. Can we please identify “attention seeking” behaviour when we see it? And would it be too much to ask to stop giving it air time, stop engaging with it, stop giving it more attention than it deserves? The internet is full of people wanting attention, and nothing works better than pr0n. Especially if a feminist is calling it empowering.

    In short: we are giving more attention to feminists who simply want to create controversy as a sure way to gain fame and completely ignoring those feminists who have done their reading, who work towards ending the patriarchy, who actually take feminism seriously.

    We may not be able to stop women from coming out with ““make sex for moneys to be teh feminist for realz””, but we can sure as heck start ignoring them.

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    • Meghan Murphy

      This is an excellent point, Mary! That said, I do feel worried that this kind of faux-feminism is taking over popular discourse and I do think that it is dangerous. I mean, sites like feministing and feministe are obviously doing their part in promoting the ‘pro-sex work’ strand of feminism. I did wonder whether or not I should even bother with Lori, I mean, of course she isn’t particularly influential and not many will take her words seriously so there is that worry that by engaging with her, and the likes, we are giving credibility to something that many would view as not being credible, regardless of whether or not we point that out. But again, I think there are a lot of people out there who aren’t engaged like you are and will read this stuff and think – ok great! Porn is feminist now! Sweet. I guess we’re all done with this silly fight. Do you think we need to engage with those who may not understand what feminism or radical feminism is? I tend to think we do….I might be missing your point so please correct me if I’m misunderstanding. Again, great comment, I think you bring up a really important point.

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      • Meghan Murphy

        I mean, this is an article that was pubished on feministing: http://community.feministing.com/2011/06/03/the-healing-power-of-sex-work-2/
        Do we need to engage with this? I’m not sure. I certainly felt conflicted as to whether or not to respond, whether or not it was worth it. In the end I decided not to bother because, really, it’s a little bit silly. The interview with Lori I felt I wanted to respond to, in part because I thought (again) it would be a good opportunity to clarify what is meant by ‘radical feminism’ for those who may not understand it, but also out of frustration that feminism was being co-opted by a kind of ideology that supports patriarchal systems and misogyny.

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    • At least Mary knows better than to pretend to want to talk to me.

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  • Megan, I’m sorry if my words came out too harsh. Like I said, I’m having a bad day and I’m taking things too personal. As I have told you before I have nothing but respect and admiration for your work and I’m more than happy that this site exists.

    I understand your frustration with all the faux-feminism, really I do. And I used to do the exact same thing you did here in my old blog. Nowadays I still feel the impulse, but I’ve got better at stopping myself. The reason why I don’t do it anymore is because I’ve learnt that it doesn’t work: it doesn’t actually achieve what we want it to achieve. The people who believe in faux-feminism carry on believing in faux-feminism, but after reading our words they have confirmation for their (bigoted) stereotypes of radical feminists. Not to mention that too often things spiral out of control in pointless arguments.

    So what to do? I’m still learning here, and I’m certainly not an expert, but the best way to deal with these situations is this:
    a) First and foremost, accept that the desire to believe pr0n not to be objectionable in feminist terms is very strong. (If patriarchy had wanted to destroy the feminist movement, he would have invented pr0n). People like it, it has come to mean the only type of sex they know, they can’t imagine the existence of anything else, it’s sitting way too close to their core identity. So first we must accept that most people will not agree with us. I know it’s hard to accept, but we must make peace with this fact. This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost yet!
    b) Because there will be poor, sad and lonely teenage Marys out there who disagree with pr0n but haven’t heard of feminism, we must carry on explaining why it is objectionable on feminist grounds. But we do it differently, that is, without actually engaging in arguments with those who think differently. We have already done that, lots of times, and it hasn’t worked. So, we state what we believe in and explain why we do so and leave it at that. I would strongly advice not to make it personal in any way. And above all, not to reply directly to anyone who has expressed the opposite thing. I do, on ocassion, visit those comment threads just to leave a link to an anti-pr0n take somewhere, just in case there is a poor lost soul who disagrees with the majority of commenters but is too afraid to say anything. The key is to state what we believe in without trying to win the argument.
    c) The last bit is the most important and the most difficult: real action. It’s very easy, when we sit at home (hello, bed of mine!) and write about feminism to believe that winning arguments and bringing people on board with our ideas will translate into a feminist revolution. Unfortunately this is not the case: the vast majority of people will not change their minds over anything until they see a lot of people doing it differently. So, what we do is: help the victims of the sex industry (that should be a priority), campaign to end sex work (without apologizing for thinking that it’s bad), try to get laws passed and changed, and get together and have a great time. It’s all about building an alternative: when feminists begin to see that hey, there is another kind of sex that has nothing to do with pr0n, they’ll start joining our ranks. However, if all they know is “sex=pr0n” on one side and “feminists who hate pr0n”, they are less likely to do so.

    Going back to your comment, I am positively disgusted by the pro-sex work stand that so many feminists take. (I cannot help but believe that things are going to get real bad real soon). But I try to go back to what I’ve learnt. The best way to approach this is something that I’m certain feminists of the 70s knew fully well: compassion and empathy. We have to learn to feel compassion for every single woman out there. I know, it’s not easy. People are left with no choice but to frame their reality as “good” in order to get through the day. (And when someone refuses to do so they probably end up with depression, just like me). But compassion keeps us away from anger and fighting, and brings us back to the work we have to do. We stick with each other, we build an alternative and we don’t apologize for thinking the way we do.

    Hope this comment wasn’t too long, I’ve been writing about this topic a lot lately. Cheers!

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    • Meghan Murphy

      Hey Mary,
      I don’t think your words are harsh at all. I think you bring up some important points. I think you may be right about those who are already on the ‘faux feminism’ side of the fence – perhaps it is pointless arguing with them…That said, I do think that there are many out there who feel pretty confused and conflicted about all these messages and conversations and debates? For those folks who are kind of looking at the arguments and trying to figure out where they stand (and I think there might be more of those folks than those who are steadfast in their beliefs than those who think, for example, porn is the future of feminism – I could be totally wrong though….). I think that you are also probably right that so many people have spent much of their lives learning that pornography = sex and can’t imagine sex or sexuality or sexiness in any other way; perhaps most of them are a lost cause, but I know that some aren’t lost and simply have never even imagined that there could be any other perspective.

      In regards to arguing with or engaging with ‘the other side’ (i.e. pro-sex work feminists), it could well be a waste of time when we could just be focusing on organizing and doing activism with those of us who have common goals, but sometimes I wonder if perhaps we all have more in common than we think? The efforts of many to paint these issues as black and white are wrong. Those who, as you know, call anti-porn feminists anti-sex are wrong and I feel like the more we let these stereotypes live on, the more these issues are viewed in oppositional terms. I can’t help but feel like, if we could actually engage without these ridiculous stereotypes, without name-calling, without using shut down language (whorephobic, transphobic, sexworkphobic, anti-sex, etc) maybe, JUST MAYBE, we could have an honest conversation and we could see that these aren’t issues that can be argued in black and white terms. That said, I have little control over whether or not the pro-sex feminists continue to use ridiculous terms in order to discredit criticism and shut down any chance at a conversation so this all might be wishful thinking. I usually feel relieved to find the odd feminist tucked within those threads that are, essentially, just a whole bunch of women patting each other on the back for sticking up for porn/prostitution, arguing that these industries are misogynist industries. So every once in a while I do comment. Though hardly ever because generally they refuse to engage with anyone who doesn’t tow the party line.

      In terms of your third point, yes, I totally agree that activism and action is important. But I also think that education is a powerful form of activism. We can’t simply impose laws without also changing the minds and perspectives of the public. Women’s studies, for example, changed my mind about, well, everything. It has been reading and theory that has made me want to do more, to make change. So I still think we need both. The media is a powerful tool and certainly impacts the way the culture at large views issues.

      I, like you, think things are about ‘to get real bad real soon’ and, of course, think they are pretty freakin bad already. But I think that we still need to keep writing and continuing these conversations while ALSO doing activism and campaigns and such. People play different roles in the revolution, some of those people are organizers, some are teachers, some are speakers, some are writers, some make media – I think we need all of them.

      Finally, I think your point about compassion is SO important and is something that is very easy to forget, particularly in this medium. We are behind computers, not face to face, and it is very difficult to be compassionate under these circumstances – more difficult, I think, then it is when we are face to face, so we need to pay extra attention to compassion. This is something I need to work harder at, of course.

      Anyway, thanks again for all your comments and thoughts. I think what you’ve brought up here is so important. I very much appreciate you asking these questions and bringing up these issues and challenges.
      m

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  • Also, because I just can’t shut up today, here’s a link about Radical Feminism. It’s actually a review of Marilyn French’s “Beyond Power”, which I found to be the most spot on book on radical feminism ever to exist. Enjoy! http://smashesthep.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/the-long-way-forward/

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  • Hi all, I’m jumping in a little late here. However, I want to make a small point related to Mary Tracy’s words.

    Some funfeminists aren’t aware of the anti-pr0n critiques out there, and aren’t fully committed to the pr0n-is-my-ch-ch-cha-choice narrative. Folks like that need to be educated by articles like this about what radical feminism really is, and the good gosh darn reasons to be one. Meghan may not convince the die hards, but I think what she’s saying might be heard by those fence sitters who are unfamiliar with this perspective.

    Also, many thanks for the link MT :).

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    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks for your comment, smash. I know that, for me personally, I actually did go back and forth on this issue for awhile during my younger years / undergraduate degree, depending on the various articles I was reading and conversations I was involved in. As I’ve mentioned in other places on this blog (http://www.feminisms.org/2388/where-have-all-the-radicals-gone-when-feminism-gets-moderate/), I found that there was a lack of radical feminist theory in a lot of Women’s Studies classrooms these days and a very biased focus on the de-crim position, even, in some places. I had to discover the abolitionist position and challenges to the ‘pro sex work’ discourse, in many ways, on my own, whether it be in reading radical feminist theory, meeting abolitionists and speaking with them for radio and otherwise, and, actually, reading blogs and articles online so I certainly think that these kinds of conversations can still be helpful and/or influential in terms of changing discourse and making sure that the conversation isn’t dominated by what, in my opinion is, a dominant discourse that supports patriarchal and sexist systems such as the sex industry. Again, I do hear what you are saying, Mary, and think you raise a good point in questioning where we focus our time and energy. We really do need to pay attention to this. Thanks.

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  • Just to clarify (and I promise to shut up after this) I totally agree with writing anti-pr0n articles. This is what I said:

    “Because there will be poor, sad and lonely teenage Marys out there who disagree with pr0n but haven’t heard of feminism, we must carry on explaining why it is objectionable on feminist grounds.”

    Long time ago I was a teenager too, and I was quite literally suffering under the pressure to conform and accept things like pr0n as “normal”. I cannot explain the joy of finding feminism and radical feminism. So of course, we have to keep talking about what we believe in. It’s what we believe in, damnit, and we should have as much right to speak out as anyone else!

    What I question is whether we should engage with die-hard pro-sex-industry feminists; especially those who (let’s face it) are making a living out of the industry. And if we do engage with them, what is the best way to go about it.

    Cheers!

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    • I know you’re not referring to me here, because I know you actually read that interview and realize that I’m a hobbyist. Yup. I know it.

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    • Meghan Murphy

      Hi Mary,

      Ok, I got you. I think this is definitely something we all need to think about. You are probably right that we aren’t going to get anywhere with those folks and, to be honest, I didn’t write this thinking I would change the minds of anyone who had already made up their mind to protect patriarchy under the guise of feminism BUT thought that we might be able to get to those who read, for example, the interview with Lori and think ‘Oh, really? This is feminism? Now I’m confused. But, hey, this sounds easy peasy.’ And then go try to get empowered on a stripper pole.

      Now. This perhaps could have been done in another way – i.e. by not engaging with someone who doesn’t really, likely, have very much impact on those who are truly interested in feminism. It was certainly something I deliberated over at the time I was wanting to write a response and will definitely consider again if I fell the urge to engage with those who may not really be worth engaging with.

      All that said, I wonder if there are ways we can find middle ground? Certainly with those who believe that abolitionist = anti-sex worker. I often feel like if we could just have a conversation we could end this stereotype once and for all. Though it feels like we’ve tried pretty hard and folks are still pretty attached to it so who knows.

      Also, please don’t shut up! I’m so happy you brought all this up.

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  • The thing that really gets me about this is that you’re too intelligent and well-educated to be ignorant of how multifaceted political identities can be and of the many kinds of definitions they contain, e.g. operational, lexical, stipulative…

    What also gets me? That you’re so focused on this one very technical point of mine.

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  • Richelieu

    I’m quite late to this radical/subversive/etc. party. However, if you will, I would like to post a few short comments.

    I’ve been observing Lori Adorable’s behaviour on several forums/websites for a few months now. I’ve also read each post on her blog. Quite frankly, she (or at least the persona presented by her writing) appears to think she must fight for every day of her life, owing to past trauma of various kinds, and perceived antagonists surrounding her in daily life. As a result, each and every thing she utters must be respected unquestioned, must be taken as correct, and any opposition automatically becomes an antagonist action to be suppressed virulently. It is almost an atavistic desire to eradicate any perceived Other. A quick look at her comment history on her blog reveals just how frequently she chooses to “ban” people rather than respond to them. An online equivalent of sweeping the dust under the rug and pretending it doesn’t exist, perhaps?

    In any event, many of her posts contain glaring logical holes. Her inability to reason rigorously has been on full display in this particular episode, and the reason I brought myself to make this comment is because I simply cannot stand to see reason and logic being treated so carelessly as Ms. Adorable makes a habit of doing.

    If Ms. Adorable believes that covering up her self-inflicted scars and going on hardcore BDSM shoots and fucking random people is an exertion of empowered sexuality, then that is her prerogative. A full working out of the issues of power relations, gender, sexuality, etc. involved would be the work of a lifetime, not a few blog posts, so to try and collapse it all in this medium is, in my opinion, inadequate. Therefore I shall not attempt to do so. I want, however, to emphasize that I do not believe it proper or appropriate for one person to act in a certain manner and appropriate a certain label, when that label does -not- apply to the actions this person indulges in. As Ms. Adorable repeatedly claims, she wants her cake and she wants to eat it as well. She seems to believe that she is an agent provocateur, working “from within” to shake the foundations of patriarchy loose through her “kinky radical feminism.” Where she falls into error is in confusing her personal belief with an external infrastructure that exists independent of what -she- believes; namely, radical feminism is not intrinsically equal to her idea of it. Her actions and belief system does not suddenly re-shape radical feminism. Rather, they harm it, and they undermine the concept itself.

    While her beliefs are her own and she is welcome to exercise them, when she insists that her beliefs somehow imply a reshaping of a larger concept she is imposing her beliefs upon others. As a “kinky radfem,” I’m sure she is at least sufficiently intelligent to grasp why and how that is an unwelcome intrusion.

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    • I’m not sure what my favorite part is: the victim-blaming or the bizarre notion that I cover up my scars… which it’s necessary to note were self-inflicted. Actually, no– my favorite part is where you admit to giving me so much blog traffic. Thanks!

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      • Meghan Murphy

        Yes, yes we get it, Lori. You like blog traffic. This seems to be your response to anyone who challenges you. I’m pretty sure we are all well aware that you love attention, which is why you are doing all this – not for feminism, not for any movement, not because you desire to subvert anything, but because you desperately desire attention, at any cost. Tell us something new why don’t cha?

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        • The fact that you’re allowing that kind of bullshit here– and then backing it up with ‘you just like attention’? You know what, I can’t engage with your nastiness anymore.

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          • Meghan Murphy

            Let me get this straight. You comment troll just about every single feminist blog, ban just about every single actual feminist from your blog dare they challenge your illogical and offensive arguments, and respond those that do respond or challenge you elsewhere by saying ‘thanks for all the blog traffic/I love blog traffic’ and then are angry when people think that you…um…are trying to get attention? You refuse to engage with anyone’s arguments, Lori. You make everything about you. You ban people from your comments section in order to free yourself up to lie about their arguments and continue on with your childish ‘I do what I want and if anyone challenges me I’m going to throw a tantrum’ displays. You have, not once, engaged with the argument I have made here and yet I continue to post your momentary tirades about how no one understands you. Why not try engaging with the arguments? Is it possible that you just aren’t that interested in what anyone thinks except for…you?

            As for the ‘bullshit’ I am ‘allowing’, well, surprise, surprise! I often publish comments I don’t agree with. I even, often, publish silly and irrelevant comments like yours, even though you refuse to respond to posts or comments in the thread intelligently. Aside from all that I fail to see what was ‘bullshit’ about Richelieu’s comment. Do you mean the part where you get called out? Again? Right.

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  • Richelieu

    Meghan: Thanks for permitting my comments to be posted. I don’t personally feel my comments were in an attacking tone, but when dealing with the kind of person Ms. Adorable repeatedly proves herself to be, it is necessary to be cautious.

    On a related note, someone should probably inform Ms. Adorable that blog traffic doesn’t necessarily count repeated visits from the same address, and that ‘traffic’ would involve one visit leading to multiple visits from different addresses (not the case here).

    While on the topic, I’d like to close with one final observation. First, read the following (quoted from Ms. Adorable’s blog):

    “I have a need to get things in return for my work, you have a need to see me use some sexy things, so pay me in sex toys and lingerie and burlesque costumes, and I will use them publicly. If you buy something for me, I will either use it (any item from the ‘Burlesque costumes’ list) in the burlesque act I’ll eventually film and post on my site , or build a photo shoot around it (any item from the ‘Other lingerie’ or ‘Sex toys’ lists) and post those photos on the Galleries page here . If you include in your package a note with your e-mail address, I will also send you a personalized thank-you note complete with a unique photo of me + your gift. ”

    Now, I freely admit that I am not an expert on feminism, radical politics, and related issues, at least certainly not to the extent that many of my familiars are. However, even my limited understanding of the concerns involved completely fails to account for how the quoted section in any way subverts patriarchy, espouses female sexual (or non-sexual) empowerment, equality, egalitarianism, or, oh horror, radical feminism. Ms. Adorable will no doubt argue that she is manipulating “Da Systemz” to empower herself by ‘subverting’ (I question the use of this concept in this context) its dynamics to her own benefit…or something akin to that. How on earth is any of that crap meant to forward the cause of feminism or its radical components? I invite responses.

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